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United Kingdom Education

10-Year-Old Muslim Boy Probed For 'Terrorist House' Spelling Error (bbc.com) 315

AmiMoJo writes: A 10-year-old Muslim boy who mistakenly wrote that he lived in a "terrorist house" during an English lesson at school has been investigated by police. The pupil, who attends a primary school in Lancashire, meant to say he lived in a "terraced house." The boy was interviewed by Lancashire Police at his home the next day, and the family laptop was examined. The 2015 Counter Terrorism and Security Act means that teachers have been legally obliged to report any suspected extremist behavior to police since July. Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, the UK's largest umbrella group for Islamic associations, said he was aware of dozens of cases similar to that of the schoolboy.
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10-Year-Old Muslim Boy Probed For 'Terrorist House' Spelling Error

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  • News for Nerds? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @10:15AM (#51335405) Homepage Journal
    They should change the slogan to "Half-Story Clickbait to Bring the Foaming-at-the-Mouth People to the Site". Not catchy enough?
    • Re:News for Nerds? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @10:31AM (#51335517) Homepage Journal

      They should change the slogan to "Half-Story Clickbait to Bring the Foaming-at-the-Mouth People to the Site". Not catchy enough?

      Nerds are frequently concerned with stories about rights and injustice.

      • Re:News for Nerds? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @10:34AM (#51335545) Homepage Journal
        Really? Since when? 5 years ago this story wouldn't even have been submitted to Firehose, much less been posted to the front page. However AmiMoJo has a special relationship, so he can post whatever he wants.
        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @11:50AM (#51336231) Homepage

          However AmiMoJo has a special relationship, so he can post whatever he wants.

          It's true. Years ago I bought a $5 subscription to get rid of the ads on mobile (before adblock was available). There was actually a problem processing it and I felt most embarrassed having to get support involved to process it. Strung that baby out for years.

          Ever since then I've enjoyed a special relationship with the /. editors. They grudgingly tolerate my impertinence, and occasional wrath directed at them (especially around the who beta era, when my signature was less than cordial). They know I'm cheap, the kind of bastard who subscribes for $5 once a decade, but they also know I spend more time posting here than working and these days that's becoming a rare thing.

          Thing is, I just love the down-votes I get whenever I post some SJW bullshit, so I'm kinda addicted now. Sometimes I travel and get withdrawal because I'm stuck on an aircraft with no internet for 12 hours. Well, I mean they have internet, but I'm too cheap to pay for it.

          I used to come here for the insightful commentary and interesting debate, now it's mostly just to annoy MRAs and anti-feminists. I can see you have a rather high ID so are probably a millennial who joined yesterday, but the trick is to learn to let go and not read every single story. Just skip over it if you don't like it, or go to firehose and vote for something else. You could even submit some bullshit of your own, and I'll happily down-vote it and then re-submit a more click-baity, left leaning version myself. Your welcome.

          Obligatory xkcd. [xkcd.com]

        • 5 years ago this story wouldn't even have been submitted to Firehose

          Right. But in 2001, that fucktard Bin Laden went and crashed 4 planes into the US. And then that fucktard George W Bush went and overreacted to it.

          And here we are, still dealing with terrorist bullshit and western democracy pants-wetting. I don't like it any better than you do, but it is the world we live in.
    • Well it's not a million miles away from the schoolboy's clock mistaken for bomb story. Although I'm pretty sure someone would have said that didn't belong on this site either.

  • by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudsononline AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @10:17AM (#51335411) Journal
    The kid's background doesn't come into it - if any kid had written that they live in a terrorist house, it would be checked out. This is not a case of profiling, no matter how much the Muslim Council of Britain tries, without actually saying so, that it was targeted at a Muslim.
    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      I don't doubt that it OUGHT to be checked out no matter whose kid it was that wrote it. If my blonde-haired blue-eyed kid had written it, I still think the responsible thing would be to check it out.

      OTOH, I'm also pretty sure the "check it out" is likely to be carried out a lot more respectfully on a rich white kid's family than on a relatively powerless poor immigrant's family. Particularly if they are from a background that has a rep for producing terrorists. Not that this isn't to be expected too, but i

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Does this really need to be checked out? I mean, more than just the teacher asking if that's what he really meant. Are we so paranoid about terrorism that we need to follow up a 10 year old's spelling mistake? Do we really think that terrorists call themselves terrorists at home and in front of their kids?

        • Do we really think that terrorists call themselves terrorists at home and in front of their kids?

