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Evacuation Plans
August 22, 2003 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Writing a story is a felony violation in Oklahoma. High school student who wrote a story about armed invasion of his school faces jail time. Prosectors admit the law is Orwellian, but need a test-case. The story itself is derived from sample text included with an Adobe Pagemaker tutorial, describing hurrican evacuation instructions.
posted by swift (26 comments total)

 
I wrote a story with the same general idea when I was in middle school, and the most I got in reaction to it was a couple of students thinking it was stupid. Times have definitely changed. And by changed, I mean they've gotten stupid.
posted by angry modem at 8:05 AM on August 22, 2003


Wow, I was just about to post this myself.

There was a magazine in my high school that published sci-fi and horror stories that I worked for. Most of the stories were along the lines of Brian Robertson's. One kid not only used the school as his setting for a series of stories, but went so far as to use clearly recognizable teachers as bad guys--the gym teacher, the latin teacher, etc. And they usually died. But he certainly was never about to shoot anybody. At least, I don't think he was.

Mass hysteria, etc. Gotta give my money to the ACLU.
posted by thecaddy at 8:06 AM on August 22, 2003


16, drew a terminator-style hand with exposed wiring/guts, holding a bloody axe in a graveyard for an art class.
Got hauled into the principal's office, asked if I was actually a homicidal cyborg. Complimented on my drawing skills. Sent back to class.
Poor kid.
posted by signal at 8:08 AM on August 22, 2003


I like this:

The text he wrote described using C-4 explosives to blow up the school and addressed what to do when police arrived. C-4 explosives were used in the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen three years ago and tore a 40-by-40-foot hole into the side of the destroyer.

Omigod, the Soviets used to use wool for their Red Army uniforms! If you write a story where someone wears wool, you're obviously going to try to foment a communist revolution!
posted by COBRA! at 8:13 AM on August 22, 2003


COBRA! You snake! You beat me to this post by literally, less than 1 minute!

"You violence-crazed fools! Didn't you read the article!

The text he wrote described using C-4 explosives to blow up the school and addressed what to do when police arrived. C-4 explosives were used in the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen three years ago and tore a 40-by-40-foot hole into the side of the destroyer.

Good heavens! Do you think he's A-Q?"
posted by crazy finger at 8:14 AM on August 22, 2003


What on earth would they think of the Doom / Quake / Half-life mods (written almost exclusively by school/college age kids) which use real-life locations for slaughter and mayhem? *happy memories of playing the very well realised Trinity College Doom mod while studying there*
posted by humuhumu at 8:16 AM on August 22, 2003


My then thirteen-year-old girl was doodling in class and drew something that apparently was a gang symbol (I don't remember exactly what it was now) and I got a call at work from the guidance counselor, who evidently thought she had a hardcore Crip on her hands. Said guidance counselor got a lesson in commonsense from mama bear, and they left my kid alone. But I had to tell my kid to quit doodling totally, as I didn't know what the Gestapo would come up with next.
posted by konolia at 8:18 AM on August 22, 2003


The business about the C-4 is funny, in its own dark way. C-4 is the only explosive the average person could be expected to know (outside dynamite, I suppose) -- you can't throw a stick without hitting a network drama where a bunch of guys with C-4 try to blow something up.
Now, if the story was about something other than C-4 (like, uh, what's that stuff they use in The Russian Debutante's Handbook?), maybe you should worry. Maybe.
posted by tingley at 8:20 AM on August 22, 2003


Looks like his mother set up a website in regards to this, where you can offer support.
Also, there's a bulletin board that needs some action.
posted by angry modem at 8:20 AM on August 22, 2003


Is this addressed to the student body at the start of the school year, save your "horror'' writings for home?
posted by thomcatspike at 8:23 AM on August 22, 2003


But I had to tell my kid to quit doodling totally

No, you didn't.
posted by jpoulos at 8:24 AM on August 22, 2003


After looking at the law, understand how dumb laws come about, quick reaction missing the long thought out process of it.
posted by thomcatspike at 8:29 AM on August 22, 2003


I have to say that the law itself does not sound dumb, exactly. We're not talking forbidding playing the fiddle in the street or some such thing. The statute makes it a felony to "plan, attempt, conspire or endeavor to perform an act of violence involving or intended to involve serious bodily harm or death of another person." I'm certainly against that. Hopefully what this case will do is define words like "plan" and "conspire" so that fiction writers don't end up in jail.
posted by JanetLand at 8:38 AM on August 22, 2003


Planning is illegal?

