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Censorship Education Your Rights Online

Student Arrested for Writing Essay 890

Posted by Zonk
from the thinkofthechildren-tag-is-appropriate-here dept.
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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Student Arrested for Writing Essay

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  • by ellem (147712) * <ellem52@@@gmail...com> on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:12PM (#18902767) Homepage Journal
    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....
    • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis&gmail,com> on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:16PM (#18902859) Homepage
      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
      • by MMaestro (585010) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:33PM (#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.

        • by Chosen Reject (842143) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:46PM (#18903635)
          From the article:

          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.
          Finally, games are out of the lime light just like rap, rock and roll, movies and comic books used to be. The new evil ill in our society will be plays and essays. I can't wait for them to go after Andrew Lloyd Weber. That guy is dangerous.
          • by Rei (128717) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:59PM (#18903877) Homepage
            Hey, have you ever gotten a paper cut? Know how much that hurts? Now, that just takes perhaps an inch of paper edge. An 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper has 39 times that much paper-cut potential. In a ten page essay, you're looking at almost 400 times the amount of pain that could be inflicted. Then, what if he figures out a way to make multiple cuts with the same section of paper edge? We're talking lethality potential.

            I'm really scared for the future of our country when kids these days are walking around with essays. I hear that Mexicans go around with them all the time, too.

            Don't even get me started on pens. We'd be safter if kids brought swords to class instead.
          • by hoggoth (414195) on Friday April 27, 2007 @01:24PM (#18904375) Journal
            > The new evil ill in our society will be plays and essays

            Yeah, I read this one that had witchcraft, rape, incest, slavery, prostitution, murder, cannibalism, ethnic cleansing, baby killing, and strange religious cults.
            It was called the Bible.

            • by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Friday April 27, 2007 @01:52PM (#18904919) Homepage
              In some parts of the US, it's also known as "Science Textbook".
        • by moeinvt (851793) on Friday April 27, 2007 @01:18PM (#18904247)
          Yes indeed.

          I count my blessings for having attended HS prior to Oklahoma City, Columbine and 9/11!

          My friends and I never would have graduated if we had been forced to go to school in the current environment of paranoia. I should probably go over to my Mom's house and burn all of my old school essays(full of guns, knives, explosives, chain saws, nuclear weapons and endless amounts of carnage) just in case.
      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:34PM (#18903333) Homepage Journal

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

        I can't speak for anyone else, but I was disruptive because I was bored and looking for attention.

        I was depressed because I was bullied, because you are not permitted to be an individual in school.

        And when I was kicked out of a school for finally getting in an actual fight and winning, instead of just being casually punched and kicked, or having things stolen from me, or having my bicycle destroyed in the mandatory-use bike rack, I was depressed because it was proof that the system was not there to educate me - I was an inconvenience to them and they were working to eliminate me.

        Kids who aren't depressed by school are the ones with something wrong with them.

        • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis&gmail,com> on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:39PM (#18903445) Homepage
          I was similarly an outsider in school. While I generally "got along" with people in the sense we were polite, I was often the target of jokes, and other shit. Mostly because I didn't subscribe to pop culture to the same degree, I didn't wear expensive nike shoes, or really dig GnR (any 8 year old who claims to get it is lying anyways), etc...

          Of course I was also fairly well occupied outside of school. I was in Air Cadets, went out with the few friends I had, played music, and was a general all around PC hacker.

          I think the trick to surviving school is to think, as I did, that school is a small part of your life and 1 second after you grad from high school it's all over anyways. It's been 7 years since I left school and I have yet to meet any of them again, even though I still live in the same town.

          It's the kids who put too much stock into their station in school life that get wicked depressed when they're not part of the cool clique.

