Bulletin To The Government And Its Indoctrination Centers: Children Have a Right To Like Whatever They Choose

In California, that land of the not-so-free and home of the submissive, four high school students were suspended for  “liking” Instagram posts that the school administrators deemed racist. Now they have sued the school.


This has to stop.

The students, three of them Asian, were suspended after school officials were informed that they had “liked” or briefly commented on Instagram posts that included an image of a black doll juxtaposed with a KKK member, a torch and a noose, and photographs of other students at the school with jokes about their weight and appearance. Let us settle this right now: it doesn’t matter if the images and posts “liked’ advocated incest, cannibalism or Republicans. It is not the school’s role to punish students for thought crimes. This was not a school website, and the posts did not take place on school grounds. This is Big Brotherism, and the fact that the students involved need to be guided and taught does not mean crushing them under the iron boot of the state was appropriate or responsible.

Albany High School explained it was merely trying to provide “an inclusive and respectful learning environment for all of our students.” Translation: We want all our students to absorb our politically correct,  mandated beliefs, and there is no escaping our power.

Students have a right to express their own views, however misguided, in their private lives. Students have a right to hold views San Francisco progressives find offensive. If the school can punish students for “liking” a racist image, it can, and I assume will, eventually punish students who like President Trump. Or Ethics Alarms. Or Ayn Rand. Or veal.

It gets worse. The lawsuit alleges that the school ordered an “atonement” exercise for the suspended students once they returned to school. Fifteen students including the four plaintiffs were  “lined up in full view” of the student body and “screamed at.”  For extra measure,  some students assaulted them after the session.

If you don’t detect the distinct acidic odor of Leftist totalitarianism in all this, you are part of the problem.

Ethics Alarms (that’s me, in case that confuses you) started complaining about schools punishing students for Facebook posts years ago. This was and is an abuse of power. A school has a legitimate interest in meeting with parents about disturbing comments by students on social media, but the school’s role is advisory only. Once my kid is home and the school day is over, hands off. Any punishment to be issued for non-criminal acts is mine, as a parent. We can debate when the conduct edges into the school’s just jurisdiction, but a “like” or a comment on social media?

That’s so far from any line that it’s not even debatable. The First Amendment thingee that progressives find so unsavory allows citizens, even kids, to like whatever they choose without the government and its agents making them sorry they did.

As for the atonement exercise, all personal involved should be severely disciplined. That is child abuse, as well as strong evidence of incompetence and untrustworthiness, as well as terrible judgment.

I wish I could say with confidence that this was an anomaly. My experience suggests, however, that it is not. Over the past eight years, the education establishment has been encouraged and empowered to engage in unequivocal indoctrination tactics, while parents have been too forgiving and elected officials have cleared the way. How bad has school interference with student thought and expression gone in some communities? This far: At the Edgewood Middle School, in Ohio, administrators suspended  student Zachary Bowlin  because he merely “liked” a picture of an airsoft gun on Instagram.  That the school withdrew the suspension after public outrage is no consolation. This is cultural insanity, and it is spreading.


139 thoughts on “Bulletin To The Government And Its Indoctrination Centers: Children Have a Right To Like Whatever They Choose

  1. Oh great! Another Bay Area campus humiliating students for thought crimes. I’m glad that the students parents decided to sue the district for this Gestapo like behavior. Oh where, oh where is the ACLU? The World wonders.

  2. The children had veered away from the hive mind and needed to be brought back into the fold in a way that they never wanted to veer away again.

    They will be assimilated.

    Resistance is futile.

    The parents of these children will be put in their place by the hive minded faithful.

  3. The students, three of them Asian, were suspended after school officials were informed that they had “liked” or briefly commented on Instagram posts that included an image of a black doll juxtaposed with a KKK member, a torch and a noose, and photographs of other students at the school with jokes about their weight and appearance. Let us settle this right now: it doesn’t matter if the images and posts “liked’ advocated incest, cannibalism or Republicans. It is not the school’s role to punish students for thought crimes. This was not a school website, and the posts did not take place on school grounds. This is Big Brotherism, and the fact that the students involved need to be guided and taught does not mean crushing them under the iron boot of the state was appropriate or responsible.

