Sunday, April 29, 2007

Has "writing while Asian" become a crime?

A couple of people in my blogosphere have commented on the story of Allen Lee, the Cary-Grove High School senior facing two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct for writing an essay that made his teacher think he sounded like a school shooter.

We an argue out the legalities of this one, but the truth of the matter is, I have some sympathy for the charge. Because this kid is supposed to be a straight-A student, and his comments show that he can write perfectly intelligently.

And the peice of writing in question really does sound like something a crazy guy would write, almost certainly by design. (He claims in his comments that it is supposed to be written "in character," but according to news reports, his assignment was free-writing, so his teacher had no reason to assume he wasn't writing about himself. He certainly didn't tell her.)

Honestly, reading this and comparing it to his usual writing, I have trouble believing that this particular kid wasn't playing a prank on his english teachers.

The essay:

Blood sex and Booze. Drugs Drugs Drugs are fun. Stab, Stab, Stab, S...t...a...b..., poke. “So I had this dream last night where I went into a building, pulled out two P90s and started shooting everyone..., then had sex with the dead bodies. Will, not really, but it would be funny if I did.” Umm, yeah, what to wright about...... I’m leaving to join the Marines and I really don’t give a F*** about my academics, so why does the only class that’s complete Bull S***, happen to be the only required class...enough said. The model citizen would stay around to vote in new board member to change the 4 years of English policy, but no one really stays around to vote for that kind of local crap, so whoever gets there name on the Ballet with a pretty face gets to do what the F*** ever they want with local ordinance. A person is smart, but people are dumb selfish animals. We can’t make rules for ourselves so we vote others to do it for us, but we can’t even do that right, I meen seriously, Bush for President? And our other option was John Kerry who claimed to partake in Vietnam Special Forces missions that haven’t been declassified....F***ing Bull S***. So Power Flower Super Mario. Pudge, hook, rot, dismember “Fresh Meat.” Most new/young teachers are laid back, and cooperative with students as feedback and input into the curriculum and atmosphere. My current English teacher is a control freak intent on setting a gap between herself and her students like a 63 year old white male fortune 500 company CEO, and a illegal immigrant. If CG was a private catholic school I could understand, but wtf is her problem. And baking brownies and rice crispies does not make up for it, way to try and justify yourself as a good teacher while underhandidly 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.

OK, this is apparently how he usually writes: (Yes, this could theoretically have been written by his lawyer, but as again, he's a straight-a student so I'm sure the essay doesn't represent his real writing.)

Author’s Note: This production of the writing is done in the most accurate manner I can depict of the original writing. Grammar and spelling mistakes are included at the best accuracy possible. The first phrase in questions is in fact a Green Day song. The second reference to drugs is in relation to the schools history of drug problems. I am personally clean of all controlled substances. The statement in quotes is done so as a non personal statement as I would have done in reference to a character for a story. The reference to the gun P90 is from a video game, combined with a reference to necrophilia as a comment regarding a seriously messed up situation. A situation such as the rape of villagers during a raid by U.S. troops in Vietnam. I really do not care too much about by continuing academia as in relation to grades. I do however believe on continuing my personal education, and I am actually still working for my classes. My views on the graduation requirements explain themselves. The reference to Mario and Pudge(a DOTA character) are completely random in this essay. The reference to a person being smart and people being dumb is based on a quite from “Men in Black.” I generally do believe the public opinion is best. The rest of the essay is rather self explanatory, the main statement in question I have already released a comment online about. I request that all information I have released is read together, and nothing is given separately or as an excerpt as the administration has seen fit to do.

On an additional note, I have completed the MEPS (Military Entry Processing Station) examinations, and yes a psychiatric evaluation is included in the process. If I’m qualified to defend the country, I believe I am qualified to attend school.

Now, if there has just been a school shooting, and you write an essay like that one, is your conduct disorderly?

Honestly, I'm hard pressed to say that it isn't.



Joel Monka said...

I would say yes, that paper was disorderly conduct. I see no benign explanation for it- the best face to put on it is that he was testing limits... ok, he found them.

kim said...

I have no opinion except that I wouldn't give his writing an A. I had to write better than that to get an A in high school. (yes, I'm referring to the explanation. If his lawyer had written that, he wouldn't have graduated law school.)

Emily said...

Yes, his timing sucks, and yes, he was technically disorderly (in its original sense--I don't know anything about the legal sense) by timing it like this, but...does that deserve a misdemeanor charge? A trial? Hell no.

I don't think this is equivalent to shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

Especially since he had just been psychiatrically evaluated and passed (though it would have been nice for the teacher to know that beforehand. And for him to have told her it was a creative exercise).

So, basically--yes, what he did was wrong, but doesn't deserve punishment in our legal justice system. I think.

Joel Monka said...

According to this article, , charges have been dropped.