In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, schools across the nation are stepping up precautions in the hopes they can avoid a similar tragedy. While the NRA argues that arming teachers would stop mass school shootings, schools across the nation are revisiting their policies on how to deal with on campus violence.

Recently, a San Francisco teen learned just how far a school would go to keep their students safe. After finding Courtni Webb’s poem about the Sandy Hook shootings in her notebook, a teacher was alarmed at the language and referred her to the office. Why? Webb seemed to sympathize with Connecticut shooter Adam Lanza.

In the poem, Webb wrote: “I understand the killings in Connecticut. I know why he pulled the trigger…Misery loves company. If I can’t be loved no one can.”

That one line got the teen suspended (and perhaps expelled) due to her school’s “zero tolerance” policy on violence, even though she didn’t threaten anyone or act out violently. A point Webb iterated during an interview with a local news affiliate.

“I didn’t say that I agree with it, I said I simply understand it,” Webb told NBC News. “I feel like I’ve really been made to almost look like a monster by my school and I don’t appreciate that at all.”

According to school officials, Webb was suspended because her poem “contained deeply concerning, and threatening language related to the recent school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.”

So much for freedom of speech.

Webb, who doesn’t have a history of acting out violently, said her poem was about society’s dysfunction.

“Why are we oppressed by a dysfunctional community of haters and blamers. The meaning of the poem is talking about society and how I understand why things like that incident happened. So it’s not like I’m agreeing with it, but that’s how the school made it seem,” she said.

Instead of talking to Webb and finding out if she actually had any negative or harmful feelings toward her classmates or herself, her school had a knee-jerk reaction that did very little to make anyone, especially their students, safer.

Project Islamic HOPE, a Los Angeles-based civil rights group, has started a petition to support Webb.

Najee Ali, the group’s organizer, said: “This school is over reacting Webb doesn’t have a history of violence. She didn’t threaten anybody. She didn’t threaten herself. She simply said she understood why. That shouldn’t be a reason to suspend her from school. Our petition is calling for Webb to be reinstated at school and can be found at change.org.”

  • binks

    I saw this on the news. I get both sides, because on one hand ALL schools were on high alert and probably on edge after the Sandy Hook’s incident but at the same time I do think they might have overreacted a bit. I think they should have taken her behavior, the overall content of the poem (that line was only a small bit) and her person before taking steps to not only suspend her but trying to expel her (which is a bit too drastic). She has the right to express herself, nobody barely made a peep when a blogger wrote something about “I’ am Adam’s mother…” so why should her poem be any different and it was a personal poem found in HER personal notebook so yeah… so yeah I understand the zero tolerance policy but I don’t think her poem pretains to it.

  • india

    there is no freedom of speech in school unless you are in college.

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

    Her problem is she tried to empathize with someone that killed a bunch of White people. Had she tried to empathize with some gang-banger that had killed a bunch of Black people, nothing would have happened to her.

  • GlowBelle

    Talk about overreacting. I actually blame our overly sensitive, whistle blowing society for stifling creativity. Everything now is so PC that you can’t express a damn thing without being crucified. Who are these stupid educators who didn’t understand what she was writing? I mean, Webb plainly said she didn’t approve of the crime, but she did understand it. You don’t have to like something in order to not “get” it.

    Plus how did this teacher “discover” this “personal” poem? I also agree — why didn’t the teacher confront Webb FIRST before jumping to conclusions? They blindsided her, IMO.

  • http://ladyngo.blogspot.com Lady Ngo

    If they were really concerned about this “deeply concerning, and threatening language” they should’ve sent her to a social worker or the school psychologist (assuming they have either) instead of suspending her. What was that supposed to accomplish? If she really was a loose cannon, all this could’ve just sent her over the edge and then we’d have our next tragedy. SMDH

  • very tired

    This is exactly why kids go postal!! No one listens just re-acts!!!!! Im so sick of our society. We as adults just prove her poem right “a society of haters and blamers”. Where are the damn healers and changers!!!!! This childs views should have been assest before being kidded out of school. WE NEED TO START LISTENING to our youth, people!!! They are no longer trying to talk to us!!!! They are extremely screaming at us!!!!

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com/ Tonton Michel

    I applaud the young lady for her intelligence and honesty as well as her very mature ability to see past the surface and show empathy. She shows wisdom beyond her age. This was a teachable moment that the school fumbled the ball on. Suspension was way to harsh a simple discussion would have sufficed.

  • Barbara

    Not to derail but damn WTF are they feeding kids today? This teenager looks like a grown women with 2 kids at home.

