MySpace Saves Lives—and SMITH Digs Up Poetic Dirt

April 21st, 2006 by Alex

No, seriously.

If you haven’t heard yet, authorities in Kansas say they’ve foiled a plan for a Columbine-style school shooting—because of MySpace. Apparently one of the five teenagers planning the attack posted about it on MySpace, and discussed it with a woman living in North Carolina, who let police know.

After the jump, read a poem written by one of the people I believe has been arrested in the case.

A spokesperson for the Kansas State Attorney General’s office wouldn’t confirm the identity of anyone currently under arrest for allegedly planning the shooting, but I have one name from multiple sources. I found this poem, which discusses his feelings about being a class clown and getting in “a few quarrels” in high school, on what I believe is his MySpace account. Here’s the poem, with names redacted.

“”[Name redacted] had always been the class clown
You’d hardly see that kid frown

He always had the need to go fast
You always knew the golden bullet that flew past

He was always up for a race
He may go into that for profession [sic] as long as he can keep his pace

Through his high school years he had a few quarrels
He and friends can be remembered acting like squirrels

Even though he lived in a big house
In the morning he never liked to rouse

He wasn’t involved with FFA
A farm boy he is he always did say

Fat Kid [name redacted] would call
You could hear [name redacted] and him ka kaw in the hall

He was always went (sic) to rock concerts because they are the shiznit
Usually he could be found holding his own in the middle of a mash (sic) pit

He plans on raising dogs as his career
Reason is racking (sic) in 70 k a year

He wishes to restore old cars with his money
And just maybe spend some on his honey”

I’ve been talking with crimeblogger Steve Huff about all this, and in an email he said something I thought was interesting: “These teens are rarely as squirrelly as they think, and I know for a fact that the fascinating element in the MySpace wrinkle is that they are almost delusional in their belief that it’s just between them, even when only 15 and unders can have locked profiles. They have the nerve to be insulted when guys like you or me or anyone in the press/blogosphere works from ‘evidence’ found on their site. Can’t get it through their heads that this isn’t just them chatting with friends. It’s bizarre.”

Regular readers of this blog will know I do this sort of reporting on legal cases through MySpace a fair amount, and I’ll admit to sometimes feeling more than a twinge of guilt: these kids didn’t know that one day the entire world would be reading what they said, and I’m the one putting it out there. It’s an interesting question—everyone posting to any public Internet site should of course think very carefully about what they write, as you ultimately may be held to it. But is this kind of thing too personal an intrusion? Do we owe it to kids like this not to publish the things they’ve made so public because they may not have fully thought through the consequences? I’m not sure. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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