Student Arrested For Alarming School Essay


sanctus
#1
(CBS) CARY, Ill. An 18-year-old high school student from the northwest suburbs has been arrested and is facing criminal charges for what officals called an alarming essay that made reference to a school shooting.

Allen W. Lee, a student at Cary-Grove High School in Cary, was charged with disorderly conduct stemming from an essay that was part of a "free writing" assignment in a creative writing class.

The teen was charged because his teacher became alarmed by the "violence" he described, Cary Police Chief Ron Delelio said. The essay contained no specific threats but was "disturbing and inappropriate," he said.

The paper allegedly made a vague reference to a fictional school shooting in McHenry County but didn’t specify a school or district, a law enforcement source said.

Lee admitted mentioning school shooting in the essay, but downplayed it.

"At the very last sentence, I said that this teacher's method of teaching could lead to a school shooting," Lee said Wednesday. He said he'd intended the entire essay as a joke.

Lee's father, Albert Lee, questioned the severity of the punishment.

"We think they have been too harsh," Albert Lee said Wednesday. "Every story has two sides."

The charges come less than two weeks after Virginia Tech senior Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and then himself on the Blacksburg, Va., campus. Cho had written violence-drenched plays in his creative writing class.

"I understand what happened recently at Virginia Tech," said Albert Lee. "I understand the situation."

But he also defended his son as a straight-A student who was following instructions for the assignment.

But police said it was necessary to be extra vigilant regarding the possibility of school violence.

"We filed what we thought was the appropriate charge," Delelio said. "We need to be very vigilant today when we’re dealing with school settings."

Lee’s creative writing instructor — a first-year teacher — became so concerned when reading the essay Monday night that she called the Cary-Grove English Department chair, who then called the principal at home, said Community High School District 155 Supt. Jill Hawk.

Police were alerted, and Lee was arrested Tuesday morning. By Wednesday, Lee was in an "off-campus placement" with a tutor "while we assess just how extensively we need to be concerned," Hawk said.

Allen Lee faces disciplinary action, said Jeff Puma, a District 155 spokesman.

Police have declined to release a copy of the essay.

"It raised some flags," Puma said. "I think, in this case, the teacher chose to err on the side of caution and, I think, rightly so."

Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said that without knowing all the details of the essay, "You have to wonder whether [the charges were] an overreaction, given the events at Virginia Tech."

"He turned it in to a teacher. He didn't post it online," Yohnka added. "It's not a communication between him and the broader world. This [charge] is just very puzzling."

A Cary-Grove student who knows Lee described him as quiet and smart. “He was quiet, he wasn't scary,” the student said.

On Wednesday, students at the school showed support for Lee with a petition drive to let him back into school.

Disorderly conduct can be filed if someone’s actions alarm or disturb another enough to "provoke a breach of the peace," McHenry County State’s Attorney Louis Bianchi said. "So far, we’re supportive" of the charge, he said.

Lee, who was arrested Tuesday, posted $75 bond.

He is scheduled to appear in court June 18.

The STNG Wire and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

(© MMVII, CBS Broadcasting
 
Libra Girl
#2
On the one hand, not having access to be able to read the essay ourselves, it's difficult to assess just how provocative, or not, the essay was. The article states that a vague reference was made to a fictional shooting, and in the very last sentence; that it was a creative writing assignment, and that it was set by a first year teacher. A peer of his describes the writer as a quiet person,, but not 'scary,' and that he was a straight A student, not that that would necessarily exclude him from suspicion of being deranged in any way. The student didn't publish the article online, but instead turned it into his teacher. All this does seem to preclude him of being someone with a dysfunctional thinking process.

On the other hand feelings are running high, and others did find the essay to be 'disturbing and innapropriate.' That the student was charged, and will appear in court does makes one wonder just how 'creative' this essay was.
 
sanctus
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by Libra Girl View Post


On the other hand feelings are running high, and others did find the essay to be 'disturbing and innapropriate.' That the student was charged, and will appear in court does makes one wonder just how 'creative' this essay was.


