Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Update on Patrick McLaw

More details are coming out about Patrick McLaw, the author of two books about school shootings who was removed from his teaching job last week. It now seems that Mr. McLaw was removed because of a number of issues, mostly centered around a letter he sent to a school official that was described as "suicidal". From there authorities performed a limited search of Mr. McLaw's home, which he consented to, and found a model of a school building and some more material they deemed worrying. Currently Mr. McLaw is not under arrest, although no one can reveal where he is or whether he's permitted to leave, citing HIPAA.

I'm a bit torn on this one. On one hand, the school seems a bit more justified in wanting Mr. McLaw vetted, and there's no indication as of yet that he's being held against his will or treated badly. Also, the State's Attorney claims that everyone knew Mr. McLaw had authored his books back in 2012, which is heartening; if true, it would tend to rule out the idea that Mr. McLaw is being persecuted for writing fiction.

On the other hand, if this is all above board then the details of the investigation were released/leaked in the worst possible order for the school and the officials involved. And I'd note that Mr. McLaw has no recorded history of violence, certainly nothing that's been reported, and he's an upstanding and well-liked teacher. That he's been "disappeared" is troubling, though it's likely his family knows where he is and, if he actually needs the help, it's far better that he have his privacy than not.

The official narrative is that Patrick McLaw is cooperating with authorities while they do due diligence on a bunch of minor but troubling incidents. No one's accused Mr. McLaw of being an actual threat up to now, thankfully, and there isn't much evidence that anything illegal or abusive is being covered up by authorities. I still think it's likely the risk posed by Mr. McLaw is being overestimated, but as heavy-handed tactics go we've seen a hell of a lot worse in the past few weeks.

I'm going to keep an eye on this and see how it develops. There are a few petitions on to the school superintendent and the county sheriff, if you feel like signing them; otherwise there doesn't seem to be much that needs doing. I do hope everything turns out well, for Patrick McLaw and everyone else involved.


Kleinzeit said...

There's one other thing about this that troubles me.

We keep hearing that "the State's Attorney claims that everyone knew Mr. McLaw had authored his books back in 2012." Their point, of course, is that what they are responding to has nothing to do with that - it's all about other things that have happened since.

But ask yourself this. Why on earth would "everyone" - by which, I presume, is meant the State's Attorney, the police, etc. - have know about a young, early-career teacher's books?

Doesn't this disavowal in fact demonstrate that the book have, indeed, been considered at some point as a matter of police interest? Doesn't this demonstrate that McLaw has been on their radar ever since?

David said...

The books are absolutely considered a matter of police interest, in aggregate with the letter and whatever was found in Mr. McLaw's home. That much has been admitted. Whether they were of interest in 2012, or on their own, is a very good question.

I assumed the "everyone" the State's Attorney referred to meant the staff at Mr. McLaw's school. I'd be baffled if law enforcement knew about it, and I'd be interested to know why.

Unknown said...

The implication of "everyone knew about" (the books) is that they are irrelevant, and yet the authorities have purposefully focussed on the in their relations with the media. Also, by spreading his name and photo around the local schools they have effectively destroyed his reputation and career.

If, as seems likely, he is being held in a psychiatric unit against his will (the ominous "somewhere he cannot leave") then surely American law allows for him to have representation? If he is depressed, as is now being inferred, the knowledge that he has such a huge amount of support can only do good in which case why no statement? If this is not judged to be so, surely his representative would be able to come forward if only to ask people to lay off for a while?

I am sure there is much that is sub rosa about this but as you so rightly said it has been handled abominably. A successful career has been ruined by publicly conflating with the stigma of mental illness and the perceived likelihood of being a threat to children, two things no one can ever adequately defend themselves from.