Friday, August 29, 2014

Aren't We All Guilty Then?

So I happened upon this article about an English teacher in Maryland (USA) who was put on leave by school administrators because he authored a novel that centered around a school shooting. I'm thinking...what? Unless something is being hidden from the public, it doesn't appear (according to the articles I read) that he's committed any actual crime. What it looks like is an over paranoid, knee jerk reaction to a work of FICTION and if that's the case, it sets a really dangerous, really scary precedent for potentially any author.

Yes, school shootings are a touchy subject.

Yes, he's an educator.

But does writing about one in his novel automatically make him worthy of a psyche evaluation? Of being treated like a criminal? It seems like it should be common sense, but just because someone's written a story about something horrific it doesn't mean they actually want it to happen. If that was the case, then look at the other countless authors out there who write about murder, torture, abuse, terrorism--the list goes on. Do we as authors now have to worry that, if the wrong person reads our books, it could be grounds to lose our jobs? That we could be subjected to a community-driven witch hunt because we dared to write about something terrible or controversial?

What about people that read these subjects then? People who watch movies or play video games or listen to music? Does an interest in violent or macabre subjects automatically make someone mentally unstable? Or prone to commit a crime? Where do we draw the line in all of this?

I don't know. Like I said, maybe there's more than meets the eye here. I almost hope there is. Because if his only crime is writing a novel about a school shooting, then this country is headed in a sad direction.


  1. It is an interesting point, Nessie. I don't know where I'd stand on it if those kinds of things had happened in Australia, but it's another reason why I'm an advocate for the nom de plume.

  2. I hear ya. That's the thing, though...he was using a pen name. A couple of the newspapers were calling it an 'alias', lol. I checked back a couple days ago and something was mentioned about questioning his mental state, not fully related to the books. So who knows. Either way, the first thing the media latched on was the book, which was what made the story so bizarre.