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Student Arrested for Writing Essay

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the thinkofthechildren-tag-is-appropriate-here dept.

Censorship 890

mcgrew writes "The Chicago Tribune reports that an eighteen year old straight-A High School student was arrested for writing an essay that 'disturbed' his teacher. Even though no threats were made to a specific person, 18 year-old Allen Lee's English teacher convened a panel to discuss the work. As a result of that discussion, the police were called in. 'The youth's father said his son was not suspended or expelled but was forced to attend classes elsewhere for now. Today, Cary-Grove students rallied behind the arrested teen by organizing a petition drive to let him back in their school. They posted on walls quotes from the English teacher in which she had encouraged students to express their emotions through writing.'"

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The arresting officers (0, Troll)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902753)

Need to be shot at dawn.

Re:The arresting officers (0, Offtopic)

ductonius (705942) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902781)

Why are you bringing Dawn into this? What did she do?

Re:The arresting officers (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18902821)

So you're advocating a zero-tolerance policy towards the enforcers of ridiculous zero-tolerance policies? That's pretty recursive, don't you think?

Re:The arresting officers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18902969)

Recursive AND entertaining at the same time.

Re:The arresting officers (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18902861)

I want to read the essay and judge for myself.

Re:The arresting officers (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902983)

Given the lack of what I would consider an adequate response (which to me wouldn't have been an arrest, but rather a referal for counseling and a flag against buying weapons in the state gun background check database) they just might- by this very kid.

Well there you go... (4, Insightful)

ellem (147712) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902767)

On the off chance the kid is a nut job I guess you need to check him out. I'm not sure you need to arrest him....

Re:Well there you go... (3, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902859)

Agreed, but there is a level of sensitivity you use in such situations. Of course when I was in school and on the one occasion I wrote something mildly depressing I was told to basically "walk it off." At that point I don't even remember why I was depressed but it was a short lived spell.

Of course how many of these "depressed kids" [myself included in that instant] are just bored and looking for attention, I wonder.

in this case would it have been so hard to pull the kid aside with the parents and ask what's up? Instead of going all omgbbq!!!!111oneCRAZIES over it?

Tom

Knee-jerk reaction to Virginia Tech (5, Insightful)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903299)

Face it, this is happening simply because of Virginia Tech. Schools have become (more) paranoid of students so ANYONE that writes an essay, a story, a letter, draws a picture, makes a movie, makes a comment that could possibly lead to violence down the line will get you picked up by the authorities. I don't like it personally, but thats what happening.

My friend had a similar situation happen to him after the Columbine High School shooting. He made up a death-list and talked about it to friends and other students in school PRIOR to Columbine. After Columbine, he was picked up by the school administrators and police and spent several days in consoling until they decided that he wasn't serious.

Re:Well there you go... (4, Insightful)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903067)

The USA is becoming a state of fear, evidenced by such happenings. Fear causes the reactions to become more and more inappropriate. I really don't know whose fault it is or where it will end. The country that promotes freedom is losing it fast but it's hard to see from the inside. I assume at some point in the next 50 years the word "freedom" will have been completely redefined but it will have happened so slower that nobody knows.

Re:Well there you go... (1, Insightful)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903313)

I assume at some point in the next 50 years the word "freedom" will have been completely redefined but it will have happened so slower that nobody knows.

Just ask George Orwell; 1984 discusses exactly how the word "freedom" will change.

Re:Well there you go... (1, Insightful)

endianx (1006895) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903315)

Yep. Just like boiling a frog [wikipedia.org] .

Racist Reaction? (4, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903099)

On the off chance the kid is a nut job I guess you need to check him out

Allen Lee - is that like Stan Lee or Bruce Lee? Just wondering if we have a teacher running in fear of young asian men.

Overreactions (2, Insightful)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902809)

I think the various over-reactions to the VaTech tragedy are sad. For example, this and also Yale banning stage weapons. I wonder what was in the essay that made the teacher go bonkers. I guess she should have told her students just to write about fluffy clouds and easter bunny.

Article text (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18902933)

Student writes essay, arrested by police

By Jeff Long and Carolyn Starks
Tribune staff reporters

April 26, 2007

High school senior Allen Lee sat down with his creative writing class on Monday and penned an essay that so disturbed his teacher, school administrators and police that he was charged with disorderly conduct.

"I understand what happened recently at Virginia Tech," said the teen's father, Albert Lee, referring to last week's massacre of 32 students by gunman Seung-Hui Cho. "I understand the situation."

But he added: "I don't see how somebody can get charged by writing in their homework. The teacher asked them to express themselves, and he followed instructions."

Allen Lee, an 18-year-old straight-A student at Cary-Grove High School, was arrested Tuesday near his home and charged with disorderly conduct for an essay police described as violently disturbing but not directed toward any specific person or location.

The youth's father said his son was not suspended or expelled but was forced to attend classes elsewhere for now.

Today, Cary-Grove students rallied behind the arrested teen by organizing a petition drive to let him back in their school. They posted on walls quotes from the English teacher in which she had encouraged students to express their emotions through writing.

"I'm not going to lie. I signed the petition," said senior James Gitzinger. "But I can understand where the administration is coming from. I think I would react the same way if I was a teacher."

Cary Police Chief Ron Delelio said the charge was appropriate even though the essay was not published or posted for public viewing.

Disorderly conduct, which carries a penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine, is filed for pranks such as pulling a fire alarm or dialing 911. But it can also apply when someone's writings can disturb an individual, Delelio said.

"The teacher was alarmed and disturbed by the content," he said.

But a civil rights advocate said the teacher's reaction to an essay shouldn't make it a crime.

