Saturday, July 27, 2013

From Left To Write: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver

In tenth grade I was questioned by the secret service and local police about threatening to kill the president. This is a true story. 

I like to think I was a good kid and still am a decent adult. I got A's in school, never got detention, didn't really go through a rebellious phase as a teenager (I got that over with as a preschooler). For the most part I follow the law except for a particular stop sign where I usually only yield. I may have pirated a few things. I'm not a violent person, I rarely got in trouble, and when I did it was over something small. So of course everyone was pretty shocked when the secret service showed up at my house. 

I was in the marching band all through highschool but other than that I was homeschooled. We lost our band director, and our replacement was literally right out of college. He was supposed to be the assistant band director and looking back now I don't really blame him for being a giant jerk face. He didn't know what he was doing and I know it must have been difficult trying to get us to respect someone only a few years older than us. He went the dictator route and made our lives miserable. 

We had a club just for band students that did fundraising and put on a Christmas party every year and probably other stuff I don't remember. The year we got the new band director was the year I was supposed to be initiated into the club but everything sort of fell apart. I noticed it was getting kind of late in the year and we hadn't had any meetings or anything. I wouldn't say I'm a natural leader but if I notice no one is leading or the leader is doing a sucky job I feel compelled to step up. So I started questioning those who I knew were in the club the year before. Nobody even knew who the officers were. I decided well, I'll just throw new elections! I was never really in a school club before (homeschooled) so I was kind of like our new band director in that I didn't really know what I was doing. But I got people to come to a meeting and hold elections, even if it made the band director upset because I didn't do it "right". It was very important to me to have the annual Christmas party to try and lift spirits and maintain a sense of normalcy. I orchestrated a fundraiser of a handful of us playing Christmas music outside Walmart pretty much by myself. Apparently before you do a fundraiser like that there's all this red tape you have to go through that I didn't know about, so again I'm on the band directors bad side. I'm a pest who just won't leave well enough alone. 

The problem is it wasn't just the band director, it was the Band Booster president too. Band Boosters are kind of like the PTA for band I guess? Anyway she didn't like me. I was trying to make things as nice and normal for everyone as I could and wasn't afraid to speak up about it if I thought something should change. One day when we were practising for the Christmas concert this got me in trouble. I can't remember exactly what happened, but she asked us to do something I thought we shouldn't have to do. Everyone was really irritated about it. I went to her and conveyed everyone's feelings as respectfully as I could and asked if we could come up with another solution. She was... not very nice about it. What does this have to do with the secret service? I promise I'm getting to that!

I went home and that night or the next day I vented about it on my Xanga (an old social networking site). I didn't use any bad language, I didn't make any threats, I was just frustrated. Apparently somehow her psycho daughter found out about it. A day or so later I was instant messaging a friend who somehow found out said psycho daughter was on her way to my house with two or three big dudes to basically make me regret my words. I quickly went around making sure all the doors and windows were locked before they got there. When they did I told them to leave through the door. Instead she pounded on the door yelling obscenities. I called the police.  

A few days after that I see a black Lincoln with patriotic vanity plates pull up in the driveway. Some very serious looking dudes got out and knocked on the door. I didn't know if it was the police following up on what happened or what. Turns out it was the police but they weren't there about that, and the secret service was with them. You can't imagine my shock when they introduced themselves, said they wanted to ask me some questions, and told me to call my parents which weren't home at the time. That was an awkward phone call. I pretty much started crying immediately. 

They got a tip that I was making threats against the POTUS and came to check it out. The "threat" in question was posted on my Xanga way in the spring. My friends had been making bucket lists and I had written a clearly marked mock list of my own. One of the things on the list was assassinate a presidential candidate. It was accompanied by 29 other outrageous things like marry a hippo and was obviously a joke. This was 2004 and that summer (after making this list) I attended W's local rally and didn't cause any problems. Still they came, questioned me, searched my house, my computer, and made it clear they don't find such jokes funny. I was told I could be charged with a felony. It was incredibly scary. Thankfully I wasn't charged with anything as they decided I wasn't a threat but I'm sure my name is still on a list somewhere. Sometimes I'll look up at the sky and wave to the satellites. If any of my friends say anything in jest I'll say, "They didn't mean it, secret service dudes! It was only a joke!" just in case haha. 

After we calmed down from the shock of it all we decided either the daughter or the mom gave the tip to get back at me for calling the cops. The timing was too close to be a coincidence. I made the choice to switch schools (well bands) as that one had become too toxic. You bet I'm much more careful of what I post online nowadays. Earlier this year Cameron D'Ambrosio was arrested and jailed without bail for over a month due to a similar post on Facebook. He was thankfully released when a grand jury decided not to indict him on felony charges. It's really frightening to know that could have been me. 

This post was inspired by the novel The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver. Mere months before Noa’s execution, her victim’s mother changed her mind about Noa’s sentence and vows to help stay the execution. Join From Left to Write on July 30 as we discuss The Execution of Noa P. Singleton.. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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