It sure is good to be a white dude

This is David Surman. He’s the 32 year old owner of a chemical company who, with his girlfriend, drove around Bucks County in Pennsylvania throwing small bombs out of his car window, creating loud explosions and small craters. The two of them were finally caught, arrested, and convicted.

Surman pleaded guilty Monday to possession and manufacturing of a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to possessing and manufacturing a weapon of mass destruction. He also pleaded guilty to criminal use of a communication facility and unlawful use of a computer for a large cache of child pornography detectives found on an external hard drive while investigating the bombs.

Wow. Yikes. You might wonder what a fitting sentence for such a pair might be.

4½ years probation for the girlfriend, Surman got 1-2 years in county prison. He argued that he merely “acted with immaturity”.

Woohoo! White justice!


  1. nomaduk says

    One can debate the leniency of the sentence, but, seriously: ‘weapons of mass destruction’? It just seems as though there ought to be some lower bound on the yield of an explosive before it qualifies for that designation.

  2. says

    I hate that they designate pipe bombs as weapons of mass destruction. They started doing that so they could come down extra-hard on the Boston marathon bombers, but, seriously – what they should do is have a category of crime that’s basically “bombing a bunch of civilians.” Except that’d be kind of awkward because there are a lot of people in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria who’d like to discuss that.

    Weapons of mass destruction ought to be capable of mass destruction, though. “Never set off any explosion larger than you are willing to have go off in your hand” is a pretty good metric.

  3. christoph says

    @ Marcus Ranum, # 3: I don’t disagree with you, but the bombs used at the Boston Marathon were a lot bigger and more powerful than pipe bombs.

  4. says

    Yeah, these were apparently just over the limit for legal firecrackers and they were throwing them into empty farm fields just for fun. There was no significant property damage and no evident danger to anyone. The Inkie story doesn’t explain anything about the porn, so maybe it wasn’t definitely linked to him? Anyway I don’t know that the sentence is that out of line. These were definitely not “weapons of mass destruction,” or even of more than moderate damage, although if you threw one directly at somebody it would be a different story. Still not mass.

  5. says

    WMD are nuclear, biological, or chemical.
    High and low explosives are not WMD. There are applications of explosives that are crimes against humanity, and that is the issue. The Boston Bombing was a crime against humanity regardless of what was used and they should have prosecuted the bombers for that. It’s all complicated by the state’s desire to commit crimes against humanity all the time; they need to distinguish between good explosions (a 150mm white phosphorus shell over Raqqa) and bad explosions (a black powder bomb at a marathon) and harmless but incredibly stupid and upsetting explosions (a firecracker in the wrong place)

    The reason we separate WMD from other weapons is because they have indiscriminate effect over a large area; i.e: they are tactically useless and only good for depopulating large areas. And the worst of them are basically 100% lethal. It’s important to distinguish WMD for being extra lethal to help encourage the assholes in Washington not to use them. By equating a dipshit’s homemade bomb with a nuke, we are implicitly downplaying the seriousness of using a nuke.

  6. rrutis1 says

    Is it just me or have there been a lot of cases lately that had a “by the way, we found child porn too” part of them? I might be thinking too conspiratorially but maybe child porn is like the planted 38 special back in the ’70s and ’80s to make sure the bad guy got charged with at least one thing that sticks.

  7. says

    rrutis — maybe, or maybe it’s just more common then we would like to think. Anyway if they really could link him to the CP I’m sure he would have gotten a stiffer sentence.

  8. kenbakermn says

    I’m a middle-aged white dude. One night I was driving home pretty late. There was no other traffic in sight anywhere so I blew through the stop sign at the end of my block. Turns out just that night there was a police office sitting there in a dark car. He pulled me over, and after checking my license said “you don’t seem like a bad guy” and didn’t give me anything. And I was thinking, if I were a black man would I be alive right now?