Free Speech? Robert Sheridan FawCawnahs email@example.com
Coincidentally I've been asked by the parents of a 17-year-old who is in custody for breaking their mirror in a fit of rage (they called the police seeking to help their son), to get him released now, five months later. He admitted breaking the mirror, being enraged, and using drugs. But he's being held indefinitely, until up to age 19,according to his probation officer, because his writings (which I haven't yet seen, being new in the case) show him to be a "devil worshiper."
I don't quite know what that means, to be a devil worshiper.
It strikes me as being something a kid would do to get the adults' goat, the way kids will do to show how independent they are, as in "you may think you can control my conduct but you can't control my thoughts."
The P.O. thinks the kid may be the next Columbine waiting to happen. No evidence of weapons in the picture, however. So official suspicion can approach paranoia if there isn't the evidence to back it up.
By a stretched analogy, my youthful throwing of snowballs from the Moravian Churchyard in FawCawnahs at the buses chugging up the Victory Blvd. hill, could be seen as an attempt to destroy a bus and everyone in it. That wasn't the intent, but I suppose if I'd hit the driver thru his open window, that could have been the result. Funny how we used to aim at that open window!
I can picture myself in a future court hearing trying to argue either that my client wasn't really a devil worshiper, or has renounced it, or if he still was, he has a First Amendment right to worship anything he wants and you can't keep him in jail for that, can you.
I suppose I could ask what it means, exactly, to be a "devil worshiper" as understood by the P.O. Like, suppose he does believe in a devil, what does that inevitably produce by way of conduct?
Are we talking taste in music and bands? The young man is a rock musician and I'm not hip to the punk-type rock scene.
"That was just a phase," he explains. A phase or some bedrock aspect of his existence, as the P.O. seems to believe?
Once a devil worshiper always a devil worshiper? Is that the way it works? Or can a kid outgrow what might have been truly a phase, as he says he has done.
The kid, who is bright and articulate, has dug himself into a deep hole because of unsympathetic things he's said and written (and done, playing the punk to the hilt).
I've suggested he try to write himself out of the hole he's dug to see if anyone buys it, such as the judge, the P.O., and the court appointed shrink who says there's really nothing wrong with the kid except he likes drugs and not getting along with his parents. They're both hard working (supervisor nurse and airframe mechanic) who've successfully raised other, normal kids who are married and have families of their own. Kid says he's ready to foreswear the dope and get along with his parents, but who'll believe him.
Just to make the problem a little more interesting, the P.O. thinks the kid makes light of his previous conduct and is manipulative. So anything he says, viewed this way, is seen as insincere, made up just for the purpose of getting out.
The kid is very well behaved in custody. This also is seen as an "act," to disarm his keepers. So even when the kid does what the authorities want, it's read as fake.
If the kid just had a problem with drugs and violent outbursts he'd have wound up in a residential treatment program and be out after a reasonable time. Being a devil worshiper implies he wants to destroy the world, so they're keeping him as long as they can.
Somehow this reminds me of the kind of court they had in olden days where the accusation was not believing the correct doctrine. Heresy, they called the charge. Inquisition, they called the court process.
Am I representing a 17-year-old (violent, dope using, punk) heretic called before the Inquisition?
I've represented people I've thought were hauled before the Witch-Court in Salem, 300 years ago, but this will be my first experience before the Inquisition.
A couple of sayings also come to mind:
"The more things change the more they remain the same."
"The only new thing under the sun is the history that you don't know."
Who said the latter?
Thought you'd like that.
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