    I’m with you on the first two examples. Liking posts that insult other students, however, is contributing to bullying; that the bullying happened off campus does not matter, as it still affects students and their behavior on campus. If a student is being bullied by another student off-campus, their behavior, safety and ability to do well in school on campus is deeply affected. That is the school’s business. Students can and should be punished for bullying other students on social media.

    They should not, however, be punished for engaging in racist behavior off campus that does not directly affect other students on campus.

    And of course, the form of punishment taken by this school was extreme, and you’re right to call it child abuse. Holy shit. I can’t believe any adult in education thought this was a good idea.

    • Don’t you think that an appropriate form of punishment for the bullying should have been discussed with the parents beforehand?

    • On March 20, students told teachers about another student’s Instagram account on which racist memes were posted. Some students were alleged to have posted comments on the photos and several others had “liked” the images, which were of 11 students — most of them girls, and all but one a person of color — and the school’s African-American girls basketball coach.

      According to school officials, parents and students, the images included nooses drawn around necks of those photographed and side-by-side photos of the girls and apes. http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/05/04/albany-boys-claim-they-were-subjected-to-public-shaming-violence-following-racist-instagram-incident/amp/

      Sounds like textbook bullying, attempts by the boys’ attorney to soft-peddle it aside. We require kids to be schooled, and with that in mind, I do think schools can have some small leeway in punishing students who disrupt the educational experience of other students and/or threaten staff. Veiled death threats and making racist comments about other students I would think falls under this category. This is not one of the close calls.

        • Even if out of school, students still cannot contribute to a racially hostile environment for other students via social media. Most schools nowadays have social media policies that outline exactly that, among other things. This cannot have been a surprise.

          • They can have all the unconstitutional policies they want. They can’t do this, and shouldn’t do it. (I’ve GOT to get that “It’s policy!” rationalization up!) So there’s a policy dictating what kid can say over dinner at home? What they can say to other students on the street? How can you not see what’s wrong with this?

            And “it can’t be a surprise” IS on the list.

            • Is there any evidence that punishing students for harassing other students outside of school grounds is unconstitutional?

                • I doubt the fourth amendment protects the right to harass others from the security of one’s own home, which is what we’re talking about here.

                  My employee contract came with a civility clause–we teachers are expected to maintain a certain level of civility with each other even off the job. If I call a black coworker the n word off the job, I can be disciplined on the job, because my off-job behavior has a large chance of affecting my on-the-job performance. This is fair.

                  Of course, students are compelled to go to school, while I am free to work somewhere that doesn’t have a civility clause, though they’re pretty common from what I understand. But the same principle applies.

                  We are also mandated reporters, so the idea that we should ignore any type of abuse just because it’s not happening on school grounds just doesn’t hold up for me.

                  • Does the civility clause allow you to be disciplined on the job for kneeling during the national anthem?

                    I’m just kidding, it’s late and I’m tired.

                  • “My employee contract came with a civility clause”

                    So you are saying you voluntarily agreed to that clause? As in, no one forced you, under threat of violence to either you or those close to you to agree to that contract?

                    That is different from school. You are forced under threat of violence to attend. It is not a place you voluntarily go, it is a place you are mandated to go. It is the government, and the government is held to the standards set forth in the Constitution. Your employer, in the capacity of an employer (even if it is a government that employs you) is not bound by the Constitution. The same principle does not apply.

                    • I already pointed out that distinction in my own comment, Rusty. Man, am I tired of being asked to address points I have already addressed. I have also pointed out that public schools absolutely can restrict speech to a greater degree than the government otherwise can.

              • Yes, it’s called the first amendment to the United States constitution.

                If they are engaging in actionable harassment, then that is a legal matter, not a matter for the school.

                But what is happening is that they are expressing unpopular opinions that the school sees as “racist.” Racism is not a crime in the abstract, as we know, only in particular instances where people’s rights are violated. In this case, the students didn’t violate anyone’s rights.

                So what we have here is a case where the school transparently violated the free speech rights of these young people. No matter how repugnant those views are, expressing them outside the academic environs is protected speech. It’s not even a close call, in my opinion.

                Does that answer your question?

                • This smacks of the kangaroo courts Obama forced Universities to conduct, where rape accusations (which should be legal proceedings) were adjudicated by progressive political hacks with agendas against men. Don’t think for a second that they don’t want that for society at large.

