No Laughing Matter

Tip of the day: Don’t yell out that you have an incredibly infectious disease on public transit.

Officials in Los Angeles are investigating an incident in which a man wearing a surgical mask shouted that he had Ebola, while on a city bus. He later jumped off the bus and fled the scene.

The city is treating the matter very seriously because according to a Metro Spokesperson, “It's very disruptive to people's lives and costs taxpayers thousands of dollars.” The FBI is also now involved due to the fact that a case like this can be viewed as a threat to public safety, hoax or not.

The issue with joking about things that can cause public harm such as disease or bomb threats is that they can incite hysteria among the community which can in turn cause public harm. This is basically the same as yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theatre or “bomb” on an airplane, using particular terms in certain situations provokes fear.

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