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Student's essay is "disorderly conduct"
April 26, 2007 9:01 PM   Subscribe

"Some legal experts said the charge against Allen Lee is troubling because it was over an essay that even police admit contained no direct threats against anyone at the school." Newsfilter: A high school senior is arrested for a "disturbing" essay in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting.
posted by Many bubbles (78 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Student is asked to write anything he wants. Student writes anything he wants. Student is punished.
posted by Anything at 9:08 PM on April 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


People are morons.. knee jerk reaction that could potentially ruin someone's future... if you can't tell the difference between disturbed and threatening and whatever this kid handed in, you shouldn't be a teacher or a school official..

instead of talking to the kid and digging deeper, they call the cops instead?!
posted by pez_LPhiE at 9:09 PM on April 26, 2007


Wow, what a coincidence the guy was East Asian!

I'm sure it's a total, total coincidence!
posted by delmoi at 9:11 PM on April 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well, an 18 year old can probably see what the damn problem is with joking about a school shooting just after the VT thing. But yeah, there really shouldn't be police involvement here. Lame.

(Let's all pretend the race issue isn't a factor.)
posted by Firas at 9:11 PM on April 26, 2007


In another story I read his father is quoted saying he doesn't believe the fact that his son is Chinese American is relevant to the reaction. I think the father is giving his son's school far more credit than they deserve. I'm so fucking fed up with my nation, which is apparently overrun with moronic cowards.
posted by nanojath at 9:12 PM on April 26, 2007


damn you, delmoi!

To be honest I don't think the charge against him is *that* bad considering it's the same used for eg. initiating a false fire alarm. I'd much rather what happened than, say, his being expelled and denied a diploma or something.
posted by Firas at 9:13 PM on April 26, 2007


To be honest I don't think the charge against him is *that* bad considering it's the same used for eg. initiating a false fire alarm. I'd much rather what happened than, say, his being expelled and denied a diploma or something.

Umm...
School officials said they had since removed Lee from the general student population and placed him in a separate building to continue his education. Lee said he had been told he could face expulsion from school ... But with graduation a month from today, Lee could be sentenced to up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine if convicted, and might not get to finish the year at Cary-Grove ... Lee was set to begin boot camp in October, but now is worried that if he can’t get his high school diploma before that, he won’t be able to attend.
posted by delmoi at 9:16 PM on April 26, 2007


I don't know. Way back when I was in high school I was writing poor knock-offs of the Hitchhiker's Guide starring a six foot amoeba gunslinger named Bob. Disturbing? Well, perhaps. Especially the sex scenes.

What the hell's wrong with kids parents schools media government everybody these days?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:21 PM on April 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


He should have played it safe and just written about dead Iraqis.
posted by homunculus at 9:24 PM on April 26, 2007


(Actually I guess what his father said was more like he didn't know what the reasoning of the authorities was. From this article anyway).
posted by nanojath at 9:24 PM on April 26, 2007


Knee-Jerk reaction is right. I mean, jeez. Its a creative writing class. I can see involving the school. psychiatrist at first, but not having this kid arrested.

What kind of irresponsible techers to we have teaching out kids?
posted by subaruwrx at 9:25 PM on April 26, 2007


This is obviously absurd. I think that while having someone talk with the kid would be appropriate, the idea that this student committed a criminal offense ("disturbing the peace"?) is utterly asinine. And the assumption that getting emotionally alienated youngsters involved with legal charges and the criminal justice system will somehow prevent them from becoming violent is magnificently wrongheaded.
posted by washburn at 9:32 PM on April 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


"What kind of irresponsible techers to we have teaching out kids?"

Umm....have you ever MET an education major?

Think about all the airhead bimbos you went to highschool with, now imagine those girls after 5 years of "diversity awareness" and "sensitivity" courses and in charge of K-12 students, armed primarily with cracked out education theories cooked up by a some PhD desperately trying to get tenure.

Education college is as big of a joke as the public system.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:34 PM on April 26, 2007 [8 favorites]


Whew. That was a close call, eh?
posted by chunking express at 9:39 PM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Y'know, this strikes me as being the same attitude as the abstinence-only (or, indeed, none of any sort) sex education.

