California Student Suspended For Writing In Poem That She “Understands” Why Adam Lanza “Pulled The Trigger”

courtni-webb-adam-lanza-poemWe have often discussed the continuing crackdown on student free speech in high schools. The latest such case involves Courtni Webb, a seventeen-year-old student at California’s Life Learning Academy who was suspended for writing in a poem in a personal notebook that she “understand[s] the killings in Connecticut.”


A teacher appears to have spotted the poem and the statement that “I know why he pulled the trigger. Why are we oppressed by a dysfunctional community of haters and blamers?” Webb was promptly reported and suspended.

Once again, I fail to understand why students are punished for expressing their feelings and thoughts. I would rather address such feelings in a teachable moment as opposed to, as here, teaching students about the constant threat of censorship and discipline for free speech.

What is particularly problematic is that the student was not glorifying violence but denouncing the bullying and isolation that often comes with high school. Webb insisted that “Never in my life have I heard that you couldn’t mention a tragedy that happened. I didn’t say that I agree with it, I said I simply understand it.”

The lesson from this action is not likely to be received as a matter of responsibility of students as much as the power of authority over students. We should want the students to discuss the massacre, particularly in Connecticut. The students who commit these rare acts of violence tend to be those who did not voice or express their anger and isolation. These disciplinary actions tend to force such students further underground where their feelings of rage and isolation grows. Then there are the much greater number of students like Webb who merely want to discuss the underlying causes for such isolation. They should have not just an opportunity but a right to do so, in my view.

Source: Business Insider

32 thoughts on “California Student Suspended For Writing In Poem That She “Understands” Why Adam Lanza “Pulled The Trigger”

  1. They should have not just an opportunity but a right to do so, in my view.”

    Totally agree.

    There is an academic side to solving the problem, as well as an emotional side.

    Discussion can help in both of those endeavors.

  2. Schools gone wild. I thought talking about problems, expressing feelings and exploring thoughts and solutions were all part of what education was supposed to be about. Not in our teach to the test, don’t think world. This young women was subjected to hours of coverage of this tragedy and more coverage of the NRA’s insanity but she is the one who gets punished. Bizarro world, indeed.

  3. Ignoring youth and their valid search for understanding is a time honored practice of Fascist organizations. Discussion and exploration of subjects is a freeing and growing exercise of life and understanding.

    Old fogies that compromise themselves to get along, don’t like to be reminded of the chains they wrapped their souls in.

  4. I don’t know what that was thinking, but this story reminds of what Hulk Hogan said about his ex-wife after their messy divorce:

    “I get O.J. [Simpson] now.”

    I don’t know about anybody else, but I would consider that a threat of violence.

  5. A really stupid misunderstanding of this girl’s attempt to make sense of the tragedy. It has long been a tradition in many schools to see those bullied as deserving it and merely going through a rite of passage. The British Public School system comes to mind. How can we expect an educational system to succeed if those running it have little understanding of what the concept of education is about?

  6. Bizarre (but legally protected) comment meets bizarre (and likely impermissible) response. I’m not sure why she was suspended and I bet neither are the school officials. That’s why we have courts.

    Life Learning Academy, indeed, though not in the way intended.

  7. She has a First Amendment right of free speech and a Ninth Amendment right of privacy to her personal papers. If they want to deny that she was expressing free speech then they have to admit that they were invading her privacy by reading her writings to herself. Lets see your Diary teacher and yours too Principal. None dare call a Principal a Pal. Put those two out to pasture.

  8. “I didn’t say that I agree with it, I said I simply understand it.”

    There you have it. Understanding is now a punishable offense. And what mespo said.

  9. Here, there, and everywhere…

    “France’s censorship demands to Twitter are more dangerous than “hate speech””

    “Few ideas have done as much damage throughout history as empowering the government to criminalize opinions it dislikes”

    by Glenn Greenwald

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/02/free-speech-twitter-france

    “Ultimately, nobody needs Jason Farago, French minister Vallaud-Belkacem, or Twitter algorithms deciding which ideas they’re permitted to express on the internet and which ones should be criminalized. Gay youth and women – especially in the west – have seen their situations significantly improve with the emergence of the internet (I’d argue that it’s due in part to its emergence as a democratizing force, but at the very least, even if there’s no causal connection, these trends obviously co-exist). Although Farago mocks the marketplace of ideas as some sort of obsolete relic of the past, it is undeniably true that arguments in favor of equality for women and gay people have triumphed over bigotry, not because bigots have been imprisoned, but because those ideas have proven more powerful, more persuasive.

