When did sharing intellectual property become criminal?

Graphic by Parker Knight, "Family 1353" under Creative Commons

girl graphic by Parker Knight, “Family 1353” under Creative Commons

About a month ago, I came out with the synopsis of my  next novel, a YA science fiction with time travel, entitled I Was, Am, Will Be Alice.  Here’s the synopsis:

After narrowly escaping death in a school shooting, 9 year old Alice Carroll realizes she can time travel when under extreme stress, a situation she is determined to learn to control in order to go back to that day and save the lives of her teacher and classmates and discover the identity of the woman who sacrificed her life so Alice could live.

This week I was horrified to learn of a middle school teacher in Maryland who was put on administrative leave and taken in for an emergency medical evaluation after officials learned he wrote a sci fi about a future school shooting. As you can imagine, my thoughts turned to my Alice book and the repercussions I might suffer should I go ahead and publish it.

[Tweet “What repercussions might I suffer if I #publish my book about a #school shooting?”]

Try as I might, I cannot wrap my head around this. Maybe it’s because McLaw’s shooting takes place in the future? Maybe it’s because an ungodly number of people are killed? Maybe it’s because, given gun laws in the U.S., McLaw’s story is plausible and people are scared?

Granted, Alice differs in that it takes place in the present, the shooting is in the past, and Canada has fewer incidences of school shootings than the U.S. due to it’s more stringent gun control, but it doesn’t make us any less scared of the possibility of something like this happening.

As a teacher, I’ve been flirted with, felt physically threatened, been subjected to bullying from my students, told I’d be better off dead, called the “C” word, and the “B” word and worse, had students bring concealed pocket knifes and BB-guns to class (thankfully, both remained concealed) and heard tell of students going on to commit nefarious acts both outside of school hours and after graduation. That doesn’t even take into account similar (and sometimes worse) offences and assaults I’ve heard from my peers. Quite frankly, I’m scared.

Writing empowers me. If through my writing I can identify with a character that has went through the amalgam of my fears and learned to conquer them, more power to me. But now I am left worrying if the school officials won’t agree and what the consequences may be.

[Tweet “I identify with a character that has experienced the amalgam of my fears and lived to tell”]

I want to go on record stating that the school shooting in Alice comes from a place of wanting to conquer my fears (much like the characters in the novel). In the book I totally identify with Alice and not Dodgson who is an amalgam of the students who have caused concern over the years. I will press on with the proofing and publishing of this novel because I think it’s my best work to date. I’m hoping McLaw will prevail, unless there’s something we aren’t being told about his situation that actually warrants this 1984-style breach of what are McLaw’s basic human rights. Hopefully by then, sharing the fruits of my intellectual property won’t be subject to similar scrutiny.

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