Update: It looks like this story might be a tempest in a teapot caused by really bad local reporting. The LA Times followed up and reported that the teacher had real mental health issues, and not because of his novels.
The Atlantic reported earlier today that a Maryland middle school teacher was involuntarily committed for nothing more than writing a book:
From the Dept. of Insane and Dangerous Overreactions to Fictional Threats:
A 23-year-old teacher at a Cambridge, Md. middle school has been placed on leave and—in the words of a local news report—”taken in for an emergency medical evaluation” for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. The novelist, Patrick McLaw, an eighth-grade language-arts teacher at the Mace’s Lane Middle School, was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, and is being investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office, according to news reports from Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The novel, by the way, is set 900 years in the future.
According to The Atlantic, the police have also searched the school and the
victim’s teacher’s house, with no weapons found. “The residence of the teacher in Wicomico County was searched by personnel,” Sheriff Phillips said, all without finding signs that he owned a time machine which he planned to use to commit the crimes described in his book.
And yes, it is that ridiculous.
There are just no words to describe that level of nonsense.
Sadly, this is not the first time an author has suffered from the over-reaction to gossip that they have written a novel with unusual themes, and thanks to the rise of self-publishing it will almost certainly not be the last.
As you may recall, in 2011 an English teacher in Pennsylvania was the focal point a national media storm, simply because one parent realized that this teacher of 25 years also wrote racy romance novels:
When parents discovered that an English teacher at Midd West High School had a second job as a novelist, they weren’t impressed.
What’s causing criticism is the content of the teacher’s writing — a subject matter that is strictly for adults.
Judy Buranich, an English teacher in Middleburg, Penn., is also a published romance novelist. Local parents say she should choose between her writing and her profession, as her second career detracts from her role as a teacher, AP reports.
Fortunately for this teacher it had already been common knowledge that she wrote romance novels under a pen name, leading many in the community to take to her defense when a few parents started saying things like:
“It’s unbelievable … I can’t even imagine someone would write such stuff… And I don’t want my son sitting in her class thinking, is she looking at him in a certain way…”
I just don’t know what to say to that, or to the nonsense going on this week in Maryland.
Coincidentally, that county in MD is just on the other side of the Chesapeake Bay from Manassas, VA, that infamous city with a police force so dedicated to fighting child porn that it created child porn. (Given my often strange view of the world and the fact that I live in between Manassas, VA, and Shaw, MD, I think it’s time to start asking whether there is something in the water.)