    Criminalizing ideas doesn’t make them go away any more than sticking your head in the sand makes unpleasant things disappear. If anything, refusing to confront them makes them stronger. But what is certain is that few people have done as much harm in history as those who deem themselves worthy of criminalizing ideas they dislike.”

    (I trust that Courtni Webb will prevail in some way, shape or form.)

  10. I’m pretty sure the USSC has ruled that students have no constitutional rights unless the school board agrees.

    Secondly, we have put schools into an untenable position. Once there is a shooting the shooters past is dug into and it is always found that they wrote or expressed violent fantasies. From this people have decided to hold schools accountable for not recognizing those fantasies as real threats. This ignores the fact that 90% of all people have then and nearly as many write them out at some time during their youth. So the school, in order to protect itself from legal liability, is going to over react.

  11. Frankly, You’re correct. And that is how the insane “zero tolerance” in schools has come about. It doesn’t even have to be about “violence”. Kids getting suspended for having Tylenol in the name of “drugs.”

  12. as said teachable moment. Maybe the girl needs to be talked with to see if, when she ‘understands’ it she does see it as a viable alternative to the bullies and haters or was this mere poetic license?

  13. Maybe if she had a “safe” atmosphere to write down her feelings, she’d never become another Adam Lanza. Yes, killers often leave diaries behind, but they’re usually full of thoughts of action. She was just trying to understand it.

  14. Since when is “understanding how something came about” equivalent to agreeing that the action taken as a result was appropriate or justified. There needs to be more “understanding” instead of knee-jerk black-or-white reactions to see wherein the problems lie so we can address the problems in context. The student’s “understanding” of what Adam Lanza may have perceived and/or experienced is an important data point for looking at the massacre and what may have helped prompt it.

  15. One thing you can certainly learn from schools such as this, guess what your life as an adult would be like if the government respected a person’s rights as much as they did with this girl.

    Understanding how something works is now a violation. Keep them dumb, stupid and controlled must be the mantra.

    Good thing she didn’t admit she knew how to fire a handgun, she would be suspended for making terrorist threats.

  16. I think I’d reserve the “teachable moment” for the school officials. The kids seem to know the rules already. Maybe the federal judge can hold class for them.

  17. Our kids are probably learning that “expressions of your thoughts” are taboo. Wow, what a great thing to teach our kids! Great schools! We’re making the whole world the way we really want it to be! And in this one little instance, we are also teaching that the gun is legaller than the pen.

  18. At 17 your basically an adult first of all. Secondly, the action taken whether “right or wrong” was unnecessary a meeting with her parents would be more functional and would get stuff done. Its like telling your son don’t touch that! of course he is going to to and if you beat him it does not fix anything. This is suppose to be about production, not humiliation. I personally think she wanted to despretly be out of the mainstream (like most teenagers, well maybe not her age) and did so.

    – From a 13 year old boss

  19. It is fairly clear that she was writing in her notebook a message to God to forgive the sinner for he was crazy and knew not the force of his conduct. This message was a petition for redress of grievances to God, protected by the First Amendment in two prongs, the right to religion and the right to petition God and be immune from the role of government or interference by government on a religious matter by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The state school here has “state actors” who have deprived this person of her rights secured by the Constituition and they are liable for civil damages. Go forth and sue the astardBays. Title 42 United States Code Section 1983. You can get attorneys fees under Section 1988. Leave the teacher out of the lawsuit, she is too dumb to teach Forrest Gump how to spull cheese. She did not say a thing about naming the kid Adam. That is a lesson here. There should be a moratorium on the names Adam, Justin, Jared. And I say that under protection of my rights under the petition government for redress of grievances prong.

  20. If we could just keep the Connecticut Yankees out of King Arthur’s Court.

    Does Connecticut have two t letters on the end or one? Inquiring dogs want to know. Did the name evolve from the connection of one inlet along the shore to another by a man made “cut” across some dry land? Why would anyone want to “connect” a “cut”? Had the kid asked such questions like these she would have been thrown out much sooner. Does that state deserve Pirate Territory status? I think so.

