FRAGMENTIA 13: Bite-sized slices of life


It's A Crime I Tell Ya!

In this post-9/11, post-politically correct age we seem to have lost all reason when it comes to law enforcement. Write something off-kilter, make a loud noise or pull a tasteless practical joke and you're a criminal. Some recent events at US schools vividly illustrate this disturbing reality...

A high school student was arrested for turning in a creative writing assignment describing imaginary violent acts. His instructions had been to "not judge or censor" himself, but to write whatever came to his mind. Further, he said he was supposed to "exaggerate" his writing.

By all accounts, the offender is a well-adjusted, straight-A student with no priors.
But, in light of VTU, I guess no one is willing to take chances, so they arrested the kid. This may be the first case of someone in the US being arrested simply for writing a school paper that does not make a specific threat to anyone. Sadly, I'm probably wrong.

I was wrong when I said nothing would change as a result of the VTU massacre; lax guns laws are staying put, but creative writing will be criminalized.

Meanwhile, over at University of South Florida, a pair of students were arrested for setting off a "dry ice bomb." Just in case you missed this one growing up, you put some dry ice and water into a plastic soft drink bottle and seal it; pressure then builds up inside the bottle until it explodes with a loud report, to the glee of all present. Yeah, it's pretty juvenile, but also harmless. (Boy, I hope I don't get in trouble for posting instructions on how to make a "bomb" on the Internet.)

This "bomb" was set off in an open field, away from people and buildings, not that it was likely to hurt anyone or damage anything. Again, the point is to make a loud noise. Yet, the students have been kicked off campus and are facing felony charges.

I urge you to harass (yes, that's the word I meant to use) USF administration and the Florida Attorney General's office to reconsider any charges for Anthony Shortt and Sara Claussen.

Meanwhile, in Lewiston, Maine, some middle school kids are in trouble for placing a ham next to some Muslim students in the school's lunchroom. The police are investigating the incident as a possible "hate crime." (Muslims do not consume pork, and try to avoid to being near it, as they find it unclean and offensive.)

I'm not part of any established religion, but I am a strict vegetarian. That means I eat no swimming things, no flying things, no walking things, etc. I take it very seriously, and believe the custom of eating dead animals (as I once did) is primitive and grotesque. However, if you place a juicy, medium-rare hamburger in front of me, I'm going to say "No thanks" (or, depending on what your intention was, "No thanks, asshole"). You would be wrong to intentionally do that, but I would not consider you guilty of a crime.

The act of the Lewiston kids was certainly insensitive and uncool; some disciplinary action by the school is appropriate, as it is with any incident of student harassment. However, it's nothing resembling a crime, hate or otherwise. Give me a fucking break. If we start arresting everyone for violating the beliefs and superstitions of others, there'll be no free people left in the United States.

understood general policy for school kids has for time immemorial has been to behave yourself, do your work, leave your peers alone and listen to your teachers. Now we seem to be appending the caveat "under penalty of law" to that.

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