Continuing our series of campus-related urban legends, another popular student-body rumor concerns a prominent psychic who has predicted a mass murder on campus. The rumor typically claims that the prediction was made on a high-profile TV program, and the occurrence is predicted on some significant date, with Halloween being a popular choice. Details of the upcoming murder scene vary to suit the local campus (a high point or low point, a building shaped like a certain letter, etc.). Brunvand (2001) has documented examples of these scares in “virtually every year during the 1980s and 1990s” (59). One even hit my hometown (Michigan) in 1998
|Could Strunk and White's Elements of Style be the scariest thing on campus?|
By moving the rumor scare in The Billionth Monkey
to an English composition class, I centered the scare around the rumor-spreader
rather than the psychic. As for Nicholas Young’s disturbing short story, I suppose it’s a reflection of the “zero tolerance” expulsions that have been in the news lately. Such as the South Carolina teen who was suspended when, for his school assignment, he made up a story about buying a gun to shoot a dinosaur.
Or the nine-year-old from Texas who was suspended for saying his Hobbit ring could make a classmate disappear
…which was somehow interpreted as a terroristic threat rather than a way of hiding from danger. Or the seven-year-old from Maryland who was suspended for nibbling his breakfast pastry into the shape of a mountain
and making an “inappropriate gesture.”
Relocating the scare to an English comp class also allowed me to pay homage to Strunk and White’s Elements of Style
, which I think is still the best guide to writing out there.For Further Reading
Jan Harold Brunvand. Encyclopedia of Urban Legends
. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001, 58–9.
David Emery, “Psychic Predicts Halloween Campus Massacre: An Urban Legend
,” n.d., About.com.
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