Mappamundi

Student arrested for making map of his school, considered “terrorist threat.”

Ultimately, in cases like this, the students are decried by know-nothing authority figures who seem to imply that the student is unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality. But, I think it’s the other way around. School personnel being so brittle and imagination-poor that they’re incapable of context, nuance, critical thinking. Any instance of virtual spleen, in their minds, immediately will lead to real-time apocalyptic bloodbath.

What percentage of high school authority figures is there that live for nothing but to ruin children’s lives? 5-10 percent? That would be my guess. They indeed have the wartime culture/the police behind them, to give them “ammo”.

BTW, in gaming this is as nearly as old as gaming itself. In fact, in interactive fiction there’s a subgenre of the “college game.” (Infocom’s The Lurking Horror being the stellar example–unconscionable!)

Finally, in a perhaps not unrelated corollary, this post about the militarization of police departments with Pentagon goodies:

Outfit domestic police officers in military clothing, arm them with military gear, train them in military tactics taught by ex-military personnel, then tell them they’re fighting a “war” on drugs, and we shouldn’t be the least bit surprised when they treat city streets [or high schools] like battlefields…Posse Comitatus isn’t some quaint relic from the Civil War era. It shows a clear understanding between the two institutions’ missions. One is charged with protecting our rights. The other is charged with annihilating an enemy. It’s probably a good idea not to get them confused, no?

This is the creeping backdrop to stories like the one above. Saying that a high schooler is performing a “terroristic threat” is about a shift in thought, which comes about through a shift in funding.

2 thoughts on “Mappamundi

  1. Celia

    My brother in hs ran into issues like this repeatedly. Freshman year he drew a comic of drowning some annoying female classmate in a toilet. On the back of homework. Which he turned in. There was a freak out, my parents refused to let them label him anything other than a teenaged boy, thankfully. Sophomore year, after reading Beowulf the class was given the option of ‘updating’ it and so my brother wrote a story about the school being taken over by terrorists (this was 1998/99, for reference) who allowed him to join them in slaughtering the school. As a parallel to Beowulf, it’s actually really well done (I mean, it’s an appaling story, but so’s Beowulf). My brother was, in retrospect, very lucky to have predated Columbine (Literally by a matter of months in his second offense), or they probably would have succeeded in getting him expelled from school. He got in trouble his senior year when he was getting a ride home with friends, and called Shotgun as he left the school building.

    What was most noticable about both major incidents is that both times his TEACHERS said nothing bad about him–everyone said he was a wonderful student, wasn’t antisocial, wasn’t at all likely to actually *do* anything he was writing/drawing. I can’t remember exactly how things got to the eyes of the administrators, but I think the drawing was accidentally left in a study hall and picked up by someone other than his teacher. The administrators, people who never encountered my brother on a regular basis (well, at least not until he started doing these sort of things) on the other hand were firmly convinced that he was dangerous and should be suspended/kicked out. And reading the post that you linked to, I see nothing about teachers in there either–just parents and school officials. And I’d suspect that even in the cases where teachers are actually involved, it’s coerced involvement–they may be required to tell adminstrators if there’s any sort of ‘terroristic thought’ discovered in class.

  2. Fred Ollinger

    This is a self-serving Philadelphia post. One could say similar things about parts of NYC, DC, Chicago, and of course Baltimore.

    As a survivor of the Badlands, I welcome our new Armored Carrier Overlords.

    I’ll never cease to be fascinated at how the perception of a place can change radically from person to person. I know people who thought that Rittenhouse, one of the richest neighborhoods, was a place where you “got shot”. Hours later, I am walking the streets of North Philly aka The Badlands with a native, a fellow nurse, as we both leave our rotation at a Head Start Community Center. She walks through the hood as if it were the most natural thing in the world, and it is for her. She told me a story about how she heard someone next door to her got shot.

    Which brings me to the point that I don’t think these weapons will change things much one way or another. A few things I learned:

    1. Places are never as dangerous as they seem.

    2. Money alone never solves any problems.

    3. Who is getting the tanks for their cities? I have not seen them yet. I can’t wait as military gear (looking at it not using it) is a new hobby of mine. Makes good story ideas.

    I only went to school about 20 years ago. I wonder what would have happened if my teachers saw my gang story. My parents were mildly alarmed. I was more alarmed that they were alarmed. I saw what they were watching on TV and my story was tame in comparison. I was just imitating what I saw on TV.

    Now I do not feel that there should be much violence on TV; I am an advocate of censorship when it comes to media violence. However, there are worse things on the TV than a video game where the HS was a map.

    I recall doing a RPG with my hometown as a map. We did not do our HS to my chagrin. Are we going to get on a watchlist for this? The game had vampires in it not terrorists. There was human sacrifice implied, but in reality, we only killed a (virtual) chicken, I think. No worse than what you can find in the fryer at McD’s these days.

    Now that I think of it, I should have had a table that converted animal sacrifice into spell points. We did use the (stolen by me) notion of sanity points. I would give the school admins of the original article

    SP: -100

    Is “Making up Retarded Rules” a skill? If so, how many points to buy it?

    Fred

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