No, seriously. Instead of bringing things out into the open where they can be discussed rationally and people can learn, all that teachers are teaching with actions like this is that anything even slightly out of the 'norm' that you think is a bad bad bad thing. I very strongly think, as with abstinence-only programs leading to increased pregancy and STI transmission rates amongst teenagers (and, I can only imagine, adults), that these sorts of policies will result in more school violence, not less. The kids who ten, twenty, thirty years ago would have had a concerned teacher (or, heaven forfend, a parent) sit down with them and say "Hey, let's talk" will now hide and hide and hide, leading inevitaly to even worse explosions when they do pop.

Talk to kids and give them the tools they need. Sweeping shit under the rug just makes the problem worse.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:45 PM on April 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Lee was set to begin boot camp in October, but now is worried that if he can’t get his high school diploma before that, he won’t be able to attend.

The irony here is that writing an essay about killing people may get in the way of his goal of actually killing people.

Maybe he should skip boot camp and use the money from the eventual settlement to go to a decent college.
posted by blenderfish at 9:48 PM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Playing Devil's Advocate here for a moment. If writing about a killing spree and necrophilia doesn't tell the teacher that maybe this kid is actually contemplating such antics as a possible vocation choice, do we wait until he actually starts committing those acts before we alert the authorities? Maybe he never would. Maybe he was just yanking his teacher's chain for giving such a lame assignment. Living in a community is a buncha maybes. Just seems that nowadays these maybes are becoming more and more loaded.

I type these words, and yet I know what this could mean.

"There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices - to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own - for the children, and the children yet unborn." - Rod Serling
posted by ZachsMind at 9:53 PM on April 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


I wonder how much of the principal's reaction was based on fear of legal repercussions if the kid did snap someday, and he hadn't taken the threat seriously--especially in light of the disturbing things Cho had written in his creative writing class at VT. I agree the criminal charges are stupid, and involving the police at all is counterproductive. Even so, if I were in Principal Popp's position, I would have been meeting with legal counsel pretty quick to figure out the best way to CMA. This way no one can say he ignored the threat.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:54 PM on April 26, 2007


Lee's free-form essay also included the line "as a teacher, don't be surprised on inspiring the first CG school shooting."

“At the very last sentence, I said that this teacher’s method of teaching could lead to a school shooting,” Lee, a senior at Cary-Grove High School, said Wednesday.

[...] "So I had this dream last night where I went into a building, pulled out two P 90s and started shooting everyone, then had sex with the dead bodies. Well, not really, but it would be funny if I did."
Student is asked to write anything he wants. Student is an idiot. Student is rightfully brought in front of administrators. Principal overreacts and calls police.

There's almost no way this could have turned out well, though. A lazy teacher that can't motivate and discipline students enough to assign an actual topic worth writing about, combined with a classroom full of teenagers who think that they're smarter and more clever than the rest of the world, all under the authority of traditionally inept and out-of-touch school administrators: I wonder how this could ever go wrong?
posted by kyleg at 10:10 PM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much of the principal's reaction was based on fear of legal repercussions if the kid did snap someday, and he hadn't taken the threat seriously

This is it exactly and I doubt there is any MeFi here who wouldn't think long and hard about getting the authorities involved if their were faced with such a "better safe than sorry" scenario - particularly one where after the body bags are all zipped up then people start asking questions about who dropped the ball this time.

Is the school over reacting? Are the cops? Sure. This shit is running through their minds non-stop since the VT stuff went down. Why wouldn't they overreact?

Does this type of behavior by teachers and law enforcement have a "chilling effect" on free speech? Absolutely.

But who has done more damage to student expression? The teachers and their knee-jerk reaction, or Cho himself?
posted by wfrgms at 10:12 PM on April 26, 2007


The teachers, wfrgms, as if you even had to ask. Isn't that the point of your much-vaunted First Amendment?

Fact is, no cops should have been called in. The teacher should have talked to the kid or called in a shrink. Period.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:14 PM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pater Aletheias has it.

