Wednesday, March 05, 2008

No Free Speech For Students On The Web


Apparently the student in question attempted to publicly apologize to the principal for the comments, but the principal wasn't adult enough to accept.

While I await Blogger's response to the template problems I figured I might as well still keep the site somewhat updated. The following story should never have gotten so far as to be discussed, because it is nothing short of ludicrous.

This story conjures up memories of the school that banned their students from going to Myspace ... while at home. Yep, you heard me. A school banned their students from any Myspace activity at school, or at home. The truly sad part is how some parents supported the school being able to tell their kids what they could, and could not, do in their own homes. That was clearly an abuse of authority on the school's part, and severely crossed the line.

As hard as it might be to believe, I think this latest story goes even further in illustrating just how far schools will go to seize control of your children. Especially when your kids are not at school.


A teen who used vulgar slang in an Internet blog to complain about school administrators shouldn't have been punished by the school, her lawyer told a federal appeals court.

But a lawyer for the Burlington, Conn., school told the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday that administrators should be allowed to act if such comments are made on the Web.

Avery Doninger, 17, claims officials at Lewis S. Mills High School violated her free speech rights when they barred her from serving on the student council because of what she wrote from her home computer.

In her Internet journal, Doninger said officials were canceling the school's annual Jamfest, which is similar to a battle of the bands contest. The event, which she helped coordinate, was rescheduled.

According to the lawsuit, she wrote: "'Jamfest' is canceled due to douchebags in central office," and also referred to an administrator who was "pissed off."

After discovering the blog entry, school officials refused to allow Doninger to run for re-election as class secretary. Doninger won anyway with write-in votes, but was not allowed to serve.

Since when is speaking your mind a disqualification to run for public office? I don't know how many student elections these administrators have witnessed, but every one I've seen has always had students complaining about the administration, and advocating fighting for student's rights to face down the school faculty. At the end of the day ... a school should not be allowed to punish a student for comments made off school campus. The only exception would be threats of violence. Can you imagine your kid coming home with detention and an RPC because they called the principal a douche the night before at the dinner table? This is no different, and to make matters worse the school has found support in the equally corrupt courts.

A lower federal court had supported the school. U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz, denying Doninger's request for an injunction, said he believed she could be punished for writing in a blog because the blog addressed school issues and was likely to be read by other students.

Her lawyer, Jon L. Schoenhorn, told the appeals court Tuesday that what students write on the Internet should not give schools more cause to regulate off-campus speech.

We don't even punish our own politicians for what they write on blogs, and many of their postings (i.e. Murtha) are traitorous at best. Yet we do not punish them for making traitorous statements that are proven to be lies, but we'll punish a kid for exercising her first amendment right?


6 comments to "No Free Speech For Students On The Web"

Steven said...
12:26 PM

I'll bet anything that this was a Christian school. One of my best friends was told by his Catholic private school that he had to close down his MySpace because it went against school policy, and because he always obeys the rules he did so. What's more upsetting (but unsurprising) is that his mother fully supported this action.
Schools are beginning to get their students used to having their voices silenced.
I'm very upset but unsurprised that the majority of schools doing this though are Christian private schools.

Casey said...
4:59 PM

I actually provided a link to the Myspace story in my post. This school is a public school from all I've read. It wouldn't matter if it was public or private. My position stands.

Steven said...
9:43 PM

I should have checked that first. Oops.

Yes. Regardless of what kind of school it is, I definitely agree with you.

Anonymous said...
8:15 PM

Some parents are very supportive of a school that tells their kids no, because they (the parents) are too scared to do it themselves.

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