All very true, but what troubles me with the story is the arrest. Has America become afraid of open and free expression of speech? Is it a crime to write what you want? And if so, why? I find it a troubling thought that expressions of a point of view might be considered serious enough to arrest a kid. If the contents were so alarming, would not intervention by school Counsellors or Pyschologists been more in order?
 
Libra Girl
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by sanctus View Post

All very true, but what troubles me with the story is the arrest. Has America become afraid of open and free expression of speech? Is it a crime to write what you want? And if so, why? I find it a troubling thought that expressions of a point of view might be considered serious enough to arrest a kid. If the contents were so alarming, would not intervention by school Counsellors or Pyschologists been more in order?

Yes, the 'vague' last sentence of the essay mentioning a 'ficticious' event of a shooting, does make one wonder just what is really happening here. As you say, it is troubling.
 
able
#5
What alarms me is, this is the way that political correctness, and what constitutes sexual assault, got started. Continued attacks on people for perceived indiscretions can only result in further confusion as to what freedom of speech is. Failure to publicize the essay causes me to wonder why it had to be witheld. Too much of what can be taken two ways, is being shoved into the "this is treason " category.
 
Libra Girl
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by able View Post

What alarms me is, this is the way that political correctness, and what constitutes sexual assault, got started. Continued attacks on people for perceived indiscretions can only result in further confusion as to what freedom of speech is. Failure to publicize the essay causes me to wonder why it had to be witheld. Too much of what can be taken two ways, is being shoved into the "this is treason " category.

Yes, I would have to agree. But, without sight of the essay, we'll never know for sure.
 
s243a
#7
The arrest sounds baseless and a clear violation of freedom of speech. I haven't read the essay though but my gut tells me it is an over reaction.
 
Pangloss
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by sanctus View Post

All very true, but what troubles me with the story is the arrest. Has America become afraid of open and free expression of speech? Is it a crime to write what you want? And if so, why? I find it a troubling thought that expressions of a point of view might be considered serious enough to arrest a kid. If the contents were so alarming, would not intervention by school Counsellors or Pyschologists been more in order?

I can only echo what you say, Sanctus.

Free speech is free speech, art must be unfettered, and objectionable talk must be countered with forceful arguments, not police force.

What would have been the harm in talking about the essay with the whole class? Especially if, since the kid is apparently a straight-a student, the essay is well-written?

Remember, the teacher is first year, and the possibility of overreaction borne of inexperience is a possibility.

Pangloss
 
thomaska
#9
Does common sense ever come into play anywhere for people who scream,"Censorship!"? Considering what just happened in Virginia, and then considering the rash of prank calls and bomb threats that happened right after, perhaps people should refrain from writing fictional accounts of violence in public education locales?

Just because you can say or write a thing, doesn't mean you have to, or should.

I think it is a bit ridiculous that this 18 year old is being treated as a criminal, but he's old enough to vote, so obviously someone thinks he has some sense. Well, it looks like "someone" was proved wrong once again.

If you want to act like an ass, be prepared to be treated as such.
 
#juan
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by Pangloss View Post

I can only echo what you say, Sanctus.

Free speech is free speech, art must be unfettered, and objectionable talk must be countered with forceful arguments, not police force.

What would have been the harm in talking about the essay with the whole class? Especially if, since the kid is apparently a straight-a student, the essay is well-written?

Remember, the teacher is first year, and the possibility of overreaction borne of inexperience is a possibility.

Pangloss

Will every essay written by students from now on in that school be coloured by the fear of not being politically correct enough This is a mistake in my estimation. I think the students have to talk about that tragic event and write about it, and talk about it again. As Libra Girl suggested, we are not privy to what was actually written but the student body apparently supported the student who wrote the essay. No good will come of censoring what is said or written. All of the students are victims in a way, and they should be encouraged to talk about it openly.
 
sanctus
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by thomaska View Post

Does common sense ever come into play anywhere for people who scream,"Censorship!"? Considering what just happened in Virginia, and then considering the rash of prank calls and bomb threats that happened right after, perhaps people should refrain from writing fictional accounts of violence in public education locales?

Just because you can say or write a thing, doesn't mean you have to, or should.