"One of the elements is that some sort of disorder or disruption is created," said Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. "When something is done in private--when a paper is handed in to a teacher--there isn't a disruption."

The "key outcomes" this month for the Creative English class was for students to identify and utilize poetic conventions to communicate ideas and emotions. With that in mind, teachers reminded students that if they read something that posed a threat to self or others, the school could take action, said High School District 155 Supt. Jill Hawk.

The English teacher read the essay and reported it to a supervisor and the principal. A round-table discussion with district officials conveyed, with lively debate, and they decided to report it to the police.

"Our staff is very familiar with adolescent behavior. We're very well versed with types of creativity put into writing. We know the standards of adolescent behavior that are acceptable and that there is a range," Hawk said.

"There can certainly be writing that conveys concern for us even though it does not name names location or date," he said.

The charge against Lee comes as schools across the country wrestle with how to react in the wake of the shootings at the Virginia Tech campus at Blacksburg, Va.

Bomb threats at high schools in Schaumburg and Country Club Hills have caused evacuations, and extra police were on duty at a Palos Hills high school this week because of a threatening note found in the bathroom of a McDonald's restaurant a half-mile away.

Experts say the charge against Lee is troubling because it was over an essay that even police say contained no direct threats against anyone at the school. However, Virginia Tech's actions toward Cho came under heavy scrutiny after the killings because of the "disturbing" plays and essays teachers say he had written for classes.

Simmie Baer, an attorney with the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University, called the Cary incident an example of zero-tolerance policies gone awry. Children, she said, are not as sophisticated as adults and often show emotion through writing or pictures, which is what teachers should want because it is a safe outlet.

jjlong@tribune.com

cstarks@tribune.com

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

Re:Overreactions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18902947)

Easter Bunny? That's a fertility symbol, and even the word "Easter" is from the name of the heathen goddess Austron. Can't have anything that disagrees with Christianity taught, you know! That'd be as bad as teaching science, or even truth!

Re:Overreactions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18903101)

Congratulations. Your attack on the OMG oppressive Christian establishment!1 is, indeed, an overreaction.

The Essay? (4, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902827)

I've been following this case for a couple of days now, but can't seem to find anyone who has posted the essay anywhere. So I appeal to the /.ers -- anyone know of a copy?

Without seeing the essay in question, we can't know whether there were substantiable threats being made, or whether this clearly is a free speech issue. From all accounts, it appear to be the latter, but I would like to have all doubts removed.

Re:The Essay? (1)

Tokimasa (1011677) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902889)

Even then, there's a difference between a work of fiction and a threat. You would have to understand the references made in the work to know if it is a threat or a work of fiction.

It was all a misunderstanding (5, Funny)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902907)

It was all a misunderstanding. The student was clearly using the new Speech to Text feature on Windows Vista. Below is the quote that disturbed the teacher:

Dear aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all

Re:The Essay? (5, Informative)

bryce1012 (822567) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903039)

A link to another article, with an (admittedly short) excerpt, and a picture of the student (which, sadly, may shed some more light on the issue):

http://www.dailyherald.com/story.asp?id=306398 [dailyherald.com]

Text of Article (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18902837)

High school senior Allen Lee sat down with his creative writing class on Monday and penned an essay that so disturbed his teacher, school administrators and police that he was charged with disorderly conduct.

"I understand what happened recently at Virginia Tech," said the teen's father, Albert Lee, referring to last week's massacre of 32 students by gunman Seung-Hui Cho. "I understand the situation."

But he added: "I don't see how somebody can get charged by writing in their homework. The teacher asked them to express themselves, and he followed instructions."

Allen Lee, an 18-year-old straight-A student at Cary-Grove High School, was arrested Tuesday near his home and charged with disorderly conduct for an essay police described as violently disturbing but not directed toward any specific person or location.

The youth's father said his son was not suspended or expelled but was forced to attend classes elsewhere for now.

Today, Cary-Grove students rallied behind the arrested teen by organizing a petition drive to let him back in their school. They posted on walls quotes from the English teacher in which she had encouraged students to express their emotions through writing.

"I'm not going to lie. I signed the petition," said senior James Gitzinger. "But I can understand where the administration is coming from. I think I would react the same way if I was a teacher."

Cary Police Chief Ron Delelio said the charge was appropriate even though the essay was not published or posted for public viewing.

Disorderly conduct, which carries a penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine, is filed for pranks such as pulling a fire alarm or dialing 911. But it can also apply when someone's writings can disturb an individual, Delelio said.

"The teacher was alarmed and disturbed by the content," he said.

But a civil rights advocate said the teacher's reaction to an essay shouldn't make it a crime.

"One of the elements is that some sort of disorder or disruption is created," said Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. "When something is done in private--when a paper is handed in to a teacher--there isn't a disruption."

The "key outcomes" this month for the Creative English class was for students to identify and utilize poetic conventions to communicate ideas and emotions. With that in mind, teachers reminded students that if they read something that posed a threat to self or others, the school could take action, said High School District 155 Supt. Jill Hawk.

The English teacher read the essay and reported it to a supervisor and the principal. A round-table discussion with district officials conveyed, with lively debate, and they decided to report it to the police.

"Our staff is very familiar with adolescent behavior. We're very well versed with types of creativity put into writing. We know the standards of adolescent behavior that are acceptable and that there is a range," Hawk said.

"There can certainly be writing that conveys concern for us even though it does not name names location or date," he said.

The charge against Lee comes as schools across the country wrestle with how to react in the wake of the shootings at the Virginia Tech campus at Blacksburg, Va.

