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|FIGHTING WORDS: Noted Writers Read Violent Passages from Literature and Poetry|
|Date||Wednesday May 26|
|Time||6:00 PM - 8:00 PM|
|Import this event into your personal calendar.|
2389 Mission Street (at 20th Street)
(16th or 24th Street BART)
First Amendment Project
1736 Franklin Street, 9th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612
Noted Writers to Read Violent Passages from Acclaimed Literature
WHAT: Fighting Words: A Reading
WHO: First Amendment Project presents Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman, Daniel Handler, Floyd Salas, Jayne Lyn Stahl, Alan Kaufman, Jack Hirschman, Agneta Falk, Micheline Marcom, and Gerald Nicosia, Andrew Sean Greer, Claire Ortalda, Anthony Swofford, and Tamim Ansary
WHEN: Wednesday, May 26th at 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: Bruno’s, 2389 Mission Street (at 20th Street), San Francisco
HOW MUCH: Suggested donation $5 - $10
WHY: Incidents of students being criminally prosecuted or expelled or suspended from school for including violent imagery in their creative writing have occurred regularly since the institution of “zero tolerance” policies that were enacted following the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School. FIGHTING WORDS protests against these incidents by celebrating the vital role violence has played in our literary heritage.
The next day -- May 27 -- the California Supreme Court will consider whether a high school student was properly convicted of making criminal threats by distributing a poem to a few of his classmates. Several of the confirmed readers listed above were among those literary artists who filed a friend of the court brief urging the California Supreme Court to consider the nature of poetry as an artistic medium and the prominence of violent imagery in literature. See below to learn more about the case known as In re: George T.
More readers may be confirmed as the event date approaches.
The First Amendment Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition. FAP provides advice, educational materials, and legal representation to its core constituency of activists, journalists, and artists in service of these fundamental liberties.
About In re George T.
On May 27, 2004, the California Supreme Court will hear oral argument in In re George T. In that case, a San Diego area high school student (named Julius) was convicted in juvenile court of making criminal threats against two of his classmates because he gave them copies of a poem he had written. The poem explored a young person’s alienation from his peers and concluded with the lines “For I am / Dark, Destructive & Dangerous. I / Slap on my face of happiness but / Inside I am evil!! For I can be / the next kid to bring guns to / kill students at school. So Parents / watch your children cuz I’m BACK!!” The juvenile court found that Julius had criminally threatened the two students by giving them the poem. The Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction. Several of the scheduled readers were among those literary artists who filed a friend of the court brief urging the California Supreme Court to consider the nature of poetry as an artistic medium and the prominence of violent imagery in literature. The friends of the court cautioned the Court not to chill the creation and dissemination of literary works that explore human emotions, no matter how dark, and not to discourage young people from experimenting with poetic persona. To read the brief, visit: http://www.thefirstamendment.org/www/amicus%20briefs/complete%20brief.pdf.
Other Incidents Across the Country
Incidents of students being criminally prosecuted or expelled or suspended from school for including violent imagery in their creative writing have occurred regularly since the institution of “zero tolerance” policies that were enacted following the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School:
• In San Francisco, two students were recently expelled from the Academy of Art University at least in part for including violent imagery in class writing assignments.
• Last fall, a 14 year old Alabama honor student was expelled from high school for writing a story in her personal journal in which a daydreaming student fantasizes about killing an unnamed teacher.
• Also last fall, an 11-year old middle school student was suspended from school for reading to his class from a novel he had written based on the movie Halloween.
• An honor student in Kansas was suspended for writing a poem titled “Who Killed My Dog?”
• A sixth grader in Denton, Texas was convicted in juvenile court of making a criminal threat for writing a class-project horror essay in which a student kills a teacher.