Be careful today when you seek a scapegoat. I remember being in school during the first of these school shootings, Columbine, and I remember being brought before a tribunal of sorts with the school administration and almost being expelled and arrested simply because I was different and it scared them. There’s nothing worse than being told your life could be over before it begins and knowing that if you had been permitted, you could have rationally explained yourself. Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I’m not identifying with any shooters, just the innocent freethinking people caught in the witch hunt that always follows. I’m sure there are still some of you that remember The Inner Circle newsletter fiasco…
I wish I had a personal recorder back then. My high school’s principal, Mr. Washington, actually said to me in the presence of the school resource officer and one other person on his office staff, “Why do you listen to Marilyn Manson? You know he’s a f*ggot, right?” I knew right then, nothing I said would ever make a difference.
I definitely had a unique perspective going through school. By simply being myself, I stripped myself of any credibility in the eyes of the authorities, who made me out to be little more than a rabble-rouser. I think because of that, they figured they could get away with what ever they wanted around me and in regards to my basic rights. If only I had a hidden camera or microphone, so many people would have lost their jobs. We forget that these almighty figureheads of education in our children’s lives are mere humans like the rest of us, complete with their own personal set of flaws. To think they are a fair, level-headed bastion of nobility to stand as examples for your children is delusional.
The newsletter in middle school, “HackZ ,” was Weston’s baby. I just lent my assistance to it. That was almost worse, because the school resource officer there was in the bomb squad and thought the instructions to build obsolete hardware to steal phone calls from payphones were bomb plans. They definitely called everyone who received the newsletter in high school down to the office for a little scared straight session. I heard all about it afterwards. Also, don’t forget that even though there were four of us making the newsletter in high school, “The Inner Circle,” they still singled me out. You wouldn’t believe the things they said to my three friends and their parent about me. It was an all out attack on my character and worth as a human being. Ask Kenny, he knows exactly what I’m talking about.
After Columbine, I was ordered to go through both the school’s therapist for “analysis” and a private psychologist. Also, every time a bomb threat was called in, which I remember was more than once a week for a while there, the school resource officer or an administrator would come and “collect” me from my class.
There was indeed a so-called “Fred List” at Chamberlain, at least after the Inner Circle incident. To my knowledge, it only existed after April 21st of that year, but I can only imagine it was probably a common practice among that school’s administration staff prior to then as well. The four of us involved were on it, as was Weston for sure. The Inner Circle event may have been my worst experience with the office staff my freshman year, but it indeed was not my first. It happened towards the end of the year if I remember correctly. At the end of the tribunal, they pretty much told all of our parents that rather than risk the bad rep for Chamberlain the day after Columbine, they’d keep the whole thing under wraps and give us work detail for the summer. If you look up any of our four school records, it will say on that day “Other Major Incident – Days Suspended: 0.” Kind of odd that a major incident not commonly listed on their forms is worthy of note but not worthy of punishment, don’t you think?
Remember those “Student Handbooks” everyone got at the beginning of the year? You weren’t the only ones who got one. There were also assorted handbooks for different types of teachers and staff, including a rather thick red covered one for the administration. One day, while using my TV Productions pass to roam the halls for no reason, I waltzed into the main office and noticed a large cardboard box on the front counter that had been opened. Inside were copies of this large red handbook for the principal and each of the assistant principals. Someone didn’t get their copy… I actually had that plus a few of the different teacher’s editions. So I knew what it meant when those random announcements were made over the intercom saying “There’s an electrical problem in such and such” or any of the other ones. I hope that the friend I have holding onto the book has kept it safe all these years.
I haven’t even begun yet on the racial issues at that school. So far, all my problems have been because I was an intelligent freethinking person who didn’t buy their bullcrap. Even my black friends in school would admit that Mr. Washington and Mr. Smith gave preferential treatment to black students. It was especially true for Mr. Smith when it came to the black girls if you catch my drift. When I was in TV Productions, I made a gag reel out of outtakes from an address of Mr. Washington’s I had to film for the school closed-circuit TV show. The dude could not pronounce words properly and didn’t even know what some of them were. It took some effort to get that tape off school grounds, because the teacher was hell-bent on having it erased. I also have a tape in storage from an interview I did with a student in ROTC who had to wear his full camo uniform during the clip, so I came to school that day wearing an old German police jacket that I wore through the whole thing.
The one thing that I suspected that was finally confirmed by attending Chamberlain was that you cannot trust authority figures and take everything with a grain of salt and a healthy dose of skepticism. If there’s a more corrupt high school than the one I attended, I feel extremely sorry for any student not willing to conform and be a robot. And you wonder why some of our classmates have grown up to be rapists, murderers and bank robbers… Go Chamberlain!