Bomb threats at high schools in Schaumburg and Country Club Hills have caused evacuations, and extra police were on duty at a Palos Hills high school this week because of a threatening note found in the bathroom of a McDonald's restaurant a half-mile away.

Experts say the charge against Lee is troubling because it was over an essay that even police say contained no direct threats against anyone at the school. However, Virginia Tech's actions toward Cho came under heavy scrutiny after the killings because of the "disturbing" plays and essays teachers say he had written for classes.

Simmie Baer, an attorney with the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University, called the Cary incident an example of zero-tolerance policies gone awry. Children, she said, are not as sophisticated as adults and often show emotion through writing or pictures, which is what teachers should want because it is a safe outlet.

AC to avoid whoring.
$RANDOMLUSER

Re:Text of Article (0)

Noishe (829350) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903195)

How dare anyone mod this informative.

This is a direct copy and paste from a practically ad free one page article. It is direct plagairism. I don't care if he posted as anonymous coward.

Understandable? (3, Insightful)

darjen (879890) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902839)

In the aftermath of recent events, such paranoia can be understandable. But then again, even in normal circumstances, I wouldn't expect anything more from the public school system.

Re:Understandable? (4, Interesting)

akheron01 (637033) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902931)

I totally agree, I remember when I was in public middle school right after the columbine shootings. One night my friend had dug out of his closet an old set of rockem sockem robots, which we played with for about 20 minutes before they broke. The next day I was talking to him in the hallway about how they were pieces of crap and I said "I hate the guy that invented rockem sockem robots." Well, apparently someone heard and they suspended me for 3 weeks under the no tolerance for school violence policies that were in action after the columbine shooting.

Re:Understandable? (2, Insightful)

Shippy (123643) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903155)

Um, I can't help but think you're leaving something out of this story. It just doesn't sound plausible.

Re:Understandable? (1)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903317)

Have you ever been to a public school? Pretty believable to me, I know many kids who got in-school suspensions for things like this, and that was before Columbine. Maybe you got lucky and found the non-crazy schools but if so you're the exception :P

Re:Understandable? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903211)

Well, apparently someone heard and they suspended me for 3 weeks under the no tolerance for school violence policies that were in action after the columbine shooting.

It's unfortunate for you that, like me, your parent[s] was/were not willing to stand up for you.

For example, I used to be bullied a lot, one kid finally attacked me and I beat the shit out of him, then got expelled. I had never gotten in trouble for violence before, because I had always been the victim. My mother rolled over and let it happen and I had to bike to a school out of my borough.

But the truth is that saying you hate something is protected speech, and your parents taught you to roll over and take it instead of standing up for your rights. (Not saying that's the lesson you learned, but it's what they were teaching.)

Re:Understandable? (2, Insightful)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902999)

I'm afraid I have to agree. It's not like this is something out of left field, I for one was expecting something like this to happen. I'm honestly surprised it took this long after the VT shooting for this to happen, I was expecting a wave the next day or something. With the media playing up his 'disturbing' writing, which is really no more disturbing than many Hollywood thrillers, and blaming it for his problems it's understandable that another student's 'disturbing' writing would lead to something like this.

Stuff like this will always happen after a tragedy until people realize that reality is not digital, no single thing can ever be pointed to as a blame or conclusive evidence that something bad is going to happen. Blaming video games, movies, rock and roll, Harry Potter, or 'disturbing' writing is pointless, none of that ever made anyone who they are or caused anything on it's own.

Re:Understandable? (2, Insightful)

Bottlemaster (449635) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903261)

It's not like this is something out of left field
I, too, was expecting the announcement of The War on School Shootings.

Re:Understandable? (1, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903177)

What gets me about this isn't the paranoia; the paranoia is justified in view of recent events.

What disturbs me is the utter lack of an appropriate response. It's almost as bad as the 1970s Catholic Bishop response to a peadophile priest: bring him in, talk to him, censor him for a bit, then reassign him to a new location to offend again.

That's basically what they did with this kid- arrested him, charged him, released him to a new school where nobody knows him or how to deal with his insecurities.

That is UTTERLY the wrong solution. I'd settle for- no arrest, referal to mental health professionals, keep the kid with his friends so he has an outlet for his feelings, and give him his very own entry in the state gun control lookup database to prevent him from legally buying a firearm. The 2nd and 3rd parts are more important than the 1st and the 4th- but ALL need to happen given recent events. The arrest probably accomplishes #4 at best- and leaves #2 and #3 completely undone.

What is "disorderly conduct"? (3, Interesting)

bcmm (768152) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902853)

It sounds like a pretty scary catch-all if it includes writing essays. what else is considered "disorderly conduct" under US law?

Also, doesn't the US have a constitution which makes freedom of expression an absolute right?

Re:What is "disorderly conduct"? (2, Interesting)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903063)

It sounds like a pretty scary catch-all if it includes writing essays. what else is considered "disorderly conduct" under US law?

Also, doesn't the US have a constitution which makes freedom of expression an absolute right?


Yes, but that does not exempt you from the consequences of exercising that right. The government can't exercise prior restraint - i.e. they think you are going to say something they don't like and arrest you for what you might say. You can, however, be arrested for the consequences of your act.

The government appears to have overreacted in this case; but that does not violate the writer's first amendment rights. You can argue that the response has a chilling effect on other students and might be considered an unlawful restraint, but that's a different argument.

Re:What is "disorderly conduct"? (2, Informative)

xappax (876447) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903093)

what else is considered "disorderly conduct" under US law

Disorderly conduct is an old standby charge which cops use when they want to arrest someone who hasn't committed any identifiable crimes. The definitions vary from region to region, but they're generally loose enough that pretty much any behavior that the public disapproves of can be shoehorned into its definition.

