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Home > World

America: The future is jumpsuit orange

14 March 2005

'They stood at the yard carrying bags full of weapons and tools. They yelled kill them. All of soldiers of zone two started shooting. They are dropping every one of them. After five minutes all the people were laying on the ground dead.'

If the above excerpt from an 18-year-old American high school student's short story about zombie mayhem had ever made it into the hands of a diligent Kentuckian English teacher, it would be positively chipper with censorious red ink. But it didn't. And the key-word here is 'American'. They read things differently there. This is the country remember, where the film title 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' was deemed prohibitively highbrow. So perhaps it isn't surprising that William Poole's juvenile fiction has been taken rather more seriously than it oughta.

It all began three weeks ago, when William Poole's grandmother was nosing around her grandson's room. Suddenly she happened upon the boy's personal journal and in a moment of surprised panic, read it cover to cover. So shaken was she by what she read and so loyal to her own flesh and blood that she immediately called the police. The police were equally shaken. And rightly so, for described in William Poole's journal were a sinister gang called the Brotherhood of the No Limited Soldiers. (We think he probably meant Unlimited, as in Soldiers Without Limits. But we're nit-picking.) The NLS are a large terrorific organisation spanning three states. They hold bizarre, loyalty-testing initiation ceremonies, and use sinister nicknames like 'Nappy Boy'. At one stage they take over an unnamed high school in Poole's Clark County. It's terrifying stuff all right Poole himself claims the journal is fiction - stories about zombies he was writing for high school. His high school teachers on the other hand, say they asked him to write no such thing.

Detective Steven Caudill smells a threat. On February 22nd William Poole was arrested and charged with 'terroristic threatening', narrowly escaping another count of 'aggravated terroristicism'. As his grandmother has refused to post the bail, Poole has been in jail ever since.

Sadly, as the whole world knows, when America takes coke, England gets a nosebleed. At the time of writing, Tony Blair has just rejected the idea of a 'sunset clause' in his brand new human-rights-friendly Prevention of Terrorism Bill. This clause would limit the powers of the legislation to just one year. That, says Blair, would be sending the wrong message to the evil-doers. Read his lips. And to anyone who doubts the wisdom of a law which will enable police to take away just about everything but the soul from anyone who is deemed - by a judge - to arouse 'reasonable suspicion' of actions, words or gestures with a terroresque motif, Blair says simply that this is a 'time to be strong'. Oh. Right-o. Apparently, if the Prevention of Terrorism Bill is defeated, the old emergency measures - the post-TTEOSE ones which are due to expire on Monday - the ones which were recently deemed to contravene human rights laws - well, they'll just be extended for a while, till Blair gets his own way again.

Meanwhile back in Kentucky, District Court Judge Brandy O. Brown was so totally awash with reasonable suspicion that the writings of William Poole betrayed unpatriotic intentions, that she sent the case to the Clark County Grand Jury. William Poole is still in jail.

Of course it is perfectly possible that Poole was in fact just days away from creating his own Columbine when he was arrested. We can't judge what terrifying giveaways lay hidden in his juvenile zombie fantasy because we haven't read the entire story. We can't read the entire story because Brandy O. Brown has ordered the document sealed. However, if it were the case that foul deeds were only days away, determining the salient facts and foiling those foul deeds would surely not take long. Judging by the sophistication of the journal extract above, William Poole is no master-criminal. There would therefore, be evidence. It wouldn't be hard. Jack Bauer could probably crack the case in less than a minute. And yet - we feel this bears repeating - William Poole has been in prison since February 22nd.

Surely the point here is that even if Poole had written a sickening bloodbath of a tale in which a character called William Poole single-handedly destroys America one picket fence at a time, then *so* *fucking* *what*?

It's a free country.

Coming Soon, Control Orders

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