25 May 2006
A student who wrote a short story including scant details of a fictional murder is being pestered by US police to provide DNA so that they can eliminate him from their real-world murder enquiries, according to Boingboing.
The story entitled 'I am Ready to Serve My Country' by Philip Sandifer is written as an application to join the defence forces and is under 250 words. In the story, the letter's author boasts that he's killed before, hinting that he believes this makes him suitable for the armed forces. It's a subtle joke, obviously lost on the University of Florida police. A university spokesman said that murder's a touchy subject because five students were killed off-campus ten years ago.
All societies censor their culture to a greater or lesser extent, but this witty story is extremely mild compared to what you'll see if you switch on TV any evening, or watch a blockbuster at the cinema. It is encouraging to see that the student has the full support of his advisor, Professor Dobrin, but disturbing to see the police trying to intimidate people out of expressing their views and creativity. This is nothing more than an abuse of power to limit free speech.