For example, a friend of mine was recently arrested (and assaulted by cops) for "disorderly conduct". His crime was stomping on an American flag (his own) to illustrate his absolute right to free expression. In his case, and this student's as well, the charges will probably be ultimately dropped, but not before a stressful and embarrassing ordeal in the American justice system.

Re:What is "disorderly conduct"? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903275)

And, of course, he'll now have an arrest record and be barred for life from many types of jobs. No matter how innocent he was.

Re:What is "disorderly conduct"? (1)

Rogue974 (657982) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903243)

Most forms of speech are protected, but threats, slander, liable, those types of speach are not a right.  Threaten to shoot someone, yeah, that is illegal.  Make unfounded statements that damage somoene's reputation, yeah, that is illegal too.  Express an opinion, pretty much protected.  So while it isn't all speech is protected, most forms of speech are protected.

Don't know what this kids wrote, but did see someone posted a small excerpt fo the paper and he wrote some crazy disturbing stuff, but that little excerpt, I can't see how that would qualify as not protected.  IANAL

Disorderly conduct? (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902863)

FTA:
Disorderly conduct, which carries a penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine, is filed for pranks such as pulling a fire alarm or dialing 911. But it can also apply when someone's writings can disturb an individual, Delelio said

If this is true, then the disorderly conduct statute should be declared unconstitutional. If writing something that could disturb any random individual (without directly threatening that individual) is an arrestable offense, then the very idea of free speech is pretty much out the window. After all, if the First Amendment isn't there to protect possibly disturbing speech, what is it there for?

Re:Disorderly conduct? (1)

FinalCut (555823) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902979)

if the family sues over it the case could very well move up through the court system and the law, eventually, would be declared unconstitutional if the provided definition is actually what the law says.

Re:Disorderly conduct? (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903071)

Without taking the time to lookup the text of the law, I'm guessing it's supposed to apply to a direct or implied threat to an individual.

That being said, most lawmakers are, for lack of a better word, stupid. So there's a pretty good chance it's written poorly.

Re:Disorderly conduct? (3, Insightful)

waldonova (769039) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903175)

A good point, but where does the law even fit into this? Having a psychotic break isn't illegal. If he did snap, then wouldn't he be considered unfit to face the charges? You don't defend society by jailing an essay writer, you do it by getting a psychiatric evaluation on someone that you have reason to believe will crack. If they are troubled, get them help.

The teachers did the right thing by being cautious and that shouldn't be discouraged. Perhaps some refining of the "what to do when we think we have a problem kid" procedure would be beneficial.

Re:Disorderly conduct? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18903225)

Yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater isn't a direct threat either.

Re:Disorderly conduct? (4, Interesting)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903239)

Wasn't it the teacher who incited the disorder? The student turn in homework expecting it to remain visible to the teacher only. However, she shared it with others which sparked a heated debate. The action that lead to the disorder was not the writing of the paper but the sharing of the paper. I propose that the TEACHER be arrested for the charges.

Layne

Re:Disorderly conduct? (1)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903293)

I'm sure it can't be /absolutely/ true, otherwise you could, for example, end up with 20 people who find your Slashdot post 'disturbing' (sounds like a personal judgement to me) and you're up on twenty counts of disorderly conduct ;-)

mod parent up (1)

jockeys (753885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903309)

hear hear! mod parent up.

Too bad we can't judge the essay for ourselves :-/ (1)

orcrist (16312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902871)

It would be a lot easier to know whether the reactions to the essay are over the top if we could actually read the essay. I didn't see a link in the article to the essay text...

Re:Too bad we can't judge the essay for ourselves (1)

Schnoogs (1087081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902973)

What is up with your sig? You do know there is a world outside of that city?

First it was video games, now essays. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902877)

First it was video games to the geeks were look at as possible threats, now it is the people who write good essays. What is next a person who is good with Music. But yet they let gang members in the school, wearing Gang Colors, sports that incorage kids to be agressive, and drinking is OK. These people are the ones that schools need to work harder to understand but the kids who do good in school who may do something that is uncool or perhaps a bit depressing are the real danger.

Dangerous precedant (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18902881)

Write a "disturbing story" -> arrest
Write a "dissenting article" -> arrest
Write a "criticism of a politician" -> arrest
Write to expose high crimes of those in power -> arrest

--
Side topic:

By the way, ever notice the people's solution to every problem is always arrest?

Re:Dangerous precedant (1)

kdp007 (1089941) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903023)

But of course; the Nanny State fully expects the government (in this case, police) to protect them...how dare you question their wisdom! ;)

Re:Dangerous precedant (1)

rodney dill (631059) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903047)

After the fact assessment of a horrendous shooting incident -> Wish there had been an arrest

Doesn't seem like such a dangerous precedent anymore, does it?

Re:Dangerous precedant (1)

MarcoG42 (1087205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903265)

So, any author that's ever written a horror novel or thriller should be arrested?

Nice reporting Chicago Tribune (3, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902901)

You know, having a sample of the actual text might help in allowing readers to see what the hell is going on. Without that, it's hard to judge, but I'd say there probably isn't a chance in hell these charges stick at trial, and pretty much certainly not at appeal assuming it made it that far.

Re:Nice reporting Chicago Tribune (3, Funny)

godscent (22976) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903013)

Clearly, the essay was so disturbing, that if the Chicago Tribune posted it, the Chicago Tribune would be arrested, too.

Where is it? (1)

MyOtherUIDis3digits (926429) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902903)

I don't know about you, but I'm dying to read this essay. I couldn't even find a summary or excerpts. Anyone else have anything?

