Student threats a serious matter

Posted Oct. 22, 2010, at 8:53 p.m.

A Hermon High School senior is alleging that his right to free speech was violated this week, when the school expelled him for writing and posting on the Internet an expletive-filled rap song that made reference to driving a Mack truck through the school and a desire to burn the school down.

Trevor Moore claims his rap song was meant to be funny. A satire, he said. The school blew the whole thing out of proportion, he said.

He didn’t really plan on unleashing any violence at the high school, he said.

At least one reader commenting on the story online informed readers that the Columbine school shooting happened 10 years ago. “Get over it,” the reader wrote.

Some may have forgotten and many teenagers may be too young to remember some of the cases of school violence that paralyzed parents with fear for the past 15 years.

Here’s a brief reminder of some of those events.

Feb. 2, 1996, in Moses Lake, Wash., 14-year-old Barry Loukaitis opened fire on his algebra class killing two students and one teacher.

Feb. 19, 1997, in Bethel, Alaska, a principal and one student killed and two others wounded by 16-year-old Evan Ramsey.

Oct. 1, 1997, in Pearl, Miss., two students killed and seven wounded by 16-year-old Luke Woodham.

Dec. 1, 1997, in West Paducah, Ky., three students killed and five wounded by 14-year-old Michael Carneal.

Dec. 15, 1997, in Stamps Ark., two students wounded in the school parking lot by a fellow 14-year-old student.

March 24, 1998, in Jonesboro Ark., four students and one teacher killed, 10 others wounded by 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson and 11-year-old Andrew Golden.

April 24, 1998, in Edinboro, Pa., one teacher killed and two students wounded at a high school dance by 14-year-old Andrew Wurst.

May 19, 1998, in Fayetteville, Tenn., one student killed in the school parking lot by 18-year-old honor student Jacob Davis.

May 21, 1998, in Springfield, Ore., two students killed, 22 others wounded by 15-year-old Kip Kinkel.

June 15, 1998, in Richmond, Va., one teacher and one guidance counselor wounded by a 14-year-old boy in the school hallway.

April 20, 1999, Littleton, Colo., 14 students and one teacher killed, 23 others wounded at Columbine High School by 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold.

May 20, 1999, in Conyers, Ga., six students injured at Heritage High School by 15-year-old Thomas Solomon.

Nov. 19, 1999, in Deming, N.M., 13-year-old Araceli Tena was killed in the lobby of Deming Middle School by 12-year-old Victor Cordova Jr.

Dec. 6, 1999, in Fort Gibson, Okla., four students wounded when 13-year-old Seth Trickey opened fire with a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun at Fort Gibson Middle School.

Feb. 29, 2000, in Mount Morris Township, Mich., 6-year-old Kayla Rolland shot dead at Buell Elementary School by a 6-year-old classmate.

March 10, 2000, in Savannah, Ga., two students killed by 19-year-old Darrell Ingram while leaving a high school dance.

May 26, 2000, in Lake Worth, Fla., one teacher shot and killed at Lake Worth Middle School by 13-year-old Nate Brazill.

Sept. 26, 2000, in New Orleans, La., two students wounded with a gun during a fight at Woodson Middle School.

Jan. 17, 2001, in Baltimore, Md., one student shot and killed in front of Lake Clifton Eastern High School.

March 5, 2001, in Santee, Calif., two students killed, 13 wounded by 15-year-old Charles Andrew William at Santana High School.

March 30, 2001, in Gary Ind., one student was killed by a 17-year-old student who had been expelled from Lew Wallace High School.

Nov. 12, 2001, 17-year-old Chris Buschbacher took two hostages at Caro Learning Center before killing himself.

April 14, 2003, in New Orleans, La., one 15-year-old student killed, three students wounded by gunfire from four teenage students.

April 24, 2003, at Red Lion, Pa., Junior High School Principal Eugene Segro was killed by 14-year-old James Sheets who then killed himself.

Sept. 24, 2003, in Cold Spring, Minn., two students killed at Rocori High School by John Jason McLaughlin, 15.

March 21, 2005, in Red Lake Minn., 16-year-old Jeff Weise killed his grandfather and a companion, arrived at school and killed a teacher, a security guard and five students.

Nov. 8, 2005, in Jacksboro Tenn., an assistant principal at Campbell County High School was killed, two other school administrators seriously wounded by a 15-year-old student.

Sept. 29, 2006, in Cazenovia, Wis., a 15-year-old student shot and killed Weston School Principal John Klang.

Jan. 3, 2007, in Tacoma, Wash., a 17-year-old student shot and killed in the hallway of Henry Foss High School by 18-year-old Douglas Chanthabouly.

Oct. 10, 2007, in Cleveland, Ohio, a 14-year-old student shot and injured two students and two teachers before he shot and killed himself.

Feb. 11, 2008, Memphis, Tenn., a 17-year-old student at Mitchell High School shot and wounded a classmate in gym class.

Feb. 12, 2008, Oxnard, Calif., a 14-year-old boy shot a student at E.O. Green Junior High School. The 15-year-old victim was left brain dead.

Nov. 12, 2008, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a 15-year-old girl was shot and killed by a classmate at Dillard High School.

Does Trevor Moore deserve to be expelled? Maybe not.

Should he be allowed to finish his senior year and graduate? Perhaps.

He reportedly has apologized and tried to provide assurances that he has no plans to hurt anyone at the school.

That’s a very good start and something the school should take into consideration.

But perhaps rather than whine about his right to say what he wants, when he wants to whomever he wants, Trevor Moore might be better served to humbly admit he made an error and used bad judgment.

That maybe he has learned a lesson that words do matter and that parents and school administrators have not just a right but an expectation to take threats — real or perceived — against students and faculty seriously.

If school administrators can be assured that Moore poses no real threat to the students or faculty at Hermon High School then maybe they should consider reinstating him.

But Moore should be willing to use this as perhaps the most important lesson of his senior year and pass that lesson on to others — perhaps someday his own children.

This whole mess has little to do with free speech, but it can be used for a lesson in humility, dignity and responsibility.

The list above is long and sad and frightening and not something easily gotten over.

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