They have made their point now...

From "W.J. R." <>
Date Thu, 04 Nov 1999 11:28:02 EST

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A new story. THIS is what this list is about.
Cut from

Here's a true Hellmouth Halloween Horror Story: A Texas seventh-grader wrote 
-- at his teacher's request -- a
            "scary" story in which two classmates and his teacher were shot 
(the latter accidentally). He got a 100 on the
            story, and was thrown in jail for nearly a week on suspicion of 
making terroristic threats.

            Christopher Beamon, a 13-year-old seventh-grader in Ponder, 
Texas, was, according to a school administrator, a "disciplinary

            He was also, according to a classmate, a little "weird."

            Tuesday, Christopher was released after spending nearly a week 
in the Denton County juvenile correctional facility for writing - at his
            teacher's request - a fictional Halloween horror story that 
described the shooting of two classmates and his teacher.

            Christopher had become another, particularly dramatic Hellmouth 
horror story, one more sacrifice to the profoundly ignorant way in
            which politics, education and the criminal justice system treat 
complex social issues involving technology, culture and the young.

            The teacher gave Beamon a score of 100 on the writing 
assignment, on which she also wrote "outstanding."

            Then, perhaps remembering the ongoing post-Columbine assault in 
American education on young geeks, nerds, gamers, the weird
            and the non-normal, she thought better of the grade and his 
story, and turned Beamon in to the principal.

            School officials contacted the local district attorney, Bruce 
Isaacks. Beamon was taken into custody and brought before Denton
            County Juvenile Judge Court Darlene Whitten, who ordered the 
seventh-grader detained for 10 days. Whitten approved
            Christopher's early release only after the his stunned mother 
and the family's court-appointed lawyers began contacting Texas

            The district attorney said - regretfully - that he couldn't find 
any grounds to prosecute Christopher, but managed to brand him on
            national TV anyway: "It looks like the child was doing what the 
teacher told him to do, which was to write a scary story" said
            Isaacks,"but this child does appear to be a persistent 
discipline problem for this school, and the administrators were legitimately
            concerned." The DA's subliminal message was obvious. Would 
Christopher have been hauled off to jail he if was the star quarterback
            on the high school football team? Not likely.

            On his release from jail, Christopher Beamon said "it seems like 
a year ago, a big ol? long year" since he was first arrested, and asked
            for a bean burrito from Taco Bell.

            Beamon's arrest came just days after the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco 
and Firearms Agency (ATF) announced it was joining with a private
            security firm (see the Slashdot: article) to distribute 
Mosaic-2000, a software program designed to spot potentially dangerous
            students in schools.

            Beamon's essay, available on the Dallas Morning News website, 
describes he and a friend fending off an intruder with a .12 guage
            shotgun. "?this bloody body dropped down in front of us and 
scared us half to death and about 20 kids started cracking up and
            pissed me off so I shot Matt, Jake and Ben started laughing so 
hard that I acssedently [sic} shot Mrs. Henry (his teacher)."

            The story is a crude, if classic pre-adolescent fantasy, and is 
about as menacing as "Daffy Duck." It would seem logical to many
            adolescent boys that a horror story might include some violence. 
Check it out for yourself.

            Beamon said he read the story aloud in class for extra credit, 
and the teacher not only gave him a perfect score, but laughed when he
            read about her accidental shooting. The next day, he was in the 
local juvenile detention center for suspicion of making "terroristic
            threats."(Perhaps a bit ingenuously, Beamon told reporters he 
spent his time in jail reading the Bible).

            Last year, in the wake of the Columbine killings, scores of 
schoolkids, many of them geeks, nerds, gamers, Goths and various
            assorted oddballs, reported a wave of suspensions, expulsions 
and forced counseling sessions after they were asked to speak openly
            about their feelings about school, classmates and cultural 
values. Many said they regretted speaking frankly about their feelings about
            school, and wouldn't do it again. They were wise.

            A number of kids who said they understand at least some of the 
rage that might have driven the Columbine killers were sent home or
            ordered into compulsory counseling and re-education sessions.

            What a windfall Columbine has been for timid educational 
bureaucrats: they don't have to deal with their disaffected students and 
            problems: they can just ship them off to counseling, private 
schools or jail.

            And what a black mark for jounalism, which contributed so 
mightily to the hysterical atmosphere in which this kind of insanity is
            possible -- remember the post-Columbine are 
computer-games-turning-your-kids-into-killers coverage? -- and manages to 
            offer relevent facts or ask any of the right or elemental 

            Why are schools adopting these increasingly Draconian measures 
when violence in schools and among the young in general has been
            dropping sharply for years?

            Isn't it better for kids to express their angry, even violent 
fantasies openly, where parents and educators can see and talk about them?
            Is it really safer if these feelings are hidden - the real 
legacy of Columbine and Christopher's nightmare.

            Do children have any rights at all to free speech or due 
process? Do they have any recourse when opinions and stories are solicited
            by teachers and administrators, then used to punish and silence 

            Free societies have always accepted trade-offs between security 
and freedom. Urban streets would be a lot safer if nobody was
            permitted to go outside after 6 p.m., or if thieves and robbers 
had their hands chopped off. But safety isn't the only value in a

            School killings are horrible, but they are rare. And they aren't 
as random as media reports would suggest: they invariably involve
            emotionally-disturbed adolescent white males with access to 
lethal weapons. Justice department surveys repeatedly have found that
            schools are the safest places for kids to be.

            Awful as they are, these incidents don't justify turning schools 
into ideological prison camps where informers are encouraged,
            normalcy is a forced value, and law enforcement authorities are 
called in to police stories and jokes.

            Beamon was asked on the Today Show what he learned from his 
experience. "Be careful what you say," he said.

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