UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times is reporting it was mental health issues, not the books, that prompted the teacher to be "taken in for mental health evaluation." The report also differentiates between being "arrested" and being taken away by armed law enforcement. What authorities would have done had he declined to accompany them is unstated.
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If there’s more to the story of a Maryland middle school teacher being suspended and “taken in for emergency medical evaluation” than the fact that he wrote a novel involving school shootings in the distant future, administrators and police aren't talking, WBOC16 reported last week.
23-year-old language arts teacher Patrick McLaw, a.k.a. Dr. K.S. Voltaer and Patrick Beale, is also a novelist writing under a pen name employed by Mace Lane Middle School in Cambridge. He’s the author of two books set 900 years from the present, “The Insurrectionist,” and its sequel, “Lilith’s Heir,” which “caught the attention of police and school board officials in Dorchester County” because of the school shooting scenarios they detailed.
Pending the release of further information, it’s impossible to tell if McLaw did or said anything beyond authoring novels reflective of contemporary commercial fiction that gave authorities credible reason to believe he was a real threat to himself and/or others. Without such details, speculation about “Soviet-style punishment for a novelist” are to be expected, as is an equally likely possibility that this could simply be the type of zero tolerance insanity that results in bizarre gross official overreactions, like a student being suspended for writing about shooting dinosaurs.
If that’s the case, it could represent a terrifying new “standard” for chilling free speech, leaving it fair to wonder what the threshold catalyst will now be for subjecting an author to involuntary detention and observation. Case in point, a few years back, The War on Guns blog discussed a “work of fiction” by a monopoly of violence zealot in which his anti-gun protagonist shot up a thinly-disguised NRA headquarters and a gun show in order to put gun rights on trial.
That book is ridiculous, presenting the intentional “confusion” between full-and semi-auto firearms as a centerpiece of its premises, along with revealing an astounding lack of knowledge about criminal proceedings for a retired criminology professor. Still, as loopy and offensive as the author’s “reasoning” proved to be, without seeing credible evidence that he is dangerous, a free society does not forcibly take people in for kooky eccentricity. Besides, Bloomberg has enough trouble getting MILMs to show up for AstroTurf events without locking up his limited supply of mooching useful idiettes.
Perhaps McLaw needs observation and treatment for his own, and for our, protection. After all, we don't know what his colleagues and students have witnessed and reported. This story will need to run its course, and hopefully he has adequate legal representation to ensure he receives full due process, particularly if his future freedoms, including his right to own a gun if he so desires, are impacted. If it turns out this is an overreaction, hopefully he’ll end up well-compensated for what he has been forced to endure.
With publicity like he’s been getting, and with passionate review comments on Amazon supporting his freedom of speech, maybe Harvey Weinstein will see an opportunity and buy the rights to McLaw’s books.
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