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Bruce G
07-23-2004, 09:36 AM
Court rules California student poem not criminal

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A California teenager who frightened fellow high school students by showing them threatening poems he had written did not commit a crime, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Student George T., who signed his work Julius AKA Angel, shared poems with several female students in 2001 when he was 15 years old at a San Jose school.

"I am Dark, Destructive, & Dangerous," one of his poems read. "I slap on my face of happiness but inside I am evil!! For I can be the next kid to bring guns to kill students at school. So parents watch your children cuz I'm BACK!!"

After a student complained, police went to the teenager's home. When they asked if there were any weapons present, they were given a handgun and a rifle.

A juvenile court and a later appeals court found the student guilty of threatening two students, but the state Supreme Court overturned the ruling, saying the works constituted creative expression protected in the First Amendment.

"We conclude that the ambiguous nature of the poem, along with the circumstances surrounding its dissemination, fail to establish that the poem constituted a criminal threat," the state's highest court wrote.

In its decision the court reprinted two of the poems, complete with spelling errors, and provided an unusual literary review.

"These lines convey the protagonist's feelings about the students around him and describe his envy over how happy and intelligent they appear to be, with opportunities he does not have," Justice Carlos Moreno wrote at one point in analyzing the lines of poetry.

"Of course, exactly what the poem means is open to varying interpretations because a poem may mean different things to different readers. As a medium of expression, a poem is inherently ambiguous."

The court wrote that U.S. school shootings in recent years had heightened security concerns but still backed the student's right to engage in creative expression.


What kind of ruling is this... so now someone can go into a bank with a 'stick up' poem and get away with walking out with money the clerks gave to him/her? I can see it now: "Your honor, my client did nothing illegal, for all he did was share his love for poetry. It was the clerk who was in the wrong, for she misinterpreted his shared work." :rolleyes:

[ 07-23-2004, 11:43 AM: Message edited by: Bruce G ]

Gresham CA
07-23-2004, 09:53 AM
Sticks and stones Bruce. In the real world, I can see a teller laughing at a stickup poem. I agree with the state Supreme Court on their decision. A glimmer of light in the common sense darkness!

Ian McColgin
07-23-2004, 09:59 AM
There's a world of difference between showing a poem, even a fairly dark poem, to friends and using any sort of note, even a poem, in the commission of a crime.

"I'm here to rob your bank today
So listen up as I say
Just give me all your money
And don't do nothing funny,
Don't do nothing brash,
'Cause all I want is cash."

It is worth taking self-expression seriously as some utterances are cues to an unstable mind but poetry has been rife with what might most charitably be called overstatement for a few millenia now and it's generally good for people, especially adolescents, to articulate their dark side a bit.

And that kid could use some constructive criticism about how to develop a theme in his poems.

I think this court did the right thing.

Bruce G
07-23-2004, 10:00 AM
Sticks and stones... however, in today's society when there ARE students who come into schools and blow people away. Sometimes people use their writing as a cry for help or for a warning of what is to come. Say sticks and stones to the familes of the people who died in Columbine. :(

Gresham CA
07-23-2004, 10:07 AM
If all you had at a bank robbery was your happy little poem,


"I'm here to rob your bank today
So listen up as I say
Just give me all your money
And don't do nothing funny,
Don't do nothing brash,
'Cause all I want is cash."
and no gun, bomb, knife, stick or whatever with you, I would laugh you right out of the bank. It was a nonsense comparison.

[ 07-23-2004, 02:55 PM: Message edited by: Gresham CA ]

Jack Heinlen
07-23-2004, 10:16 AM
The kid needs a Lyle Wickliffe. I've sung his praises before.

Lyle was a teacher of social studies, on the face of it. Rather good at that too. But each year he would pick out half a dozen kids who were in trouble, or made trouble. It was a personal dedication he made as a man, not as a teacher. He took them under his wing and mentored them. Some came along, some didn't, but he made a difference. I was one of them, so I know.

These spoutings of violent words need attention, by a Lyle Wickliffe, not a court.

Gresham CA
07-23-2004, 10:16 AM
in today's society when there ARE students who come into schools and blow people away. You're absolutely right Bruce. There are wackjobs all over the world.

If we started putting in jail every kid that ever said "I gonna kill you!" our schools would be mighty empty.


Say sticks and stones to the familes of the people who died in Columbine. That was a low blow. FWIW I was as shocked and saddened by that tragedy as anyone else. But since you brought it up, how would you have prevented it?

Bruce G
07-23-2004, 10:19 AM
It is a nonsense comparison to those who utilize common sense; however, in a court of law you are giving reference to precedence created by this higher court. Look at what the court had stated to be their defining argument: "Of course, exactly what the poem means is open to varying interpretations because a poem may mean different things to different readers. As a medium of expression, a poem is inherently ambiguous."

