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More on the Kentucky Fried Zombies

In an earlier post, I wrote about the case of William Poole, an 18-year-old Kentucky high school student who was arrested for writing what he called a “zombie story” that police believed threatened his high school and its students.

The situation sent the blogosphere into overdrive, where people were calling Kentucky authorities every name in the book becuase they were stupidly cramping a student’s creativity by over-reacting. These same people, who were so quick to condemn the police for jumping to conclusions (while they themselves jumped to the conclusion that the student couldn’t have been making any real threats), likely won’t be mentioing this development.

On the other hand, I believe in hearing both sides of the story. So I direct you to a recent article in the Lexington Herald-Leader, which includes testimony from Winchester police Detective Steven Caudill, that Poole’s story not only wasn’t about “brain-eating dead folks,” (the word “zombie” never appeared in the story) but rather contained “evidence that he had tried to solicit seven fellow students to join him in a military organization called ‘No Limited Soldiers.'”

The writings, according to Caudill, describe a bloody shootout in “Zone 2,” the designation given to Clark County. Caudill also stated that the student “corresponded with someone in Barbourville who claimed to have acquired cash and guns in break-ins.”

In the spirit of maintaining both sides of the story, I am the first to acknowledge that it is entirely possible that Poole never intended to hurt anyone and was merely exercising creative freedom on paper. Until he is convicted of anything, we must assume that this is the case. I have yet to see Poole’s story published anywhere online; even so, someone not connected to the school or that specific area could easily miss “clues” that locals would read very differently.

But after this new information that has been largely ignored by the bloggers who seem more interested in crucifying local police and the student’s grandparents who turned him in, one has to wonder what they would have said if nothing had been done, and — hypothetically — an attack had subsequently occurred. Would these same finger pointers have been standing behind police, defending their lack of action that might have prevented the potential tragic outcome because they didn’t step in and thereby stifle anyone’s creative endeavors?

Somehow, I doubt it.

2 Comments

  1. James, I quite agree that a fiction story should not be the “starter” for a criminal action. One would assume that the First Amendment would protect the writers of fiction from such prosecution.

    Unfortunately, in a state or municipality in which such a law exists, the best a student can do is to make sure that his fiction is clearly non-threatening. It is quite possible that this law will eventually be struck down as being unconstitutional; it seems like it should be. But for now, the law is what it is; those who disobey it, until it is off the books, are opening themselves up to apparently severe penalties.

    Since we don’t have the full text of the story itself, it is possible that the story outlines the other, seemingly more serious charges in enough detail that the story itself is considered “threatening.” It will be interesting to see how a jury decides this…and it will be even more interesting to see how Kentucky’s literary community takes action against the law itself.

  2. Having written my share of violent stories featuring myself, friends and other real elements (like my school) when I was a kid, I can still say there’s an overreaction going on here. Writing a story is not a crime, nor should it be, regardless of the content of that story. Soliciting and/or obtaining weapons? That is a crime, and ought to be pursued by police, but the story? That’s a non-starter.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.