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The thought police are at it again...

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A kid was arrested for "terroristic threatening" for writing a story about a high school being overrun by zombies. Wonderful.

Sounds like they are over-reacting, but that kind of goes for the way things are handled at schools these days, where a nail clipper is considered a dangerous weapon. I'm all for safe schools, but if this was a story written for English class, then I think the assessment that it is the Thought Police at work is correct. It's near Halloween, but the article didn't say it was for that or not.

I have to tell you, though, when my computer was broken into a few years ago and I was writing about some murder novels and other justice based movies and stories, one thing the guys harassing me implied was that the police were going to be coming after me. Articles like this came to mind and I was convinced that might be the case, and was one of the reasons I became terrified as anything I was writing became available to them. Of course, it also meant all of my passwords became available, so it became rather nerve racking.

On the other hand, for many of the school shootings and murders by students, they usually had some sort of personal journal or short stories that were rather violent; but, still, there is the right to privacy and one cannot be held accountable as a murderer (potential or actual) just because one writes about violence in a notebook or for English class.

Thought Police, indeed.

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Typically these stories are about scenarios that people could actually enact though. This kid, no matter how hard he tried, cannot make a zombie attack happen on the school.

That is true, but if he had the zombies going around killing people on campus I suppose someone could claim that he had some sort of latent desire to kill people on his campus; but having that desire and even writing about it in a journal of some sort or a short story still gives no grounds for claiming that he was making a terroristic threat to anyone. It is my understanding, unless the laws have changed, that making a threat has to be specific to a person or organization, and not just some wild fantasy that zombies come and wipe everyone out.

In the case of one of those school shootings, the guy actually wrote a story about his teacher being killed and taking glee in that. That would definitely indicate he had some sort of psychological problem, but since it wasn't a direct threat, they couldn't do anything about it; and I agree with that policy. If it is not a direct threat, then no legal police action can be taken. So I guess the question comes down to what is and what is not a direct threat. I would say that expressing anger at someone, in and of itself, is not a direct threat. Saying you are going to do something to them is a direct threat and is actionable.

This reminds me of what happened when I came home late one evening. There were some guys across the street who were say, "Hey you going up the stairs! Yeah, you! We aren't going to let you do it! We got a gun!" Which definitely prompted me to call the police on them. While they didn't come right out and say they were going to shoot me, there was definitely an implied direct threat to me specifically as I climbed the stairs to my apartment.

In the case of my harassments in the summer of 2005, I was not sending threats to anyone, even after they broke into my computer. In some cases I was expressing anger, but I have the right to do that in the privacy of my own home (which they also seemed to be violating based upon emails I was receiving).

By the way, the right to privacy is based upon the right to property. My computer and my apartment and my car are my private property, and intruders and spies are not permitted without my permission. Fortunately, there are laws against breaking into computers and spying without legal authorization and laws against stalking and harassing; and when I find out who they are, I will prosecute them.

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This is an old story from 2005. The real travesty was that the prosecutors tried to tack him with 'attempted terroristic threatenings", which they later dropped. I recall the kid was given probation for a charge that didn't even exist (and who, apparently, later violated the probation). What a twisted mess.

Note to self: throw away my copy of Red Dawn.

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Meanwhile, another guy belonged to the Weather Underground and actually wrote about real resistance to existing power, and actually tussled with police, and instigated the destruction of government property, and then went underground when his group was trying to plant a bomb and it blew up killing three of them, and while in hiding he continued to publish radical pamphlets, and then he gave himself up and was not prosecuted. Instead, he got a job teaching college kids and still says he regrets not having bombed more than he did. It is simply crazy that this man is not simply free but hob-nobs with the powerful, while the cops arrest a boy writing zombie stories. One more notch for "fact beats fiction".

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At least they know why they arrested him:

"Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it's a felony in the state of Kentucky," said Winchester Police detective Steven Caudill.

Looks like I've found a way to commit the perfect crime: all you have to do is go to Winchester. Police detectives there are absolute morons.

Oh boy, does this mean I can now be arrested for terrorism in Kentucky?

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This kid, no matter how hard he tried, cannot make a zombie attack happen on the school.

Oh no, you're wrong, RB. The zombie Jesus will appear again and take me to Heaven while non-believers will suffer! :P


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Dr. Peikoff's most recent podcast goes into some of the issues in this thread, including the idea that people who advocate violence and whether or not they should be arrested. He uses Kant as an example, but does specifically mention that one would have to threaten a particular person or a particular organization to be legally actionable. He also mentions that if one organizes people to act against someone with violence, then one ought to be arrested.
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