Teacher who Showed Students ‘THC2’ Exposes Hypocrisy and Worse

Most horror fans got a good chuckle over an item that circulated last week: Apparently, a teacher at Jackson Central-Merry High School in Tennessee showed his students the infamous “torture porn” film, The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence). But I can think of at least one person who isn’t laughing: Her name is Sheila Kearns.


Jackson Central-Merry Superintendent Verna Ruffin confirmed that students had indeed seen THC2; a letter sent home to parents reads:

I understand that on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, your student may have inadvertently viewed inappropriate content in a classroom. This occurrence is inconsistent with our Mission and Vision…I have investigated the situation and talked to those involved. Immediate action has been taken to assure that there will be no further occurrences.

THC2 writer/director Tom Six got a kick out of the entire situation; in response to the hubbub, Six Tweeted: “It should be mandatory to watch THC2 in school classes. It deals with a character that is bullied and what to do.”

Official Synopsis: A depraved mama’s boy (Laurence R. Harvey) goes on a killing and collecting spree to recreate the experiment portrayed in The Human Centipede (First Sequence).

But things weren’t quite as amusing last year when a similar story made the rounds. Sheila Kearns, an Ohio State substitute Spanish teacher, was fired for showing The ABC’s of Death to several of her high school classes. But Kearns didn’t merely lose her job: She was charged with 5 felony counts of “disseminating matter harmful to juveniles”. On January 15th, 2015, a jury found her guilty on four counts, each of which carried a possible 1-year prison term and up to $10K in fines.  The following March, she was sentenced to 90 days in jail followed by 3 years of probation. During sentencing, Assistant County Prosecutor Kacey Chappelear told the judge that Kearns had “yet to grasp the seriousness of her actions” and that “her attitude about the allegations has been dismissive.”

On the surface, these situations are almost identical: Teacher pulls an unbelievably boneheaded move; embarrassment abounds. What’s vastly different, however, is the reaction to (and aftermath of) these separate incidents. One person was vilified, humiliated, fired, and sent to jail; a felony conviction will haunt her for the rest of her life. The other person was merely suspended and may actually return to his post soon.

Ohio and Tennessee State laws aren’t different enough to explain such a disparity in reactions; if showing minors a horror movie is a felony offense in one state, it should be taken just as seriously in another. This forces us to take an uncomfortable look at the underlying issues at play; one has to wonder if Kearns, an African American woman, would have suffered the same overblown consequences if she had been a Caucasian man.

Sheila Kearns, right, with her Attorney
Sheila Kearns, right, with her Attorney

Not only is the Tennessee teacher’s identity being protected, he’s not being asked to defend himself—or give any explanation for his actions whatsoever. Everyone involved seems perfectly content to sweep the entire matter under the rug.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that the Tennessee teacher should be sent to jail; quite the contrary, I think Jackson Central-Merry’s reaction to the situation was quite appropriate: Be up front about the mistake, remedy the situation internally (to the satisfaction of parents and faculty), and move on to the much more important business of educating young minds. It just illustrates how inappropriately reactionary the response to Kearns’ misstep really was; her life was pretty much ruined, all because she accidently showed her students a horror movie (one that’s relatively tame compared to the depravity of THC2).


At the end of the day, this all ties back to a rather antiquated debate: Are R-rated horror movies “dangerous” for developing minds? While conservatives have long sought a quantifiable way of documenting the potential risks associated with viewing violent imagery, no concrete link has ever been established. None of Kearns’ former students, for example, suffered any long term physical or psychological damage from having seen The ABC’s of Death; I’m likewise certain that none of the Tennessee students who saw THC2 will be significantly traumatized.

No one should feel bad about finding humor in this current situation; it’s funny! But taken in a larger context, it reveals glaring disparities in how our justice system treats certain groups of people. Justice is supposed to be blind. And while we’re at it, let’s stop giving credence to the puritanical notion that horror movies are in any way dangerous. I realize I’m preaching to the choir here, but some folks really need to grow up already!


If you can’t get enough of me here on Pop Horror, you can follow me on Twitter @josh_millican for quality horror articles worthy of your attention.

About Joshua Millican

Josh Millican is the Director of Community at CryptTV and has been blogging for over 5 years. You can follow Josh on Twitter @josh_millican.

Check Also

Remembering Julian Sands (1958 – 2023): A Talented Actor and Versatile Performer

Remembering an Extraordinary Performer As a fan of Julian Sands’ body of work, there are …