“Be creative,” the creative writing teacher instructed her students. “There will be no judgment and no censorship.” But when 18-year-old Allen Lee—a student with a 4.2 grade-point average who never got in trouble at school—submitted his essay, he ended up being charged with two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct.
Here’s an excerpt from the essay:
Blood, sex and booze. Drugs, drugs, drugs are fun. Stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, s..t…a…b…puke. So I had this dream last night where I went into a building, pulled out two P90s and started shooting everyone, then had sex with the dead bodies. Well, not really, but it would be funny if I did.
Exquisite prose? No, but as Lee’s lawyer observed, “There was never any warning from the teacher that if she determined the paper to be offensive, she would then pass it along to the authorities.” He denounced the charges as a product of paranoia born from the Virginia Tech massacre.
The pending criminal charges would not only prevent Lee from returning to school, but also jeopardize—if not ruin—his chances of joining the Marines Corps. Lee had already completed military entrance exams, which included a psychiatric evaluation. After being criminally charged, however, he was discharged from his contract with the Marine Corps, and a Marine Corps Recruiting Station spokesman says Lee “is no longer an applicant to become a Marine.”
Given the military’s emphasis on the chain of command and following orders, it is surprising that the Marines didn’t want Lee! Wasn’t he simply following his teacher’s instructions?
So what happened?
After careful analysis, the prosecutor and school officials found that Lee did not pose a safety threat.
For the creative writing teachers out there, we suggest the following instructions: “Be creative; there will be no judgment and no censorship. But there may be a $1,500 fine and a 30-day jail sentence.”