Well, it looks like MattD's situation is getting worse.
January 14, 2000 6:10 PM   Subscribe

Well, it looks like MattD's situation is getting worse. I'll admit he's not a saint, but damn, how is kicking him out going to help anything? If this eliminates his chances at getting into a college, his parents have effectively limited how far he'll go in life. The saddest thing to me is that he seems like a very smart person, and that somehow conflicts with the confining nature of his school and home. Good luck Matt, with whatever happens.
posted by mathowie (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You know, I don't really know Matt at all, but from his writing, he seems like a pretty level-headed person. What can we do to help? That's not a rhetorical question....I'm really interested in knowing what we can do. Would some press coverage help? Or not? I just feel like something should be done here because it's The Right Thing To Do.
posted by jkottke at 7:34 PM on January 14, 2000

Well, Jason, I've known Matt for a while now, primarily by ICQ, he was one of the first frequent contributors to MetaFilter, and we talk a few times a week. He is a pretty level-headed person. A good example is that he and I can debate political topics without it ever approaching an argument, yet our beliefs are at the complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Maybe in the past, he's been a bit stubborn and pushed issues at his school, but yeah I want to help him too. I contacted Jon Katz about it, told him the story, but haven't heard back yet. I've emailed Matt, but I doubt he'll be picking it up anytime soon. We'll figure out some way to help, there's gotta be a way.
posted by mathowie at 9:10 PM on January 14, 2000

Back when it was Matt vs. the school, I thought a little media attention was exactly the thing to help. Now that it's become Matt vs. his parents (or, more appropriately, the other way around), I'm not so sure. They don't seem like the sort of people who would respond well to the New York Times telling them how to treat their child.

On the other hand, it seems like the only recourse we have in Matt's defense.
posted by jjg at 11:40 AM on January 15, 2000

My name is Mike, I am the "author's" father. While I risk being toasted by those of you following this saga. I too share your concerns for Matt. I have been following your comments the past week, I admit mostly out of fatherly concern for my daughter. And while I agree that my daughter's essay was not very flattering of Matt, and some of her behavior was improper, there is a significant amount of history that lead up to this incident. The reality is between Matt, Maria, the teacher and the school there is plenty of blame. However, Matt stole from a teacher's student file, and posted ".....I'll destroy her - MPD" with her essay on the internet. If you where a father could you possibly see a threat to your daughter's well being? I have read one of your comments refering to Columbine, and I agree. That was the foundation of my fear and concern. Now I am very concerned for Matt. You may include me in your efforts to help him. Please take care that in your zeal, you take a thoughtful approach that indeed helps and does not make matters worse.
posted by Miked at 1:47 PM on January 15, 2000

Wow Mike, I'm impressed that you had the courage to post here and thank you for sharing your thoughts. When I first saw the essay posted, I read the "I'll destroy her" line as if it were said in a joking voice. However, as her parent, I can understand your concern completely. I'm hoping that Matt's taking this well, and isn't going to take this out on anyone or himself, but to be honest, I don't know if I could handle a situation like this when I was 17.
posted by mathowie at 7:01 PM on January 15, 2000

When I first came across the essay, I only gave it a casual glance, since I usually visit Matt's site for his posts. I was surprised at his age.. going by his online persona, I thought he was older. In any case, it just seemed to me like nothing more then teenage hi-jinx. The original essay, his response, both juvenile. Stealing the paper from the teacher’s office, really stupid, and maybe the only action deserving of punishment.

It sounds to me like Matt is being punished for the horrible crimes committed by two individuals at Columbine, which is not fair. However, Mike mentioned that there was “a significant amount of history that lead up to this incident,” so maybe there is good reason to think that Matt was threatening the author’s life, that he was serious and capable of carrying out that threat.

But I doubt it. I think that Matt just took his ranting a bit too far, did some stupid things, without taking his situation into consideration. He’s just a 17-year old kid who has screwed up in an unforgiving, fear-filled environment. I’m sure he’s not the only kid who has been in this predicament, nor will he be the last. We only know about him because of the internet, because he has a voice here. But in the end, there is really nothing that we can do. We are not involved. Mike is involved, and he’s worried about his daughter. I think he’s over-reacting, but I live up here in Canada, where the situation is not the same.

As far as the rest of us go (expect those of you who qualify as his friends), all we can do is wish him luck and hope that he find his way out of this mess that he’s got himself into.

posted by Calebos at 8:17 PM on January 15, 2000

Poor Matt,

I feel really sorry for the guy.
I've been following this saga for a few days and I have to say that his parents should be ashamed for throwing him out - how the *hell* will that help him? They'll ruin his life.

Sure, he's no saint, and yes stealing the essay was wrong. But he doesn't deserve the crap he is getting.

FWIW, if it was me in his position, I would have sued the author for character assasination / defamation and the teacher for allowing such a derogatory essay to be used as exam material, when this whole thing started.

posted by tomcosgrave at 11:06 AM on January 16, 2000

It is a constant amazement to me how inane high school is. The social dynamics, the power plays, the fighting and jockying for the worthless baubles of popularity -- really, these are just an extraordinary joke.

I hope Matt has the sense to realize that what's going on and what has gone on will eventually seem like farts in the wind.

I hope Matt has the sense to learn to not fight certain fights, because the opponents aren't worth consideration. The big fights, the interesting fights, are in the world external to the walls of the high school. And the power structure and pecking order you find there bear no relationship to any real world structure. The exception, of course, might be a prison -- and I don't speak comically here. I do think the power dynamics within a prison must be very similar to those within a high school.

So, Matt, learn to let it roll off your back. Learn to suck it up, take your licks, knowing that you'll win the bigger and more important fights in life. Be kind to other people, even those who are stupid and abusive. Be big enough to say your sorry. And don't fight for matters of principle that are connected to issues of no consequence. You're going to have chances for more important things. Notwithstanding what your teachers and principal says, high school means precious little in your ultimate success in this world. I don't doubt for a minute that when Matt hits his stride, he will be doing something like writing for a major magazine in New York or working as a policy analyist in Washington. Naugatuck HS and Maria DeBeauvernet and Mrs. Allen [isn't she a total jerk?] will just be dim memories. Good luck, Matt. -- Dan Morrison
posted by Dan Morrison at 9:58 AM on January 17, 2000

I have a few questions that Matt (when he's back online) or
maybe someone else here can answer:

--why exactly was MattD suspended? what was the exact
reason given by the school?
--who all was involved in this suspension? was it at the
request of the girl's parents? at the request of the teacher?
was it an independent decision on the part of the school
--why have his parents kicked him out of the house?

big pieces of this story are missing and I'm trying to
put all of it together....
posted by rebeccablood at 3:46 PM on January 17, 2000

« Older Jon Katz' new book to be made into a movie?   |   Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments