The conspiracy web has been humming for a couple of weeks about a 16-year-old boy in North Carolina who was supposedly busted and held incommunicado under the authority granted the feds by the PATRIOT Act.
Rather than a gross abuse of police powers, however, it turns out the young man actually deserves the lesson he’s getting in the workings of America’s justice system.
A 16-year-old North Carolina boy arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat against Purdue University had a secret identity as a superstar in an unusual online subculture — one dedicated to making prank phone calls for a live internet audience, his mother admitted Thursday.
“I heard the prank phone calls he made,” says Annette Lundeby of Oxford. “They were really funny prank phone calls…. He made phone calls to, like, Walmart.”
Lundeby confirmed that her son was known online as “Tyrone,” a celebrity in a prank-calling community that grew late last year out of the trouble-making “/b/” board on 4chan. Using the VOIP conferencing software Ventrilo, as many as 300 listeners would gather on a server run by Tyrone to listen to him and other amateur voice actors make often-crude and racist phone calls, some of which are archived on YouTube. The broadcasts were organized through websites like PartyVanPranks.com.
A former fan of Tyrone’s work helped lead the police to Lundeby’s son after the boy allegedly moved beyond pranks this year and began accepting donations from students eager to miss a day of school. In exchange for a little money, Tyrone would allegedly phone in a bomb threat that would shutter the donor’s school for a day.
And he only charged five bucks for the service.
Sorry, Mrs. Lundeby, at this point I don’t care whether he made the specific threat against Purdue. Your son needs a behavior modification lesson he should have gotten from you ten years ago.
The patriot community needs to take a lesson from this episode, too: don’t seize on every story as proof that Big Brother is out to get us. Yes, the federal government is too big for our good, but get all the facts before sounding the alarm.