Saturday, May 2, 2009

'Please leave a message'

I woke up with a migraine headache this morning and spent most of the day in our darkened bedroom, keeping company with an ice bag and fending off waves of nausea.

When I rejoined the living late this afternoon, I sat down at my desk and noticed that there were three messages on our answering machine -- a telemarketer, an opinion pollster and an unidentified male voice saying only this:

"As a demonstration of Americans' thoughts about what's happening in our government, please take notice today."
Click. That was it.

Checking the ID log, I saw that the call came from area code 402 -- and I don't know anyone in Omaha, Nebraska, much less anyone who'd be inclined to lob a grenade at my answering machine (or anyone else's, for that matter). And while I didn't consider the message a direct threat against my family or me, I placed a quick call to local law enforcement.

The department's initial investigation, as expected, confirmed that the number was both unlisted and inactive -- clearly a front, probably one of a number of exchanges through which the call was routed in order to camouflage the source. The incident will be investigated further, I'm told, by local and other agencies.

In our current political climate, chicken-shit stunts like this are to be expected, I guess. Personally, I have no stomach for such things. If I learn more about the incident, I'll post updates here.

* * *
Update, 8:03pm: It took me an hour's Googling to discover that thousands of similar robocalls have been placed to private homes and mobile phones in virtually every part of the country since early April. Most of the illegal calls, according to anecdotal reports, have been routed through exchanges in Omaha and San Antonio.

And who's behind the calls? Those wacky "teabaggers," of course. Never mind that the largely misguided "tea parties" took place on April 15th -- three weeks later the robocalls persist, which speaks volumes about both motive and source.

So the message on my answering machine today wasn't ominous at all -- it was simply idiotic. I can't imagine what the perpetrators expect these robocalls to accomplish.

Then again, the Constitution doesn't establish a minimum IQ for the exercise of First Amendment rights.