If you look Ian's stick up poem, he does not state that he is going to hurt anyone, so in a court of law it can be argued that he was simply expressing himself albeit not in the best of places.

[ 07-23-2004, 11:42 AM: Message edited by: Bruce G ]

Ian McColgin
07-23-2004, 10:19 AM
If I remember rightly, those evil children at Columbine did their self-expression with videos.

The expression should be encouraged and engaged with as that supportive dialog will clue one in to whether this is healthy expression of dark feelings or is the revelation of sociopathy.

Point is that you don't over-react just because a person expresses normal human dark impulses.

Jack Heinlen
07-23-2004, 10:27 AM
Awe hell, someone blew this thread up, so it's difficult to read. I absolutely hate that. I think it ought to be read. Please recant.

Gresham CA
07-23-2004, 10:37 AM
Jack,
It was Bruces quote of mine that did it, I think.

Bruce G
07-23-2004, 10:41 AM
That was a low blow. FWIW I was as shocked and saddened by that tragedy as anyone else. But since you brought it up, how would you have prevented it? I'm sorry, I did not mean for it to be a low blow, but as a lightning rod for our logic.

Prevention: Since Columbine, the Federal, State, and local governments have put into place measures to help prevent such items from happening again. Title IV of NCLB is based on creating Safe schools.

Teachers are trained to be aware of their students' behavior and writing. Students are spoken to about being aware of these dangers. Both the teachers and the students are coupled in the fight for a safe school. The afore meantioned students did just that; they perceived a threat and turned it in.

Columbine- it is sad, but I think that at that time it was not preventable, for neither the teachers nor the students were aware of the clues to the onslaught. :(


The expression should be encouraged and engaged with as that supportive dialog will clue one in to whether this is healthy expression of dark feelings or is the revelation of sociopathy Exactly, however, do you want your child in a school with this kid who is bragging about what he may do, while some shrink is trying to see if he is crazy or not? I would rahter he be pulled and sent to an ABS unit to keep the rest of the children safe.

If a child does not feel safe at school, not only is his/her learning is impaired, but also his/her emotional develpment and belief in the system that protects them are hampered.

Victor
07-23-2004, 10:44 AM
By this reasoning, it should be perfectly okay to joke about hijacking a plane.

Bruce G
07-23-2004, 10:44 AM
Originally posted by Gresham CA:
Jack,
It was Bruces quote of mine that did it, I think.Nope, I removed it and it didn't work...

Hey MM--- I saved some of your poetry from last night!!! Do you want to read any of it :D

Gresham CA
07-23-2004, 10:47 AM
Maybe it's Mike's ZZZZZZ. How about cut some of your sleep short and see what happens.

Memphis Mike
07-23-2004, 10:58 AM
"Hey MM--- I saved some of your poetry from last night!!! Do you want to read any of it"

Post it prick. I told you last night to post my conversation I had with you concerning Joe and you wouldn't do it chickensh!t.

Your in here talking about the education of children. I pity any child or parent that winds up with you as one of their teachers. Lowlife scum.

Joe (SoCal)
07-23-2004, 11:15 AM
UM boys simmmma down now ya here ;)

Bruce - ya got kids yet ?? NO I didn't think so. tongue.gif
Kids explore all facets of the human condition including teenage angst. Very few of those kids actually blow people away. I think the freedom to express that angst is helpful. Think of E.A Poe ya think he buried people under his floorboards? Come on Bruce grow up kids are not going to kill you if they write a poem. Trust me come back to Jersey City, NJ with me Ill introduce you to 13 year old kids who will cap you for your shoes - no poem needed, heck no conversation just bam - white light - and were did my shoes go. - Grandma what are you doing here :D

Hey MMike no worries dude as I said in the end of the old Yo! Conrad thread :

Don't worry about it Mike I doubt I was drinking when you thought I was, It's just not my thing. I may have just been fed up with certain people. If I ever have too much to drink Im usually having too much fun at whatever party I'm having with friends to even think about going near a computer LOL smile.gif So don't sweat it and thanks for your concern.

[ 07-23-2004, 12:16 PM: Message edited by: Joe ( Cold Spring on Hudson ) ]

Wild Dingo
07-23-2004, 11:19 AM
Like Jack I hate it when something blows the thread out! :mad:

Anyways...

I sorta got to wondering about this and figure that a lot of the way the words are presented in a vocal manner could play a lot in the hearers resulting emotional state... for example the words used...


Originally posted by Bruce G:
Court rules California student poem not criminal

Student George T., who signed his work Julius AKA Angel, shared poems with several female students in 2001 when he was 15 years old at a San Jose school.

"I am Dark, Destructive, & Dangerous," one of his poems read. "I slap on my face of happiness but inside I am evil!! For I can be the next kid to bring guns to kill students at school. So parents watch your children cuz I'm BACK!!"