And frankly, we’re to blame for that, because whenever anything bad happens, we jump all over everyone involved as if they should have known, even when it’s a freak occurrence. That Virginia Tech thread was full of people doing the same, well before there was enough info to point fingers.

And ZM: we wait until he actually starts committing those acts before we alert the authorities?

Yeah, we do.
Based on your Metafilter ramblings, you seem dangerous to me.
Do I wait for you to actually commit a crime before we lock you up?

on preview, wfrgms -- WTF? People do damage to free expression by making use of it? I suppose those Muhammad cartoons did, too. Let's hear it for free expression
so long as it annoys, concerns, or disturbs no one
posted by dreamsign at 10:15 PM on April 26, 2007


DreamSign: "Based on your Metafilter ramblings, you seem dangerous to me.
Do I wait for you to actually commit a crime before we lock you up?"


*sniffs underarm pit*

Oy? Do I offend? I bathed this week. Really.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:23 PM on April 26, 2007


Well, kids who commit murder write about it in 3rd person, same as a kids who commits suicide. Its not uncommon.
Now, arresting him was just a way to get the kid some counseling, and they will drop the charges. Its a shame that they have to use this heavy handed, and illegal move, but we don't a method for getting people psychological help except when they are in the legal system. But thats another topic.
posted by IronWolve at 10:23 PM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is it exactly and I doubt there is any MeFi here who wouldn't think long and hard about getting the authorities involved if their were faced with such a "better safe than sorry" scenario - particularly one where after the body bags are all zipped up then people start asking questions about who dropped the ball this time.

I wouldn't have to think long or hard, because I know how stupid it would be to involve the police in such a matter.

The actions in question didn't make anybody safer. They (further?) alienated a student from his classmates, but accomplished no other good. Unless, like most Americans, you think it's good whenever somebody you don't relate to gets arrested.

But what can I say, teachers live in a stupid, stupid world. A world where they hold "code red" drills, to practice what to do when an armed intruder in the building.

Amusingly, this involves practicing sitting silently in the dark, when I am sure that if there was a real armed intruder in the building, any sane person would flee the scene (exit via door or window and *run*)

Schools. LOL!
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:37 PM on April 26, 2007


Lot of overreaching going on this past week, this story, the English professor who got in trouble because an ROTC chap phoned the cops after the Prof dropped of a bunch of stuff to be recycled, Illinois university building cleared out because of a bunch of sand.

FEAR FEAR FEAR!!!
and so it goes, it goes that way.
posted by edgeways at 10:38 PM on April 26, 2007


Them Occidentals are gettin' fidgety aren't they?
posted by Mister Cheese at 10:43 PM on April 26, 2007


Don't forget the lockdown of the entire OU campus because of A DEADLY UMBRELLA.
posted by puke & cry at 10:50 PM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


T.D. Strange wrote: Umm....have you ever MET an education major?

Think about all the airhead bimbos you went to highschool with, now imagine those girls after 5 years of "diversity awareness" and "sensitivity" courses and in charge of K-12 students, armed primarily with cracked out education theories cooked up by a some PhD desperately trying to get tenure.


I see what you're saying, and I agree that there are some pretty questionable education theories being taught today, but I don't think the sexist stereotyping ("airhead bimbos", "those girls") helps your argument. It isn't just women who are proponents of these theories. Nor do I think diversity awareness is, in itself, a bad thing. Silly misapplication of it, on the other hand, is.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:14 PM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was with you, until this:
“At the very last sentence, I said that this teacher’s method of teaching could lead to a school shooting,” Lee, a senior at Cary-Grove High School, said Wednesday.

[...] "So I had this dream last night where I went into a building, pulled out two P 90s and started shooting everyone, then had sex with the dead bodies. Well, not really, but it would be funny if I did."
This is the kind of thing my son would totally do. My son (oh God I hope) wouldn't take it as far as this guy, because my son has sense -- and he was almost arrested in the airport for joking! about! bombs! with! the! security! guard! so he learned from that experience that deliberately pissing people off can sometimes have undesirable consequences.