I thought the the phrase was supposed to be one involving 'intent'.
posted by twine42 at 8:42 AM on August 22, 2003


It was interesting seeing what this kid looks like. I would never hold someone's booking photo against them (heh), but he looks overweight and physically unappealing. If a popular, attractive football player had written the same thing, I'll bet it never would have been reported.

Good thing this will go to a jury trial, where it will be dealt with by impartial people who won't let themselves be swayed by emotion.
posted by Slothrup at 8:46 AM on August 22, 2003


Hopefully what this case will do is define words like "plan" and "conspire" so that fiction writers don't end up in jail.

Hopefully what this case will do is get the law thrown out as unconstitutional. I don't think we should compromise on this. Of course nobody wants another Columbine, but if we outlaw certains types of fiction that are thought by authorities to contain plans or conspiracies, what's next? Arresting kids based on a psychological profile? Punish kids for wearing GI Joe t-shirts? It's a slippery slope. We still have free speech, we still have the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven. They're punishing someone that hasn't committed a crime yet.
posted by RylandDotNet at 8:58 AM on August 22, 2003


Isn't somebody doing something about this Orwell guy they're all talking about though? Look what he's planning!
posted by klaatu at 9:29 AM on August 22, 2003


[nitpicking]
They're punishing someone that hasn't committed a crime yet.

Erm... if it's illegal then he's commited a crime.
posted by twine42 at 9:29 AM on August 22, 2003


I'm really glad something like this didn't happen when I wrote that story detailing how a girl-who-was-not-me would kill a guy-who-was-not-this-guy-I-hated and then read it aloud in class.

Woosh.
posted by Katemonkey at 9:30 AM on August 22, 2003


Another student in Michigan was suspended from school for posting passages on a website called "Satan's Web Page." Under the heading "Satan's mission for you this week," the student posted: "Stab someone for no reason then set them on fire throw them off of a cliff, watch them suffer and with their last breath, just before everything goes black, spit on their face."

Comedy gold! Call me sick and twisted but that's the funniest thing I've read this week. At there's something of a happy ending to that story.
posted by wobh at 9:30 AM on August 22, 2003


Semtex is the other explosive of choice... fast overtaking C-4 as the terrorist's explosive of choice.

More bang for the buck.
posted by da5id at 9:52 AM on August 22, 2003


The jury trial didn't start the 18th, it was pushed back to the 20th. But, still, I would think that it wouldn't be a long trial, and should be over shortly.
I think one of the suck things is that he was over 18 and a legal adult when this happened. The law didn't differentiate between juveniles and adults, tho.
posted by thatothrgirl at 10:48 AM on August 22, 2003


When in high school, I would write stories like this... I think I even downloaded the "terrorist handbook" in .txt format from an old local BBS back then.... along with a bunch of other stuff that made me feel l337.... like a huge lockpicking guide, black/blue box instructions, phreaking manuals, etc... And I played video games.

I'm surprised I made it this far without going postal. If only I had had such a caring and observant faculty in high school.
posted by Espoo2 at 11:08 AM on August 22, 2003


Being a graduate of the Waterford School District, I'm not suprised that no one got the joke of Satan's Web Page. The fearmongering (i.e., if you are different, you must be bad news) was bad enough when I was there, but for a younger sibling, post-Columbine, it was a downright oppressive environment. They really believed that Trenchcoat Mafia crap there.

Even funnier: the actual last line (after the funny tirade) on Satan's Web Page read PS: NOW THAT YOU'VE READ MY WEB PAGE PLEASE DON'T GO KILLING PEOPLE AND STUFF AND THEN BLAME IT ON ME. OK?
posted by marzenie99 at 12:12 PM on August 22, 2003


If only I had had such a caring and observant faculty in high school....

... I would have gone postal by now.
posted by wobh at 9:41 PM on August 22, 2003


Phew, glad I checked the archives before posting this.

I feel bad for the kid though, he's been told the law is crazy and yet they're going to string him up and run him through. To make an example of him? To who?

So kids learn to repress any sign that they might be unhappy until they do go on a rampage?

Oklahoma has a serious HUA problem.
posted by fenriq at 1:24 PM on August 26, 2003


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