I think it is a bit ridiculous that this 18 year old is being treated as a criminal, but he's old enough to vote, so obviously someone thinks he has some sense. Well, it looks like "someone" was proved wrong once again.

If you want to act like an ass, be prepared to be treated as such.

To be arrested? Is that what he should've been prepared for?
 
Pangloss
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by #juan View Post

Will every essay written by students from now on in that school be coloured by the fear of not being politically correct enough This is a mistake in my estimation. I think the students have to talk about that tragic event and write about it, and talk about it again. As Libra Girl suggested, we are not privy to what was actually written but the student body apparently supported the student who wrote the essay. No good will come of censoring what is said or written. All of the students are victims in a way, and they should be encouraged to talk about it openly.

What would happen if, as a protest, every student demanded a legally binding promise of immunity from prosecution before they handed in any essay?

What an awesome thing that would be!

Pangloss
 
Pangloss
#13
Thomaska:

Does common sense ever come into play anywhere for people who scream,"Censorship!"? Considering what just happened in Virginia, and then considering the rash of prank calls and bomb threats that happened right after, perhaps people should refrain from writing fictional accounts of violence in public education locales?

Just because you can say or write a thing, doesn't mean you have to, or should.


There is a world of difference between yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre and artistic expression. Surely you realize that.

Pangloss
 
snowles
#14
Not much more to add from what has already been said here; it is ridiculous and without merit.

On top of that, what irks me is how this self-appointed censorship is seemingly random. So you can make a movie about anything you want, with limitless carnage or underage nudity, or have artwork consisting of deceased humans, but write an essay and you'll be arrested? What the hell?

It's completely kneejerk and robs North America of the very freedoms which it preaches make it a beacon of the world. Despite what certain "patriots" claim, when these sorts of acts are not only permitted but encouraged, not to sound cliched, but the terrorists really have won.

Thomaska, so just because a prominent school shooting happened, people shouldn't be able to express it, or anything related to it? What is an 'acceptable' time limit before it can be expressed? Within five years, we've had three major motion pictures about 9/11, as well as several television specials, and every piece of merchandise imaginable related sold (like those repulsive coins made with silver and gold from ground zero), yet that was seen as "patriotic." Again, it comes across as something that is kneejerk reactionary. Why are we as a society allowed to talk about some tragic events, and should keep our mouths, brains, and other forms of expression shut on others?

I think correlating the prank calls and bomb threats to this situation is a tad disingenuous, as well. This particular paper was made as a personal communication between the teacher and the student, and somehow he is being charged with disturbing the peace, which is pretty rich considering the school won't let the public see the document in question. It's a blatant stretch of the law, at best - it in essence leaves anyone offended by anything, at anytime, for any reason to charge an offending party.
 
#juan
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by Pangloss View Post

What would happen if, as a protest, every student demanded a legally binding promise of immunity from prosecution before they handed in any essay?

What an awesome thing that would be!

Pangloss

That would certainly put this school on the map.
 
TenPenny
#16
Creative writing. Just make sure you don't write anything that causes your teacher to think, or be disturbed.

What a world we live in. Be creative, but not too creative.
 
snowles
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by TenPenny View Post

Creative writing. Just make sure you don't write anything that causes your teacher to think, or be disturbed.

What a world we live in. Be creative, but not too creative.

Sadly, Vonnegut may have been the last truly great writer we'll have gotten to see. When Dan Brown is highly praised and applauded for his works, it's a sad state of affairs in the literary world.
 
Pangloss
#18
Snowles:

I'm re-reading Slapstick right now. Amazing how he makes me laugh and cry at the same time.

We're really starting to lose some deeply iconoclastic mid-century voices now. The next ten years are gonna be hard. . .

Pangloss
 
TenPenny
#19
Dan Brown. An author desperately in need of an editor.

In every one of his books, he makes an effort to mention the manufacturer of the engines of the aircraft that are in the scene.
 
Pangloss
#20
TP:

I've never read any Dan Brown. Is he really as bad as all that? If I did read him, would I enjoy his books the same way I can enjoy a truly bad movie?

