Are you smarter than a 9th grader? What we can learn from Ahmed the Clock Maker

The story of "Ahmed the Clock Maker" a 9th grade student who was pulled out of school, handcuffed, and questioned by police after bringing a homemade clock to school, has garnered much attention in the media. 

On the one hand, the story of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed is a story of Islamophobia:  A young, gifted student engineers a clock, and instead of being praised for his ingenuity, Ahmed is vilified for bringing an apparent bomb to school. His supporters say that it is only because the boy is a Muslim that the "bomb" association was even made. His case becomes one of religious persecution in a country founded on the basis of freedom of religion.

On the other hand, some say Ahmed's story just doesn't add up.  The school district and even the mayor say that the media portrayal of Ahmed as a victim of Islamophobia is severely unbalanced. They say that public access of the records would show that the actions by school officials and law enforcement were not the overreaction they are portrayed to be. Tech experts say the boy praised as a engineering whiz did not even make a clock. Rather, he took the case off of an existing manufactured digital clock, and placed it inside a metal pencil case, an act many say was intended to be provocative and the catalyst for just such an incident.

Regardless of where you stand in your belief--Ahmed the Persecuted or Ahmed the Instigator--there is something we can all learn from this 14-year-old boy, and it has nothing to do with technology, electronics, or engineering.

At a press conference in which Ahmed and his family celebrated the dropping of bomb hoax charges against the teen, Ahmed was notified that the chief of police in Irving, Texas, wanted to meet with him. When asked if he would consent to meet with the chief, Ahmed quipped, "Not without my lawyer."

Although reports say that Ahmed's response demonstrated his "humor," the fact is that his answer was smart--much smarter than the response of many adults who willingly speak to police without legal counsel.

Keep in mind that if police suspect you of involvement in a crime, they are talking to you in search of evidence that will give cause for your arrest, prosecution, and conviction. They are not typically looking for evidence that will override their suspicions and prove your innocence. Your conversations with police are intended to confirm the suspicion they already have that you are guilty.

Like Ahmed the Clock Maker, if you are asked to speak with police, your answer should always be, "Not without my lawyer."

Image credit: sunshinecity

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