          Its not merely whether the parents utter the word "terrorist". Its also whether the kid sees items *he* associates with terrorism in his mind. What might a child who saw the AK-47 in the house of a Paris attacker think? What might a child who say the pipe bombs in the house of the San Bernardino attackers think?

          One does not know what put the word "terrorist" into the kid's mind. One has to investigate. And who in our society are trained investigators for possible criminal acts? He was **interviewed** at

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @10:50AM (#51335659) Homepage

      if any kid had written that they live in a terrorist house, it would be checked out.

      Even if that were the case, it's still outrageous that teachers apparently feel they are required to report obvious spelling errors and that the police feel they are worth investigating. At any point someone could have said "this is stupid, it's clearly a mistake, let's not waste time and money or cause unnecessary grief for this family", but no one had the guts. This is what happens when you create a climate of fear, where if some kid decides to go to Syria because J1hadi2011 told him to his teachers get blamed for not spotting it.

      Even worse, where is the judicial oversight? Shouldn't searching the family laptop require some kind of check, especially when it is based on such incredibly flimsy evidence? It seems like if someone outside the school/police had looked at it, there might have been a chance for a sane outcome.

      In any case, I really doubt the probability of unfortunate spelling errors being reported to the police is the same for a nice 99% white school in rural Hampshire as for a 99% Muslim school in Birmingham. We need to do a test like those identical CVs with Christian/Muslim names on the top, but with two kids called Dave and Mohammed.

      • Even worse, where is the judicial oversight? Shouldn't searching the family laptop require some kind of check, especially when it is based on such incredibly flimsy evidence?

        For police to examine a laptop by force, they would require a search warrant. But in this case they probably asked the family to hand it over voluntarily, which the family agreed to do to make the police go away and stop hassling them.

      • Even if that were the case, it's still outrageous that teachers apparently feel they are required to report obvious spelling errors and that the police feel they are worth investigating. At any point someone could have said "this is stupid, it's clearly a mistake, let's not waste time and money or cause unnecessary grief for this family", but no one had the guts. This is what happens when you create a climate of fear, where if some kid decides to go to Syria because J1hadi2011 told him to his teachers get b

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          Most people don't know what pedophile means and think it means child molester, which is on the same level as thinking heterosexual means rapist.

      • Could you have at least read the summary? "The 2015 Counter Terrorism and Security Act means that teachers have been legally obliged to report any suspected extremist behavior to police since July."
        • You failed to highlight "suspected extremist behavior". It doesn't say they are legally obliged to report every damn meaningless thing.

      • What the fuck? Really? Did we not learn the lessons of Columbine, 20 years ago?

        Whenever a kid says something, adults need to take action. NOT to take action is depraved indifference. We had too much of that already, that's how Columbine happened. No matter what the kid says or how crazy it seems - because it CAN happen here. Seriously, did you miss the whole "learning lessons" thing? It sounds like you did.

      • ... that teachers apparently feel they are required to report obvious spelling errors and that the police feel they are worth investigating ...

        How is it an obvious spelling error rather than motivated by a kid seeing things around the house he associates with terrorism? How might a 10 year old describe a house of one of the Paris attackers where an AK-47 may have been seen, or the San Bernardino attackers were a pipe bomb may have been seen? In our society the police are the trained investigators of possible criminal acts, not teachers.

        Shouldn't searching the family laptop require some kind of check

        You assume the owner did not grant permission. The police can ask, the owner can say yes.

        I really doubt the probability of unfortunate spelling errors being reported to the police is the same for a nice 99% white school in rural Hampshire as for a 99% Muslim school in Birmingham.

        If he were an Irish kid

    • by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @10:58AM (#51335737) Homepage

      The thing is legally the teachers had to report it to the police. Failure to do so could lead to prison.

      The other thing is that children are horrible at keeping secrets and will grass even themselves up all the time. Therefore it was appropriate to investigate and the fact that he was from a Muslim household in my view makes it extra worthwhile following up. Now that the Irish terrorist threat has all but gone in the UK, statistically that fact makes it more likely that it was not just a mistake and hence worth investigating.

      Imagine his family had disappeared to Syria in a couple of months to join Daesh?

      • The thing is legally the teachers had to report it to the police. Failure to do so could lead to prison.

        I'm sorry, what law results in prison for unreported spelling errors?

    • This is not a case of profiling, no matter how much the Muslim Council of Britain tries, without actually saying so, that it was targeted at a Muslim.

