Updated: High school kid arrested, charged for writing violent fiction
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Ours is not a society that indulges in a lot of contemplation. Shit -- shit like the massacre at Virginia Tech -- happens, and we react with shock, even while we steadfastly refuse to dig into what might have helped cause the shit to happen in the first place.
It is a kind of national psychological laziness, perhaps, or an unwillingness to look behind the curtain and see what the margins of our society are really like. Whatever the case, it leaves us with only these kinds of desperate-to-appear-like-we're-doing-something-substantive responses â€¦
A high school senior was arrested after writing that "it would be funny" to dream about opening fire in a building and having sex with the dead victims, authorities said.
Another passage in the essay advised his teacher at Cary-Grove High School: "don't be surprised on inspiring the first CG shooting," according to a criminal complaint filed this week.
Allen Lee, 18, faces two disorderly conduct charges over the creative-writing assignment, which he was given on Monday in English class at the northern Illinois school.
Students were told to "write whatever comes to your mind. Do not judge or censor what you are writing," according to a copy of the assignment.
According to the complaint, Lee's essay reads in part, "Blood, sex and booze. Drugs, drugs, drugs are fun. Stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, sâ€¦tâ€¦aâ€¦bâ€¦puke. So I had this dream last night where I went into a building, pulled out two P90s and started shooting everyone, then had sex with the dead bodies. Well, not really, but it would be funny if I did."
Officials described the essay as disturbing and inappropriate.
Lee said he was just following the directions. [...]
Defense attorney Dane Loizzo said Allen Lee has never been disciplined in school and signed Marine enlistment papers last week.
A conviction could bring up to 30 days in jail and a maximum $1,500 fine.
I don't pretend to have answers to the questions brought up by the VA Tech and other school massacres of recent years, but it's certainly not a crack-down on creative writing (especially in this case, where the kid didn't (according to the report) show any of the other signs of impending meltdown).
Update: Up from the comments, crazyquilt hits it on the head:
"The upshot of charging a person with disorderly conduct for having, essentially, disordered thoughts is both fascinating and disturbing. If the "conduct" is writing, well, that bounces back to freedom of expression, particularly given the wording of the assignment.
"However, the strong implication is not that it was the writing that was somehow illegal, it was the thoughts that were prosecutable. In other words, one's thoughts are indivisible from one's conduct.
"Following that logic, thinking treasonous thoughts is a capital offense.
"The water continues to heat. Has anyone noticed that it's perilously close to boiling?"
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.