Rundlett Middle School has suspended a 13-year-old Concord, New Hampshire girl for posting on her Facebook page that she wished Osama bin Laden had killed her math teacher. Many of the stories published about the incident close with the statement, “School officials say they can’t comment on the case because of privacy concerns.” While I suppose I should be relieved that they are still concerned about some privacy issues, their respect for privacy generally leaves a lot to be desired. So does their respect for basic constitutional rights…but they aren’t the only ones.
The post was stupid, and so what? The teacher was not placed in any jeopardy (Osama is dead, no matter what the school might have heard); no student was bullied (not that this would justify the long arm of the government reaching into the child’s bedroom either); nobody was defamed. Kimberly Dellisola, the girl’s mother, has told the press the punishment was “too harsh.” Would somebody please tell Kimberly that the school has no business punishing her child at all? That’s Kimberly’s job, or at least was, until schools decided to take over policing what children do, write and say in their own homes.
Let’s be clear. There is no justification for a school to discipline a student based on what she writes on her own website, any more than it should punish a student for what she says over the telephone or writes in a letter. It is wrong. It is oppressive. It is an abuse of power.
The landscape was smoothed for this outrage when the media and public began blaming schools for not controlling bullying situations, rather than parents for not raising ethical offspring. Since parents won’t do their jobs or take responsibility and be accountable for how their kids treat others, schools—and, therefore, the government—are taking over. Do you like that?
Apparently the Obama Administration thinks you do, or will, or will be persuaded to (“He loved Big Brother.”), because it pushed for this. As The Daily Caller and Reason reported in March…
“Education Department officials are threatening school principals with lawsuits if they fail to monitor and curb students’ lunchtime chat and evening Facebook time for expressing ideas and words that are deemed by Washington special-interest groups to be harassment of some students. There has only been muted opposition to this far-reaching policy among the professionals and advocates in the education sector, most of whom are heavily reliant on funding and support from top-level education officials. The normally government-averse tech-sector is also playing along, and on Mar. 11, Facebook declared that it was “thrilled” to work with White House officials to foster government oversight of teens’ online activities…..The agency’s threats, which are delivered in a so-called “Dear Colleague” letter,” have the support of White House officials, including President Barack Obama, who held a Mar. 10 White House meeting to promote the initiative as a federal “anti-bullying” policy. The letter says federal officials have reinterpreted the civil-rights laws that require school principals to curb physical bullying, as well as racist and sexist speech, that take place within school boundaries. Under the new interpretation, principals and their schools are legally liable if they fail to curb “harassment” of students, even if it takes place outside the school, on Facebook or in private conversation among a few youths….”
Still like it? Knowing that the typical school administrator is terrified of lawyers, will do anything to keep his or her job and has the spine of a planaria, it is no surprise that many are prepared to abandon the Constitution in order to keep from being bullied by the federal government over bullying. Go ahead, ridicule the commentators, bloggers, talk show hosts, conservative politicians and citizens who express concern over government’s steady incursion into our personal lives and private affairs. Yes, some of them are paranoid and uncivil, or even out of touch with reality, like, say, Rand Paul. But sometimes the extremists detect real dangers that everyone else shrugs off.
This is how it starts, with Barack and Michelle announcing their touching concern over bullying. It continues with some boys being disciplined for denigrating high school girls on their website—all in the privacy of their own homes, of course—and then moved on to some students being punished for spreading vicious rumors about teachers. Do we see the slippery slope yet? Now Mrs. Dell’isola’s daughter is being suspended, not for bullying, not for libeling teachers, but for her mean wishes.
Here is what I wrote about this disturbing trend in March:
“I see no reason, if the extension of school authority off of school grounds is allowed to continue, why the next school won’t suspend its students for making disrespectful statements about President Obama on Facebook, or making derogatory statements about illegal immigrants, or passing along politically incorrect jokes, or disapproving of the Ground Zero Mosque, or posting cross-hairs as a graphic… or criticizing the teachers union.”
I wish I was always as prescient as I was that day.,,,and I also wish that I was over-reacting, as some times I am prone to do. But I wasn’t Over-reacting. The ACLU still sits on the sidelines, the anti-bullying hysterics keep shouting for the government to “Do something!”, the progressives who accused President Bush of being a Nazi for approving the NSA’s monitoring of U.S. citizens communicating with suspected terrorists nod approvingly, and the government is punishing kids for what they write and think at home.
Do you like it? Are you going to do anything about it?