The Problem With Ahmed’s Clock

Hopefully most readers of this blog will know of the case of Ahmed Mohamed who brought a home-made clock to school, and was taken into custody and interrogated for the appearance of this electronic device.

This has caused uproar in the geek community, and even resulted in Cmdr Hadfield tweeting an invite to a talk in Toronto, and even an invite from President Obama to visit the whitehouse.

Now, let’s first visit the issue at hand – at first I was outraged at the situation, then I saw the clock, and thought “Well that does kinda look dodgy”. Let’s see the picture the police posted:


I mean, it does look like a bomb you might see in a movie. But then you look closer, and realise that a) the LED display points outwards, and b) it’s actually a pencil case, not a metal suitcase:


This softened my feelings significantly. I mean, it’s a freaking pencil case, not a metal suitcase. I’m pretty sure I had 25 pencil cases in school that I hacked up into all kinds of messed up things for other uses. Sorry, Mum.

But it’s all beside the point. The problem comes down to one word alone:


I don’t really know if it’s since 9/11, or if that’s just when my awareness of this change started to peak, but there’s a huge problem in our feelings that needs to be addressed.

Adults in the western world now fear everything. And it has to fucking stop.

We coddle children, and it’s stupid. When I was 7 years old I was riding my bike to school, about a mile away. Alone. Nothing ever happened to me. By 11 I was cycling to school 4 miles away. I thank my parents for that freedom so much – they absolutely did the right thing letting me do that.

Nothing happens to children today, either. We hear about extremely rare cases of child abduction (which are almost never conducted by strangers) far more often than we did in years ago due to 24 hour news channels and the internet. Crime continues to decline year on year, and yet our fear of it continues to rise.


The fear needs to stop. It’s just so illogical and dumb.

Ahmed is not alone

Ahmed is far from alone in the U.S. Many have made this a race issue, but while it may have had some racial aspects due to the “bomb” issue, it is really a problem with how the people are afraid, and pass far too many issues off to law enforcement these days. Hundreds of children in North America are now taken into custody by police every year.

I suspect, if I were in school today, I would also be taken into custody. Hell, I remember blowing up capacitors (after being demonstrated how to do it by our “cool” electronics teacher) in the science lab, and I suspect that today would be an offence.

Adults everywhere need to stop, and take stock of what they have done to themselves. These are kids – they are going to push boundaries, play with things, explore, hurt themselves, challenge your rules, break stupid laws, and scare you half to death. But they are kids. They are our future. Let them explore!

Think about how you played as you grew up – you did probably much worse. And here you are.


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