          Tom
          • by JudgeFurious (455868) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:51PM (#18903725)
            I think that's just a universal truth. I'm over twenty years out of high school and I could have written some or all of both the preceeding posts. I cam to the same conclusion too. I am still in touch with one person from my graduating class and could locate maybe 5 of them. It's the most trivial four years you'll of your life and the only problem is that at the time it's taking place you can't see it.
            • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis&gmail,com> on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:55PM (#18903793) Homepage
              Yup. Though I think college is a bit diff. While there still are "cliques" usually they only exist in the "popular" students who usually flush out by 2nd or 3rd year anyways. I still keep in touch with a couple of college buddies but mostly because we ended up with the same tastes in games/movies/beer.

              Of course it doesn't help that the media hypes up the existence of the school life. "So then like brittany totally dated john, but john was like totally into jane, but ..." WHO GIVES A SHIT?

              Admittedly, what little of american schools I've seen they're different from us cannuck schools. More emphasis on being the "captain of the sports team" and all that jazz. While we have sports here, and amongst the sports fans there are popular folk and all that shit, in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter. We don't have packed stadiums to watch 14 year olds toss a football around, etc.

              Tom
            • by Cadallin (863437) on Friday April 27, 2007 @01:48PM (#18904819)
              And you need to read up on something called "Pits of Despair." That was the name for an isolation cage used by Dr. Harry Harlow in an attempt to model human depression. In my opinion, it was a better model in some respects, than he realized. I think its an excellent model for what a lot of people go through in High School. Humans will be destroyed the situation just like any other primate, that's my take on it anyway. Dr. Harlow found that none of the monkeys he subjected to the isolation cages ever recovered. It's all very well to say "It'll be over quickly." The truth is that its such a traumatic period that many either commit suicide or never recover fully. And its the system that is at fault.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pit_of_Despair [wikipedia.org]

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by drinkypoo (153816)

            I think the trick to surviving school is to think, as I did, that school is a small part of your life and 1 second after you grad from high school it's all over anyways.

            Well, it's true. The only person who ever bullied me in school that I've actually seen afterwards was a kid I clocked in the face on the bus in high school, and we were on good terms by that point. Amazing what standing up for yourself can do. But it was a long time before I could even reach that point.

            But at the same time, it's a huge par

    • by icepick72 (834363) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:24PM (#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.
      • by wurp (51446) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:54PM (#18903783) Homepage
        The US as far as I know has never been a free country. Certainly it hasn't in the last 70 years.

        Why can the government tell me who or how many people I can marry?
        Why can the government tell me what plants I can grow?
        Why can the government tell me what substances I can own?
        Why can the government tell me how (or if) I should dress?
        Why can the government tell two consenting adults what they can do together, or whether they can charge one another for it?
        Why can the government tell me what countries I can visit?

        I don't know of anywhere that I would really call free, and I am thankful for the freedoms I have. I am also watchful of the freedoms that are guaranteed to me but seem to be slipping. But I would love to see someplace that was really free.

        Another 'offtopic' moderation coming my way, I'm sure...
        • Why can the government tell me how (or if) I should dress?


          This is why [google.com]
        • by CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) on Friday April 27, 2007 @01:43PM (#18904731)
          Yes, why can't you have a dozen 13 year old wives rolling you joints while you shoot heroin in the nude with a transvestite prostitute you smuggled out of Somalia?

          Cause thankfully there are laws against people like that being in my society.
          • by asninn (1071320) on Friday April 27, 2007 @04:52PM (#18906493)
            Outside of the "13 year old" and the "smuggled out" part, I don't really have a problem with any of the above, actually. What's wrong with having a dozen partners? What's wrong with rolling joints? What's wrong with shooting heroin (in a criminal sense, not as a medical condition that should be treated)? What's wrong with being in a nude? What's wrong with transvestites? What's wrong with prostitution, as long as it's voluntarily and nobody's forced to do anything they don't want to do (if people *are*, that's bad, of course, but in that case, it's bad no matter whether what they're forced to do is prostitute themselves or something else). And finally, what's wrong with people from Somalia?