This guy needs to learn that, too. He knew how incendiary his remarks would be, and he wanted a reaction. He got it. This is not the kid with the butter knife; this is a kid who was being a dick, and is being dealt with appropriately.
posted by Methylviolet at 11:29 PM on April 26, 2007


And how does "diversity awareness" have anything to do with this situation? Your axe doesn't need grinding here.
posted by papakwanz at 11:33 PM on April 26, 2007


"Better safe than sorry ..."

At all times.

In every possibly conceivable manner.

In every aspect of our lives.

I can't fucking wait. (One might think that the closer we get to such utter bliss, the closer we get to the death of any form of community. Supposing of course that communities involve some minimal form of trust, that is.)
posted by rudster at 11:40 PM on April 26, 2007


Mind That Parcel!
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:57 PM on April 26, 2007


papakwantz: Thank you. You said, succinctly, what I was trying to say about the comment.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:09 AM on April 27, 2007


I'm glad that, especially after delmoi's contributions, I have very little to add to this thread. And blenderfish already played the Irony card. I'm so proud of you guys; it can be rather reassuring to find one's presence irrelevant.

And Methylviolet, you're not always full of shit but....
posted by davy at 12:44 AM on April 27, 2007


I'm tired of all the negative press that the patellar reflex is getting these days. You can't blame this crap on a monosynaptic reflex arc.
posted by srboisvert at 1:28 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


he wanted a reaction. He got it.

He wanted this reaction? Or does that matter? I hear Johnny dyed his hair purple for grad, looking for a reaction, too. Shall we call the SWAT team?

being dealt with appropriately

Is there a moral to this story that doesn't exclusively deal with the way things are but also the way they should be? Cause your idea of appropriate and mine, for creative writing, in a high school creative writing class, apparently differ.
posted by dreamsign at 1:43 AM on April 27, 2007


Seeing how the country has evolved with the Baby Boomers running the show makes me long for a Logan's Run-like solution to old age.
posted by psmealey at 3:38 AM on April 27, 2007


"Better safe than sorry ..."

You can't be too careful!

No no, seriously. Stop being so fucking careful.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 4:04 AM on April 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


TS Strange: Good to know what you think of those who practice my profession.
posted by absalom at 4:37 AM on April 27, 2007


A lazy teacher that can't motivate and discipline students enough to assign an actual topic worth writing about

what's wrong with students being allowed to pick their own subjects once in awhile? what is so unlazy, motivating, and disciplining about assigning any subject at random, such as congress or baked beans or bananas?

just because you're being insulting doesn't mean you're making any sense

oh yeah

metafilter: a classroom full of teenagers who think that they're smarter and more clever than the rest of the world
posted by pyramid termite at 5:25 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


he's being a dick, and is being dealt with appropriately

FEAR FEAR FEAR!!!

And frankly, we’re to blame for that, because whenever anything bad happens, we jump all over everyone involved as if they should have known, even when it’s a freak occurrence.

There's almost no way this could have turned out well, though.

I don't know. Way back when I was in high school I was writing poor knock-offs of the Hitchhiker's Guide
Authorities largely don't know how to deal with teen-agers. They "don't understand them," as the teens have so often claimed. And the message of large man-made calamities is often "increased vigilance," regardless if it might've made a difference, because human beings hate to be helpless, hate not to have some amulet. Alloy this with: amateur vigilanciers are ineffective and inefficient. They don't know what they're looking for, other than it must be a gigantic violation of norms to precede a mass shooting. Increased vigilance has focused them on the to-be-stopped behavioral product, and has decreased their efforts of vigilance toward the preservation of any other civilized thing. Inflammatory youths, reared in a gentler environment, are too young and short-sighted to note the change in environment.

The solution is this. Give to each educator or person of authority over kids some token--make it with some LEDs and little, non-labeled buttons that perhaps make sounds. Tell them it wards of school violence and not to fuck around with it. Latest technology, virtually guaranteed, don't be alarmed. It will make a distinctive noise when there's a shooter. Make it incapable of creating that noise.
posted by adoarns at 5:45 AM on April 27, 2007


"Blood, sex and booze...Drugs, drugs, drugs are fun. Stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, s ... t ... a ... b ..., puke."

