COLUMN FIFTY-EIGHT, APRIL 1, 2001
(Copyright © 2001 Al Aronowitz)
EQUATIONS REALLY TWISTED
what happened when an Ontario teenager read his writing assignment aloud to his
grade eleven drama class? Well, to put it mildly:
EVERYONE FREAKED OUT!
Police. And, eventually, the media.
reactions were so bizarre they sound like a script from an episode of SOUTH
PARK. And it could be pretty funny if it wasn't so sad and tragic.
unnamed 15-year-old was given an assignment for his drama class---write a story
about "Fear". It was a topic he knew all too well. This poor kid had
been the victim of chronic bullying at school, and had once been beaten up by a
dozen other boys.
entitled his story TWISTED. It was a fictitious fantasy about a bullied student
who takes revenge on his tormentors by blowing up the school. Then, as
requested, he read the story to his classmates.
happened next was REALLY TWISTED
rumors started flying---Bobby's got a bomb! He's going to blow up the school!
wasn't long before the cops brought in the dog squad to search the school for
explosives. They also raided the boy's home, slapped him in handcuffs, charged
him for uttering death threats, and threw him in jail.
bail hearings were delayed four times, and he ended up spending over a month in
incarceration, including Christmas, New Year's, and his 16th birthday.
the first time I've ever heard of someone doing time for doing their homework.
then his pissed-off 14-year-old brother has also been arrested and thrown in
jail for threatening to blow up two other schools.
* * *
is so much injustice in this story that one hardly knows where to begin asking
questions and pointing fingers.
start with the bullies:
did they think they could get away with tormenting this young man? Because the
DID get away with it. Time and time again. His parents made complaints to the
police, but apparently nothing ever came of it, and the abuse continued.
didn't his teachers recognize the problems this student had and try to help him?
Who knows? Perhaps it wasn't in their job description. Instead they became
hysterical and pushed the proverbial panic button.
did the police go gestapo instead of just trying to sort things out? Because
they were feeding off the frenzy that was working itself into a lather at the
school, and they needed a bad guy to be held responsible. Why was this young
man's bail hearings delayed four times? Because the Canadian Justice system is
fucked up and out of touch with reality. Like that line in a Billy Bragg song:
"This isn't a court of justice, son, this is a court of law."
it odd that bail was finally granted a couple of days after the story broke as a
national news item?)
while we're asking questions: why, in this age of instant information, has this
story taken so long to become front page news in the mainstream media?)
* * *
are, of course, two place names hovering above this entire train
is no question that the fear of another Columbine massacre fueled all this
paranoia. And yet the reaction in Ontario has sadly resulted in another form of
overkill, this one on a smaller and more personal scale, but, in many ways, just
I'm not even going to bother asking rhetorical questions about censorship,
freedom of expression, human rights violations, and Thought Police. I'm too
afraid it might get me into trouble with the law.
can only hope that these two brothers get a kick-ass lawyer and successfully sue
for wrongful arrest and detention. Maybe they'll write a book about their ordeal
and become rich and famous.
all, living well is the best revenge.
And, hey! Who HASN'T wanted to blow up their high school? ##
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