It appears that George Orwell may have been more prescient than we thought. About a week ago, a middle-school English teacher was targeted for writing science fiction novels that feature a school shooting.
Patrick McLaw used a pseudonym to write two e-books that he sells on Amazon. According to the news, McLaw has been suspended from teaching, forbidden from entering any school property, and forced into a psych evaluation. His house has been searched and the school has been searched and is still keeping an armed officer on the grounds. And all of this for fiction.
Yes, we need to take the issue of gun violence against children (or anybody) seriously; however, this seems to be trampling on the First Amendment. McLaw appears to be guilty of nothing more than imagining an act of violence. It kind of reminds me of Henry VIII’s law stating that it was treason to imagine the death of the king… and people were actually executed under that charge.
If his only “crime” is imagining a story about a school shooting, then we also have some other authors “guilty” of similar things. Jodi Picoult wrote about a school shooting. Trent Reedy’s Divided We Fall contains an act of violence against a government official. Stephen King was working at a school when he wrote Carrie.
This whole thing is really scary. Any thoughts?