Who knows what they might do?
Today's Journal article entitled "Schools Struggle With Dark Writing" examines the case of young Steven Barber.
Steven Barber just got out of the Navy, and is presumably attending the University of Virginia on funds the Navy gave him to repay him for his service.
He wrote a short story called "Shitty First Drafts" about a man stockpiling drugs in order to go on a violence spree.
Unfortunately, the creative writing instructor at the University of Virginia (a college started by none other than Thomas Jefferson) is a cat named Christopher Scalia.
Christopher Scalia is the son of Antonin Scalia, who you may remember as the Supreme Court's very own "Mr. Kurtz," a man whose power and privilege over a nation of darkness has driven him insane with power, lust, and the need to maintain control.
He has taught his son well:
"[Kit] Scalia...says he had strongly recommended that students not write in the first person and avoid depictions of excessive alcohol or drug use. He gave these instructions, he said, to prevent cliched writing and to help them develop perspectives other than their own."
Do not write in the first person? Really? This guy is allowed to teach "creative writing" in America? First person is our fucking birthright. The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, Catcher in the Rye, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Sound and the Fury. America is a land of first persons who excessively use alcohol, drugs, and firearms. It's basically why we exist.
If I were a "creative writing" instructor, I would DEMAND students write the most violent drug-fueled bloodbath story they could on the first day. That way, I could see who had potential, and who was a Communist.
A Boston University pamphlet entitled "Helping Students in Distress" tells professors they should look out for creative writing that explores themes of "hopelessness, social isolation, rage, or despair." Evidently, if you are writing about those things you are a problem. And yet, and yet: just try not touching on those "themes" in your next bit of fiction.
("I FUCKING DARE YOU," said Christina through her smeared makeup. "I FUCKING DARE YOU WITH AN IMAGINARY DAGGER.")
Admittedly, this guy Barber is a little bit terrifying: he sleeps with a gun under his pillow, he carries his loaded weapon around with him wherever he goes, and he served in the Iraq war. But he does have an interesting point:
"The military trusted me to guard a billion-dollar warship with an automatic machine gun," he says, "but I can't bring a little pistol to class, and I have a permit?"
It is a crazy point, but it is hilariously valid. He thinks he would be the guy who would protect your ass from the other crazy kid you didn't see coming.
In fact, I think a short story about an ex-Iraq war veteran causing a bunch of trouble by writing violent stories in a creative writing class taught by the son of one of the most war-friendly and civil-rights-threatening Supreme Court justices in recent memory would be a pretty good short story that people would like to read.
Here's how the story ends: the kid gets expelled and has to spend the weekend against his will in a mental institution, and you are left to wonder what happens next.
I wonder if he has a lawyer yet. He should take this one all the way to the top! Guess who will have to recuse himself from rendering a decision?
Moreover! Kid, send that story here. We'll take a look at it. Maybe you've got something, and maybe you don't. But if there is one thing that doesn't scare "The Fiction Circus," it is words.
And here's when a college should act to suppress the thoughts and ideas of its paying student body in order to prevent possible tragedy: NEVER. If you do not like that particular psychodynamic and scholarly situation, consider moving to a country without a constitution or Bill of Rights. There are many.
I don't want to get shot to death by maniacs either. But I'll risk it for good fiction.
Posted by miracle on Tue, 20 May 2008 21:33:55 -0400 -- permanent link