Re:Where is it? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902963)

I don't know about you, but I'm dying to read this essay.

You should choose your words more carefully. ; )

Re:Where is it? (1)

arbarbonif (307596) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903173)

You should say "Wow, I'd kill to read this kid's essay!"

It's Columbine all over again (1)

Wolfger (96957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902921)

Not the incident, the ridiculous over-reaction during the aftermath.

He wasn't arrested for writing an essay (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902923)

He was arrested for writing something in particular. We still don't know what he wrote. Perhaps we shouldn't rush to judgment (I know this is Slashdot.. stop laughing) until we know more about what he wrote.

Very Sad (1)

moehoward (668736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902925)


Since when is a 1st amendment issue referred to the local police? Don't you call the FBI or something?

This is just bizarre. I've been following this story since it broke yesterday, and this is just blatant intimidation. It is not even close to "overreaction" or whatever some apologists for these teachers and police might say.

Probably 90% of the student body owns music that contains worse lyrics than what this kid wrote. Arrest them!

I hope this kid was just baiting them, because he caught a whopper here in terms of potential legal settlements against both the school and the police.

Re:Very Sad (1)

The_REAL_DZA (731082) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903153)

I hope this kid was just baiting them, because he caught a whopper here in terms of potential legal settlements against both the school and the police.


Not to mention the (copyrighted) value of the essay in question as well as any future "works" he might produce (if a highschool essay is so evocative that his teacher almost literally flipped out, how much more compelling and riveting is his writing going to get in the coming years? Publishers just might put some wear-and-tear on the path to this kid's door!)
 
Seriously, though, I do hope someone is at least thinking about protecting his rights as an author as well...

I'm confused (0, Troll)

scottennis (225462) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902937)

This is posted under the heading "Your Rights Online". I RTFA, but I didn't see anything about this being an online event. Did I miss something?

Re:I'm confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18903117)

Yes, you missed the implied comma that has been added in recent years.

"Your Rights, Online"

HTH, HAND

Re:I'm confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18903183)

Think of YRO as referring to "Your Rights Offline" as well.

And try not to get hung up on details like what category it's listed in. The story itself, and its implications, are more important.

Re:I'm confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18903291)

You're reading the heading as "The rights you have while you are online or engaged in online activities." The submitter reads it as "An online forum to discuss your rights."

really ridiculous (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18902953)

I have a BA in English...This sort of BS really makes me angry. The student had every right to express his feelings in writing. To write something doesn't mean you are going to do it.

Re:really ridiculous (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903139)

don't yell at us because you got the wrong kind of degree. i covered all my bases- picked up a BA and a BS.

Not Expelled? (2, Interesting)

bryce1012 (822567) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902959)

The youth's father said his son was not suspended or expelled but was forced to attend classes elsewhere for now.
"So, you're not suspended - and you're not expelled - but sorry, you won't be attending classes here."

I'm curious what they're calling this, if not suspension or expulsion.

Quick! Ban Hamlet NOW! (1)

geek (5680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902985)

I mean seriously, Shakespeare kills fucking EVERYONE in that play. Brutally. But for some reason all my professors love it. A friend of mine (fellow English major) wrote a short story about robot turkeys on thanksgiving taking out their revenge. Obviously he was disturbed, lets save him and boot him out of school.

This is all coming about because of Virginia Tech and the usual small minded teachers who over react to everything out of some self righteous and overly developed sense of importance. If anyone needs the boot it's the teachers who can't tell which students ACTUALLY NEED THEIR FUCKING HELP.

How many times in school did you see all the teachers fawning over the A students while all the kids who actually needed their attention got left behind? We have a serious problem in education now where teachers want to be popular more than they want to be professional. Someone really needs to clean house in this country.

Almost happend to me (3, Interesting)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 7 years ago | (#18902997)

I was referred to the school psychologist by my physics teacher due to a "disturbing" lab report I wrote. It was supposed to be funny. My results were really far off from accepted values of the index of refraction fro the material we were testing. So I blamed it on microscopic blackholes warping spacetime to create a gravatic lens. I blamed my result on that or " possibly a covert attempt by the Clintons to cover up the "suicide" of Vince Foster"

Apparently, he though that meant I was suicidal.

Maybe his was more disturbing. Its difficult to say what to do in each situation. It seems like some people overreact, and others under react. I think my case was clearly an attempt at humor, but recommending a visit tot he school shrink for further evaluation is probably the best first step.

OVER-REACTION (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18903005)

Geez!! How can they arrest someone just for writing a non-threatening but disturbing essay?? that's a little HARSH cause, by this dude's name, he surely does not sound Korean!! I mean THAT would be a different story! :-)

Impossibility of a risk free society (1)

wavefreak (1094169) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903007)

Somehow we have come to expect a society free of risk. When a tragedy such as the Virginia Tech shooting occurs, we indulge in endless hand wringing and self examination, pining away for some abstract utopia where everybody walks around with happy faces. And out of that irrational, and ultimately un-achievable, desire for a perfectly safe universe comes actions such as arresting a straight-A student for writing a violent and disturbing essay. We are attempting to cure physical violence with "violence" against expressions of thought. Ultimately, we will gain neither physical safety nor intellectual honesty.

Why do their grades matter (4, Insightful)

nate nice (672391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903031)

The story points to them being a "straight A student". What does this have to do with anything? Are they implying that a persons GPA is an indicator of their abilities to shoot others at school?

Just what was the point of that?

It seems ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18903035)

... that administrators across the country have been given orders to cull undesirable speech as they see fit. There were a couple of similar stories moving along the firehose recently.