            As long as everyone involved is an adult and as long as everything's done with the informed consent of everyone involved, I frankly don't see why you should have a right to dictate what others can or can't do. I assume, based on your nickname, that you enjoy coffee. I'm also going to guess (without any basis) that you're heterosexual and not celibate (or that you wouldn't be if you had a girlfriend in case you don't have one). How would you feel if I came along and told you that in "my society", doing depraved things like drinking coffee and having missionary-style sex with your girlfriend are (or, at the very least, should be) illegal? Wouldn't you feel that this is an intrusion into your private matters - that as long as your girlfriend wants to have sex with you, there's no reason why the two of you shouldn't, and that whether you drink coffee or not is noone's business but your own?

            Maybe you think that that's not the same, but if you do, you couldn't be more wrong. Freedom is always the freedom of others.
      • by c6gunner (950153) on Friday April 27, 2007 @01:09PM (#18904063)
        Yeah, because things have gotten SO much worse since the 1940's, when all Japanese Americans were locked up for no real reason.

        Or since the 1800's, when the sheriff was whoever had the biggest gun, and the law was whatever he said it was.

        Or in the early 1700's, when the Brits owned and controlled everything, slavery was status quo, and a whole race of people was considered to be sub-human, and treated accordingly.

        Yep, things have really gone downhill in the US. With this sort of track-record, who knows what could happen next!
    • Racist Reaction? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:25PM (#18903099) Homepage Journal
      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.
    • by MyDixieWrecked (548719) on Friday April 27, 2007 @01:19PM (#18904273) Homepage Journal
      I was a senior in high school during the 1999 Columbine shootings.

      Several months before columbine, there was a shooting at some other school and the kid only injured a couple people (I think he killed like 3 and injured like 6) and I called the kid a pussy and if I had done that, I could kill at least 20, assuming I have enough ammo. Saying that prompted some friends of mine to elaborate on my strategy, which I did, and about a month later, the Columbine shooting happened and the next day (or maybe a couple days later) I was greeted in my 1st period class by a pair of policemen who escorted me to the station to talk to a detective.

      As I waited while the detective went through my backpack and removed my notebook, he commented on the fact that I was wearing a trenchcoat and he asked me what kind of music I liked and what videogames I played. At the time, I was an avid Quake player and was hooked on KMFDM (and at this meeting, I was wearing a Maralyn Manson shirt). He flipped through my notebook, and saw dozens of drawings of spattered fluids, severed hands and heads, and sketches of bullet casings. It was just what I was into drawing at the time. I go through phases and had he looked at notebooks the month before, he would have seen lots of rope and barbed wire and stitches and electronics sketches.

      this whole thing prompted a full investigation into me, I had to see a therapist for a couple days before they let me back in school, every little scrap of paper that they found that was the least bit violent, they questioned me about... I was frequently pulled out of classes (most often, my calculus class; which I wound up failing due to the frequent interruptions) and every little thing I wrote was studied. It really fucked me up and, although I'm not prone to violence at all, it was really pissing me off and I had to hold back to keep from throwing something at my principal.

      it was completely stupid that they did that and it really was for absolutely nothing. I understand that if i was caught discussing that stuff and then I DID shoot up the school, if they did nothing about it, there would be serious problems, but at the same time, it was total bullshit. There's no reason to do that to someone just because they wrote a violent story. Look at all the published authors out there. Look at books like Fight Club and American Psycho (now, major motion pictures!). If someone writes that kind of thing for class, they risk expulsion or at the very least, some serious investigation. If someone writes that whilst trying to sell a book, they stand to make some nice money for themselves.

      This fear of terrorism and violence and shootings in today's society is really stifling creativity. Literature will be hurt (due to young people being forcibly held back from writing what they want). Violence in movies is moving to a very stylized look, which although not all bad, I really like gore movies with realistic violence (ichi the killer, battle royal, etc). Even videogames are becoming targets and game studios are threatened with lawsuits just because some whackjob killed someone and happened to own a copy of their game. A man obsessed with John Lennon goes out and kills John Lennon. Who's to blame? The guy's psychosis or John Lennon's music? Why not the music? People blame videogames just as readily. A man obsessed with nascar is dragracing and kills 5 pedestrians in the process... why doesn't anyone sue Nascar?
    • by g2devi (898503) on Friday April 27, 2007 @02:10PM (#18905219)
      Stephen King perspective on Mr Cho's writings:
      http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20036014,00.html [ew.com]
      Basically, what someone writes says little about their state of mind.