I think the real issue here is that the kid is an honors student with a 4.2 GPA, and yet his writing sucks ass.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:45 AM on April 27, 2007


In the future, there will be no room for those "Tom Clancy" types.
posted by Balisong at 6:55 AM on April 27, 2007


Honors doesn't necessarily mean honors English. Maybe he's gifted in math.
posted by agregoli at 7:09 AM on April 27, 2007


How do you get a 4.2 GPA?
posted by spicynuts at 7:18 AM on April 27, 2007


Shrug. Been a long time since I've been in school.
posted by agregoli at 7:25 AM on April 27, 2007


TS Strange: Good to know what you think of those who practice my profession.
posted by absalom


LOL practice.

Maybe some of them need more.
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 7:31 AM on April 27, 2007



Shrug. Been a long time since I've been in school.


Maybe if he'd have only gotten the 4.2+5 gold stars extra special A+++++++++ his parents wouldn't have been on his ass so hard and he wouldn't need to write about killing and dead ass fucking and then he wouldn't have gotten arrested. He should have worked harder.
posted by spicynuts at 7:47 AM on April 27, 2007


I have no idea what you're getting at.
posted by agregoli at 8:03 AM on April 27, 2007


It always astounds me to learn that there is a significant portion of the population that would actually like to be locked up like veal just so nobody can hurt them or their increasingly dim progeny. Or more truthfully, want everybody ELSE locked in a box. I would think being dead would be better than running around scared of your own asshole all the time.

We're a country full of tragedy whores and emotional vampires railing againt the very shit we can't get enough of. I would think Cho would be a goddamn hero to half the country. He's going to end up churning up millions, if not billions, in documentaries, security enhancements, therapy for anyone 'different', Geraldo charter flights, gun sales (to protect people from people who have guns), gun sales (to protect other people from the people who just got guns to protect themselves), VT endowments, etc. He's a damn Real American goldmine.

That will probably offend anyone who is immune to irony and is out there spending money on documentaries, security enhancements, therapy for anyone 'different', Geraldo charter flights, gun sales (to protect people from people who have guns), gun sales (to protect other people from the people who just got guns to protect themselves), VT endowments, etc.

Good.
posted by umberto at 8:11 AM on April 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


How do you get a 4.2 GPA?

AP classes at my high school were bumped up one point (so an A was 5, B was 4, etc). Also some schools treat an A+ as > 4.0.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:12 AM on April 27, 2007


pyramid termite:
He said his English teacher, Nora Capron, told the students to write whatever they wanted.

They could even write “I don’t know what to write about” repeatedly for the duration of the class period, Lee recalled his teaching saying.
That sounds pretty lazy to me. It's in effect saying "I can't let you out of class early and I don't have anything prepared to teach you, so keep yourself busy with something that looks vaguely enough academic and leave me alone for the period." It's not like I'm taking a dump on teachers, just this specific one.

And as much as we like to pretend otherwise, high school is not The Real World. The kid was a provocative idiot and purposefully wrote what he did to get a reaction. Like most teenagers, he didn't fully anticipate how much of a reaction he would get. Should he have been arrested? No way. But he should have been sent to detention and a few weeks of mandatory meetings with the school counselor.

Yeah, First Amendment, blah blah blah, but part of school is teaching kids how to act once they get out, and part of that lesson is that no matter how stupid you think things are, there's some shit you just don't say in certain situations.
posted by kyleg at 8:42 AM on April 27, 2007


Yeah, First Amendment, blah blah blah, but part of school is teaching kids how to act once they get out, and part of that lesson is that no matter how stupid you think things are, there's some shit you just don't say in certain situations.

Or you'll get arrested.
posted by poweredbybeard at 8:55 AM on April 27, 2007


This kid was a wrestler who wanted to be a Marine. At my university the wrestlers and football players minored in getting busted by the cops on assault charges. It goes with the territory, those guys love to hurt people. I once had an offensive lineman tell me that he loved to fight with wrestlers because they always came in low and you could just kick them in the face.

