The Wrong Hands: Popular Weapons Manuals and Their Historic Challenges to a Democratic Society

By Ann Larabee | Go to book overview

6
Ka Fucking Boom

Before the 9/11 terror attacks, the state’s concern over popular weapons manuals on the Internet was largely directed at children. Over the course of the twentieth century, the popular image of the young pyrotechnic experimenter would undergo a dramatic change from playful scientific genius to grim technological terrorist. Children’s interest in explosive devices—like rockets and fireworks—was culturally accepted for much of the twentieth century as a sign of national glory and progress, but this would begin to change with political agitation in the 1960s and the emergence of dissident youth as a political category. Encouraged and altered by Paladin and Loompanics, the folkways of American violence crept into this new medium. The threatened and threatening precocious child became the locus of a concerted federal effort to eradicate dangerous instructional speech from the Internet. By the end of the century, a few exemplary texts—the online Anarchist Cookbook, The Jolly Roger Cookbook, The Terrorist’s Handbook—came to symbolize a mortal danger and the corruption of innocence with dangerous technologies. Measures taken to ostensibly protect the children set the stage for the post-9/11 response to terrorist instructional speech on the Web.

Childhood is an abstract concept that has lent itself to sermonizing and political moralizing about evil and the loss of innocence.1 Boundaries are maintained around certain forms of speech that reflect cultural ideas about children and their vulnerabilities. At the same time, children, especially teenagers, have often represented chaotic, destructive forces against social order. Progressive reformers and regulators have long asserted that parents and the state must have the ability to control unruly children. From the mid-nineteenth century, the social construction of juvenile delinquency has fluctuated with nationwide moral crusades, including ones against corrupting cultural forms like jazz, rock music, and Hollywood nudity. Public discussions of juvenile delinquency, with subsequent calls to protect the children, confirm reassuring social and legal boundaries. When a social problem is attached to malleable and controllable children, the state can assert guardianship over the vulnerable. Prevention measures aimed at children may serve as precedent for broader social control over cultural threats.

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The Wrong Hands: Popular Weapons Manuals and Their Historic Challenges to a Democratic Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Science of Revolutionary Warfare 15
  • 2 - Sabotage 36
  • 3 - The Anarchist Cookbook 64
  • 4 - Hitmen 90
  • 5 - Monkeywrenching 108
  • 6 - Ka Fucking Boom 131
  • 7 - Vast Libraries of Jihad and Revolution 152
  • 8 - Weapons of Mass Destruction 171
  • Conclusion 185
  • Notes 191
  • Selected Bibliography 221
  • Index 239
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