Our View: I might be next

Apr 182007

At least, many people around the country think that’s the case every time something horrible happens somewhere.

And so, in a cold-sweaty panic, these alarmists would happily swear away their rights, freedoms and rationality in the name of safety. That’s how we got the Patriot Act. That’s why about half of Americans didn’t object to domestic wire-tapping.

And that’s why CU-Boulder psychology student Max Karson is in jail.

Karson allegedly said that he could imagine being angry enough to murder people. He pointed to the lights in the ceiling and unpainted walls as things that make him mad enough to kill.

Another student asked him if he was going to come in with a gun and off everyone on Thursday. His alleged response: “Maybe not this Thursday.”

Chilling, in light of Monday’s events and the media’s focus on looking for early warnings of ticking time bombs.

But consider the fact that Karson is a famous satirist, in some circles. He became embroiled in battles against his high school administration and won, with help from the ACLU. He battled CU’s administration, as well, after publishing articles in his self-published, hand-delivered newsletter that it deemed offensive. And again, he came out on top.

Karson’s musings often deal with serious topics through a warped, humorous lens. And maybe it wasn’t funny this time.

A CU police officer likened it to shouting “fire” in a movie theatre, where it’s liable to rouse panic and cause a dangerous stampede.

But Karson said what he said in a classroom setting, and some banter among classmates ensued. And what Karson did, we believe, is protected under the First Amendment as satire – criticism of the social tendency to believe that “I might be next.”

We won’t broach the topic of whether it was tasteful. But we will leave you with a quote from Benjamin Franklin:

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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