But, of course, if that same guy also said that he thought it would be funny to shoot a bunch of people and fuck the bodies, any reasonable person would attribute it to his refined sense of humor.
posted by Huplescat at 8:58 AM on April 27, 2007


That sounds pretty lazy to me.

and making them write ON a subject would have required MORE energy from her? ... they're still scribbling away for the rest of the class ... she's still sitting and not being bothered by the kids ... and she still has to read it all

again, you're throwing out insults without thinking them through

for all you know, she was actually grading the other classes' papers while she was doing this

for all you know, she had actually submitted this at the beginning of the year as a small part of her teaching plan for the class and had it approved by the administration

for all you know, this is a fairly common assignment in english classes

but, no, the woman must be lazy because you casually throw out that accusation without thinking it through

of course, she wasn't so lazy that she would have just scrawled a grade on the paper, handed it back to the kid and not said anything to anyone about it, right?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:04 AM on April 27, 2007


At my university the wrestlers and football players minored in getting busted by the cops on assault charges.

Cool!! So far we've disparaged all teachers, all blonde airheads, all highs school wrestlers and football players in this thread. Who else can we tar and feather?
posted by spicynuts at 9:05 AM on April 27, 2007


Who else can we tar and feather?

roads and chickens
posted by pyramid termite at 9:10 AM on April 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is a month before graduation. Creative writing class is basically over. Of course the assignment was stupid. I don't really remember what I was doing a month before graduation... reviewing for exams? Or taking them. Something like that. But I mean, they should have pulled their desks in a circle and discussed random stuff. That's what I'd have assigned. That's why I'm not a teacher :)
posted by Firas at 9:12 AM on April 27, 2007


When I was a sophomore in High School, I wrote a short story about killing someone. Nobody said anything. I got a good grade; it was well written. Why didn't they call in the squad of men in little white coats? Well, the teacher was smart enough to figure out that I was writing about killing someone instead of actually killing them. It was the only time I wrote something like that, though. I would hope that if I continued to write about murder someone would have called my parents. Why, oh why, do some people insist on not using their better judgement?
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 10:12 AM on April 27, 2007


SCHOOL SAFETY SEARCHES

Cary-Grove High School continually strives to ensure that our campus and students remain safe and drug free. To this end, we would like to announce that we are taking another pro-active step. We will be piloting a positive, innovative school safety program, in partnership with Interquest Detection Canines of Chicagoland. The Interquest program will use trained detection dogs to conduct random, unannounced inspections of our campus during 4th qtr of this school year. These dogs are friendly, non-aggressive breeds such as Golden and Labrador Retrievers. They are trained to detect the presence of many forms of contraband that pose a threat in today's schools, including:

* illicit drugs and narcotics
* gunpowder-based items, and gunpowder residue
* alcoholic beverages
* commonly abused prescription and over-the-counter medications

Campus common areas, lockers, parking lots and grounds will be randomly inspected for prohibited items. If contraband is found, Cary-Grove High School will initiate the appropriate disciplinary action, in accordance with our existing policies and procedures.

Cary-Grove High School takes every reasonable precaution to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for all concerned. We believe that our new safety program will play a key role in achieving our goal.


They're just a super proactive high school! This society just gets more "positive" and "innovative" every day!
posted by nanojath at 10:20 AM on April 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


They are trained to detect the presence of many forms of contraband that pose a threat in today's schools, including:

Now with new "Minority Report" capabilities - sniffing bad thoughts before they can be turned into actions! Up against the wall you creative writers with your dangerous imaginations! Say hi to this non-aggressive, cute Lab! It's thought sniffin time!
posted by spicynuts at 10:26 AM on April 27, 2007


When I was a sophomore in High School, I wrote a short story about killing someone.

Green Eyed Monster, God, you just triggered a memory, I wrote that science fiction story where the main character kills his 11th grade English teacher - who I identified BY NAME (the teacher who assigned the story, of course) - and the teacher keeps coming back from the dead to deliver increasingly savage critiques of the student's writing. Shit, I think I even included specifics on the firearm involved and everything.