Contact form (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903061)

http://www.d155.org/contact/index.html [d155.org] has the contact form for the district of which Jill Hawk is Superintendent (High School District 155.) Have your say; try to keep profanity out of it. Be sure to mention that the constitution wasn't meant to apply only to so-called adults. :P

They arrested the wrong person. (2, Insightful)

CruddyBuddy (918901) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903077)

It would appear that the teacher should be arrested - not the student. The student was only doing as instructed.

But a civil rights advocate said the teacher's reaction to an essay shouldn't make it a crime. "One of the elements is that some sort of disorder or disruption is created," said Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. "When something is done in private--when a paper is handed in to a teacher--there isn't a disruption."
This didn't become a disturbance or disruption until the teacher made it one.

Better than a petetion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18903089)

All the students of the class should write similarly disturbing but non-threatening letters for their next essay.

FriSt psot!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18903109)

some 0f you ha7e [goat.cx]

The Monday-Morning QBs need to get consistent.... (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903111)

Either allow teachers to exercise a degree of common sense in advising authorities when they feel that a student is 'disturbed' OR accept that occasionally there are going to be VT incidents.

You can't have it both ways - you cannot constantly second-guess teachers and authorities for trying to anticipate problems and head them off early, AND at the same time criticize them for 'not doing enough' to prevent massacres like happened at VT.

Well, I suppose you CAN if you're just an anonymous intarweb poster verbally flagellating for attention.

Better article (5, Informative)

scottennis (225462) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903121)

(Northwest Herald) CARY, Ill. In addition to telling his teacher she could inspire the first shooting at Cary-Grove High School, Allen Lee also wrote about stabbing, drug use and a dream about a shooting spree in an essay for his English class, records show.

But Lee said Thursday night that the excerpts were taken out of context in an assignment that explicitly instructed students not to judge or censor their writing.

Lee said a friend planned to distribute the complete essay and assignment to Cary-Grove students today to provide context to a story that has gained national attention.

"It's not the full [essay], or with the assignment," Lee said of a criminal complaint in which prosecutors charged him with disorderly conduct Thursday. "People are already judging this without seeing the assignment. ... None of it was meant to be threatening or harmful to anyone."

Louis Bianchi, McHenry County state's attorney, said Thursday he would prosecute Lee on the misdemeanor charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.

"I think the teacher did the appropriate thing," Bianchi said. "Now, it's going to be brought to the attention of the courts."

Cary Police arrested Lee, 18, near his home Tuesday morning on disorderly conduct charges after Cary-Grove Principal Susan Popp called police.

Lee, who plans to enter boot camp for the Marines in October, said teacher Nora Capron told the class to write about whatever they wanted.

A copy of the assignment obtained Thursday night included the following guidelines for a "free writing" exercise:

      "Write nonstop for a set period of time."

      "Do not make corrections as you write."

      "Keep writing, even if you have to write something like, 'I don't know what to write.' "

      "Write whatever comes into your mind."

      "Do not judge or censor what you are writing."

The assignment included additional guidelines such as, "If your free writing is neat and coherent, you probably haven't loosened up enough."

The Lee family met with representatives of High School District 155 Thursday to discuss potential disciplinary measures, said Dane Loizzo, whose law firm is representing Lee.

"We're attempting to get Allen back into the school with his friends and peers as quickly and judiciously as possible," said Loizzo, of the Woodstock-based Law Offices of Loizzo and Loizzo.

Messages left with district Superintendent Jill Hawk and district spokesman Jeff Puma were not immediately returned Thursday night.

Criminal Charges
School officials allege that in an essay for his ninth-period English class on Monday, Lee wrote about a dream where he went into a building, started shooting people with guns, had sex with the dead bodies. He then retracted it saying, "but it would be funny if I did."

A person can be charged with disorderly conduct if their actions are alarming or disturbing to others.

The district responded to another threat made last week at Crystal Lake Central High School. About half the students at Central stayed home Friday and police presence at the school was increased after threatening graffiti was found on a bathroom wall. The graffiti was determined to be a prank, officials have said.

Capron read Lee's essay Monday night and called her department chair, who then spoke with Cary-Grove Principal Susan Popp.

Popp called police and signed the disorderly conduct complaint shortly afterward, prosecutors said, and Lee was arrested Tuesday morning.

Attorney Thomas Loizzo said the student complied with the assignment.

"How is the student supposed to know where the line is between creativity and censorship?" he said. "The assignment didn't specify that if you wrote something that the teacher thought would be offensive, that you could then be prosecuted criminally."

Attorney Dane Loizzo agreed.

"You have to look at it in context," Dane Loizzo said. "It was written in class with his friends around. It wasn't like this was some loner sitting in a corner or in his bedroom late at night scribbling these thoughts."

School Discipline
Dane Loizzo said the Lee family and school district officials were moving toward a resolution that would free Allen from any disciplinary action.

He said a timeline for resolution was discussed but would not reveal details.

"Any sort of penalties or disciplinary actions are yet to be determined," Dane Loizzo said. "In my opinion, I don't believe that it is warranted. Allen is a good kid."

He also said expected a similar result for the criminal charge.

"Given the facts as I know them, Allen [Lee] will certainly be vindicated," Loizzo said.

Lee said he was encouraged by the support of his Cary-Grove classmates since his arrest.

"When I woke up [Wednesday] morning, I felt like I was going to have a heart attack," Lee said. "It's just the greatest feeling in the world when you have someone behind you."

Despite the controversy, Lee said he did not regret writing the essay.

"I did what I was told for that assignment," he said.

Lee said he still wanted to join the Marine Corps and hoped the matter could be resolved before October.

