Sunday, March 06, 2005


Now this.

Exactly how much of this thought police bullshit are we going to put up with? How much cretinous, non-imaginative, death-of-the-soul crapola from bureaucrats and pig-headed morons are we going to allow to go on? I mean, this is absolutely ridiculous. This is how we're fighting "terrorism", a straw man to begin with?

This is offensive on so many levels I don't even know where to begin.



As several of those who have commented on this post have observed, this situation is as much a result of Columbine as it is the events of 9/11 and their aftermath. The more general issue is one Matt Cheney addresses on his blog.

I remember the aftermath of Columbine quite well, as it affected my stepdaughter, Erin, to a ridiculous degree. Simply because she was different from other students, because she wore black, because she sometimes wore punk clothes (which, even though it hardly matters, teachers and administrators couldn't differentiate from "goth"), she ran into all kinds of problems at her middle school at the time (despite being a great studnet). She survived that era of hysteria, but it did leave its mark on her, and for others--quite harmless students whose only crime was suffering from unconventional imaginations and an "excess" of creativity--the repercussions were much more serious. (As I think Jon Stewart or one of his guests said, when the serial killer recently arrested for murdering more than ten women was found to have been an upstanding leader in his local church, you didn't suddenly see people being wary of local church members across the country, or their kids.)

It's true that there may be facts about this Kentucky case that have not come out yet, but as of this moment, the whole thing seems to stink rather badly.


At 6:56 PM, Anonymous Mike O. said...

I'd like to read the story he wrote to see just what it was they thought was so troublesome about it.

Generally speaking, one thing the terrorists did to this country, in my opinion, is pushed a growing segment of the population toward ultra-conservatism. Frankly, the entire trend bothers me. A lot. I don't know how long it will take to swing back the other way, but I hope I live to see it anyway. We live in scary times.

At 9:00 PM, Blogger JeffV said...

It's getting horribly close to a situation in which one can commit "thought crimes".


At 10:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In another article I found it says that the "judge raised Poole's bond from one to five thousand dollars after prosecutors requested it, citing the seriousness of the charge."

I agree entirely with Mike that people should read this short story. This is very frightening. This is even more frightening because, when I think about it, and let's say that the general public will be able to read the story at one point in the future, and see nothing offensive or find anything which is remotely suggestive of terrorism, and yet I believe there will be a large group of people still pushing for his prosecution.


At 5:02 AM, Anonymous Mike O. said...

I woke up this morning to the opening lines of Neil Young's song Ohio running through my head. Looking back on it, it makes me want to cry in frustration. Who were the terrorists then? Unfortunately I can now imagine the smug cries from the far right: "Burn the witch! Burn the witch!"

The other day on television I watched a couple guys a generation younger than myself say that we live in an age where there is no such thing as privacy anymore so get over it, and then shrug it off laughing. But it's not a joke. If it comes to the point where even their thoughts are not safe...will they still be laughing then?

At 7:20 AM, Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Shit, when I was a teenager I hated my high school, thought of the other kids as zombies, vultures, yah de yah. If I'd had the guns and been a little less smart, I swear to God, there might have been a Scottish Columbine. Christ knows, it's hardly atypical for adolescents at the rock bottom of a fucking pecking order which is grinding their fucking face into the dirt to write fiction or even straightforward journal entries which are basically revenge fantasies. Emphasis on the word "fantasies". Sure, these could be warning signals of someone getting further and further out there on the edge. It could just be him venting steam. It could even just be A FUCKING STORY. But even if that story *is* a real signal of him wanting to kill every last motherfucking bastard in his high school, it's fuck all to do with *terrorism*. Where's the political element? If the kid needs anything it's fucking therapy not jail.

At 8:49 AM, Blogger Jason Erik Lundberg said...

I read about this a week ago (from Bookslut, I think), and I'm still appalled. When I was in high school, I was taking a creative writing class, and I wrote a story about two of my classmates who get taken over my some amorphous tricksy deity, and who end up blowing up the high school and killing a lot of the students. To think that I would have been arrested for writing that story now, or at the very least kicked out of school.

This sickens me to the base of my soul. I recently re-watched the film of 1984 on DVD, and it's striking how close we are to that. This kid was basically ratted out by his grandparents for thoughtcrime, and it's the increasing number of incidents like this that make me want to move to Canada.

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Keith said...

I wrote stories like this in high school, and so apaprently did a lot of people. This kid is what we were: frustrated by the world of high school and looking for a creative outlet.

The thing is, if they take away the pens and paint and pencils and don't let kids have the creative outlet, they're going to take the violent outlet, out of desperation.

Which means of course that Columbine was just the start.

Soon, we'll all be terrorists, because they'll have left us no other choice but mindless conformity.

At 7:08 PM, Blogger Patrick said...


I believe this is my first time leaving a comment. I haven't any more information on this than you do.

You and your commenters make excellent points about over-reacting to students just displaying their creativity.

The one thing, however, that keeps coming back to me is this fact: police were called by the student's GRANDPARENTS.

Yes, old folks can certainly over-react. Maybe they aren't in touch with the boy at all. Maybe they're both subject to fits of mania because of advanced years.

But there's that part of me that wonders why one's grandparents would take something so seriously that they'd call the police immediately. It makes me wonder if they have reason to believe -- perhaps from his behavior otherwise -- that there might be more going on than just him expressing his creative abilities.

I don't mean to disagree with you, but I have to wonder if the child's family might know him better than the local police; if THEY were concerned, does that not make a "threat" perhaps slightly more plausible?