      I agree 100% with Mr King and add that many people write in order to understand why people do the things they do. They want to see things through their eyes and live through the experiences that lead up to a "nut job end" so that ultimately they can become better more compassionate human beings or better able to see the warning signs when people start to get lost or just to form their own opinions instead of parroting the reaction they're "supposed to have".

      The last thing we need to do is to discourage this sort of wisdom seeking. The world is already too full of superficial reactionaries that mindlessly see the world through safe "society approved"[TM] labels like "nut job", "terrorist", "communist", "capitalist", "fanatic", "cultist", ....

  • Overreactions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by soft_guy (534437) * on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:14PM (#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.
    • Re:Overreactions (Score:5, Insightful)

      by computational super (740265) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:55PM (#18903787)
      I wonder what was in the essay that made the teacher go bonkers.

      Ah, but you're missing the point of censorship - you see, once something has been censored, nobody can see it. If we could see it, we'd have to use our own common sense and judgment to determine if it was actually harmful or not. That's not only hard work, it might even lead to the wrong conclusions - you may end up disagreeing with the Powerful Ones as to whether or not it needed to be censored. Plus, children might see it! As anybody who's never spent any actual time with an actual child knows, children have minds more fragile than Tiffany glass which can be irreparably, irreversibly destroyed by the slightest immoral thought at any time.

      Rational subjective judgment and censorship can't coexist; we have to throw one out. Clearly, censorship is the lesser of the two evils.

  • The Essay? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arth1 (260657) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:14PM (#18902827) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by vivaoporto (1064484) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:18PM (#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? (Score:5, Informative)

      by bryce1012 (822567) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:23PM (#18903039) Journal
      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]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lane.exe (672783)
        That counts as part of an essay? I mean, I don't think it's indicative of a violent personality. If we want to stretch this (spurious) VT shooting connection, look at the differences between what Cho wrote and what this guy wrote. Lee's "essay," or the excerpt, contains violent imagery but it's hardly even coherent. Something like "Richard McBeef" is much more coherent as a whole and indicates some serious interpersonal issues.

        Maybe Lee really did have that dream; it's a disturbing enough dream, but how ma

      • by SixFactor (1052912) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:41PM (#18903509) Journal
        ...Let the stereotyping begin.

        Seriously though, thanks for the article.

        It's fine for teachers to be vigilant and all following the VT massacre, but the principal and his/her underlings could have at least spoken to the kid about the essay (if you can call it that) to get the straight story.

        And herein lies one of those traps that these "educators" can set up for themselves: a free-form assignment, unfettered by structure, unrestricted in content, heck, turn it in on toilet paper if you want, combine that with the ethnicity of the writer, and it gets used as evidence of a threat and an arrest.

        The arrest is a clear case of going overboard. If this does not get corrected, well I guess we've found a new way of wrecking a young man's future.

        Full disclosure: I are an Asian male... not young tho.
    • by dtolman (688781) <dtolman@yahoo.com> on Friday April 27, 2007 @01:47PM (#18904811) Homepage
      Basically the dude was aiming to piss his teacher off apparently, from the content. I suppose a case could be made that the last line was a threat. Either way - guess it worked. Teacher was pissed - right?

      http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-07042 6student-essay,1,6366371.story?coll=chi-news-hed [chicagotribune.com]

