March 6, 2008

Free speech and the douchebags in central office.

What if a teenager criticizes school officials on her blog? Avery Doninger, 17, blogged "'Jamfest' is canceled due to douchebags in central office" — Jamfest is a battle of the bands — and the school official barred her from running for re-election as class secretary and, when she won on write-in votes, barred her from serving. Quite aside from the utter stupidity of punishing a student this way for this offense, should the courts intervene? The case was argued in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. The district court judge sided with the school.

UPDATE: The Second Circuit sided with the school.

29 comments:

rhhardin said...

Douchebags are great for bleeding the brakes in aircraft. I don't know what all the negativity is about.

Slim999 said...

This is a great lesson for children everywhere.

Listen up: You have no rights! The Constitution is for adults only.

Once you leave high school, and turn 18, you still don't have any rights.

That's where John McCain comes in to squelch your Constitutional Rights.

So f'kin get used to it kid.

As long as your daddy and mommy vote for people like John McCain, and employ people like your principal, you have no rights.

Pogo said...

You cannot criticize your school.
You cannot criticize your employer.
You cannot criticize the black candidate.
You cannot criticize the female candidate.
You cannot criticize Islam.
You cannot criticize illegal immigrants.
You cannot criticize lesbians, gays, or transgenders.
You cannot criticize universal health care.
You cannot criticize non-whites.
You cannot criticize unions.
You cannot criticize teachers.
You cannot criticize teachers unions.
You cannot criticize University reeducation camps for students.
You cannot criticize welfare spending, except for being insufficient.
You cannot criticize art when it contains christian images depicted in urine or feces.
You cannot criticize government funding of art that contains christian images depicted in urine or feces.
You cannot criticize school textbooks that promote leftism.
You cannot criticize school library books that promote leftist diversity agendas.

Other than that, speak freely.

ricpic said...

But at least there's total freedom to criticize white ethnics. :^)

Jason said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

I had to censor Jason. Sorry. Find another way to make your point.

MadisonMan said...

I'd say replace the adminstrators who came up with this boneheaded decision, but it seems that 1 administrator is always replaced with 2.

Darkbloom said...

I'm looking forward to subsequent posts that will be categorized under the new tag of "douchebags."

Jason said...

Forgot to take your irony supplements, Ann? ;)

TROBlog said...

This may be an unpopular opinion here but I weep for the loss of free speech rights for high school students.

Not.

Especially when that speech includes such disrespectful language for those in positions of authority.

I know, I know. Everyone is going to jump on me now but I just don't buy into the whole Simpsons version of kids who can call their parents and other people in positions of authority idiots and douchbags and whatever the current cool insult is of the day.

You want respect, you show respect.

It's no wonder public debate is so uncivilized today.

former law student said...

the school official barred her from running for re-election as class secretary and, when she won on write-in votes, barred her from serving.

Duh, she knew they were douchebags, she should have expected them to retaliate.

Class secretary is resume and college application fodder, thus a species of property which the girl can't be deprived of without due process of law.

Pogo said...

It's no wonder public debate is so uncivilized today.
I do not oppose restricting speech for HS students.

I am concerned that US adults are increasingly being treated as if they too were high school students, and that speech needed restriction for their own good..

P. Rich said...

In the military, failure to show proper respect for the uniform (i.e. position) is a punishable offense. Maintenance of discipline is critical to the function of the organization. This holds even if someone of higher rank does or says something incredibly stupid.

In days of yore, schools also made an effort to maintain discipline in order to function, and one was expected to show a modicum of respect to teachers and administrators. No exceptions.

Now? It's about the "rights of students" and Little Mary's self-esteem and political correctness uber alles. You can see the effectiveness of relentless liberal conditioning in the comments, and those commenters don't realize they've become mindless sock-puppets of the insidious Left.

Discipline?! We don't need no stinkin' discipline round here!

former law student said...

In the military, failure to show proper respect for the uniform (i.e. position) is a punishable offense. Maintenance of discipline is critical to the function of the organization. This holds even if someone of higher rank does or says something incredibly stupid.

Surely enlisted men gripe about their commanding officers among themselves. This girl made her comments on her blog, not to the douchebags' faces.

Middle Class Guy said...

pogo said...
you cannot criticize...


you forgot, you cannot criticize douchebags, especially in the central office.

Freder Frederson said...

Now Ann, I don't understand, just the other day you were saying that if I were one of your students (and of course that would mean I was an adult), you would never let me treat you as I do on your blog.

