Friday, December 30, 2011

Teenager charged with “stalking” for wishing vandal bad karma

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Allie Scott (16)
Allie Scott (16)

In which the stupidity of zero-tolerance is once again exemplified, this time with a bit of a twist:

Is it a crime to wish bad karma on someone? A Pinellas County teenager says she was suspended from school and charged with a crime just for posting a karma comment on her Facebook page.

Allie Scott is a junior at Osceola High School. The 16 year old says it all started in the school parking lot last month when she parked her brother's car in another girl's spot. She was asked to move it, and when she did at the end of the day, the car had been scratched up with a key.

Without naming who she thought did it, she posted this comment on her Facebook page: "Oh, so you keyed my car. Your karma is going to be a whole lot worse than that."

Okay, a perfectly tame and harmless comment, all things considered. If anything, it’s almost rather zen, given the act that spurred it. I expect most students would be up all in arms and post a screeching rant, or else hound whoever did it with a baseball bat. Allie chose to leave it to cosmic balance. Rather zen, I must say. Least worth mentioning of all is the fact that there’s no way any rational person could possibly interpret that post as any sort of a threat.

Unless, of course, one were not a rational person. Such an individual might instead see into Allie’s benign statement a hidden desire to do evil, using the advent of bad karma as a cloak for further hostilities in a dark scheme of vengeance.

And so, cue the typically overzealous authorities:

She wound up in the office and her mom was called.

"I started crying immediately. I didn't know what to say. I've never been in trouble before," Allie said.

Her mother drove to the school and also went to the office to meet with administrators.

"I had no idea what she was in trouble for and the severity of it until we got to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office," Paula Scott recalled.

Allie was charged with stalking by the sheriff's office. She has a court hearing next week.

It should be telling that the fact that Allie was charged with the completely nonsensical accusation of “stalking” is only one thing wrong with this picture.

Now, there’s much good to be said about the current wave of anti-bullying fervor sweeping through the education system. (I’d even add, in my completely unbiased opinion, that it’s about fucking time that adults everywhere decided to get off their asses and do something about it.) But all movements have their irrational fringes, and Allie was unfortunate enough to get caught up in it. Punishing kids who torment others is a good thing, and criminal charges are sometimes exactly what the situation calls for, but there’s a problem when posting a completely innocuous message in reaction to an actual offense lands one in front of a judge.

(via @radleybalko)