Writing Dangerously?

By Anthony Rebora — April 27, 2007 1 min read
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The revelation that Seung Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech killer, had composed a number of dark writings for his classes has clearly heightened awareness among English teachers. A case in point: Allen Lee, a straight-A Chinese American student at Cary-Grove High School outside Chicago, was arrested this week on charges of disorderly conduct after he submitted violence-laced essay in his creative-writing class. Though Lee’s essay did not contain specific threats, his teacher was concerned enough about the content to notify her department chair, which in turn led to a call to the police. School and law-enforcement officials say the arrest was a necessary precaution within proper legal grounds. (“The teacher was alarmed and disturbed by the content,” the chief of police emphasized.) Others, however, believe the school overreacted—especially since the teacher’s assignment asked students to express their emotions through writing. “[Students] should be able to show their feelings or thoughts without fearing they will be arrested because of them,” said Simmie Baer, an attorney with the Children and Family Justice Center.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.