  21. “I understand the killings in Connecticut,” Courtni Webb wrote in a personal notebook, The Daily Mail reported Monday. “I know why he pulled the trigger. Why are we oppressed by a dysfunctional community of haters and blamers?”

    I find Courtni Webb’s view, of oppression “by a dysfunctional community of haters and blamers” to be both profoundly accurate and horrifically tragic.

    As an autistic person of the language delay (classical or Kanner) type, I have had a nearly lifelong encounter with the “dysfunctional community of haters and blamers.” I find that community to be comprised of people who use authoritarian coercion to force other people to comply with what “haters and blamers” want.

    On June 29, 1953, two of my family’s friends were murdered by a next door neighbor boy. On Friday evening, JUne 27, 1953, my parents and I had dinner with those two family friends at their home. The 14 year old murderer had bujlied me at every practical opportunity.

    The murders were the banner headline story in the Manitowoc (Wisconsin) Herald-Times on June 30, 1953, and I invite those who have access to the Newspaper Archive to read the story there. A brief excerpt from the Herald-Times is:

    Priesthood Aspirant
    Leaves Note Admitting
    Brutal Double Slaying
    STURGEON BAY UP-A 15-year,
    old student for the priesthood was
    sought today for the brutal knife
    killing of a prominent Wisconsin
    newspaperman and his wife.
    Police Chief Romain Londo said
    general alarm had been broadcast
    to all enforcement agencies
    asking for the arrest at James
    Duranty on suspicion of murder.
    Duranty was the son of Mr. and
    Mrs. Mark Duranty, next – door
    neighbors and family friends of
    Mr. and Mrs. Sumner Harris.
    Harris, 53, and. his mutilated
    wife, 50, were found by police today
    in the shambles of their fashionable
    home after the elder Duranty
    called police.

    From The Bakersfield Californian, Thursday, July 2, 1953, page 8 as found via the Internet on the Newspaper Archive:

    SHELBYVILLE, Ind. (AP)-
    A husky 14-year-old Wisconsin youth
    has admitted the fatal stabbing of
    a newspaper publisher and his
    wife at Sturgeon Bay, Wis., but
    he says, “I don’t know why
    did it.”
    “I know It’s too late to be
    sorry,” the 6-foot, l55-pound youth
    said yesterday as he signed a
    statement *admitting the slaying
    of Sumner Harris, 53, publisher
    of the Door County (Wis.) Advocate,
    and bis wife, Grace, 50.

    During the time I was Community Projects Chairman for the Oak Park, Illinois Lions Club, one person I had met as part of my Lions Club work and another person with whom I had worked in am outreach program to seriously mentlly ill people at St. Catheriune-St. Lucy Parish, in Oak Park were killed by an arsonist I had met as part of my community work with mentally ill people. Twice in my life, I came to know two people who were murdered by someone I had encountered prior to the murders.

    My personal concern regarding human violence, its causes, and seeking a practicable way to bring human violence to a timely resolution goes back to my infancy, when, during 1940, I was learning words and learning about human violence from news reports on our family radio regarding World War II in Europe and from my parent’s and older brother’s talking about war.War, as I learned of war as a human activity, violated my conscience severely.

    At that time, my dad was the minister at United Congregational Church, in Butte, Montana, and my parents consistently took my brother and me to church with them. There were some chilren a few to several months older than me, and I observed them going through the infant-child transition, and, in the process, becoming deceptive and dishonest. It came to me that being deceptive and dishonest might be necessary for people to have wars, and I rejected becoming decpetive and dishonest.

    By the time I was 18 months of age, my life circumstances had prepared me to absolutely and categorically, and with fully conscious informed consent, reject undergoing the commonplace infant-child transition (aka, “the terrible twos?) an aspect of my personal and social development.
    The choice I recognized and made was to become deceptive and dishonest as I found most grown-ups to be by going through the infant-child transition, or avoid the infant-child transition and thereby retain the conscience that I had in utero, and rejecting internalizing any, and every, aspect of human society which which I experience as violating the guidance of my innately inborn, prenatal conscience.

    Because I never went through the infant-child transition, I never learned to think in words or pictures, and I never learned that saying something made it true. Fortumately for me, my parents never, never ever, not even once, gave as a reason for me to believe something they had said, “Because I said so!” During the first four years of my life, my parents very diligently and effectively shielded and protected me from coercion and authoritarianism.