                • Right. It is not illegal or “actionable” to hold racist or biased opinions.The only thing a person cannot do is undertake actual behaviors that are against the law, If the Congress has the chutzpah to pass bills on thought control, then we’ll have this out in the open and the real debate will begin. In the meantime, various jurisdictions (and mini-jurisdictions, like public school systems) have taken it upon themselves to exercise rights they do not have over their publics/students. This is a real threat to the future of our republic, and if the ACLU isn’t in the fray, perhaps we need a new and different organized defense of the right free speech (and free thought).

                  • Of course schools can prohibit students from specific actions that are not necessarily against the law. You don’t really think teachers and staff should only be able to discipline students if their actions are *illegal,* do you?

                    • It is not their place to “discipline students if their actions are illegal” any more than it is my place to discipline some guy who is speeding down the street in front of my house.

                      While on school grounds they can enforce school policies, so long as those policies do not violate the constitution (assuming a government school). Private schools are like your employer though… they are not bound by the constitution.

                    • And I’m asking for evidence that disciplining kids for social media bullying is against the Constitution. None has been provided; just assertions.

                    • “And I’m asking for evidence that disciplining kids for social media bullying is against the Constitution. None has been provided; just assertions.”

                      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

                      Restraining someone from making a statement that is not a call to action (very specific threshold) by a government entity is a violation of the 1st Amendment.

                      Did anyone clearly advocate committing crimes against people?

                    • I think the ACLU did in fact weigh in on the Ann Coulter/Berkeley situation, supporting Coulter’s right to speak there, regardless of her opinions. I’ll check on that, though.

                • It would be nice, Glenn, if one of these days you actually read one of my comments all the way to the end before replying. I already said they should not have been punished for the racism. The likes of photos demeaning specific students, however, contributed to bullying of those students. The notion that the first amendment prohibits schools from punishing students for bullying other students, even if the bullying happens on social media, strikes me as preposterous, but you’re welcome to cite the relevant case law on this matter.

                  • I was responding to this comment:

                    Is there any evidence that punishing students for harassing other students outside of school grounds is unconstitutional?

                    That is the entirety of the comment. The evidence you requested is detailed in my comment.

                    I already said they should not have been punished for the racism.

                    Congratulations, Chris! You’re right again!

                    The likes of photos demeaning specific students, however, contributed to bullying of those students. The notion that the first amendment prohibits schools from punishing students for bullying other students, even if the bullying happens on social media, strikes me as preposterous, but you’re welcome to cite the relevant case law on this matter.

                    Up yours with the case law. The fact that you comment here is prima facia proof you have access to Google. Look it up yourself. I’m not your research assistant.

                    To your attempt at substance, “bullying” is a subjective term. Many states have laws against cyberbullying and actual classroom bullying. The few cyberbullying laws (which is really where we are if we describe what happened as “bullying”) that have been subjected to first amendment analysis by the courts have mostly failed, although some have survived.

                    It is my opinion these laws will generally fail to pass fist amendment analysis for actions taken by students outside the school grounds, much as attempts to ban pro-marijuana t-shirts by Iowa State failed court scrutiny, unless a significant nexus can be factually established between the online comment and school discipline and the law is very narrowly tailored to protect legitimate or even dubious speech. I suspect this will be a relatively high bar, but one can never reliably predict court cases.

                    I am of the opinion that all speech, except egregious cases of clearly disruptive conduct, should be protected outside the school grounds.

          • Who cares if a student is subjected to a “racially hostile environment” or just, I don’t know, subjected to another student saying that he smells bad or is annoying? There is no material difference except for your own creepy, Orwellian statist political agenda. It’s deeply disturbing that you are both 1. not insane and 2. defending this.

            • Interesting. Who says that creating a ‘racially hostile environment’ is somehow worse than marginalizing a student because he smells bad, is a dork, is poor or wears weird clothes? Regardless of the ‘reason,’ marginalization is bad for the object of same, but not illegal. Kids do it., and now school administrators are doing it, in the name of some presumed civility, the definition of which is amorphous but somehow interpreted very closely by some sectors of our society.

              What school systems are apparently saying is: “Your form of bullying is wrong; our form of bullying is justified.”