      Blood sex and Booze. Drugs Drugs Drugs are fun. Stab, Stab, Stab, S...t...a...b..., poke. "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." Umm, yeah, what to wright about...... I'm leaving to join the Marines and I really don't give a (obscenity) about my academics, so why does the only class that's complete Bull Shit, happen to be the only required class...enough said. The model citizen would stay around to vote in new board member to change the 4 years of English policy, but no one really stays around to vote for that kind of local crap, so whoever gets there name on the Ballet with a pretty face gets to do what the (obscenity) ever they want with local ordinance. A person is smart, but people are dumb selfish animals. We can't make rules for ourselves so we vote others to do it for us, but we can't even do that right, I meen seriously, Bush for President? And our other option was John Kerry who claimed to parktake in Vietnam Special Forces missions that haven't been declassified....(obscenity) Bull Shit. So Power Flower Super Mario. Pudge, hook, rot, dismember "Fresh Meat." Mostly new/young teachers are laid back, and cooperative with students as feedback and input into the curriculum and atmosphere. My current English teacher is a control freak intent on setting a gap between herself and her students like a 63 year old white male fortune 500 company CEO, and a illegal immigrant. If CG was a private catholic school, I could understand, but wtf is her problem. And baking brownies and rice crispies does not make up for it, way to try and justify yourself as a good teacher while underhandedly looking for complements on your cooking. No quarrel on you qualifications as a writer, but as a teacher, don't be surprised on inspiring the first cg shooting.

      (The following is Lee's explanation of the essay above, given to the media by his lawyer.)

      Authors Note: This production of writing is done in the most accurate manner I can depict of the original writing. Grammar and spelling mistakes are included at the best accuracy possible. The first phrase in questions is in fact a Green Day song. The second reference to drugs is in relation to the schools history of drug problems. I am personally clean of all controlled substances. The statement in quotes is done so as a non personal statement as I would have done in reference to a character for a story. The reference to the gun P90 is from a video game, combined with a reference to necrophilia as a comment regarding a seriously messed up situation. A situation such as the rape of villagers during a raid by U.S. troops in Vietnam. I really do not care too much about by continuing academia as in relation to grades. I do however believe on continuing my personal education, and I am actually still working for my classes. My views on the graduation requirements explain themselves. The reference to Mario and Pudge( a DOTA character) are completely random as is this essay. The reference to a person being smart and people being dumb is based on a quote from "Men in Black." I generally do believe the public opinion is best. The rest of the essay is rather self explanatory, the main statement in question I have already released a comment online about. I request that all information I have released is read together, and nothing given separately or as an excerpt as the administration has seen fit to do.

      On an additional note, I have completed the MEPS (Military Entry Processing Station) examinations, and yes a psychiatric evaluation is included in the process. If I'm qualified to defend the country, I believe I'm qualified to attend school.

  • Understandable? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by darjen (879890) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:15PM (#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? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by akheron01 (637033) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:19PM (#18902931) Homepage
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jarjarthejedi (996957)
      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 th
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bottlemaster (449635)

        It's not like this is something out of left field
        I, too, was expecting the announcement of The War on School Shootings.
  • by bcmm (768152) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:15PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      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 you
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by xappax (876447)
      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 A
  • by eln (21727) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:16PM (#18902863) Homepage
    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by waldonova (769039)
      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 h
    • by SQLGuru (980662) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:31PM (#18903239) Journal
      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by deblau (68023)
      Agreed. The State's interest in preventing people from 'feeling disturbed' doesn't outweigh the chilling effects of the threat of criminal sanctions for speaking out. Heck, the State's interest isn't even compelling. If charges are filed on this basis, the statute should be held unconstitutional, not on its face, but as applied.
  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:18PM (#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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by godscent (22976)
      Clearly, the essay was so disturbing, that if the Chicago Tribune posted it, the Chicago Tribune would be arrested, too.
  • Almost happend to me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:22PM (#18902997) Journal
    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.
  • by nate nice (672391) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:23PM (#18903031) Journal
    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?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by j00r0m4nc3r (959816)
      First they're against GTA and GHB, and then GMO, now GPA. What's next, GIF and GMT?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ktappe (747125)

      The story points to them being a "straight A student". What does this have to do with anything?

