“Long and stupid” were the criteria that caused a punk rock band to name itself “This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb” in 1996. Since then, the band’s advertising, placed on real bicycles, has caused multiple security scares. Late Monday, a Memphis airport terminal was evacuated when a bike sporting a This Bike is a Pipe Bomb sticker was left near the passenger ramps. Security officials brought in a K-9 unit which found no explosives. The owner of the bike with the This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb was initially taken into police custody but was released when police determined that he had not broken any laws.
A bike bearing a This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb sticker also caused a security scare at Ohio University in March 2006. Ohio University called in police, fire and bomb squad officials when the bike with the This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb sticker was reported. The bomb squad destroyed the bike.
The bike owner in the Ohio University case, 28 year old graduate student Pat Hanlin, was charged with inducing panic. Hanlin apparently did not grasp the enormity of the situation, first claiming that it wasn’t like he brought the bike into an airport, then saying that his action was more comparable to a sticker saying “fire” in an abandoned theater than yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.
While some might contend that it is stupid to place a sticker identifying a bike as a pipe bomb on a bicycle, others contend that the repeat security reactions are what is stupid. An American Civil Liberties representative at the time Hanlin was arrested called the police response an overreaction, saying that police are not that tied into popular culture and authorities have no sense of humor.
Maybe so, but even Hanlin acknowledged that he would not have tried to bring his This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb sticker-bearing bike through airport security.
Bike owner Vicky Frederick saw her St. Joseph’s University dorm evacuated in 2006 after she secured her bike to a railing on the second floor. Frederick’s bike had the words This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb painted onto its frame. Frederick agreed to remove the paint and no charges were filed.
And before Frederick, there was a woman arrested at an Austin, Texas peace rally in 2001 for bringing a bike bearing a This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb sticker. That woman likewise was released without charges once police verified that the sticker was advertising for a punk band.
Sources: http://www.punkplanet.com/excerpts/one_ohio_student_s_support_for_this_bike_is_a_pipe_bomb_cost_him_legal_hassles_and_his_mode_of_transportation; http://media.www.sjuhawknews.com/media/storage/paper763/news/2006/03/17/News/Bellarmine.Bomb.Scare.A.Big.Bust-1688723.shtml; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Bike_Is_A_Pipe_Bomb.