    I did not encounter imposed authoritarian coercion or coercive authoritarianism until I started kindergarten, by which time I had become very adept at recognizing the damage authoritarianism and coercion caused in the lives of other people.

    At dinner, one evening, during the week before I started kindergarten, my dad said to me, “There is something that concerns me. You never went through the infant-child transition. I never heard of anyone who didn’t do that before, and I don’t understand it, but, however you are doing it, your life seems to be working for you. If things happen in school, talk with your mother and talk with me.”

    Things did happen in school, and I did talk about them with my parents.

    As a transgendered autistic child, I was met with bullying for being a “sissy” and for being a “baby.” As an autistic child who had not (and still has not) learned to actually live according to the social contract that asserts that everyone is a liar, I was severely paddled as a second grade student at Marshall School, in Eureka, California. My teacher, Miss Josephine Hanson and the school principal, Mrs. Edith Knudsen, both apparently believed that all second grade boys are liars, and my teacher could readily get every other “boy” in her class to confess to having lied on her command, but not me. Because I did not lie, I did not know how to lie so as to stop Mrs. Knudsen from paddling me until the terror of paddling took me into agitated catatonia.

    For the first three-quarters of second grade, I was often paddled, sometimes twice in one day, until Mrs. Knudsen misinterpreted agitated catatonia as indicating that I had “learned my lesson,” which learning never happened.

    I know what it is to repeatedly be put through horribly terrifying authoritarian coercion without ever capitulating to it.

    I forgave Mrs. Knudsen for paddling me, forgave her instantly for every paddle blow. It was blatantly obvious to me that she neither knew any better, was familiar with any better, or understood any better,. way to treat me, so I was unable to find any fault with her for what she did to me. Therefore, I never resented what she did to me, I never entertained retaliating against her or anyone else, and I only became stronger and stronger in my resolve to never, never ever, go through the infant-child transition. Most especially, I never learned to believe that anyone can ever actually be guility of anything whatsoever.

    My dad being a minister, I was vividly aware of the bible sayings to the effect that one has to be a little child to know the kingdom when I was a little child, and I found I was able tor remain a little child by avoiding the infant-child transition.

    It seems to me that, until some ordinary person actually lives as a little child for a typical life span, the notion that being as a little child for a typical lifespan would reasonably be regarded as absurd. On checking the US Mortality statistics, I find that, when I was born in 1939, my supposed life expectancy was about 63 years; I am comfortably past 73 now, so I surmise that my present life span is longer than average for when and where I was born.

    I find that I have lived the whole of my life without ever being succssfully taught that avoidable accidents can ever actually happen. In my autistic, little child mind, if an accident was actually avoidable, it had to actually have been avoided, did not happen, and therefore, it is impossible to know what it would have been because it never was. In the same manner, all accidents that actually happen were inescapably unavoidable when they happened, the proof of actual unavoidability being purely and simply that the accident actually happened.

    I never learned to confuse hypotheticals in the form of impossibilities with tangible actualities. Thus, I never developed an unconscious mind that makes decisions prior to my becoming conscious of them because I never learned to think in words because I learned in infancy that thinking in words allows countless hypotheticals in the form of tangible impossibilities to be deemed reality through socialization methodologies that are coercively authoritatian.

    From H. L. A. Hart, “The Concept of Law,” Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1961, page 23, Chapter II, Law as Coercive Orders, Section 2, “Hence if we are to use the notion of orders backed by threats as explaining what laws are, we must endeavour to reproduce this enduring character which laws have. We must therefore suppose that there is a general belief on the part of those to whom the general orders apply that disobedience is likely to be followed by the execution of the threat not only on the first promulgation of the order, but continuously until the order is withdrawn or cancelled.”

    Because it was unambiguously clear to me that Miss Hanson and Mrs.Knudsen were acting out their shattering infant-child transition trauma toward me as a defense against understanding how society had betrayed them, no amount of execution of the threat of being paddled into agitated catatonia ever even nudged me toward internalizing the deception and dishonesty (in the form of time-confusion and/or time-corrupted learning) of the traditional infant-child socialization transition.
    Child abuse, in every form I have ever observed, is invariably one or another form of authoritarian coercion. Absent coercion, I doubt that child abuse is actually possible. I find that, to the extent that law in form and function is of coercive orders, I find that the law is abusive.

