8/22/2003

I thought of writing about this in a jokey fashion, but it's just too appalling for levity. From Wired News:

"Brian Robertson was just months away from graduation at Moore High School in Moore, Oklahoma, last year when he found the beginnings of what he thought was a short story on a school computer. He copied the file to another computer, added some paragraphs to the initial text and then promptly got arrested.

Robertson, who was 18 when he wrote the story, was charged with a felony count of planning to cause serious bodily harm or death. The story he wrote, titled "Evacuation Orders," (PDF) described preparations for an armed invasion of his school that included directions to unnamed fellow commandos to kill the senior class principal and then plant plastic explosives around the campus."

So basically some loser kid in the States writes a story in what is admittedly not the best of taste for the same reasons as many people write fiction when they're younger; as a way of expressing and releasing feelings and emotions they otherwise find it difficult to express. It's a slightly more mature variation on the way child psychology recognises as a core part of its practice that younger children will express their feelings in the form of drawings and paintings, which they use to illustrate their lives and the adults around them. When you objectify your life in this way - through art, through writing - you can learn to see it with new eyes. Not to say, of course, that those doing so - children - are intellectually aware enough to realise this.

It all illustrates a problem I have with writing fiction, in that real life has a nasty habit of outdoing me in terms of how rotten people can be to each other. It's a dangerous sign that a lot of people don't know the difference between imagination and intention; it is, quite literally, treating literature as thoughtcrime. To write about it, is to do it.

What the kid's story does tell me is that there's probably a vast lack of communication between pupils and staff, and that whoever wrote the original part of the story (as the article says, Robertson claims to have found the majority of it on acomputer) may just have had some issues. I believe the generic term for this is teenager.

I think one of the reasons this horrified me as much as it did is that it came on the wake of reading a Guardian Online article about mass burnings of cd's of the Dixie Chicks. Not because people think they're bad, but because they dissed George Bush. The article describes the ordeal the Guardian journalists went through when they arrived in a US airport and told an immigration officer they were in the country to interview the Dixie Chicks. The officer said something about stringing the Dixies up by the neck, and immediately hauled them off to have their bags searched, delaying them long enough to miss a connecting flight. Maybe it's just because i'm British and things seem a little easier-going over here, but the terrifying implication is that this kind of vast intolerance for points of view outside of the rigidly patriotic and right-leaning is extremely widespread.

Well, duh, I imagine some of you saying to your screens.
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