Pangloss
 
TenPenny
#21
If you're looking for something to read quickly and easily, they're okay. Plots are thin and obvious, the characters aren't very well done, but it's a fast read for a plane ride or summer at the beach.
 
thomaska
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by Pangloss View Post

Thomaska:

Does common sense ever come into play anywhere for people who scream,"Censorship!"? Considering what just happened in Virginia, and then considering the rash of prank calls and bomb threats that happened right after, perhaps people should refrain from writing fictional accounts of violence in public education locales?

Just because you can say or write a thing, doesn't mean you have to, or should.

There is a world of difference between yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre and artistic expression. Surely you realize that.

Pangloss

Well, excuse me. I didn't realize we were dealing with a future Tolstoy here. I was under the impression it was a "busy work" assignment to a high school student.

I forgot that the readers around here do enjoy a certain level of drama.
 
Pangloss
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by thomaska View Post

Well, excuse me. I didn't realize we were dealing with a future Tolstoy here. I was under the impression it was a "busy work" assignment to a high school student.

I forgot that the readers around here do enjoy a certain level of drama.

Thom. . .

Untwist yer knickers.

Doesn't matter the quality of the writing - what matters is there is free, unfettered expression, "busy work" or not.

Sincerely,

A Former Tolstoy
Last edited by Pangloss; Apr 27th, 2007 at 03:16 PM..Reason: I misread thom's post - had to fix mine.
 
TenPenny
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by thomaska View Post

Well, excuse me. I didn't realize we were dealing with a future Tolstoy here. I was under the impression it was a "busy work" assignment to a high school student.

I forgot that the readers around here do enjoy a certain level of drama.

If everyone is taught to not think and not upset the teacher, then we all suffer from a world full of dullards. Creative writing is, by its nature, meant to be....CREATIVE.
 
lysyfacet
#25
ok well as much as the essay was disturbing and how it was written just shortly after the virginia tech shooting...is kinda odd. But arresting the kid for no necessary evidence is very un called for. Like it is just an essay, and there was the relation to any school or students/ people, so its obvious he was just writing the paper like he was assigned to do.
Perhaps since it was a creative assignment, he took the virginia tech story/ news event and wrote it how he perhaps would have saw it. Like i'm sure this kid didn't just write this paper for no reason what so ever. I'm sure after the rampage not long before at virginia tech had alot to do with it, and perhaps he was just writing this as a point of view shot, from maybe how he thought it happened and stuff.
Doesn't look like the punishment is necessarily called for, atleast not that harsh. He's a straight "A" student, so its highly unlikely he was planning anything, but then again, its better to take precautions in situations like this.
 
sanctus
#26
Quote: Originally Posted by thomaska View Post

Well, excuse me. I didn't realize we were dealing with a future Tolstoy here. I was under the impression it was a "busy work" assignment to a high school student.

I forgot that the readers around here do enjoy a certain level of drama.


Drama is not the point. We're talking about a high school writing assignment where some pencil dicked anal retentive neo-nazi has determined the content was not suitable. It doesn't matter what went on in Vermont, or anywhere else. What matters is this over-reactive moronic teacher and the Gestapo "wannbe" police forces in that place ARRESTED a kid for the content of his essay.

Further, in a country that prides itself on allowing its citizens the freedom to say whatever the hell they want to.
 
Pangloss
#27
Huzzah, Sanctus, huzzah!

Pangloss
 
sanctus
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by Pangloss View Post

Huzzah, Sanctus, huzzah!

Pangloss


Bowing..."thank you, thank you...and for my next number......"
 
TenPenny
#29
Quote: Originally Posted by sanctus View Post

Further, in a country that prides itself on allowing its citizens the freedom to say whatever the hell they want to.

No no no, you've got it mixed up. You're free to carry assault weapons, but not to express yourself.
 
snowles
#30
Quote: Originally Posted by TenPenny View Post

No no no, you've got it mixed up. You're free to carry assault weapons, but not to express yourself.

Oh, I don't know, The Rev. Fred Phelps would show you can not only say whatever vile garbage you want, but that there will be a market there to support and sustain it.

Now Fred Phelps with an assault rifle, that would be trouble.
 

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