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.”