baberaham lincoln (bessiemaemucho) wrote in collectivewords,
baberaham lincoln

Current Terror Alert Level: ZOMBIE

By popular demand (the demand of _meshandlace, who is popular), here's my Backpage column from the B&S this month. It's about zombies! And I stole the title from Madonna! (_meshandlace-Madonna, not Like-A-Prayer-Madonna.)

Current Terror Alert Level: ZOMBIE

Imagine a world where a student could be arrested for a story he wrote in his journal. Let us imagine his story was considered a “terrorist threat.” And, for kicks, let’s say his story was about zombies.
Let us call this world “Kentucky.”

On February 24th, 18-year-old William Poole, of Winchester, Kentucky, was arrested and jailed on a $5000 bail for “making terrorist threats.” Winchester police detective Steven Caudill said, ”Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it’s a felony in the state of Kentucky.”
Letting the bizarre phrasing slide (“matter involving a school or function”? What the hell does that mean?), it sounds reasonable. Theatening schools is bad. Right.

Poole, however, maintains that his “threat” was actually “a fake story. I made it up. I’ve been working on one of my short stories, [and] the short story they found was about zombies. Yes, it did say a high school. It was about a high school over ran by zombies.”

I have been disappointingly unable to find many details about this case, which I’ve been following with interest because I enjoy both free speech and zombies, so I can’t tell you if this kid had a previous record of violence, if the school has had previous problems with zombie attacks, or if he’s even still in jail.

I can tell you that he claims the story doesn’t involve any real people, the real town, or the school. I can tell you that the guy’s grandparents found his journal and turned him into the police, which in my uninformed opinion, seems like a really shitty thing to do. (“Geeze, Grandpa, I’m sorry I didn’t give you anything for your birthday, but did you really have to turn my zombie story into the police?” “It’s the only way you’ll learn, Johnny.” “My name is William!”)

I’m hoping that this story has been mistold, I’m hoping that this kid actually threatened his school, I’m hoping that this kid actually has raised an army of the undead to attack his school, because those two alternatives, as bad as they are, strike me as far superior to the criminalization of fiction.
I’m also hoping that Iowa law differs from Kentucky law, since, if memory serves me correctly, this very publication recently featured a story about zombies overrunning Grinnell. If anyone needs me for the next several weeks, I’ll be in Canada. Summoning a protective zombie army. (Unfortunately, they’ll be Canadian zombies, so they probably won’t be much good in a fight with the police.)

Renowned zombie novelist Brian Keene (by which I mean he writes novels about zombies, not that he’s a zombie who writes novels) commented on the story in his blog, saying, “From now on, all fictional stories must take place on an asteroid called X. X is devoid of life, except for your protagonist. You can have no antagonist, no conflict, no violence, no weapons, no danger, no threats, no events, no functions...

...and especially no zombies.
At least, not in Kentucky.

I’m logging off now. Need to revise [his novel] Earthworm Gods. I’m turning it into an 85,000 word novel about an old man, sitting at his kitchen table and watching the rain. Nothing else happens. Just an old man. And rain.”

So basically, if society doesn’t stop freaking out all the damn time, we’re looking at a future of nothing but Hemingway with all the good bits cut out. A scarier future than zombie attack by half, I’d say.

Initial William Poole story:
Brian Keene’s blog:

Some Things That Are
Scarier than

- Vampires
- The Patriot Act
- Mel Gibson
- Your mom
- The number of times I’ve watched the movie Josie and the Pussycats
- Zombies, but like, super zombies that could fly and stuff
- Posh Spice, who is actually seven times scarier than “Scary Spice”
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