April 28, 2014
Beyond the dark, moldy lairs of gaming losers and celebrity stalkers, swatting is sometimes also used as a political weapon. A couple years back there was a rash of swatting attacks, presumably by progressive hacktivists, on “conservative bloggers” such as Patrick Frey, Aaron Worthing, and Erick Erickson.
To my knowledge, no one has yet died as a result of a swatting hoax gone haywire. But it seems inevitable.
As a beardless youth, I was not immune from engaging in random acts of mischief, but goodness gracious, they all seem so benign now. I am guilty of the time-honored “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” and “Is your washing machine running?” phone pranks. I believe I may have ordered a pizza (with extra toppings) for someone I disliked once (or twice). I once even wrote “For a good time, call…” along with the name and phone number of a male antagonist on a public-bathroom wall.
I”ve never been rudely awakened by a SWAT team, but acting on what was a bad phone tip that my building was on fire, a dozen or so New Jersey firemen once broke into my one-room apartment while I was napping naked on the bed. I called their commander an “asshole” for busting in so rudely, and he turned out to be such an asshole, I received a summons accusing me of calling him an “asshole””the word “asshole” was right there on the legal papers”and demanding that I appear in court to apologize for calling him an asshole.
But to send a SWAT team out to confront an enemy, a celebrity, or especially a total stranger in an armed situation where someone might get their head blown off? Now that is an asshole move.
There is one thing scarier than the fact that pasty, doughy, vindictive, maladjusted gaming nerds can summon the full power of the police state onto your front lawn with a mere prank call, and that is the fact that such a police state”with its dogs and bomb squads and choppers and tear gas and robots and scanners and trained killers”exists in the first place, always ready to strike.