      I don't see anything in TFA to suggest that anybody is claiming it was anything to do with "profiling". Just that it was an over-reaction. Just in case this needs a UK-to-US translation: "terraced house" is British English for "townhouse" (but usually smaller). I'm not sure "terrorist house" makes sense - but it seems like a highly plausible Autocorrupt* or speech recognition goof for something like "terrised hosue".

      Of course, we are relying on the clickbait media, so maybe it will emerge in a few days (a

      • by Jiro ( 131519 )

        I don't see anything in TFA to suggest that anybody is claiming it was anything to do with "profiling"

        Why did they mention the boy is Muslim, if not to imply that he was reported because he was Muslim?

    • Exactly, the only profiling here is being done by the press, otherwise this stuff happens all of the time. Even back in my day, I grew up as a middle child a little less than 18 months from my older brother. I kid you not, every other week one of us would come into school with a black-eye or a busted up lip. Was it because our parents were beating us? No, it was because one was getting back at the other for the previous week. Eventually, by law, the school had to investigate and the only thing they found is

    • Sure he'd be checked out. It would go like this:

      Teacher: Hey Johnny, what makes your house a terrorist house?
      Johnny: It has houses on both sides that go allllll the way down the whole street, Miss!
      Teacher: Terraced houses look really cosy all snugged up to one another!

    • by Copid ( 137416 )
      Seriously. There are enough cases about really unfair and arbitrary profiling of innocent Muslims that they don't need to use this nonsense example. If a kid writes that he lives in a terrorist house or a meth lab house or that daddy is a bank robber, somebody is going to poke around and see what's up.

      A side lesson: If you actually do plan on running a terrorist house, don't have little kids living in it. They're really bad at keeping secrets.
  • Even though the boy made a simple mistake, it won't take the great British press long to find some super tenuous connection to an act of terrorism and link him to it.

    • Re:Plot twist (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @10:37AM (#51335571) Homepage

      Well, yeah. It's like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon [wikipedia.org].

      If you try hard enough, you can likely find a super tenuous connection to an act of terrorism to almost anybody.

      Somewhere there's a bizarre chain of crap which says "Rik Sweeney went to school with a guy who went to the same mosque as a guy who washed the floors where a guy was in the same English class with the guys who delivered pizza to guys who did the Boston Marathon shootings". Ta da, you're linked to terrorism.

      If you go chasing shadows you can make up any old crap. It doesn't make it evidence of a damned thing.

      The problem is both the press and the idiots who claim they're trying to protect our freedoms treat these tenuous links as if they are meaningful.

      • Don't forget the public pressure. Perceived cost of doing nothing about something that turns out to be dangerous: huge. Perceived cost of getting up all in arms about nothing: tiny. We hardly have a concept of risks we should accept . Deliberately doing nothing is hard to sell.

      • by qwijibo ( 101731 )
        But once you know that chain of events, the NSA can justify why they need surveillance data on everyone who ever ate a pizza, took an english class, walked on a floor, or cast a shadow.

        The data is there, all known terrorists show up in one or more of those groups.
        • by matfud ( 464184 )

          Apart from a mexican with no legs, a gluten intollerence, and who is scared of the monsters lurking in the shadows.

          • For some odd reason, that almost exactly describes a chihuahua. ;-)

            A quivering little ball of acid reflux, hostility, and fear. Are they supposed to shake like that?

    • It's likely that some terrorist at one point lived in or near a terraced house. That should be connection enough for the super sleuths at BBC news.

  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @10:28AM (#51335499)
    A man received the following text from his neighbor:
    I am so sorry Bob. I've been riddled with guilt and I have to confess. I have been helping myself to your wife, day and night whenever you're not around. In fact, probably more than you. I do not get it at home, but that's no excuse. I can no longer live with the guilt and I hope you will accept my sincerest apology and with my promise that it won't ever happen again.
    The man, anguished and betrayed, went into his bedroom, grabbed his gun, and without a word, shot his wife and killed her.
    A few moments later, a second text came in:
    Damn autocorrect! I meant "wifi, not "wife" . . . . .
    • Such things happen. I tried telling my girlfriend I was an ecoturist via text, and now I'm stuck in a hut in the Amazon basin!

  • Terrace (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DougReed ( 102865 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @10:32AM (#51335525)

    I live on a street called a 'Terrace' ... when I first moved here, and changed all of my magazine subscription addresses... one of them came next month addressed to "S.E. Terrorist"....