Okay, so eventually the student, relentlessly pursued by the unstoppable Mr. Blahosky, stumbles into quicksand, and as he slowly sinks its revealed that it was all a dream and that, in fact, Mr. Blahosky was parked outside his home, generating the scenario with his Nightmare Inducer device. But still: different world, huh? I read that story in class, everybody laughed out loud, including, of course, Mr. Blahosky.
posted by nanojath at 10:27 AM on April 27, 2007


The law enforcement, psychologist adjunct pundits, and teachers should shut the hell up and be arrested for just being morons. Their mere existence just waste oxygen. Has it EVER occur to them that perhaps Cho poppped because he was NEVER able to communicate his feelings and thoughts without being made fun of? So, here is a kid who is willing to communicate and f***king lock him up. What has happened to this country?
posted by watercressprincess at 11:01 AM on April 27, 2007


It's times like these that I'm glad I went to high school in the early 80's. Looking back, my creative writing projects that dealt with themes of murder, violence, mayhem, and drug abuse would have landed me in a lot of hot water in the post-Columbine atmoshpere.

Pretty sad, as that was probably the most interesting and stimulating class I had in high school. Thanks, Mr. G., for being level-headed and patient with a rebellious little twit.
posted by malocchio at 11:32 AM on April 27, 2007


One thing he didn't teach me, however, was to proofread.
posted by malocchio at 11:34 AM on April 27, 2007


When I was in High School, I wrote a series of bits where a "character" offed my classmates and teachers -- all by name. It was a series specifically because the teacher found one essay I wrote so amusing that he handed it out to all his other classes. In days, and for years afterward, I had teachers and classmates pestering me constantly for more.

Classmates got offended when I didn't off them. Folks I did off asked to be done in again if theirs wasn't funny enough. People who never knew my name called me by the character's name in the halls, because they'd seen the video -- filmed bits that another teacher asked me to make for her "annual show to class" videos. The school still has this video... me, pretending to kill some of my classmates, on video. I imagine they probably don't show it anymore.

Nobody found any of this scary or threatening. It was fun, it was humor, and everyone got it. Nobody even asked me if I was depressed.

I can't even imagine what would happen to anyone trying the same thing in today's schools.
posted by Pufferish at 11:57 AM on April 27, 2007


What could possibly cause a high school student to have a dream about violence in his school at this time of year?
And what sort of sick bastard would do a story on it obsessively fixating on gory details?
Yeah, someone who does stuff like that deserves to be shut down by the police.

*turns on CNN*
posted by Smedleyman at 12:14 PM on April 27, 2007


You guys are making me remember that in 6th grade myself and several other girls wrote a story about a teacher that kills people - based on our very beloved teacher. He loved the story, we gave it to him at the end of the year. It was when Dean Koontz and all that was very popular. I wonder what would have happened to us if the climate then was like it was now?

Kids are naturally morbid beings.
posted by agregoli at 12:21 PM on April 27, 2007


holy cow! What ever happened to being sent to the guidence couselor for bad behavior. Then the counselor talks to your parents. Then your parents give you the talk.

The culture of fear in the country is just too much!
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 12:50 PM on April 27, 2007


While it's possible that the teacher and administrator are just unthinking morons, I think it's more likely that this was serial CYA. Neither the teacher nor the principal ever intended it to end up the way it did. The teacher, upon reading it, said, "Well, this is probably harmless, but jeez if the kid ever goes postal they'll have my ass. I'd better at least tell the principal."

The principal says, "Well, this is probably nothing, but if any school violence occurs, they'll ask why I didn't see the signs. District policy says we have to report all threats to the police. Not sure this is really a threat, but I'd better call them and tell about it just so I've covered all the bases. They probably won't do anything about it."

The people at the police department received the call, and said, "This is probably bullshit, but we just got new orders from the mayor to be on the lookout for signs of school violence, so we'd better take this seriously."

And so on. Every single individual in the chain fully capable of realizing that this is stupid, but taking the cowardly way out and kicking it to the next level because of fear that they'll be in trouble if they don't.

