Instant Mini-Train Wreck in Taunton: The Facebook Airsoft Homecoming Photo

Homecoming photo

From ABC:

1. The photo was beyond irresponsible and stupid, and looks more so in the wake of the recent school shooting. It’s creepy, Bonny and Clyde-ish, and the caption, “Homecoming 2014,” could be reasonably seen as a threat.

2. The fact that the guns were Airsoft replicas is irrelevant. My son left one of his Airsoft rifles in a car outside our house, and a virtual police S.W.A.T. team showed up. These toys are close enough to the real thing to be threatening.

3. Generally, punishing students for what they say on Facebook exceeds a school’s authority, but not in a case like this.

4. The punishment is wildly excessive. No threat was intended, no weapons were brought on school grounds. The kids broke no laws. They just used terrible judgment.

5. They needed to get a lecture, an assignment, and maybe a suspension of a single day. Hitting them with ten days and possible expulsion is just typical anti-gun bias and hysteria.

________________________________

Pointer: Jeremy Wiggins

19 thoughts on “Instant Mini-Train Wreck in Taunton: The Facebook Airsoft Homecoming Photo

  1. I get why the kids did it, it’s their hobby. If they had been playing hockey and brandishing sticks, there’d be no issue. You’d hope someone, perhaps the (assuming here) parent who took the picture perhaps, might point out that the optics on the rifles was horrible, but I just don’t see the malicious intent necessary for the kind of reprisal they caught from the school. Spot on Jack.

    • But homecoming is about 2 things — football and the dance. This is not like senior pictures where kids pose with their pets, doing their favorite hobbies, etc.

      This would have freaked me out if I was going to the dance and saw this on FB.

      Jack’s right in his analysis.

      • Irrelevant what homecoming is about when I take photos on my own that happen to be associated with homecoming. I think that consideration makes no difference, but this photo is off for the reasons Jack listed.

    • To be fair, the optics on the rifles aren’t bad at all. They appear to be close-combat optics of a Leupold design. The real question is how small the aimpoint dot is (the smaller the better).

      Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

      I agree with your comment.

  2. 1. The photo was beyond irresponsible and stupid, and looks more so in the wake of the recent school shooting. It’s creepy, Bonny and Clyde-ish, and the caption, “Homecoming 2014,” could be reasonably seen as a threat.

    There is nothing irresponsible or stupid about it, it is a picture of the kids dressed up and holding air soft rifles in which they use in a shared hobby. If they were into fencing or lacrosse they may have taken a picture with those items. There is no threat implied, even if a case could be made for one the case was made after the event, an event in which no nefarious actions were taken. If the air soft rifles were pink or made out of cheese would it still be seen as reasonably threatening? Why?

    2. The fact that the guns were Airsoft replicas is irrelevant. My son left one of his Airsoft rifles in a car outside our house, and a virtual police S.W.A.T. team showed up. These toys are close enough to the real thing to be threatening.

    Even if they were real guns, where is the threat? The picture by itself does not constitute a reasonable threat.

    3. Generally, punishing students for what they say on Facebook exceeds a school’s authority, but not in a case like this.

    If their sport was competition shooting, hunting or paint balling and took a picture on any other day would you endorse punishing them? On what basis? What is the offence?

    4. The punishment is wildly excessive. No threat was intended, no weapons were brought on school grounds. The kids broke no laws. They just used terrible judgment.

    Taking a picture with airsoft rifles they are proud to have or because they think it will be a cool picture does not demonstrate poor judgment,

    5. They needed to get a lecture, an assignment, and maybe a suspension of a single day. Hitting them with ten days and possible expulsion is just typical anti-gun bias and hysteria.

    Any punishment is excessive in this case. I am not seeing your logic on this one. Is there more to the story?

    • 1. It really doesn’t matter if you personally find it threatening. In the wake of young, innocent kids, walking to school with their parents’ guns and blowing everyone away, and any child, and any adults adults, including you, I’ll bet, could see how it might be misinterpreted by enough students, parents and teachers to cause a problem.

      2. What if both kids had recently been punished by the school, or bullied, or had a joke pulled on them. What if one or both had, jokingly or with passion of the moment, told freinds, “I hate you all! You’ll be sorry!” Let’s see: if Carrie hadn’t gone psycho and burned the school down, if she and her date appeared on Facebook after the prom carrying guns, what might that have signified?

      3. Context is everything, and this wasn’t a club photo, was it? No, it was a personal Facebook photo. Its message can reasonable be interpreted as “We’re coming to kill you assholes.” Easily. They should have known better.It signifies atrocious judgment.

      4. I don’t think punishment is necessary, and I didn’t write that it was. I think some “now write an essay about how shouting “I have Ebola!” on an airplane isn’t funny, why, and what the punishment should be for doing so. (Because that’s basically what that photo is. You can pretend the whole Sandy Hook hysteria didn’t happen, and isn’t on the minds of a lot of people.) Personally, I think a good talking to would be enough. But one day’s suspension for scaring a lot of people sick wouldn’t be excessive.

      5. Facebook’s out there. I have no problem with an administrator who is tipped off that something relating to a school is on a student’s Facebook page checking it out. If an administrator was tipped off, did nothing, and the kids had real guns and shot up the school the next day, I guarantee there would be Hell to pay.

        • When I was in school, students posing with shotguns or hunting rifles wouldn’t have even raised an eyebrow. An air gun would have been laughed at as being juvenile! Those so-called educators ought to be glad that, after all the emasculating drivel they’ve been forcing on their pupils, any of them still have enough spirit to pose like this.

          • Times change, Steve. When I was in high school in a small town in the Hill Country, it wasn’t unusual for students to show up with Winchesters in the rifle racks in the back window of their pick-ups. Coyotes and a very rare wolf were always problems for this small farming community.

            • South Houston wasn’t exactly rural- even back then. But there were a lot of open areas still and many others accessible by vehicle with enough time after school to get in a little hunting. Not any more, though.

  3. Spot on Steve. While their high school doesn’t have a JrROTC program imagine a school that does, with a competitive rifle team. Should all photos of the team be forbidden because the images of the rifles could be construed as a threat? The students engaged in no illegal or illicit activity. Merely posted a photo that represented their hobby.

  4. 1. I’m with you until you say it could be a threat. The media is now getting to you. 😊

    2. Agreed, irrelevant.

    3. What was the official doing looking at FB photos of a student? Even assuming a good reason for that, either you punish students for what they do outside of school grounds, or you don’t. If you can do so then what prevents a school from punishing a student for hunting (it scares other kids too, especially those who’ve seen Bambi)? Now look at to from the other side, if a teen girl has a side job as a swimsuit model and posts a photo online then she can be suspended/expelled to for creating a distracting environment. Schools should not act on outside activities of the students unless that’s a condition to admission – the case in many private schools.

    4. See 3, any punishment is excessive.

    5. Or you know, explain calmly why that photo could be misinterpreted, ask them to post a comment explaining what they meant or take it down. Do authority figures always have to use that authority to make a point?

    • Because they cannot resist the urge to throw it around. Makes them better people to show how active and up on threats. Maybe they’re up for reelection?

        • That’s what principles are for. If you are in a situation where you cannot win, you do the right thing based on the principles you live by. The problem is when you have no principles or they change with the seasons.

  5. Spot on, Jack…ATROCIOUS judgment, and at that age, in order to develop reasonable judgment, there must be a price for off-the-wall thinking…or no thinking at all.

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