Courtni Webb, a high school senior at the Life Learning Academy in California, was suspended after a teacher discovered a personal poem she had written partially in response to the Sandy Hook School shooting and the shooter Adam Lanza.
Amidst a lot of other typical teen poetry fodder, 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.
A teacher came across the poem in a notebook and, upon reading the references to Lanza and Newtown, CT, alerted school officials who immediately suspended Webb for violating Life Learning Academy's zero tolerance towards violence policy. Never mind that Webb threatened violence against absolutely nobody.
"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."
Her mother adds, "She wasn't threatening herself, you know, she didn't threaten the school, she didn't threaten anybody."
School administrators have stated that Webb was suspended for producing writing that "contained deeply concerning, and threatening language related to the recent school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut," but, if the poem that she has shown the press is indeed the poem that she was punished over, it seems more likely that she was suspended for daring to show empathy and understanding in a complex issue that American society would like to make a matter of black and white, of good and evil.
Like with the case earlier last week in which a teen in New Jersey was arrested and put in juvie for doodling what appeared to be a gun on a piece of notebook paper, school officials have once again taken the hard line (suspension and possible expulsion) as opposed to taking the time to talk to Webb about her relatively harmless poem — a poem that's probably been written in similar variations by teenagers across the country — or consider that artistic expression is a way to exorcize dark thoughts and is not necessarily indicative of a person's real life actions. Countless writers and visual artists have expressed violent or dark sentiments. Very few have carried them out.