Far be it from me to stifle creative expression. I hope that when the case is properly investigated, all of you will have been proven right, and that the school, police and teachers will have learned a valuable lesson about jumping to conclusions. On the other hand, with the safety of students at stake, I can't find myself as quick to condemn their concern, particularly when the boy's own family initiated the whole scare.


At 9:25 PM, Blogger banzai cat said...

I've read that story before and the first thought that comes to mind is 'Columbine', not terrorism. But then again, I live in Asia, not in the US.

That being said, it may have been the grandparents who called in the cops but I think it also says something about the kid's family when their first recourse is to call in the authorities. At the extreme, don't you normally call in a counselor or a psychiatrist in cases like these?

At 6:14 AM, Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Bingo, banzai cat. In fact, the very first thing to do might, one would suggest, be to TALK TO THE FUCKING KID. Are his parents or grandparents incapable of taking him aside and asking why he's writing stuff so dark and shocking... if there's something going on inside him that this is his (only?) way of dealing with? Are they too fucking craven in their cowardice or are they just plain cretins that they have to run to an authority figure - cop or shrink - rather than *be* the (responsible, accepting, guiding) authority figure that he might just need? Even assuming this *is* more than just a goddamn zombie story, if this kid's own family can't talk to him about why he's writing this stuff, it's no fucking wonder that he's writing it. Even *assuming* this is some kind of sick revenge fantasy, the million dollar question is surely to God, revenge for what? Is there something going on at school, son? Is there something you need to talk about? You know you can talk to us, son.

But no. Stick him on Ritalin, send him off to boot camp, call the police on him and tell him in every which way, yeah, boy, society doesn't like your attitude, boy, *we* don't like your attitude, boy. We don't trust you. We don't care about you. We're afraid of you.

Unless they've gone through all the talk already, had him in therapy, and found out that the kid is just bad-to-the-bone, a puppy-killing psychopath incapable of empathy, then I don't know which is worse - the demonisation of a fucked-up kid by society in general and his family in particular (How To Breed A Columbine Killer In Ten Easy Steps); or the abuse of anti-terrorist legislation to criminalise a private articulation of antipathy to the social order (Police States And How To Build Them By The Back Door).

Scary biscuits, as they say here in Scotland... either way.

At 8:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whether or not this kid is a psycho waiting to explode or the next great horror author, is kind of beside the point. Does it matter what his story said, or if the kid had other problems?

Not in the big picuture. What matters, and what really infuriates those who get upset by this story, is what George Bush did in March of 2003: he attacked Iraq on a fictitious proposition. We did not retaliiate against Hussein because of any actual crime (and don't tell me gassing his own people, that happened in 1988 and Reagan supported those actions), but on the potentiality of action. Just like this kid is being punished for the potentiality of a crime. I guess Philip Dick's Minority Report was quite prescient. What is scary is the conservatives are the precogs.

Kelly Shaw

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

I think it's a stretch to blame the furor over this story on how Bush got us into Iraq. "Zero tolerance," the same kind of "panic" and hysteria that can get a child expelled for brining a BUTTER KNIFE to school was in existence long before Bush attacked Saddam.

Also, I think it's a case of jumping to major conclusions to suggest that the grandparents DIDN'T talk to him before calling police, or to claim that their strategy for handling him is simply to "stick him on Ridalin."

We don't know where his parents even are, based on the information in the article. We don't know what role his grandparents play in his life. We don't know if he takes Ridalin or any other medication. But it's somehow okay to assume we know the answers to these questions while at the same time we condemn others for assuming that they knew the boy's real intent? Sorry, I'm not buying that.

I'm willing to assume that the boy's story was innocent fiction until a judge decides otherwise; but to be fair, I must assume that the kid's grandparents had their own reasons that the article doesn't address for taking this piece of fiction a little more seriously. As a television producer with a background in news, I can only politely remind everyone that we do not have all of the facts based on the paltry amount of information released so far.

At 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush may not be the reason for "zero tolerance," but he is most definitely the poster boy.

Kelly Shaw

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Mike O. said...

I've been reading with interest everyone's comments. I want to repeat (and perhaps express a little better) my opening comment of my first post on this subject, that it would be good to read the story he wrote to better understand the context, but I would add to that as well: It would also be nice to learn more about his background, and what, if anything, led up this whole business. But having said that, even if the facts show that the kid was certifiably psycho, it wouldn't change my feelings on everything I said after that, as that is part of my take on the state of the world today. It's certainly understandable to see a story like this emerge and have it foster the type of commentary seen on this discussion because the problem is of course much deeper than just this one case.

I hope this doesn't track too far off the subject but I wanted to point out that Hunter S. Thompson was a vocal supporter of civil rights, and especially privacy rights for authors and others. There is also a New University Feature, today's date: Thompson an Icon of Gonzo Journalism which I thought presents a balanced argument concerning the debt aggressive, truth-seeking literary journalism today owes to HST. When I first heard he committed suicide a couple things occurred to me: That he may have been suffering from health problems. That alcohol and drug abuse may have finally caught up with him. That the world today simply was not one he wanted to continue living in. Having now researched it a bit more I think there may have been some measure of truth in all of it. Apparently others had similar thoughts on the matter but these are easy enough to search out with any good search engine, so will leave it at that.

At 3:57 AM, Blogger Joe Gordon said...

What next? Will the Thought Police start rounding up suspicious books and films for public burning? Will "Heathers be first into the flames in case it encourages school violence? Will we end up with a Ray Bradbury "Usher II" future where everything potentially nasty has been erased from culture?

Oh, I'm being silly of course - only repressive, non-secular regimes would have such a religious thought police controlling what we read and watch... Oh... yes.... er...

At 12:12 PM, Blogger narniafan123 said...

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