Various & Sundry

Educator placed on leave after writing sci-fi novel depicting a school shooting

CAMBRIDGE, MA — Just in time for the celebration of Banned Book Week an author in Massachusetts is finding himself at the very center of a major issue regarding the publishing of his works.

Patrick McLaw teaches language arts to 8th graders and is a published author. The teacher is being subjected to some very questionable treatment from employer and authorities after word got out that he had written a work of fiction under a pen name (which the police continue to refer to as “an alias”). The Insurrectionist, written prior to to his being hired at Mace’s Lane Middle School, is the work in which the author depicts a massive school shootings set 900 years in the future.

Since the discovery was made he has been placed on administrative leave and “taken in for an emergency medical evaluation”. The school was searched for bombs and guns before the teacher was placed on leave. In addition to this, McLaw’s home was raided and searched.

Reports have been updated to reflect that McLaw is not being held due to the novels he has written but instead because of a four page letter that came to the attention of the authorities that gave the impression that he was not “mentally sound”.

Matthew A. Maciarello, the state’s attorney for Wicomico County, Md. states in a comment to The Atlantic, “The books are a factor,” he said. “You cannot consider the total picture without knowing that he had this book, this other writing. This was very concerning to the administrators. It’s 2014 — you can’t have a person who has mental issues, someone who’s complaining about his mother, complaining about teachers — it’s all taken into totality. It was a very restrained response, actually. We didn’t freak-out because of the books. The main impetus was the four-page letter. It was just out there, you know, it wasn’t something you give to your employer. To quote our health officer, it was a cry for help.”

Additionally, he said that because McLaw also had “Columbine material” in his home helped their decision to act so severely. Despite that this material could have been simple research for his books the attorney went on to say, “You can’t just dismiss every little thing in a situation like this, in 2014.”

What are your thoughts on this? Is law enforcement overreacting? 
Should we now assume that everyone has the potential to embark on a
school/facility shooting if they are not "mentally sound"? 

Tell me your thoughts in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Educator placed on leave after writing sci-fi novel depicting a school shooting

  1. Hmm… hard to say without having read either the book or the letter. If it was just the book, I might think it was an over-reaction, but if the letter is worrying then I’m afraid I side with the authorities. Probably better that he loses some work time (presumably he’s still being paid) than that kids are put in potential danger. Wouldn’t want my (hypothetical) kid in a classroom with someone the authorites had concerns about. I can imagine the media and public hysteria if they did nothing and it all went terribly wrong…


    1. I’m torn since I don’t know what the letter contains. It was just so hyped that he was placed on leave after they discovered the publication of the books and then the letter appears almost as an afterthought. Curious, to say the least. Hoping there will be more information released on the matter.



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