Are marely words when written but if said with tone and infection at the appropriate places with halts and eye contact body language it could be a powerful peice that has potential to send fear into a child of 15...

So I will see what I can do... I will now play the part of "Shane AKA Elf" for this excersize...

I am dark, soul less, destroyer of all the deep
Beware you sailors of the deep and near shore
For I bring forth the hate pain and loathing from within mans hearts
I carry with me the marlin spikes ball and power and cutlass of the past
I shall tear out the eyes of men and blow a hole through your keel whenever we meet
For I am your nemisis I am the arch angel of death

So far so good...


The works constituted creative expression protected in the First Amendment.

"We conclude that the ambiguous nature of the poem, along with the circumstances surrounding its dissemination, fail to establish that the poem constituted a criminal threat," the state's highest court wrote.

In its decision the court reprinted two of the poems, complete with spelling errors, and provided an unusual literary review.

"These lines convey the protagonist's feelings about the students around him and describe his envy over how happy and intelligent they appear to be, with opportunities he does not have," Justice Carlos Moreno wrote at one point in analyzing the lines of poetry.

"Of course, exactly what the poem means is open to varying interpretations because a poem may mean different things to different readers. As a medium of expression, a poem is inherently ambiguous."

Okay so lets play with those comments for a bit and see how we get on shall well? no worries! I particularily want to look at these words of the Judges


These lines convey the protagonist's feelings about the students around him and describe his envy over how happy and intelligent they appear to be, with opportunities he does not have,"

Interesting statement I think... lets change those words to fit this scenario here at WBF shall we?

PLEASE NOTE I AM ONLY PLAYING WITH WORDS IN CONTEXT WITH THE ABOVE POST OF BRUCES THESE ARE NOT MY REAL OR IMAGINED FEELINGS!!!


These lines convey the protagonist's feelings about the boat owners and sailors around him and describe his envy over how happy and smug they appear to be, with opportunities he does not have,"

so to take my poem up there just a tad further Shane AKA Elf continues...

You sit so smug and arrogant with your precious wooden toys and ships
But I come to rent that apart and breathe fire upon your sails
I will sink your precious wooden craft and burn all who sail upon them
They will be nothing but ashes and dust For my loathing knows no depth or end
So play your games and pretend But I will come as a theif in the night and never again shall you rest
For I am evil destructive and dangerous I am back from the darkness and I come with one intent


The court wrote that U.S. school shootings in recent years had heightened security concerns but still backed the student's right to engage in creative expression.

Yes and so was mine... but then couldnt you feel just a gentle ripple of cold air upon the back of your neck? just a shiver of fear as you realized that it could happen?... Now if I were to say it to you in person with passion expression and belief in my body language and eye contact you would feel that fear.

See the thing was that I agree with Bruce about here is that this kid SAID that poem to a couple of girls of 15... and so saying it would have put a different context and convey a level of fear in those girls which dare I say it he could very well have intended.

The Judge was wrong in this one area in my opinion... The expression of poetry is powerful probably at times more so than music itself for poetry is designed to reach into the depths of ones soul one heart and mind its purpose is to make another BELIEVE the emotions conveyed in the words... That being the case which is my understanding of poetry at its core then the kid that wrote those words INTENDED to strike fear into those girls and was successful in terrorising them to such a degree that they reported him guns were found and so the potential to carry through with his threat in the words was proven correct

On the other hand would he have gone through with it and created another Collumbine? It definantly makes one wonder he had dark thoughts was prepared to write them down prepared to read them to the girls and had access to guns... yes I personally think he probably was building toward something of that nature... but then thats just my opinion but dark thoughts of death murder and such in young people can often lead to acting out... I think were the Judge erred in his decision is in that from the post of Bruces there is no mention of the Judge recommending as they are well able to do that the youth undergo phsychiatric evaluation and counselling... that was a mistake in my book.

But its definantly possible with body language and eye contact to be able to evoke fear into someone by mere words in poetry or letter form.

Jack Heinlen
07-23-2004, 12:21 PM
Mike,

Advice. You're the one being the dick. I don't care why, but lighten up.

Wild Dingo
07-23-2004, 01:28 PM
aaaaahhhh someone fixed it! :cool:

Gresham CA
07-23-2004, 01:44 PM
It was Mike's ZZZZZ's Shane. But that is soooo much better.

Wild Dingo
07-23-2004, 01:47 PM
Well anyways glad its sorted :cool: ... kinda hard to focus and read at the same time when its blown to kingdom come and back eh? :rolleyes:

Now back to the topic at hand!! ;)

Wild Dingo
07-23-2004, 10:22 PM
mmmm it sunk... wonder why? did some suddenly realize that the words could have a very real impact if said vocally with impact emotion and body language as this kid used to the girls? interesting

Jack Heinlen
07-23-2004, 10:47 PM
It was a personal dedication he made as a man, not as a teacher.