"That's still my goal," Lee said.

By Nick Swedberg and Tom Musick / Northwest Herald

Obligitory but it fits so well... (1)

Sneakernets (1026296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903123)

The pen is mightier than the sword. Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

Its Not Censorship, its Thoughtcrime (4, Insightful)

Lil'wombat (233322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903131)

According to a Chicago Tribune Article today, the assignment directions were to write stream of consciousness and to not judge or filter your writing.

Seems to me this was a smart kid playing games with a stupid touchy feely assignment for a blow-off class his senior year.

Should the kid have been referred to a counselor? Sure.

Should the kids parents been contacted? Absolutely.

Arrested because his thoughts are disturbing? No.

Straight A's Could Mean... (1)

asphaltjesus (978804) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903149)

The kid was under a whole lot of pressure and when given the opportunity to let a little steam off, "disturbed" his teacher. It's one of the big downsides to students who do well. They get extra attention and some external expectations that can get a little burdensome if the parents aren't paying attention. If the kid writes well, then it just makes matters worse.

It's wrong to accuse the school system and law enforcement in this case. Anyone that does that is in denial about the usual benign neglect that nearly all students receive. Right now everyone is very aware of the systematic neglect that we all perpetuate. In a few months it will go back to normal.

When you create a law for EVERYTHING (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18903179)

...it only gives the police power to arrest anyone in any situation, because at every moment in time you're bound to be violating something.

Arrested for disorderly conduct. Right. Doesn't anyone find that at least slightly ridiculous? Disorderly conduct is not writing. Running around in public waiving a gun and threatening to shoot people IS. Learn the f**king difference.

To all who oppose me (1)

El_Smack (267329) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903187)

"Cary Police Chief Ron Delelio said the charge was appropriate even though the essay was not published or posted for public viewing.
Disorderly conduct, which carries a penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine, is filed for pranks such as pulling a fire alarm or dialing 911. But it can also apply when someone's writings can disturb an individual, Delelio said.


The writings of (insert whatever political figure I disagree with) disturbs me. Looks like I just found a new tool to shut them up. Don't worry though, me and Police Chief Delelio are the good guys who know what's best, and we promise not to abuse this law.

Whoever put this law on the books really needs to have it used on his/her arrest warrant.

Yeah, I get it - freedom of speech and all that... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903189)

... but did you see that Worlds smallest dog in Leesburg, Florida video on the right side of TFA?

Boy is that dog cute or what?

Freedom of speech? Oh yeah.. tragic.

But the dog SURE is cute.

Look at the cute little doggie... buchie-buchie-boo...

THAT IS NOTHING,..... (3, Insightful)

scenestar (828656) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903207)

One of my friends spent a fair amount of time in juvenile hall after his school dean had him arrested for destruction of property with malicious intent.

What actually happened was that he snapped another student's pencil.

the USA's legal system is broken beyond repair.

Schools just can't win. (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903209)

Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

Kind of off topic, but I think too much was made of the "plays" that the Virginia shooter wrote. They were stupid, juvenile, and oh-so-very-terrible from a writing point of view, but nothing about them screamed "School shooter here! Pay attention! Yoo Hoo! Stop me before I kill!" I suspect (without any evidence, but then - hey, this is /.) that high school and college teachers see tons of crappy, violent writing from people. I'm not sure how they're supposed to tell the deranged from the stupid.

People are scared (2, Interesting)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903213)

True story.

Several years ago, post-Columbine, my brother-in-law, a high-school senior at the time, had a bb-gun, a pistol in a bag in the back seat of his car. After school, he was going to give a few of his friends a ride, and a couple sat in the back. One of them opened the bag, saw the gun, and took it out. They were still in the parking lot of the school. Another student that was walking by saw the gun and told school officials.

The upshot of this was that all the students in the car were suspended, and my brother-in-law was expelled. After much lawyering and many hearings, he was allowed to receive his diploma, but was not allowed back to his original school. For the final three months of high school, he attended the "juvenile offenders" school.

In our current climate, I think he got off lucky.

Absolutely Rediculous (1)

cez (539085) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903219)

At no point should an arrest have been made whatsoever and the student "made to attend classes elsewhere." Lee should sue the school, the teacher and the arresting officers. What if the essay by chance was a cry for help? Do they think arresting him and kicking him out of the school was going to be the solution? Hell, that would just piss me off more and reaffirm my loss of faith in society. Perhaps, and I'm going out on a limb here without access to the essay, in the off chance that this was the darkest, most morbid, profane, violent thing that the teacher had ever encountered, then a professional therapist should have been consulted and made available. Perhaps. But moving directly to an arrest is a constitutional violation of his rights. At most, his parents should have been made aware of the situation, the teachers concern for the student, and everyone envolved should have had a nice sit down.

Student Protest (1)

tooslickvan (1061814) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903221)

If there are enough students that disagree with the teacher's decision they start a protest. It can be as simple as submitting the following for their next writing assignment:

I refuse to complete this assignment because my writing may incriminate myself.

3 reasons this is a GOOD THING (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18903227)

1. Kid needs somebody to talk this stuff out with. I bet he gets it now.

2. Kid gets 15 mins of fame, sues *STUPID* police agency, gets $ and famous.

3. People read this, spit coffee all over their laptop.

4? Cops clean their shit off the constitution.

i think steven king should be arrested (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18903231)

his books disturb me.

welcome to the police state (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18903235)

everything is under control.
we are here for your protection.

Let's apply the law equally, then (-1, Offtopic)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903251)

Disorderly conduct, which carries a penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine, is filed for pranks such as pulling a fire alarm or dialing 911. But it can also apply when someone's writings can disturb an individual, Delelio said.

