Free Speech

Zero Tolerance Follies

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Zombie story leads to felony terrorism charge, community bed-wetting:

A George Rogers Clark High School junior arrested Tuesday for making terrorist threats told LEX 18 News Thursday that the "writings" that got him arrested are being taken out of context.

Winchester police say William Poole, 18, was taken into custody Tuesday morning. Investigators say they discovered materials at Poole's home that outline possible acts of violence aimed at students, teachers, and police.

Poole told LEX 18 that the whole incident is a big misunderstanding. He claims that what his grandparents found in his journal and turned into police was a short story he wrote for English class.

"My story is based on fiction," said Poole, who faces a second-degree felony terrorist threatening charge. "It's a fake story. I made it up. I've been working on one of my short stories, (and) the short story they found was about zombies. Yes, it did say a high school. It was about a high school over ran by zombies."

Even so, police say the nature of the story makes it a felony. "Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it's a felony in the state of Kentucky," said Winchester Police detective Steven Caudill.

[…]

On Thursday, a judge raised Poole's bond from one to five thousand dollars after prosecutors requested it, citing the seriousness of the charge.

Poole is being held at the Clark County Detention Center. 

Not really related, but worth reading anyway:  Tim Cavanaugh's piece on zombie cinema for reason last year.

MORE:  Damned Internets.  The local article above had no date, but it turns out this all happened back in 2005.  The charges were eventually dropped yet, weirdly, Poole still got two years of probation.  Sorry for ginning up your ire about an old story.

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  1. His grandparents found his diary and turned it over to the police? What the hell is wrong with this country? We really have managed to turn people into helpless invalids.

  2. How can it be a felony to write a story about a school being attacked? I understand that specific threats are not protected by free speech, but I hardly see writing a fantasy about something happening in your journal and then not showing anybody as making a specific threat. This makes me sick.

  3. Will grammy and grampy be charged with harboring a terrorita?

  4. At least this post didn’t open with “School officials and local authorities tell grandparents to ‘get real’, and dismiss claims that grandson is zombie terrorist”.

  5. terroriSta.

    de de deee

  6. What the hell are the grandparents doing reading their grandkid’s journal?

    No, wait a second, this is more important…

    WHAT THE HELL IS THE STATE OF KENTUCKY DOING LIMITING THE SUBJECTS THAT A PERSON CAN LAWFULLY WRITE ABOUT?

  7. If there was a zombie attack on that town, they would quickly starve to death.

  8. How much you guys want to be that the right lawyer could turn this into a freedom of speech issue and slam KY hard?

    Nice work, Kentucky. Makin’ us proud! Go creationism! Smart!

  9. “Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it’s a felony in the state of Kentucky,” said Winchester Police detective yammering imbecile Steven Caudill.

    Oh, for fuck’s sake.

  10. I think we’re all forgetting the government’s responsibility to protect living-dead students from violent threats.

  11. If there was a zombie attack on that town, they would quickly starve to death.

    If? I think there already was.

  12. how is it a threat if it was never distributed?

    writing in a private journal, with no attempt or intent to distribute, seems pretty much the same as organizing your private thoughts…

    I’m going to write in my journal about my fantasy of paying all my taxes in time. Will this help me out down the road?

  13. Romero is going to have to leave the country.

  14. “Those people over there, at the courthouse…. they’re ZOMBIES!”

  15. If I were to write “this shit makes me want to blow up a police station,” would that be a felony?

    Not that I do, I am just curious.

  16. Another head hangs lowly,
    Child is slowly taken.
    And the violence caused such silence,
    Who are we mistaken?

    But you see, it’s not me, it’s not my family.
    In your head, in your head they are fighting,

  17. I’m thinking back to some stories I wrote for various creative writing classes.
    One dealt with a man tormented by dreams about nuclear holocaust. Lots of violent imagery there. I wrote that one in Seventh grade or so. The teacher’s reaction? She read it in a school assembly.
    In high school, I wrote a poem about a freeway sniper, a story about a bickering couple who end up encountering a demon who runs a rural gas station, and a satirical play about heavy metal and fundamentalism called “Kill Your Dog and Eat It.” The teacher’s reaction? He asked me what I was going to do with my talent. (That question has a two-part answer: there’s no real talent there, and nothing at all.)