    Some autistic people, like me, study society as though from the outside if their parents were not coercive or authoritarian. Some autistic people, perhaps like Adam Lanza, who have one or more parents who, in the manner of the view of at least one parent of an autistic child, as I found on the Internet some time ago, regard “autism as worse than cancer,” may so shatter their autistic child’s brain through authoritarian coercion that what Adam did was no more preventable than what the two miurders I already mentioned having met was.

    Coercing a child to believe that the child understood something by having been told about it is, I conjecture, the most severe form of child abuse that may ever be possible. Yet social conventions (in the form of coercive law) command parents to abuse their children in that way.

    From time to time, someone who has been shatteringly abused through authoritarian coercion acts out the truth of the coercive abuse actually experienced. That, I understand, is what Adam Lanza, having run out of viably practicable alternatives, finally did.

    The coercive abuse of the traditional infant-child transition teaches children to hate themselves and to hide their self-hatred from themselves through the use of reality-distorting psychological/neurological defenses, defenses that are, so I find, from a bioengineering perspective, utterly psychotic.

    As I now recall, one of the Turley bloggers. Bron, posted a comment in a thread about abortion, in which he wrote that newborn infants are not conscious, and that conscious develops slowly over a number of months. With that notion of infancy and consciousness, I take absolute and unconditional exception.

    With people whose infant-child transition is such a stark dissociative discontinuity that there is effectively total amnesia for early infancy because consciousness has become restricted to word memories alone, memories that can be recalled will indeed seem to have developed gradually over a number of months. Perhaps the biologically absurd notion that newborn babies are not conscious is an indication of the severity of the neurlogical trauma of coercing little children into the socially traditionally mandated ways of deception, dishonesty, hatred, and repression.

    In abjectly stark contrast with Adam Lanza, and those two murders I had met, previously mentioned, my parents treated me as a complete person from the moment I was born. I was treated as a complete person, therefore, I could never become a person because I have never been anything else since I was born.

    I will never fight in a war in which I act with the intention of harming anyone else. I will never coerce a child into being dishonest by imposing the infant-child transition of a child. I will never retaliate reciprocally for harm done to me by others.

    As we learn from abused children what child abuse actually is, and stop doing what abuses children, I find that crime, including the crime of war, will cease and desist because no one will have been abused enough to participate in any crime or crime of war.

    I live this.

    From the July 2, 1953 Manitowoc Herald, page 1:

    Can’t Explain Action
    “I don’t know why I did It. Something
    up there told me too do it,”
    Duranty said, pointing to hit head,

    What I find “told” Duranty to do what he did, much as tells other recent “shooters” to do what they do is the trauma of the infant-child transition, when life circumstances make repressing the associated hatred no longer achievable.

    Please note that this has been written in accord with the Code of Ethics of the National Society of Professional Engineers: holding paramount the public safety, within areas of my professional competence, and without using deception.

  22. Well, clearly her school has the philosophy that it is indoctrinating its students to be good citizens and good workers. It is important that they be “socialized,” taught to follow the rules without thinking. This one of the purposes of the “charter school” movement. The other is to divert money which was intended for public purposes into the pockets of the charlatans who are the owners and administrators. In the National Security State it is important for her to internalize the rules about things she must not say or do to avoid unwanted attention from security forces and/or police. If she can’t discipline herself to avoid unwanted attention, there is no reason to waste money on her which would be better used increasing the bonus of her principal.

  23. These shooters never seek psychiatric care because they may be crazy but they aren’t stupid. You cannot bare your soul to a psychologist out of fear of being handed over to the authorities as being either a threat to yourself or a threat to others.

    In the aftermath of these shootings, the schools supply counselors. If you were a student being counselled and you not only had known the shooter, knew why they had picked-up a gun, and you agreed with their reasons . . . do you think that student is going to tell Big Brother Counselor? You cannot bare your soul to a psychologist out of fear of being handed over to the authorities as being either a threat to yourself or a threat to others.

    We know why these shootings are taking place, but this country either will not or flat out refuses to face the facts. All you have to do is watch our president cry fake tears on national television over the massacre of PUBLIC school children, while his own “precious ones” remain safe and secure, and properly protected, in a PRIVATE school.

    Welcome to the Unites States of Pure Hyprocrisy.

  24. This is a public school. it seems. They are bound by the First and Fourth Amendments. Apparently this issue was not made clear to them. While more details might change my interpretations, it would appear possible that they may be having some interesting times with the Federal and/or State Civil Court systems.

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