I'm disturbed by George Bush's "signing statements." I'm disturbed by the Patriot Act. I'm disturbed by Rules of Engagement at Guantanamo Bay.

Can we arrest those responsible?

Speech is not conduct !!!THOUGHTCRIME!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18903263)

Conduct is conduct.

This is inevitable given hate speech, virtual bullying and stalking, cybersex and other thoughtcrimes that are being applied in more and more places. All the good things these laws are supposed to accomplish don't mean shit if we have to give up our civil rights to get them.

It is also an inevitable that clueless administrators would react this way post-VT.

We can see own PC future in the European model that many liberals want applied in our republic. Speech is speech. Conduct is conduct. The solution to speech we find repugnant is more speech. Not a new law.

Knee Jerk Reaction (1)

theatrecade (1080063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903269)

We, as Americans, have this knee jerk reaction that feeds the fear and the terror. I can understand if the kid was making a direct threat. What ever happened to counseling, what ever happened to looking at the issue? what ever happened to paxil? Everybody wants to stop copy cats, i understand. There needs to be more emphasis on finding out what someone's issues are instead of calling the cops when they turn in your homework

Starwars Quote (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903289)

"Begun, the thought wars have"

Look, I'm all for making sure people like this get attention, but arresting him is just stupid. There is no crime in putting pencil (pen) to paper. It has HARMED nobody.

This goes back to one of my earlier rants about the pussification of the West, where "feelings" are worthy of losing jobs, jail, and even ... jihad (death) (the Three Js). We've become that which we fear, totalitarian.

We are so screwed.

Not Unprecedented (2, Informative)

TFGeditor (737839) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903295)

Student Arrested Over Manuscript
                                                                      Updated 5:07 PM ET December 23, 2000
        MORRISTOWN, N.J. (AP) - A teen-age boy has been arrested and
        accused of distributing a manuscript that included passages about
        killing faculty and students.

        The 17-year-old student at Roxbury High School was charged with
        false public alarm. His name was not disclosed.

        His parents have said the boy, arrested at his home early Friday,
        uses his writing to express his troubles at school.

        "He's not a violent person," his mother said Friday during a court
        hearing. "His outlet is his writing."

        Police said they learned that at least two students had copies of
        the manuscript, but would not say how they became aware of it. The
        boy's mother said some of the material had been shown to his
        guidance counselor.

        The writings begin: "I'm a product of today's violence."

        Superior Court Judge Salem Ahto said the boy should remain in
        juvenile detention pending a psychological evaluation.

%%%

    Secret Service accused of threatening free speech
            By Associated Press, 2/16/2001 20:48
            NEW YORK (AP) The Secret Service has been accused of trampling on the free
            speech rights of a college student who wrote a satirical editorial asking
            Jesus to ''smite'' President Bush.
            The letter was published last week in the Stony Brook Press at the State
            University of New York campus in Stony Brook. It was written by Glenn
            Given, 22 the paper's managing editor.
            Titled ''Editorial: Dear Jesus Christ, King of all Kings, All I ask is
            that you smite George W. Bush.'' It also asked Jesus to strike down Bush,
            his cabinet and MTV personality Carson Daly.
            A faculty member apparently contacted authorities.
            Given said two Secret Service agents and a campus police officer showed up
            Wednesday to interrogate him.
            They had him sign waivers authorizing them to check his medical records,
            threatened to charge him with a crime and searched his apartment,
            according to a letter of protest sent to the Secret Service by the
            Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
            ''The editorial was clearly a form of satire and political hyperbole'' in
            response to Bush's well-publicized devotion to Christianity, the letter
            said. ''We believe it is inappropriate to harass a journalist, editor,
            writer or citizen for exercising his or her right to free speech.''
            Given said his work was ''a piece of absurdity.''
            A Secret Service spokesman in Washington, Tony Ball, said the agency had
            received the letter, but declined to discuss the case.
            ''We take all threats seriously,'' Ball said. ''We don't have the luxury
            to do otherwise.''

%%%

  BOSTON (January 6, 2001 9:05 a.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com/ [nandotimes.com] - A boy's drawing that depicts him pointing a gun at a kneeling, praying teacher was not just a doodle - it constituted a punishable threat, the state's highest court has ruled.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected arguments on Friday from the boy's lawyers that the drawing was a protected expression under the First Amendment, noting that the Constitution "does not protect conduct that threatens another."

The court also said the teacher's fears that the Worcester boy could carry out the threat were "quite reasonable and justifiable," given recent episodes of school violence across the nation.

The incident happened two years ago when the boy, who was not identified by the court, was 12. A Juvenile Court judge found the boy delinquent by reason of making a threat and he was sentenced in May 1999 to more than five years of probation.

The boy's lawyers had argued that a picture cannot be considered a threat. And student rights advocates said the school had overreacted in the wake of highly publicized shootings elsewhere.

The boy was sitting in the hallway outside his class when he first drew himself shooting his teacher. After another teacher confiscated that drawing, he made a second drawing of himself pointing a gun at his teacher - and the teacher apparently begging for mercy. Then he entered her classroom and held up his drawing, saying, "Do you want this one, too?"

The court examined both drawings, but the boy was ruled delinquent on the second drawing because he had presented it to his teacher.

Okay, just how long will it be until the thought (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18903297)

police put out a warrant for Trent Reznor's arrest? WTF?

If the student's work indicates that he might need counseling, give it to him. Talk with him, don't make a national incident over it. When you deem yourself appropriate as thought police, you are in need of counseling yourselves.

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