an immediate unthinking emotional reaction produced by an event or statement to which the reacting person is highly sensitive; - in persons with strong feelings on a topic, it may be very predictable.Synonyms (or perhaps more accurately, symptoms) include:
pavlovian response, absence of thought, automatic reaction,gut reaction, involuntary impulseSo what do you think? Generally speaking ... a good or bad thing?
Now tell me what you think of this.
A 17-year-old high school student has been suspended (and might face expulsion) for writing a dark poem that mentioned the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Her "crime" was, perhaps, one line in the poem; namely a statement that she understood what drove Adam Lanza to do what he did.
But since I'm a big fan of context, let's see how the poem actually read.
They wanna hold me back.
I run, but they still attack.
My innocence, I won't get back.
I use to smile.
They took my kindness for weakness.
The silence the world will never get.
I understand the killings in Connecticut.
I know why he pulled the trigger.
The government is a shame.
Society never wants to take the blame.
Society puts these thoughts in our head.
Misery loves company.
Her poem actually reminds me of something I read in a high school English class. An assigned reading. I can't quite recall now whether it was meant to be a suicide note or something written and handed in by the young man as part of a class assignment, shortly before he hung himself but I believe the latter.
At any rate, that poem has stuck with me my whole life. Not the exact words, of course, but the ideas, the pictures and thoughts remain bright in my mind.
Written in the the third person, the poem told the story of a little boy who started school so full of energy, curiosity and a desire to learn. So full of life. It goes on to tell what the school experience was like from his perspective and although my memory falters in some places, the ending remains crystal clear. Essentially, from his perspective, school had sucked all the colour out of life (starting with things as simple as being repeatedly told to "colour within the lines" in the primary grades),
That was assigned reading in a high school English class and
Now, you might quite rightly point out that poem was assigned in a different time - a time when "school shootings" were unheard of, at any level. In a more innocent time, a time when parents felt safe sending their children to school. When horrors such as Sandy Hook were unimaginable, even in the movies. So it was.
But one of my immediate reactions when I first read that poem (which has stuck with me to this day and makes me think that it was something the young man handed in at school before he took his own life) was to wonder why ... why no one had paid attention to what he had to say, why no one could hear his scream for help, why he was simply given a grade and handed the poem back.
Much like reading the article about Courtni Webb and her poem makes me wonder why.
Why, if the school took this matter so seriously, did they simply suspend her? Did anyone sit down and actually talk to her before this decision was made? Was the first question that crossed administration's mind really "Should we suspend her"? Really? Seriously?
Did it occur to anyone to actually express some concern about the girl, herself? If the poem is to be interpreted as the school so obviously has, shouldn't there have some concern for the state of her mental health? Did we learn nothing from Sandy Hook? Other than that lesson pounded into granite for so many years? Cover. Your. Ass.
But you know what?
I really doubt whether anyone talked too much to Courtni about what she may or may have been thinking when she wrote this poem. But realizing that I am only basing this on the short interview I've watched where Courtni explained the poem, how about if you tell me what you think.
Sociopathic killer? Potential mass murderer? Possibly, I suppose. We are all well aware that we live in a world where anything, indeed, is possible.
Or, perhaps, merely (an apparently bright) high school student using her writing to work through her feelings?
I didn't hear a threat of violence in her words. Which has to make me wonder if the blunt mechanism of suspension was not used because she supposedly somehow violated a zero-tolerance policy or because of a perceived threat of violence, as alleged but simply to "punish" the young woman for her lack of good taste in writing such things so soon after all those little children were so senselessly murdered.
Either way, whether Courtni was actually contemplating violence or simply writing a poem, threatening and intending to threaten no one, if that poem caused concern for those who knew her, the first priority should have been (and should continue to be) her mental health.
Knee. Meet. Jerk.