Monday, April 30, 2007

All the wrong lessons learned

As a follow up to my last post, here are three links on the subject:

Student Arrested for Essay's Imaginary Violence

"Students were told to "write whatever comes to your mind. Do not judge or censor what you are writing," according to a copy of the assignment." However, when the student wrote "don't be surprised on inspiring the first [Cary-Grove High School] shooting" his teacher called the police.

This is exactly what I am afraid of, the obvious lesson of the VT shooting is that it is far too easy to get a gun, but the only lesson that will be learned is that it is better to be safe than sorry, so round up all the weird kids who doodle guns on the margins of their notebooks.

Student Arrested for remarks about Virginia Tech Shooting

"During a class discussion of Monday's massacre at Virginia Tech, the student "made comments about understanding how someone could kill 32 people," university police Cmdr. Brad Wiesley said.

Several witnesses told investigators the student said he was "angry about all kinds of things from the fluorescent light bulbs to the unpainted walls, and it made him angry enough to kill people," according to a police report. Witnesses "said they were afraid of him and afraid to come to class with him," Wiesley said."[2]

No one wants to hear something like this, especially right after a tragedy. However, in an academic setting it is important to be able to discuss controversial subjects. The student in question was speaking of a need not to dehumanize the shooter at VT. Maybe he could use a lesson in tact, but "I am going to shoot up the school" is a threat, "I can understand how someone gets that angry" is not. Further, the fact that the student in question runs a campus paper that is extremely critical of the school, points out that this was just a contrarian making controversial speech, which is exactly the sort of thing that colleges used to encourage.

"If a major university means anything, it means the free exchange of ideas," said Karson's father, Michael Karson. "Max was arrested for making intellectual comments to an academic discussion. I don't think you should be able to arrest a kid for expressing his views."

Exactly. This is another black eye to free thought and liberal education from the knee jerks and fear mongers in this small minded hegemony.

As a bonus there is this charming anacdote: "At Oregon's Lewis & Clark College, another student was detained by campus police Wednesday shortly before a vigil for the Virginia Tech victims when he was spotted wearing an ammunition belt. Portland police later determined that it was "a fashion accessory" made of spent ammunition, and said the man did not have a weapon. The belt was confiscated."

Great work. If it was Virginia then the student could legally be carrying a concealed weapon and the police wouldn't (couldn't) blink, but make sure to get all the trendy ammo belts off the streets before someone gets hurt!

And finally to lighten the mood: A Lost In Negative Space cartoon (hat tip to one of my favorite blogs: The House Next Door)

So much more succinct and biting that I could ever muster.