Thursday, March 03, 2005

This Speaks Poorly For America

A poor grammatically challenged teenager in Clark County, Kentucky is being held on a $5000 bond because of the contents of his journal. He faces second-degree felony charges for making threats and possibly being a terrorist as well.

While it is nice to know that rural Kentucky does not wholeheartedly subscribe to the terrorist=A-rabs equation, there's a troubling reality here.

I'm sure that the boy's grandparents are kind, caring people who want to do what's best for everyone, and agonized over their decision to imprison their own flesh and blood based on a faulty interpretation of his private writings...but this is indicative of a bigger, more frightening picture for the rest of society.

Steven King wrote a telling story called "Rage" under the pseudonym Richard Bachman sometime in the late seventies. It was about a frustrated, misunderstood teenager who took his high school class hostage and shot a few students before being taken down by the cops. King was, himself, a high-school English teacher. I don't think this story was meant as a plan to incite revolution among teen boys at all.

King built his career off of a brilliant ability to tap into the fertile territory of social aggression and manipulation present in all high schools...Carrie, Rage, Christine, and countless other tales work off of the same themes, and they've made King a multi-millionaire. Under today's codes, he may have been imprisoned for life as a virtual serial-killing terrorist.

King's stories have been told and retold by generations of frustrated sub-alpha males who suck at sports and use English and Art class to get their aggressions out. Most of these derivative tales have little literary merit, but serve as incredibly healthy outlets for their authors. I benefited greatly from the freedom to spray some invisible blood and guts through my creative writing, paintings, and embarrassingly wretched heavy-metal lyrics as a teenager.

Teenage boys have long had a penchant for blood-soaked fiction, and it's a normal, natural way of purging aggression without actually harming anyone. While it is important for parents/parental guardians to be involved in their child's life, it's crucial that they understand the difference between unpleasant, possibly tasteless but harmless creative expression and actual malicious intent.

It may seem like a fine line, but if one is willing to go so far as to read a kid's journal, it's worth going the extra mile and learning the difference between the Klebold child's maps of Columbine and entertaining zombie schlock. It is possible to deduce that we are living in a new age of McCarthyism, with "reds" replaced by "terrorists." If there's one thing I learned while growing up and attending college in the South, it's that people who interpret the Bible literally also find it very hard to understand fiction...and these people are running the country.

4 Comments:

At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Change the word "zombie" in his story to the phrase "al queda", and the kid is downright patriotic.

 
At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Richard said...

In high school I drew a cartoon in which one of the other kids in my English class shot the teacher. I then circulated it around the whole class for yuks. If I'd been caught I probably would have gotten a stern talking-to. Today I would have been expelled at the very least. Crazy.

--Richard

 
At 1:19 PM, Blogger jaed said...

If want to be horrified on a daily basis, read zerointelligence.net for a while.

What scares me about these stories isn't so much that they happen - any teacher or principal might be a nut case, and this happened when I was in school - as that when they're brought to light, the higher-ups, the administrators and supervisors and school boards actually defend them.

 
At 11:47 AM, Anonymous GE&BB said...

One of Kings works, I believe THE STAND, mentions "President Schwartzenager".... odd how fiction becomes reality in America.

 

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