    All I can say is that I’m glad I went to private schools before the school-violence hysteria. If nothing else, those stories were fun to write and provided an angry kid an outlet.

    P.S.-Not all, or even most of the stories were violent. But the ones I mentioned would get me locked up forever these days.

  18. How is a diary NOT protected speech?
    And why didn’t they shoot the kid’s dog?

  19. “Anytime you … possess matter involving a school or function”

    WTF does this mean? You can’t possess matter involving a function in Kentucky?

  20. Oh, Kentucky. Lexington is really not that bad. Really. But every time we get any national attention it features fuckwits like this.

  21. Oh, wait. This was in Winchester.

    Lexington is not responsible for the large ring of idiots that have surrounded us. We are the victims here, people.

  22. This story is three and a half years old.

  23. The resolution.

    It’s like Tivo, but for news!

  24. I suspect that they will arrest the writer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer the next time they enter the state

  25. I hate to break this to everyone, but you’re going to need to dial down your outrage a fair amount. This is a three-year old story that was more-or-less resolved long ago. The trumped-up charges against the kid were eventually dropped, but the thing about the zombies turned out to be a fabrication on his part, i.e., there were none in the story. Gotta love the rapid-response blogosphere . . .

  26. He should have started a war, illegally tapped phones, tortured people or any other non-prosecutable offense. RULE OF LAW people

  27. Wow, I sure am glad they caught him in time. Just imagine if he had gone through with his plans and brought about a zombie apocalypse!

  28. He should have started a war, illegally tapped phones, tortured people or any other non-prosecutable offense

    We got computers, we’re tapping phone lines
    I know that ain’t allowed
    We dress like students, we dress like housewives
    or in a suit and a tie
    I changed my hairstyle so many times now
    don’t know what I look like!

  29. I suspect that they will arrest the writer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer the next time they enter the state

    Oh for the love of…

    If Joss Whedon got arrested, he’d then have to make a teen comedy-supernatural-drama with a plucky female Mary Sue protagonist…in prison.

  30. Alas, if only the authorities had reacted as responsibly to “McBeef”!

  31. This story is three and a half years old.

    True. Real journalists use datelines. It would also help if TV and newspaper websites identified where the heck they are located.

  32. In other news, Reason writer Balko has his chain yanked by statists feeding him undated links to moldy stories.

  33. This ain’t no party…

  34. First, they came for the zombies, but I said nothing, because I’m not a zombie…

  35. This is sad no matter when it took place, or if zombies were really a part of it at all. It was something written in his private journal that his grand parents decided to snoop into then report to the authorities.

    Just because we live is some fear driven, paranoid society we have things like this happen. Whether it is from fear of a global implosion due to green house gases or a terrorist attack people seem to more paranoid than ever these days.

  36. CNN | October 17, 2008, 12:20pm | #
    In other news, Reason writer Balko has his chain yanked by statists feeding him undated links to moldy stories.

    How’s the Steve Jobs Deathwatch coming, CNN?

  37. When I was in tenth grade, I wrote a short story about a mutant serial killer who would hypnotize his women victims with his scintillating, color changing penis before cutting their throats. I shared it with some friends, got a few laughs, but somehow one of my teachers got a hold of it. Much to my embarrassment she read it out loud in class the next day.

    Can you imagine how this scenario would play out today? I would now, twenty years later, just be getting out of reform school, and she would be getting out of prison on some youth corruption charge.

  38. Yet another reason we should imprison anyone who had anything to do with the movie “Red Dawn.”

  39. “It was about a high school over ran by zombies.”

  40. Doesn’t matter how outdated the story is; everybody involved in “Red Dawn” STILL needs to be imprisoned.

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