Is this legal?

  • Thread starter arunma
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  • #26
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Remember, as we've been hearing, Cho was also taken into court-ordered custody (at that stage, not really different from an arrest) for his creative writing papers...did we ever hear about that in the news at the time? No, it was just something administrative that is done when someone that disturbed is identified as a potential threat to self or others, and nobody would have thought to make a news story of it. Perhaps that his illness was not taken seriously enough allowed him to remain out in society and to do something so horrid. Here's another kids who seems to be showing similar disturbing, violent tendencies, finds humor in it, and makes threats against the school and teacher, and you want the teacher to not notify the police to do something about it?

No, maybe he won't be the next school shooter, but someone who finds humor in shooting people and having sex with the corpses might turn out to be the next serial killer. Who knows, if there's an unsolved murder in the area that fits that description, the police probably wanted to detain him long enough to make sure it wasn't a confession.
Moonbear,
Cho was detained for a psych eval on the basis of stalking--had nothing to do with his writings, so while I'm not necessarily disagreeing, I have seen examples of this where at a high school, kids gets detained for 3 days in a psych hospital on the basis of a graphic drawing. They (teachers, et al) were being careful, but an involuntary psychiatric hospitalization seemed overboard IMO.
 
  • #27
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He wasn't writing his personal thoughts in a diary. He was using free-writing to write fiction. Free writing isn't supposed to be censored. Any thought that enters your mind is what goes on the paper. It's a good way to explore things you don't think about often and get a stuck plot line rolling again, or build a nice framework for a story. What in his paper made the teacher believe that these were his beliefs and not just a perspective he was exploring, perhaps intended for some fictional character in a story?

Without having read the paper it's impossible to know how it was intended. The threat to the teacher was not quoted, only implied. That could have been taken out of context or misinterpreted. Having him arrested, barred from service and banned from school seems excessive as an initial reaction. If I was concerned about the violence in his writing I would attempt to discover WHY he wrote it and not immediately resort to punishment.

Would the penalty for this paper have been so severe if the VT shootings never happened? Personally, I would be more concerned if someone wrote that paper with no recent event to draw the inspiration from.
 
  • #28
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Anyone else wonder as I whether race played a role?
 
  • #29
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Anyone else wonder as I whether race played a role?
I bet Allen Lee considered his race when he wrote the paper.
 
  • #30
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The fact is, he cannot be charged with a crime for anything that he wrote in this paper, unless there is a clear case of threatening a criminal act. It would violate his first amendment rights.

Certainly there's nothing wrong with the school following up on this, disciplining him, sending him to counselors, etc. And as someone else said, maybe they are charging him with "disorderly conduct" because he actually made some kind of scene, or did something else that we are unaware of.
 
  • #31
Evo
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I have just read the essay Lee wrote and now I am positive that the school overreacted. A straight A student with no history of violence and sociable according to what I've read about him.

Has anyone read the essay? Did anyone read Lee's explanation of the essay? The opening sentance were lyrics from a Green Day song?

Here is the essay and Lee's comments.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/361573,042707lee.article [Broken]
 
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  • #32
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wow.. what is the world coming too
 
  • #33
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Has anyone read the essay? Did anyone read Lee's explanation of the essay? The opening sentance were lyrics from a Green Day song?
Yes. Yes. The opening sentence is the title of a Green Day song.

Now I'm getting an unsettling impression that someone wanted to make an example. Students everywhere have just been taught that following teacher instructions can lend them in criminal court and deprive them of employment unless they self-censor. Does the cure seem worse than the disease to anyone else?
 
  • #34
JasonRox
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You can be arrested for bad taste now?
Oh boy! This ain't good for any of us Science guys.
 
  • #35
JasonRox
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I guess people are just becoming little babies and are scared of reality. He was portraying reality in a unique way, and he gets arrested for it. That's bull****.
 
  • #36
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Thanks for that link Evo. That clears things up nicely.

Seems the teacher didn't like being bad-mouthed and decided to make an issue out of it. The essay still isn't appropriate, but I don't see any direct threats in there. The line about a cg shooting is a warning that the teacher's actions will eventually upset some student enough to commit a similar act. The essay is an honest opinion, albeit a harsh one, that has been blown way out of proportion.

The school stepped on this student's rights. I doubt they believed that Lee had any real intention of harming anyone. They saw that his essay was insulting to the teacher, anti-establishment and foul-mouthed and decided to punish him. Just seeing how the essay was quoted it seems to me someone wanted to coerce public opinion to the establishment's favor. I hope it backfires on them, legally ofcourse. It almost looks like the school abused this student's rights by telling half-truths and public fear-mongering.
 
  • #37
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That was a dumb thing to write after the recent incident at virginia tech, he deserves whats happening but hopefully the charges will be dropped once he has been taught a lesson,
 
  • #38
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I tried to find the assignment itself but I didn't locate the exact and complete text. I did find exerpts of it in news reports. It goes something like this:

Free writing is a simple process that is the basis for the other discover techniques. Basic free writing follows these guidelines:

• 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.