  • http://VerityReign.com Verity Reign

    It’s unfortunate that she got suspended from an innocent comment, and I understand the quote from her poem and find it harmless. But just as she “understands” the murderer in CT, she has to also analyze why she was suspended and understand that too. The nation is now in a state of severe shock and paranoia and will take NO risks. School authorities don’t have time to figure out the intentions behind someone’s reference to the shooting; they have to react to all references and react immediately. I’m sure she’ll be permitted back to school and the whole thing will blow over. Hopefully it’ll be an example to others on just how sensitive the situation is though. I haven’t read the whole poem, but maybe if she would have provided some type of social context to it, explaining the negative results of people with unaddressed mental health and/or childhood trauma, etc, the consequence would have been less harsh. From the little quote provided, it could have been interpreted as a little too empathetic and sorrowful for the murderer as if he’s the victim. Even though he more than likely is a victim of something tragic, he’s still a murder–OF CHILDREN–and it makes our society uncomfortable to paint a murderer as a “victim”. Wish the best for her though!

  • http://theaaridan.tumblr.com TheMuseintheMirror

    Wow…what you just said says a lot about you…especially if that’s all you got from the story…smh

  • http://gravatar.com/missinformation7 Ms. Information

    I don’t know of one black woman doing this to a school…they need to watch the little white boys…not us…

  • mEE

    what did they hope suspending her would accomplish? if in fact she did harbor ill feelings and had plans to commit a violent act against her teacher and classmates, wouldn’t suspending her just increase her resentment?

    ::sigh:: I teach emotionally disturbed elementary school children and I was covering a class one day and a 9yo child wrote a poem called “The Rape Monster” in which he detailed raping someone and sucking their blood and “killing their soul”. I reported it to my administration and to his counselor but I was told unless he makes a specific, credible threat, these are just his feelings/thoughts and he can express them in whatever “safe” way he deems fit. THAT situation set off all kinds of warning bells in my head and there was no recourse. so I’m shocked that this girl got suspended for just saying she empathized with Lanza

  • nona

    Thanks for the thoughtful, derailing comment.

  • kaybee

    I don’t blame them for suspending her. Everyone is paranoid. She’s a writer and that’s beautiful..but your words can come with consequences.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sabrinaperk Sabrina Richmond Perkins

    It was an expression of creativity through words. It was poetry. Let it go.

  • MuffyCrosswire

    Hilarious! I thought the same thing. She looks about 40 years old!!

  • Fantastico

    @ mEE wow “The Rape Monster” story is really unsettling. Does the child show any other signs of fascination with rape and violence? Did you get to talk to their parents?

  • Damn

    And I’m sure if this was a white kid sympathizing with an animal who killed a bunch of black people, you’d be singing another tune. The amount of hatred some of you folks have for people who haven’t done shit to you is pathetic.

  • Keepitreal

    I’m beginning to wonder is there is any behavior that will NOT be defended by someone on this website.

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

    *applause*

    You get the “Totally Missed The Point” award for the day!

    Congratulations!

  • mEE

    yes he is a very violent child but that’s the case with many of the students in my school due to their disability. they have poor impulse control and low frustration tolerance. I didn’t speak to his parents because it wasn’t my student but his classroom teacher did and they were pretty indifferent.

  • apple

    maybe had they watched those white boys like they did her, they may have avoided all those mass shootings

  • http://gravatar.com/missinformation7 Ms. Information

    Yet, you keep coming back..lol…when keeping it real goes wrong.

  • http://gravatar.com/sweetnik sweetnik

    so “if” she is troubled, is suspending her and “making her look like a monster” the answer? you would think a teacher or counselor would sit down and talk with her to see where she is coming from. Especially if she has no violent history. Casting her out would only make her feel judged and hated. Hypothetically, if she was violent, that in itself could be motivation enough for her to come back to the school and take revenge.

  • Chelle

    No. Just as their are pros and cons to every situation, there will be someone who is for and against a certain behavior.

  • The Artist

    Exactly, they’re constantly making excuses. Had that boy been Black, he’d been incriminated a long time ago. Regardless of whether or not he had mental health issues.

    Ironically, this girl makes one outlandish statement and they are already incriminating her.

  • http://gravatar.com/ravsmith78 Ravi

    Not seeing how this is different from nearly every report on the shooter since this thing began. Everyone has been trying to understand the guy and his motivations. How is conjecturing on what causes a murderer to go off something bad? Seems to be a natural reaction to any tragedy. Understanding why people like this do the these terrible things is a way to reduce the probability that it will happen again. Understanding why people do crimes in no way increases the likelihood that a person will also commit a crime.

  • OH

    Every few years when a tragedy like this happens there are comments like these saying these white boys should be profiled. On the other hand, every single day in every predominately black neighborhood you have black boys terrorizing the community with gang violence, murder, drugs, and rape and yet when the police profile those boys there’s a problem.

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