first amendment, remember that?

via the ever radiant and vigilant Robyn Bender, this link to a boingboing story about police shenanigans on a Florida college campus.

Imagine you’re a college student. You write short stories. You experiment with style and tone. You post your stories on the internet. One of the stories you post is about somebody who murders two people and then joins the army.

The phone rings.

Voice: You the guy who wrote ‘I am Ready to Serve My Country‘ and posted it on LiveJournal?
You: Um, yes, that’s me.
Voice: We’d like you to come down and give us a hair and sputum sample, oh and, fingerprints.

It’s true. The campus police wanted to compare the student’s DNA and fingerprints to evidence from unsolved murders going back ten years. And why? Because he wrote a short short (three paragraphs long) about somebody who kills two people.

The student refused. Interviews were conducted, with the student, with the student’s professors. A recurring theme in the questions posed by the officers: Did the faculty really think it was appropriate for students to be writing this kind of thing?

Apparently these college police think they have something to contribute to the curriculum.

Now, I’ve got some questions too: what are they doing reading internet stories anyway? No shoplifters to nab? No parking tickets to write? And in the spirit of the thing, I’m wondering who else they’re pressuring for DNA and fingerprints. I wonder if they’ve ever heard of the ACLU, or if maybe the (so called) Patriot Act has gone to their (so called) heads.

9 Replies to “first amendment, remember that?”

  1. Are you kidding me? What the hell is this nation coming to? Shouldn’t those officers be fighting crime and not reading crime stories?

  2. I wonder if they have heard of this new craze called “Using your Imagination?”
    A story is just that, a story. It dosn’t have to be true, in most cases, even if it states “this is a true story” there are bits of fiction somewhere in side.
    If every author who commits murder in their stories is going to be rounded up I guess I better head down to the police station instead of waiting for them to come get me.

    Kristina Lynn

  3. Hmm, if this is the case then the police should be knocking on my door anytime now about my hit woman activities and my knowledge when it comes to drugs and breaking into VWs. Of course, now I’ve said too much, and my partners in crime will have to take me out before I can talk to the authorities.

    Dear Lord, people, fiction is just that: fiction. Did you believe everything about the Da Vinci Code too? Maybe you should be looking into strange albinos killing people in Paris and not wasting your time looking at poor creative writing grads on college campuses. All they want is to get published, not go to jail.

    Of course, I never had much faith in my college’s campus safety system, so I why should I be surprised by these idiots.

  4. Oh dear, I wrote a story about smuggling drugs into a prison and having sex in the visitors section. I posted it on my blog. I guess if I was in the US someone would be knocking on my door.

  5. I think that some people (all ages) are still wrestling with how to take writing found on computers on websites or blogs. Is it *real* writing, or is it a technical manual? It’s the wild west all over again, and some feel it’s safer to shoot first, ask questions later. Should web writing be labelled like some books are ( “A Novel” “A Collection of Short Stories”)? Is all this labelling really necessary? Is it just a stylistic affectation? I don’t know. Some people aren’t sure what to call something unless it’s clearly labelled. We label our food for Pete’s sake!

  6. I know, with out a doubt, the student was having his rights infringed upon. But! Isn’t Livejournal where all the sicko’s go to find youngsters? I am so much the “better safe than sorry” kind of girl that I see the wrong in this, but can’t help but feel a little safer that people are paranoid enough to check in to even the stupidest things.

  7. Now it’s My Space where the sicko’s go to find the youngsters, Jennifer. Everyone on LiveJournal is now too old (and it’s no longer cool).

    Or that’s what a coworker told me anyway.

  8. Sickos are everywhere. It dosen’t matter where you go. I have a MySpace strickly to keep intouch with my freinds and so I dont have to send a thousand emails with pics of my son. (I travel all the time for months at a time.) There are dirty people but I just block them. Same with AOL, AIM, YAHOO and even Christian web sites.

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