    • Was this a few years ago? Because if it was recent then I'd worry whenever there was a knock at the door.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The story doesn't say but I'm wondering if this is a spell checker mishap. Carelessness or lack of reading skills and clicked on the wrong thing. I'm moderately literate and I've done it as an adult.

  • Officials (Score:5, Insightful)

    by internerdj ( 1319281 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @10:36AM (#51335561)
    I'm not much of one to sympathize with politicians but I'm pretty certain this is what we sound like to someone in office:
    Terrorist attack...
    Constituents: "Why didn't you stop all these people from dying? Do something to keep it from happening again."
    Does something...
    Constituents: "Why are you attacking the freedoms of all these innocent people? You are being racist and evil."
    Terrorist attack...
    Constituents: "Why didn't you stop all these people from dying? Do something to keep it from happening again."
    • Re:Officials (Score:4, Insightful)

      by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @11:00AM (#51335761)

      You can either be free or you can have the illusion of safety. Most people willingly choose the latter.

    • Implying that politicians listen to constituents?

      Occams razor says this is just a conspiracy against the people. That's a far more likely scenario than a politician listening to constituents.

    • by jdavidb ( 449077 )
      Your analysis completely leaves out the imperialist interventions that create the environment where people would want to employ terrorism.
  • by daq man ( 170241 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @10:58AM (#51335749)

    When I was a little kid I wrote "When I grow up I want to be a scientist and work in a lavatory". I did grow up to be a scientist but, fortunately, I work in a laboratory.

  • It's a sad commentary on society when:

    A) We assume it's natural for police to stop by after a kid's spelling mistake. (My 9 year old makes similar mistakes all the time.)

    and

    B) My first instinct was to praise the department for the "measured" response of not hauling the kid into the station in handcuffs, interrogating him for hours without his parents, and then (when they realize the deep trouble they're in) leaking a story that the kid/family is secretly evil in some way.

    This boiling water is feeling much

    • by jopsen ( 885607 )

      B) My first instinct was to praise the department for the "measured" response of not hauling the kid into the station in handcuffs, interrogating him for hours without his parents, and then (when they realize the deep trouble they're in) leaking a story that the kid/family is secretly evil in some way.

      Yeah, it's sad.. that we have to happy there was no attempt of cover up... Granted that mostly an American thing.

  • Terriorist [vimeo.com] attack imminent.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @11:54AM (#51336269)

    Here's how you "investigate" the problem. Here's how teachers would have "investigated" things before laws saying that anyone saying something slightly wrong had to be reported to the police.

    Teacher: What do you mean by "terrorist" in this sentence?
    Boy: Well, the houses are joined together in both sides.
    Teacher: Are you sure you're using the right word?
    Boy: Um well I'm not sure how to spell it but I thought that was it, I heard it yesterday.
    Teacher: Yesterday we used [these words], was it any of these?
    Boy: Ohhh! it was "terraced".

    Here's how teachers are expected to behave now:

    Teacher: A likely spelling error! I MUST CALL THE POLICE OR I CAN GO TO JAIL!

    I would not have children in the UK today. I'm terrified by this environment. My father was brought up in a dictatorship, and taught in a school under that same dictatorship, and not even he was supposed to monitor kids like this.

  • ... liies a smolderiin' [moulderin'] in the ground.

    When I was young, I thought the lyric was "smolderin'," and I wondered what John Brown did to make so many people happy that he was smoldering in hell.
    Of course the song laments the death of John Brown and the the lyric is "moulderin'."
    Kids use the words they hear most often.
    Unfortunately, "terrorist" is a much more common word than "terraced."

    • Really? I thought it went:

      eeee jumped thirty thousand feet without a parachute
      eeee jumped thirty thousand feet without a parachute
      eeee jumped thirty thousand feet without a parachute
      an' eee ain't gonna jump no mooooo-ooo-ooore

      What's all this about John Brown?

      Anyway as for errors of spelling and hearing:

      http://www.inspire21.com/stori... [inspire21.com]

      I didn't believe it, but a teacher assured me it was 100% plausible and likely true because there'd really be no need to make up answers rather than use real ones. I didn't ac

  • It could just as easily have been a slip in saying something he shouldn't as a misspelling.
  • Home Made Clock?

    THAT would have been a whole different story.

  • For protecting us from these dangerous spelling errors and ensuring fat paychecks for the private swat teams, security services, and cheesy gadget manufacturers who rely on your steadfast gaurd to line their pockets.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead

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