Jailed for Fiction

 

 

Update 9/3: And the other shoe has dropped. I should have known better than to trust a story based on reporting from local TV stations. Thanks, WBOC, “Delmarva’s Fake News Leader”! Turns out McLaw’s dismissal had little or nothing to do with his books, and more to do with a letter he wrote with suicidal undertones and a model of the school he was building in his back yard, according to the Baltimore Sun. Jeffrey Goldberg also has an excellent update at the link below.

swat-raid

Patrick McLaw, a teacher in Maryland, has been “disappeared” after writing a novel set far in the future detailing “the largest school shooting in history.” He’s been put on leave by his school district, and ordered into an “emergency medical evaluation.” No one knows where he is, but authorities say he’s no longer on the East Coast Eastern Shore of Maryland (apparently a different place than the “East Coast”).

More from Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic Monthly:

It is somewhat amazing that local news reports on this case don’t make clear whether McLaw is under arrest, and if so, on what charge. It is equally astonishing that the reporters on this story don’t seem to have used the words “First Amendment” in their questioning of law-enforcement officials, and also astonishing they don’t question the Soviet-sounding practice of ordering an apparently sane person who has been deemed unacceptable by state authorities to undergo a psychological evaluation.

It would be useful to know if McLaw is under investigation for behavior other than writing two novels—and perhaps he will be shown to be a miscreant of some sort—but so far, there is no indication that he is guilty of anything other than having an imagination, although on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, as news reports make clear, his imagination is considered an active threat.

What’s next? William Gibson jailed for potential cyber warfare? Stephen King charged with possible random acts of spooky mayhem? George R.R. Martin sent to the dungeons for imagining rape, murder, and magical assassination? A posthumous prosecution of David Foster Wallace for possible drug use and writerly hubris? The penitentiary for E.L. James for numerous assaults on the English language? (Now there’s one I’d like to see.)

Oh, wait, unlike Patrick McLaw, none of these writers is black. Seems writing while black is as dangerous as traveling while black. I wonder why the Tea Party isn’t starting a revolution over these gross abuses of governmental authority?

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