(TW: literary violence/sexual violence)
Last night, SehjMan and I were watching TV when our show ended and the local news came on. We never watch it, although I do follow local news stories online. The first story was this (which I had heard about late last week):
Synopsis if you don't want to click (plus details from other media outlets): an 8th grade boy wrote an 11-part blog online in which some of his classmates are murdered/raped. Based on snippets the media has published, it is very graphic. It was written from the student's point of view (It wasn't just about his classmates getting killed, it was him killing his classmates) It was clear he knew it was visible to the general public, as he addressed the general public in a note.
After parents/school administrators found out, the kid was pulled out of school for evaluation, but now, he's back. Not only is he back in the school, in some cases, he's in the same classes as the kids in the story. Because the story wasn't written on school grounds, or using school equipment, the school can not suspend/expel him.
My knee-jerk reaction: That kid needs to be out of that school NOW. Even if he's not a bad kid, and would never do the things he wrote about, he has made that environment very scary for the kids in the story. I can not imagine trying to take a Spanish test while a kid who wrote about murdering me was a few rows over. I can't imagine having to give a book report to the class and having to make eye contact with him. Heck, even the students not mentioned in the blog could feel very uncomfortable.
SehjMan's reaction: The kids in the book probably bullied the author and this was his retaliation.
This got me thinking, does that matter to my point of view? If he were being bullied, it adds some blame to the parents/administration who let it go on, but in my mind, it doesn't make him blameless for writing that stuff. The end result is still the same—there are a bunch of kids who know that a classmate had a very detailed fantasy about killing them.
My thoughts this morning (after a good night's sleep): Can we police what the kid wrote at all? Do we really want to get into the habit of punishing kids in school for out of school stuff?
"Marc, the principal saw a picture of you holding a beer over the weekend, you're suspended for the week."
"Kelly, Bob just showed me a text where you called him a stupid asshole. You have detention after school."
"Billy, your mom told me you wouldn't eat your vegetables last night, no recess for you today."
Those are silly examples, but they are kind of the same thing.
I guess what I'm trying to decide where art and personal expression stop, and where threats begin. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
ETA: I meant to mention originally, but forgot until mleek pointed it out below, the whole idea of the parents picketing the school is adding a whole extra bad layer to all of this.
ETA2:Kinja is apparently eating replies. I haven't dismissed anyone, but I can only see a few, despite the Kinja telling me there are many more. Of course, notifications aren't working for me either.