When last we checked in with Max Karson, the controversial University of Colorado at Boulder student was in the headlines for "If It's War the Asians Want...," a satirical essay that many readers interpreted as racist even though he says he intended to make the opposite point.
Now, however, such haters will have a harder time kicking him around. On August 20, Karson's record was wiped clean of another prominent mark: his arrest in April 2007, following the massacre at Virginia Tech, for joking in a Boulder class about things that might send him into a homicidal rage, including fluorescent lights. But even before being cleared in court, Karson had decamped for San Francisco, where he's intent on pursuing a literary career. "The plan is to become a successful writer," he says, noting that he's made a start on a memoir that will cover "all 23 years that I've been alive for."
Don't expect the book to lambaste everyone who misunderstood his intent. "I don't really place any specific blame on anybody except me," he maintains. Still, he dismisses much of the criticism leveled against him. "People would say, 'He just wants attention,' and that doesn't really bother me, because I do," he concedes, adding, "Dialogue about racism or injustices is inherently good — and a good way to get people to participate in that is to make the dialogue humorous. And that's what I tried to do."
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Karson chose San Francisco in part because "it doesn't have the things that I don't like about Boulder.... It doesn't have that thinly veiled hyper-conservative attitude — or the fact that everybody is white, and the unfriendly attitudes toward anybody who's gay or different in any way. I'd rather go to a place that actually has real diversity instead of listening to a lot of rich white people talk about diversity."
Of course, some observers regard San Franciscans to be too politically correct — and since Karson's edgy work definitely isn't, he could find himself in hot water again. At this point, though, he's not sure if this reputation is deserved. "I haven't said anything horrible to anyone yet," he acknowledges. "When I do, we'll find out."
That'll probably be sooner rather than later.