Free writing has these benefits:

• It makes you more comfortable with the act of writing.

• It helps you bypass the "inner critic" who tells you you can't write.

• It can be a valve to release inner tensions.

• It can help you discover things to write about.

• It can indirectly improve your formal writing.

• It can be fun.

The assignment included additional guidelines such as:

"If your free writing is neat and coherent, you probably haven't loosened up enough."
 
  • #39
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The line about a cg shooting is a warning that the teacher's actions will eventually upset some student enough to commit a similar act. The essay is an honest opinion, albeit a harsh one, that has been blown way out of proportion.
I noticed that too. Observing that a school's behavior might one day result in dire consequences is quite different from making an overt threat. Perhaps it should concern us that genuine criticism is being harshly censored here.
 
  • #40
Moonbear
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I have just read the essay Lee wrote and now I am positive that the school overreacted. A straight A student with no history of violence and sociable according to what I've read about him.

Has anyone read the essay? Did anyone read Lee's explanation of the essay? The opening sentance were lyrics from a Green Day song?

Here is the essay and Lee's comments.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/361573,042707lee.article [Broken]
Thanks...seeing it in context it seems a lot less serious than the quotes originally posted out of context. I had no idea that opening sentence was a song...ugh! I can't believe people listen to stuff with lyrics like that! That alone says something about what our society has come to. Maybe the teacher didn't know that song either, and that's why she reacted as she did. Without being told that is a song he was quoting, I'd have still taken it in the context of him being a threat to others. But, once explained and able to demonstrate that the song does exist with those lines, that should have sufficed. The rest just demonstrates a really immature attitude, which is typical of many high school kids, though frightening to realize he could serve in the military being THAT immature.
 
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  • #41
Chi Meson
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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.
He is talking directly to the teacher here. As a teacher I would also have sent it up to the administrators. I do not think that the teacher is responsible for the Marines decision to reject/deselect him. That is a separate decision. Has the USMC overreacted too?
 
  • #42
Evo
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He is talking directly to the teacher here. As a teacher I would also have sent it up to the administrators. I do not think that the teacher is responsible for the Marines decision to reject/deselect him. That is a separate decision. Has the USMC overreacted too?
The Marines have a rule that they cannot accept anyone with pending legal action against them. Once the charges are dropped, he can re-enlist.

"Lee has a 4.2 grade-point average and never has been in trouble before"
 
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  • #43
Chi Meson
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The Marines have a rule that they cannot accept anyone with pending legal action against them. Once the charges are dropped, he can re-enlist.
Well I hope that is the case. This will probably end up as a huge slap on the wrist, for all. One outcome: no more "free writing assignments" anywhere. This guy seems to have used the "no censorship" clause as an excuse for a violent, vulgar, hateful, personal rant against the teacher. No one should have to tolerate that, and teachers shouldn't be the only humans with skin three inches thick.

Here's an interesting extra, from
http://www.wqad.com/Global/story.asp?S=6428740
The student's father says he understands the situation because of last week's Virginia Tech shootings and the violent writings of gunman Seung-Hui Cho (sung-wee joh).
 
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  • #44
Evo
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I don't think anyone disagrees that in light of VA Tech, that it was rather idiotic. The rant against the teacher alone would be grounds for disciplinary action.

I can't believe though that the first Lee was aware of any problem with his essay was when he was arrested while walking to school the following morning. Everyone agrees he should have been disciplined, his parents called in and an evaluation possibly indicated. I say possibly because he doesn't exhibit any of the traits associated with sociopaths.

I think perhaps his spelling and grammar were probably bad enough to warrant an arrest though. :grumpy: Amazing how he can be an honor student with such poor spelling.
 
  • #45
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I cannot say that Lee was tasteless, dumb or <insert your favorite> to write this. Saying so would miss the fact that the text was not supposed to be pondered or reflected, not supposed to be analyzed in any way. Had he considered other's feelings, possible repercussions and so on, then he would have disobeyed one of the assignment rules. This was supposed to be written spontaneously and freely, without restraint, as a writing exercise. Angry rants were allowed.

What I question is the fact that the teacher read what her students wrote under these conditions. It seems a bit invasive to do this unless you're the students' therapist, and it doesn't add anything to the value of the exercise. If Lee can be accused of anything it is naivety: he believed that he would not be judged. So his trust was betrayed and now he knows better than to obey all rules. Me, I would have cheated on this exercise. I don't want to just write everything that pops into my mind unless I can burn the paper right after; my impulsive thoughts are nobody's business, yours should remain yours as well. You never know what others might think and do in response.
 
  • #46
Evo
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I cannot say that Lee was tasteless, dumb or <insert your favorite> to write this. Saying so would miss the fact that the text was not supposed to be pondered or reflected, not supposed to be analyzed in any way. Had he considered other's feelings, possible repercussions and so on, then he would have disobeyed one of the assignment rules. This was supposed to be written spontaneously and freely, without restraint, as a writing exercise. Angry rants were allowed.

