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Preconceived Notions This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   In civics class, they tell you that in this country you have nothing to worry about if you have done nothing wrong. My experience tells a much different story. For those of us who do not fit the Judeo-Christian mold, for those of us who do not conform to the standards of the old guard, the promises of the system ring hollow. I am not even that far from the mold. I simply wear a battered Navy great coat, jeans, occasionally a t-shirt bearing the slogan "Legalize Marijuana," and my silver pentacle. My hair is not even that unusual: long on top, shaved on the sides, with two small dreadlocks near the back.

And yet I live in fear, though I have done nothing wrong. Several times I have been approached by the school's early intervention team on as widely varying things as snorting cocaine to doing ecstasy in class. I have never seen either drug. I have only seen pot once, never smoked it, and yet I am constantly harassed by the police and school officials. I used to believe the system was just. Maybe it was, at one point, long ago. It is no longer. I am afraid to do the very simplest and most innocent things: listening to my walkman as I walk from class to class, even dozing off in class, despite the fact that I make all A's and B's, and I carry a murderous load, even under my school's progressive module system. I suppose many others, those who are weaker would buckle in my place: my father, whom I loved dearly, died three years ago.

We are also told as children that we are allowed to speak as we wish in this country, another great concept the system, corrupted by those who would be kings, blatantly ignores. I was recently at a Grateful Dead concert with several friends, both male and female. One of the young women I was with was hassled about her dress, hairstyle, and jewelry (in other words, nothing) at the gate. I commented under my breath to her, "Welcome to fascist America." I was promptly arrested for "inciting a riot" and "verbal abuse of a police officer." I had to spend the night in jail because the police would not let me use the phone till morning. That was the most hellish night of my life. The police officer involved said I had called him a "fascist pig" at the top of my lungs, and other nasty epithets. I never raised my voice, nor did I even say the word "pig." Fortunately the charges were dropped once I got to court, but I still had to pay a $40 court charge. The American system has been infiltrated and corrupted by those who would tell us all what to do and think. The power has been stolen from those to whom it belongs: namely, the people. It has gone too far. We must take it back. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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