Anthrax pranks, hoaxes can’t be taken lightly

When a broken-hearted Cleveland-area adolescent sent a package filled with baking powder to spook his 15-year-old girlfriend, he obviously didn’t intend to cause panic.

But he did. When the package became lodged in a mail sorting machine at Cleveland’s Main Post Office, about 70 postal workers refused to enter the building, fearing the substance was anthrax or some other harmful substance.

Had this happened before the recent anthrax scares, this probably wouldn’t have been an issue.

But with a country full of citizens on edge – especially employees at a post office – the severity of the boy’s hoax became magnified several times over.

Cleveland’s prosecutors office opposed releasing the boy from a juvenile detention center as a hearing date was to be set late last week.

This might sound a little extreme for a simple little prank, but it shows how much the United States has changed since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Pranks, hoaxes or anything else concerning the anthrax scare simply can’t be taken lightly.

Aside from the employees that were immobilized when they discovered the package, the boy’s idea of a good time caused unneeded panic in the Cleveland area, not to mention adding fuel to the fire across the nation.

Also, hoaxes like this one drain the investigative skills of specialists hunting for real bioterrorism threats.

It is a different world than we lived in two months ago, and everybody needs to realize that.

Pranksters that can’t realize that should continue to be dealt with in a serious manner.