(For the record, a student of mine this year wrote a very funny poem in which he threw me off the side of a boat and watched me drown. He shared it with me because he trusts me and because it was a damn funny piece of writing. I put it in my teaching keepsake box. The kid is Muslim, too. Hope he never gets a teacher or school like those in Cary-Grove.)
posted by Chanther at 3:06 PM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is disheartening.

I remember myself at that age. I was depressed and listening to the most antisocial music I could find (a hearty mix of gangsta rap, punk and industrial), getting high and drunk whenever I could and not really able to read any unassigned books outside of detention (I believe that a Sophomore year peppered with In School Suspensions allowed me to read The Zohar, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Marilyn Manson's autobiography. I wasn't good at any organized sports, but I was able to play ultimate frisbee every day. Some years I was mostly B's with some C's and some years I was mostly C's with some B's. I hadn't really discovered any sort of art that I could do, and I definitely hadn't discovered any of the weirdo art scenes that were saving my peers. I wasn't a lost cause but I was almost always suicidal. This was in high school. Grade school was worse. I was starting to get rebellious but I was too sheltered to now what to do.

The only adults that took me seriously were the homeless people I would bum around with downtown and English teachers.

My writing at the time was all about teenage runaways, underage lesbians in love against the world, dimension traveling gang bangers, innercity mystics raising demons and shooting drugs, sex, junkies, whores, ultraviolence, revenge, and murder full of paraphrased lines from Penthouse letters and excessive allusions to old comic books, songs, Kevin Smith's movies and John Barth's novels.

None of it was any good, but kids glommed onto it and passed it all over. I remember the day when I was in 8th grade and my parents got a call from Jeff's parents, gibbering angrily about the Satanist pornography they'd found in his backpack, and I was grounded. That was the worst thing I ever faced resulting from it; when I tested my teachers with it, they took out the red pen and graded it just like anyone else's. Some offered support, some gave me the helpful hint that the a lot of the excess profanity was just that, and some suggested writers that I might like who were a great deal better than whoever it was that ghostwrote Marilyn Manson's book.
posted by elr at 3:23 PM on April 27, 2007


I wonder if there will ever be a solution to disproportionate fear. Disproportionate fear has given us the USA PATRIOT ACT, the Iraq War, all the post Columbine bullshit, you name it, and that's just the past 10 years.

If people were to eat less red meat it would save a helluva a lot more lives than overreacting to what is essentially a freak occurrence.
posted by psmealey at 3:28 PM on April 27, 2007


So we recently bought a house in Cary, right? And now this, which offends me as a fan of civil liberties as well as a writer. All I know is that by the time any of my hypothetical children are ready for school they won't attend in this school district. Between this and some other incidents that have happened recently I'm pretty quickly learning what it's like to be a liberal in big R republican suburbia.

I mean, now I finally have a real reason to say "My tax money for this?"

Rumor is that Lee will not be allowed to enlist in the Marines.
posted by sugarfish at 8:34 AM on April 28, 2007


Now I don't feel so bad about how my son,13, was treated. This past week he was suspended for having drawn "disturbing" pictures. He drew them the night before and made the mistake of bringing them to school. He forgot that he had folded them up and put them in his pocket. He found them during class and pitched them. A friend of his pulled them out of the trash and the teacher saw them. I still think it was an overreaction, but at least he wasn't arrested.

He had to get a psych eval before he could go back to school. The doc said, "He isn't crazy".

Hey, I told the principal that, too. Meanwhile, my son was stressed out by all the hubbub and his friends were under the impression he was carted off to the funny farm. How long is the stigma going to stick to my son?

All's well that ends well?
posted by Mojojojo at 10:09 AM on April 28, 2007


sugarfish, apparently that's true.

"...I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I'm sittin' here on the bench, I mean I'm sittin here on the Group W bench 'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after...writin' an essay." He looked at me and said, "Kid, we don't like your kind, and we're gonna send you fingerprints off to Washington."

posted by dilettante at 11:52 AM on April 28, 2007


Yes, I am a bad speller. Doubly so when posting after drinking. Ha, ha.
posted by absalom at 3:08 PM on April 30, 2007


Lee is reinstated
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:15 PM on May 7, 2007


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