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In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist 441

An anonymous reader writes A 23-year-old teacher at a Cambridge, Md. middle school has been placed on leave and—in the words of a local news report — "taken in for an emergency medical evaluation" for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. The novelist, Patrick McLaw, an eighth-grade language-arts teacher at the Mace's Lane Middle School, was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, and is being investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, according to news reports from Maryland's Eastern Shore. The novel, by the way, is set 900 years in the future."
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In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

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  • by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @10:54AM (#47806977) Journal

    Stephen King is probably lucky he lives in a different area of the northeast.......otherwise, he'd be on trial for all sorts of sick demented things.

    Seriously, though -- if the teacher had other suspicious behaviours, it would be one thing, but just writing a fictional story based on an area he's familiar with isn't enough to indicate criminal thought.

  • Re:Sue the bastards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @10:54AM (#47806981)

    I don't know. It sounds like they kidnapped him in the night, forced him to leave hims hometown, and have imprisoned him somewhere against his will, just based on a fictional novel --- probably a jail or psych ward, where they are already administering drugs, so he won't have the mental faculties left to pursue any action, not that he could without ability to travel and speak to an attorney.

    McLaw was suspended by the Dorchester County Board of Education pending an investigation and is no longer in the area. He is currently at a location known to law enforcement and does not currently have the ability to travel anywhere.

  • Re:Sue the bastards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jythie ( 914043 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @10:59AM (#47807029)
    The person's chances are not all that good. Unless the union backs them up (and even then it can be a stretch) schools are pretty hard to go up against. "Think of the children", while often mocked, is a pretty powerful rallying cry for local officials who might be worried about parental outrage or practicing 'cover your ass' security where it is better to come down hard and be seeing to be doing something then risk something happening and be blamed for not acting. The life of some middle school teacher does not even begin to factor in.
  • Set In The Past (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @11:06AM (#47807085) Homepage

    Instead of 900 years in the future, he should have set it in the past. Or at least included dinosaurs. You'd never get in trouble for writing about Dinosaurs... Oops, sorry. Forget about that. []

    In all seriousness, though, school shootings are a problem. However, I'm much more afraid of my oldest son (who begins middle school in a couple of days) getting in trouble for someone mistaking something he says/does as being a threat against the school than I am afraid that someone will walk into the building and kill a bunch of people. (My oldest is diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and anxiety disorder. He can tend to be clueless about "other meanings" to the things he says or how people might take offense to certain phrases that he means in an innocent manner. Not a good combination with overzealous administrators who are jumping at the slightest whiff of trouble.)

  • Re:Clap clap (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @11:07AM (#47807093)

    Check off one more box on the list of Police State attributes we are now experiencing.

  • More to the story? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Media Archivist ( 3478167 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @11:08AM (#47807099) Homepage

    All of the stories I have read about this use the same reference: WBOC. There is, as of yet, no other source. I think there is more to this story than has been reported so far. I am not suggesting the lack of facts is a coverup, just that it is still in the early stages of falling into place.

  • Re:Sue the bastards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @11:13AM (#47807161)
    If his books are any good in the slightest, then he's going to make a killing on this publicity.
  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @11:22AM (#47807247) Homepage

    They aren't comparing his getting fired to Soviet-style punishment. The comparison is to the forcing him, against his will, to "an emergency medical evaluation" in a location that only the police know of and won't release any details about. Making a guy disappear because he's suspected of bad behavior isn't something that's supposed to happen in the US. (That last statement might sound a bit naive. Take it as a goal for how our country should operate instead of the totalitarian method of just letting the authorities do whatever they want for whatever reason.)

  • by Dzimas ( 547818 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @11:52AM (#47807545)

    Hang on. Everyone is jumping to the conclusion that a perfectly normal teacher just happened to be grabbed and taken for an "emergency medical evaluation" because he had innocently written a book. It is also quite possible that he is actually suffering from mental illness -- schizophrenia often manifests itself in early adulthood, for example -- and that his books were originally written as a coping mechanism for the early stages of illness. Remember, approximately 1% of the population will suffer from schizotypal symptoms at some point in their lives.

    The most likely explanation is that the teacher's behavior had grown erratic and he had shown signs of mental disorder that caused grave concern in his co-workers and friends.

  • by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:00PM (#47807643)

    Stephen King did something very similar to this years and years ago, under virtually the same circumstances. He wrote a book called "Rage", under a pseudonym, which was about a fictional school shooting in a setting that would've amounted to the present when the book was written. Of course, the shooter in Rage was also portrayed sympathetically (he goes insane because all of his classmates are assholes). There were even cases where the shooters in actual school shootings were carrying around copies of Rage, which made him (voluntarily) pull the book from publication.

    Yet strangely, I don't recall anything about Stephen King being arrested in the middle of the night and involuntarily committed to a mental hospital.

  • Re:Sue the bastards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @01:09PM (#47808501)

    America.... home of the fr... yeah right.

    Anyway, take a look at the kind of books that are *taught* in schools:

            Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare
            Macbeth by Shakespeare
            Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
            Julius Caesar by Shakespeare
            To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
            The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
            Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
            Hamlet by Shakespeare
            The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
            Lord of the Flies by William Golding

    So lets see... underage sex, murder of your relatives, regicide, racism, lynchings, rape, adultery, organised crime, a mentally-ill killer and of course - lawless schoolboys killing each other! What's not to love about the American school system, yeehaw!

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.