I didn't shoot up my school, either
Picture this: You are a high school senior in the United States. You have just witnessed the most horrendous school shooting in your country's history play itself out over and over again in the media. You are sitting in class and given a creative writing assignment: a free-write, as we used to call them, where you are just supposed to write to get the juices flowing. Write what's on your mind, you're told. Whatever you're thinking, it's okay, you're told. Just write it.
So you do. And then your teacher reads it. And you get arrested.
The creative writing assignment in Lee's English class on Monday instructed students to "write whatever comes to your mind. Do not judge or censor what you are writing," according to a copy of the assignment.
"In creative writing, you're told to exaggerate," Lee said. "It was supposed to be just junk. ... There definitely is violent content, but they're taking it out of context and making it something it isn't."
Picture this: You are a high school junior in small town Canada. You are asked to make an animation for a computer class. You decide to create an on-stage showdown between Ozzy Osbourne and Alice Cooper, who will keep biting the heads off various animals (Osbourne allegedly bit the head off a bat on stage once; Cooper supposedly did the same to a chicken) and spit the heads at the screen in a spray of blood. You play your animation for the class. One of the kids in your class goes home and tells his mom about it. His mom calls the school and demands you are suspended for displaying violent behavior. It is eight months after Columbine.
You are not suspended, but you are subjected to meetings with counselors and teachers who grill you about your mental state. In the end you're deemed an acceptable member of society and allowed back into the general populace.
That "you" was me. If I was I lived in the US, maybe I'd be in jail right now. For making an animation.
Sure, we need to watch for violent behaviour in students; that's clear. Feeling safe at school is important. But how do you feel safe when you have nowhere to put your thoughts without being told your way of thinking is wrong? If you aren't allowed to channel your thoughts and urges through the pen (or you're arrested for doing so), is it more likely that you'll channel them through a gun?