I have never called you a douchebag (or an asshole or a jerk for that matter--both of which you have called me), just hypocritical, boneheaded, silly and not very smart. Yet here you are getting all bent out of shape when a high school takes action against a student for behavior that you have made clear would be completely unacceptable out of your students.

In fact, didn't you try to get one of your students disciplined by UW who you claimed was harassing you on this very blog?

You know I'm not very bright and am constantly embarrassing myself. Could you please explain the difference between the two situations?

Beth said...

I'm always going to lean in favor of free speech, and I think the important detail here is that this is on her blog, not something she said in the hallway or central offices of the school. I don't like the idea that kids belong to their schools, 24 hours a day. I would think that idea would bother conservatives, too, especially if this is a public school.

I'm not an anything-goes anti-disciplinarian. I expect attention in the classroom, and find that students want that, too. Of course, I teach adults. But that doesn't mean they can't display an annoying sense of entitlement. Last weekend we had a reading by a visiting writer, and one of our creative writing majors showed up smashing drunk. During the Q&A he monopolized the session with inane comments and questions including "What's the name of your book?" The organizer hopped up, took him by the elbow and hustled him out. Now he's whining to the chair about it, and no doubt he'll keep going up the chain to the dean, who I hope tosses him out of her office, too.

ron st.amant said...

It seems to me she was making a legitimate criticism of a decision that affected her and her fellow students. She did so without threats, or allusions to threats. She did not argue for anything that could remotely be construed as retaliation. Just because her choice of words was crude should not be the determining factor should it?

Beth said...

Perhaps it was logic homework, and she was merely demonstrating the meaning of tautology? Douchebags. Central Office. Take your pick.

former law student said...

FF, the distinctions as noted by Ann are clear to me:

Talking smack to Ann in class: Not OK under any circumstances.

Writing smack about Ann on Ann's blog: Not OK, but tolerated.

Writing smack about Ann on one's own blog: Go for it!

I clicked on the FF tag to find neither Ann-related smack nor a blog at FF's blog. He's missing a good opportunity.

Pogo said...

All that school officials did was refuse to allow Doninger to run for re-election as class secretary. And then when she won anyway with write-in votes, she was not allowed to serve.

The student who wishes to serve in even a minor office at her school has duties beyond the average classmate, and warrants greater scrutiny.

That's why schools kick off from sports teams those athletes who are caught at drug/drinking parties; it doesn't matter where the party was held. They are supposed to be role models. Similarly, I would expect a school would disallow from serving a class officer who has been convicted of a crime.

Othewise, blog away.

When I was in high school, I was a "newscaster" for a half hour segment our Communications class put together every week for the local cable access channel. We were quite fond of the Python boys at the time, so we decided to have some fun with our first production. The most offensive segment, I recall, was "Birth of a baby", featuring an extreme closeup slow motion video of my friend Bob spitting out a small plastic doll. (Man, we were hilarious; you betcha.)

We got cut from the class and detention for the remainder of the semester. I didn't lose my post as HS treasurer though. My Dad agreed with the principal, and the principle. Oh well, live and learn.

Chip Ahoy said...

Commies.

TMink said...

I recall the scene in which someone tries to start a fight with Cyrano by saying something like "You sir have a big nose."

Cyrano goes on to tell him what a lousy insult that was and offers several of his own. "When it bleeds, the Red Sea" and so on.

For a real teaching moment, the school officials could have offered several more acceptable versions of her criticism, none of which contained the word douchebag.

But that would have involved teaching.

Trey

Joe said...

Of course the real irony here is that we all know the front office at the school are douchebags. Apparently, they're also thin skinned assholes. And that's news to who?

Blake said...

I agree with most of the posts here: There are a lot of douchebags in the central office.

As for respect, well, I'm afraid that's asking the prisoners to respect the guards. Or the animals to respect the zookeeper.

Meanwhile, parents have no constitutional right to school their own children, suggesting that some of the douchebags in central office have been promoted to judge.

Beth said...

Sometimes I'm the douchebag in the office. I had to run out into the library hallway to tell some student workers (my student workers, worse yet) to take their hackey-sack game outside.

I mean, the library! Who reaches 18 without knowing you can't play sports in the library?

Hey, you kids, get offa my lawn!

Joe said...

But of course, we all know libraries are for food fights.

Ann Althouse said...

Well, Jason, you can still be class secretary...

And write on your own blog.

My place, my rules.

Ann Althouse said...

"In fact, didn't you try to get one of your students disciplined by UW who you claimed was harassing you on this very blog?"

No.