Due to the Littleton massacre, government schools are aggressively prosecuting students for “Inducing Panic.” Bomb threats, false fire alarms, and threats of violence now lead to jail time rather than detention. On Wednesday, the government sentenced a 12-year-old Ohio student to at least six months in a juvenile jail for telling a friend at school that he wanted to blow up a teacher’s house and car.According to an OhioÂ press release the charge of Inducing Panic states in part, “No person shall cause the evacuation of any public place, or otherwise cause serious public inconvenience or alarm by doing any of the following: Initiating or circulating a report or warning of an alleged or impending fire, explosion, crime, or other catastrophe, knowing that such report or warning is false.” Inducing Panic is a misdemeanor of the first degree. If the violation results in physical harm to any person, inducing panic is a felony of theÂ fourth degree.
The judge in the 12-year-old’s case said that volatile statements against a school, teacher, or administrator are considered a threat to the community. Since students now actually have killed teachers and tried to bomb schools, we are not surprised by the judge’s opinion though the sentence seems a bit harsh since there was no mention that the student actually had the weapons to act upon his threat.
Government schools are stretching the concept of “inducing panic.” We understand the panic caused byÂ phoned-in bomb threats orÂ pepper spray pranks. However, pulling a fire alarm is much different from an overheard threat to bomb a teacher’s home that did not even result in a school evacuation. It seems some local judges are trying to make it more of a crime to threaten a government employee rather than a plain civilian.
Government school employees and judges are understandably more concerned about witnessing the next school massacre but that does not make it right to imprison 12-year-olds for making idle threats. The 12-year-old’s punishment is actually an extension of the government’s zero tolerance policy. Zero tolerance fails to realize that 17-year-olds with pocket-knives and outspoken 12-year-olds are not an actual threat to society.
Many students are making fake and real threats because they are forced to attend government schools. When a 12-year-old dislikes the staff at a pizza place, he goes down the street to another restaurant. Unfortunately, due to mandatory schooling and a lack ofÂ school choice, he cannot simply stop going to school or at the very least choose another school. After days and days of taking it on the chin from annoying teachers, it is not surprising that some students begin to think aboutrevenge.
Even in a libertarian society, inducing panic would be a crime. Libertarians support free speech to protect the marketplace of ideas but threats only cause harm and therefore are not considered beneficial to anyone.
Be careful when discussing the Littleton massacre or any related bombing while you are in school. If you’re unhappy at your government school and you really want to make a threat, then tell all of your teachers and administrators that you’ll be voting forÂ Libertarian politicians who supportschool choice. But watch out, they might panic.