We're back to the serious now, Team Readers.
Do you remember Allen Lee, the high school student who got arrested for following a “do not judge or censor what you are writing” classroom journaling project and writing the phrase "Drugs Drugs Drugs are fun. Stab, Stab, Stab?"
(Incidentally, although the story was in several major newspapers when it first broke, none of them followed through with what happened to Mr. Lee after his arrest. Allen Lee was charged with disorderly conduct, but nowhere on the internet can I find out if he was actually convicted.)
Now Valdosta State University, Home of the Blazers, has expelled sophomore T. Hayden Barnes. The reason?
In a letter apparently slipped under his dorm room door, Ronald Zaccari, the university’s president, wrote that he “present[ed] a clear and present danger to this campus” and referred to the “attached threatening document,” a printout of an image from an album on Barnes’s Facebook profile. The collage featured a picture of a parking garage, a photo of Zaccari, a bulldozer, the words “No Blood for Oil” and the title “S.A.V.E.-Zaccari Memorial Parking Garage,” a reference to a campus environmental group and Barnes’s contention that the president sought to make the structures part of his legacy at the university.Using the word "memorial," even in satire, now apparently constitutes a death threat.
It gets worse:
As additional evidence of the threat posed by Barnes, the document referred to a link he posted to his Facebook profile whose accompanying graphic read: “Shoot it. Upload it. Get famous. Project Spotlight is searching for the next big thing. Are you it?” It doesn’t mention that Project Spotlight was an online digital video contest and that “shoot” in that context meant “record.” The appeal also mentions that Barnes’s profile stated, at one point, that he was “cleaning out and rearranging his room and thus, his mind, or so he hopes.” That was likely a status update, commonly used by Facebook members to update their friends on what they’re doing at a particular moment — whether literally or metaphorically.Emphases mine. Both quotations come from Inside Higher Ed.
Wow. Barnes had been trying to organize students to protest the building of the aforementioned "Zaccari Memorial" Parking Garage, while simultaneously exploring amateur filmmaking and cleaning out his dorm room. Sounds like an average hyper-involved college sophomore to me (well, except for the "cleaning the dorm room" part). Does not sound like a threat.
And yet that expulsion notice got slipped under Barnes' door (was campus mail not working that day?), all the same.
On a slightly unrelated note, Taser International has just released the world's first "taser which is also an mp3 player!" It should come with a complimentary mp3 of Harvey Danger's "Flagpole Sitta:" Paranoia, paranoia, everybody's coming to get me...