What I question is the fact that the teacher read what her students wrote under these conditions. It seems a bit invasive to do this unless you're the students' therapist, and it doesn't add anything to the value of the exercise. If Lee can be accused of anything it is naivety: he believed that he would not be judged. So his trust was betrayed and now he knows better than to obey all rules. Me, I would have cheated on this exercise. I don't want to just write everything that pops into my mind unless I can burn the paper right after; my impulsive thoughts are nobody's business, yours should remain yours as well. You never know what others might think and do in response.
You bring up some very valid points.
 
  • #47
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I have just read the essay Lee wrote and now I am positive that the school overreacted. A straight A student with no history of violence and sociable according to what I've read about him.

Has anyone read the essay? Did anyone read Lee's explanation of the essay? The opening sentance were lyrics from a Green Day song?

Here is the essay and Lee's comments.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/361573,042707lee.article [Broken]
Thanks for posting the whole essay. Having read it, now I know that the school was out of line to punish this kid.

I cannot say that Lee was tasteless, dumb or <insert your favorite> to write this. Saying so would miss the fact that the text was not supposed to be pondered or reflected, not supposed to be analyzed in any way. Had he considered other's feelings, possible repercussions and so on, then he would have disobeyed one of the assignment rules. This was supposed to be written spontaneously and freely, without restraint, as a writing exercise. Angry rants were allowed.

What I question is the fact that the teacher read what her students wrote under these conditions. It seems a bit invasive to do this unless you're the students' therapist, and it doesn't add anything to the value of the exercise. If Lee can be accused of anything it is naivety: he believed that he would not be judged. So his trust was betrayed and now he knows better than to obey all rules. Me, I would have cheated on this exercise. I don't want to just write everything that pops into my mind unless I can burn the paper right after; my impulsive thoughts are nobody's business, yours should remain yours as well. You never know what others might think and do in response.
That's a most excellent point. Since time immemorial (or so it seems to youngsters like myself), English and literature classes have seemed like the appropriate forum for creativity and free-speech. Apparently they need to redefine creativity as "any piece of writing that directly comments on the literary figures discussed in this course."

I must wonder: is creative writing the sort of thing that we should even be teaching in high school English classes? After all, creativity is something that should be generally encouraged in all subjects, especially the sciences. But it's been well-known, since before VATech and Columbine, that the written word can be quite destructive when misused. In a sense, it seems like a teacher who assigns a creative writing assignment is granting a bit too much intellectual freedom for an academic setting, not to mention that such a teacher is being terribly imprecise on the expectations that the assignment must meet. Back when I was in high school, our English teachers also displayed the (probably false) semblance of placing no bounds on student creativity. To provide an analogy, we scientists are aware of the fact that in academics, not all ideas are equally valid. No scientist or science teacher in the right mind would entertain ideas like creationism, conspiracy theories, outdated physical models, or other forms of scientific quackery in the science classroom, and these limits on creativity are fairly well spelled out. Shouldn't English teachers place similar limitations?
 
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  • #48
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if a person can't separate art from life then they should participate in an art show sometime, i'd have them sit down in a chair and look into a mirror while onlookers walked by in a crowded mall.
 
  • #49
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The rest just demonstrates a really immature attitude, which is typical of many high school kids, though frightening to realize he could serve in the military being THAT immature.
I take it you haven't met many Marines. :wink: There are a lot of immature teenagers in the military. I remember 4 Marines in Naples, Italy that thought the small cars Italians drive were so funny they would flip one over onto it's roof. They ended up staying behind in jail and the ship left without them. I'm guessing they were court-martialed for destruction of private property, disorderly conduct and missing a deployment.

Anyway, I think what would concern the military most in this essay isn't the rant. The student made disparaging remarks about president Bush, the commander and chief of the US armed services. I think if Lee doesn't have the prescence of mind to refrain from writing a hateful diatribe to his teacher then he would not be able to handle the rigorous discipline that he would find in the military. There is no open bad-mouthing of authority allowed.

Free writing is an important tool for creative writing. Without learning how to write creatively an English class becomes a lesson in grammar and spelling. The method of expression in language is more of an art than a science. It shouldn't be removed from the English curriculum.

I'm sure this isn't the first time the teacher has seen something she didn't like in a free-writing excersize. If she isn't well-liked and gives an assignment to a class full of teenage, high school kids to write whatever is on their mind she is bound to get the occassional rant directed towards her. I know it is tough to accept the burden of insult, but Lee should have been afforded some extra leeway here because of the nature of the assignment. I can understand that the teacher brought the paper to the attention of the administration. What I don't understand is that nobody questioned the student directly. It's like the system got put on autopilot and rolled right over the student while nobody was watching.

I'm glad I had some more understanding English professors.
 

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