      I was going to say the exact opposite. It seems to me the fact that he's a straight-A student should have made the school realize this guy was not the loose cannon that Cho was. Cho was deeply anti-establishment and his rantings show a hatred for conformists. It's pretty hard to be anti-establishment and non-conformist and still get straight-A's, for to get them you must follow all your teachers' and school'

  • Better article (Score:5, Informative)

    by scottennis (225462) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:26PM (#18903121) Homepage
    (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.
    • And of course, not surprisingly given the news from VA Tech, disturbing things were on his mind.

      If a teacher does not know his or her students well enough to deal with whatever comes out of a free association exercise, that teacher has no business giving that kind of assignment. And as far as the state attorney bringing charges, hasnt Florida had enough political embarassment this decade?

      The other thing I don't understand is why the teacher read the assignment. Is she this kid's psychoanalyst? Yeah, yo
  • by Lil'wombat (233322) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:27PM (#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.

  • by scenestar (828656) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:30PM (#18903207) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • People are scared (Score:3, Interesting)

    by L. VeGas (580015) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:30PM (#18903213) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Not Unprecedented (Score:3, Informative)

    by TFGeditor (737839) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:33PM (#18903295) Homepage
    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.''
  • Incorrect response (Score:3, Interesting)

    by l33t-gu3lph1t3 (567059) <arch_angel16@@@hotmail...com> on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:35PM (#18903345) Homepage
    Emotional outlets like creative writing can serve to provide early indication of a troubled soul. Charging a kid with a crime is not the best way to respond to this type of situation. The student may need counseling or a psychological examination, but this rough handling will only serve to alienate him. We're not supposed to be afraid of our children, we're supposed to be afraid for them.

    Every time a troubled youth acts out in a destructive way, society suffers, not only in grief but in shame and guilt - we're supposed to help our fellow humans, especially the young ones. Every student murder-suicide report should count the perpetrator as a victim - we failed to notice the warning signs & help that individual, and it resulted in their demise.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:48PM (#18903669) Journal

    Before that day a new record was set by a young man. By a young a man who had submitted stories and plays that disturbed his teachers but who took no action.

    What if they had?

    Well, off course if they had then the shooting would not have happened so those teachers would have been totally out of order for doing something.

    The job of the police is to stop crime. No it isn't. The job of the police is to arrest people AFTER they committed a crime. As Terry Pratchett put in a recent Discworld novel "we caught the guy that done it" sounds a lot better then "we caught the guy that looked like he was going to do it" especially if they say "prove it".

    BUT that doesn't help much when you got 30 dead.

    Saying that those people paid the price of freedom is NOT going to win you any friends.

    One /.er posted a link with a small segment of the essay. It seems to me like the typical emo/teenage kid rant. Personally I think hanging is to good for them but sadly I am not the judge.

    The point is however that this happened right after a tragedy wich might have been prevented. Do you want to be the person who ignores the warning signs next time? In the the U Sue of All (man that would have my english teacher calling in the special forces)?

    But we don't know the whole essay. Most police officers are rather down to earth, they KNOW the world. For them to make an arrest and for it not to be all settled easily alarms me. Slashdot happily tells us that this guy is a straight-A student. That is great because we all know straight-A students do NOT flip out. What I want to know is this, did the police check him out and what the fuck did they find?

    Why doesn't slashdot reportd exactly how many guns this person owns (whatever the number may be and remember, zero is an important number) and how many kilo's of ammo he has stockpiled (again remember the humble zero).

    Freedom and the prevention of crime do NOT mix. Since most want both, you are going to have conflicts.

  • Sigh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HungWeiLo (250320) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:48PM (#18903675)
    In the mid-80's, I wrote a short story about a group of terrorist who seized a building and ended up killing many people in their quest.

    Not only did I not get into trouble, I was rewarded with an excerpt reading in class and a free trip to a gifted writers' workshop where I won awards and accolades.

    If I did that today, I'd be sent away pretty quickly, I'd imagine.
  • by DodgeRules (854165) on Friday April 27, 2007 @12:50PM (#18903719)
    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.

