from the where-did-all-this-logic-and-restraint-come-from? dept
Ahmed Mohamed, age 14, arrived at school with a clock sitting inside a pencil box. It was obviously a hoax bomb, which is a Texas thing that allows people who don't possess bombs to be prosecuted as if they did. Fun stuff. I'm sure everyone involved wishes their day had gone another way -- with the exception of Ahmed Mohamed, who has now been invited to Facebook, the White House and MIT. Everyone on the other side of the equation has been invited to do other stuff -- most of it involving nearly-impossible sexual acts or perversely scatalogical feats.
Here's another story about a student with an interest in things school personnel tend to find inordinately worrying. The climate of fear far too many schools actively encourage with zero tolerance policies played a part here, as did law enforcement's worrying willingness to feed off the negative energy this climate generates. On the plus side, overreaction and idiocy played nearly no part in this incident.
Lt. Raul Denis, spokesman for the Horry County Police Department, says someone found the two notebooks containing disturbing material inside a classroom at Forestbrook Middle School. A school resource officer was alerted of the discovery last Wednesday.The notebooks belonged to an autistic 13-year-old. Here's what police found inside them:
Police say the journals contained information on “sensitive subjects like weapons and explosives science, maps, blue prints, jobs and stories pertaining to a video game called Balloon Tower Defense 5.” Denis said in a release there was also a reference to a school the student had once attended.The contents have not been published, so we'll never know how much of a threat was posed by the teen's Balloon Tower Defense fan fiction. The "sensitive subjects" deemed "disturbing" by the school are also easily Googled subjects. And this student was hardly the first teen boy to express an interest in weapons and explosives. Perhaps the real problem was the mention of a school, which is like waving a
But there's a happy-ish ending to this story. While we may find issue with the contents of the notebook being inherently suspicious, the police did the sort of thing they're supposed to do: they investigated before leaping to ridiculous conclusions.
For a very brief period, the autistic teen was facing charges for "disturbing school." The statute is, as expected, incredibly vague, which makes it a handy thing to use to detain teens with scary notebooks while everything is sorted out.
(A) It shall be unlawful:The rest of the statute deals with loitering and "acting in an obnoxious manner."
(1) for any person wilfully or unnecessarily (a) to interfere with or to disturb in any way or in any place the students or teachers of any school or college in this State
But this was a very brief detention. The police did all the things they should have done. They determined there was nothing threatening about the contents. They discovered the teen had no access to weapons or explosives. Most importantly, they CONTACTED HIS PARENTS, who explained everything.
“The investigation and examination of the journals found that the child is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and is highly intelligent, and the journals, which the parents were aware of, are used as a therapeutic/comforting mechanism,” Denis said in a press release. “the child focuses on these subjects because he dreams of being a nuclear engineer.”At which point, the student was released to his parents and the charge dropped. It would have been better if this could have been conducted without detaining the teen, but considering all the variables, this went about as well as can be expected in the zero tolerance era.