    So if a student writes an essay about there being no God, and the teacher is heavy into his/her religion and is disturbed by the essay, then according to the law, the teacher can have the student arrested for disorderly conduct?
  • by dtolman (688781) <dtolman@yahoo.com> on Friday April 27, 2007 @01:44PM (#18904751) Homepage
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-07042 6student-essay,1,6366371.story?coll=chi-news-hed [chicagotribune.com]

    Blood sex and Booze. Drugs Drugs Drugs are fun. Stab, Stab, Stab, S...t...a...b..., poke. "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." Umm, yeah, what to wright about...... I'm leaving to join the Marines and I really don't give a (obscenity) about my academics, so why does the only class that's complete Bull Shit, happen to be the only required class...enough said. The model citizen would stay around to vote in new board member to change the 4 years of English policy, but no one really stays around to vote for that kind of local crap, so whoever gets there name on the Ballet with a pretty face gets to do what the (obscenity) ever they want with local ordinance. A person is smart, but people are dumb selfish animals. We can't make rules for ourselves so we vote others to do it for us, but we can't even do that right, I meen seriously, Bush for President? And our other option was John Kerry who claimed to parktake in Vietnam Special Forces missions that haven't been declassified....(obscenity) Bull Shit. So Power Flower Super Mario. Pudge, hook, rot, dismember "Fresh Meat." Mostly new/young teachers are laid back, and cooperative with students as feedback and input into the curriculum and atmosphere. My current English teacher is a control freak intent on setting a gap between herself and her students like a 63 year old white male fortune 500 company CEO, and a illegal immigrant. If CG was a private catholic school, I could understand, but wtf is her problem. And baking brownies and rice crispies does not make up for it, way to try and justify yourself as a good teacher while underhandedly looking for complements on your cooking. No quarrel on you qualifications as a writer, but as a teacher, don't be surprised on inspiring the first cg shooting.

    Authors Note: This production of writing is done in the most accurate manner I can depict of the original writing. Grammar and spelling mistakes are included at the best accuracy possible. The first phrase in questions is in fact a Green Day song. The second reference to drugs is in relation to the schools history of drug problems. I am personally clean of all controlled substances. The statement in quotes is done so as a non personal statement as I would have done in reference to a character for a story. The reference to the gun P90 is from a video game, combined with a reference to necrophilia as a comment regarding a seriously messed up situation. A situation such as the rape of villagers during a raid by U.S. troops in Vietnam. I really do not care too much about by continuing academia as in relation to grades. I do however believe on continuing my personal education, and I am actually still working for my classes. My views on the graduation requirements explain themselves. The reference to Mario and Pudge( a DOTA character) are completely random as is this essay. The reference to a person being smart and people being dumb is based on a quote from "Men in Black." I generally do believe the public opinion is best. The rest of the essay is rather self explanatory, the main statement in question I have already released a comment online about. I request that all information I have released is read together, and nothing given separately or as an excerpt as the administration has seen fit to do.

    On an additional note, I have completed the MEPS (Military Entry Processing Station) examinations, and yes a psychiatric evaluation is included in the process. If I'm qualified to defend the country, I believe I'm qualified to attend school.

  • by aepervius (535155) on Friday April 27, 2007 @01:46PM (#18904785)
    OK. It remind me of the hate law in the EU. People were screaming that such things would not happen in the US, censorship, calling blood on the EU.

    And now I elarn today that you can be arrested if you write something which is troubling somebody, and promptly a 18 old was arrested for doing so.

    So... Who is the more fucked up ? One country which arrest people which want to cremate/kill/genocide other folk, or police which arrest student for writing an essay calling for killing having sex with body and drug ?

    Sound as bad each other IMHO. At least here in Europe we do not have the ILLUSION of having free speech, whereas on the other side of the atlantic, beside free speech being written on a piece of paper, you are as bad or as good off as us...

The meta-Turing test counts a thing as intelligent if it seeks to devise and apply Turing tests to objects of its own creation. -- Lew Mammel, Jr.

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