        • This is being proposed in Texas (!) A cyber bullying bill
          The bill classifies cyberbullying as a misdemeanor, allows courts to issue subpoenas to unmask people who anonymously harass minors online and requires public schools to report and intervene in any suspected cyberbullying cases. It also allows victims to sue cyberbullies’ parents if the parents could have intervened but didn’t.

          School districts would have responsibilities under this proposal as well, to investigate even if it happens outside of their district, even in summer break

          Wow. In my state.

    • An this is why college students demand safe spaces. Believe it or not, some students said mean things about me all the time. I was not intimidated, and did not consider myself “bullied.” Being mean to other kids, no matter how mean, is not the school’s business.

      We had a 4th grade teacher actually call us up to demand that my son invite a boy to his birthday party, because his feelings were hurt by not being invited. I happen to have agreed with the teacher’s point, but we told her to mind her own business.

      The meddling continued. Reason 6,743 why my son was homeschooled.

  4. Isn’t this what Mao Tse Dong did to his captive population during his several purges and operations to terrorize the mainland Chinese? The record and memoirs are rife with reports of citizens being publicly shamed and tormented and punished as a policy of terror toward the the entore population. Why wouldn’t this be California? Everything old is new again.

  5. Jack,

    “Ethics Alarms (that’s me, in case that confuses you) started complaining about schools punishing students for Facebook posts years ago.”

    I’m nostalgic for the days (yes, I’m bemoaning the loss of the Scoreboard again) when you used to separate yourself from your blog, much in the way a judge speaks as “The Court.” It gave your readership (that’s me, in case that confuses you) a reminder that ethical calls are not always easy calls and especially not ones that are enjoyable to make. I know you still do that to a degree, but your tone often conveys it as personal belief, not an objective ruling.

    I’ve spent the last few months re-reading the Ethics Scoreboard cannon and continue to be impressed by your work there (even after all this time). Your readership, personal investment, and relevance (due to more frequent updates) have all gone up, but the persuasiveness of the writing has unfortunately diminished.

    Lefties used to regular the Scoreboard (I know, because I hooked dozens of them), but unfortunately I don’t see nearly as much of that here. Then again, as you’ve said numerous times: it’s your blog.

    Still, for whatever it’s worth, there’s still someone holding vigil for more Lobster Hat ethics …

    • Lobster Hat was a bad reference as that one was full of “I thinks.” Still, that was nevertheless a time when the blog was far more accessible to everyone.

    • More than that, it’s A blog. Blogs are personal by nature. The Scoreboard was more formal, but my style in trainings is no formal either.

      That note was in reference to Tim’s objection to my referring to “Ethics Alarms” saying something when it is, in fact, just me.

      • I’m with Neil on this one. We have a brilliant federal judge here who often issues orders in the first person (“I would find” or “I have determined” ). Everyone knows when the Court issues the Order, it’s the Judge talking. But the “Court has determined” seems to carry a little more weight than “I have determined” even if there’s no functional difference.

      • Yes, blogs are personal by nature; however, you’re also asking your readership to trust you as an authority on ethical issues. “Ethics dictates that” or “Ethics Alarms has determined” sound far more like objective calls than subjective beliefs.

        I think of it as similar to the way the Pope can speak ex cathedra on issues or morality and still say “I don’t like anchovies with pizza.” without doctrine having to be rewritten. After all, it’s not just your opinion in the cases you write on, you’re also consulting ethical and moral rules and thinkers in your brain (or written) for guidance. Jack Marshall can have opinions on baseball all day long, but when it comes to ethics, I’d like to hear the thoughts of Kant, Hobbes, and others mixed in.

        • That’s because I am, in fact, an ethics expert and an authority, but no post is not accompanied by my rationale, so enlightened people can disagree. The tools I use, and often refer to, are prominently listed.

          I have always made it clear that abstract philosophy is not the topic here. And why in the world would you want to talk about Hobbes???

  6. The Mercury News provided a little more detail about the allegations,
    “The plaintiffs and the other suspended students were forced to march through the high school and were lined up in full view of all or most of the student body,” according to the lawsuit. “School administrators allowed the student body to hurl obscenities, scream profanities, and jeer at the plaintiffs and the other suspended students, who were all not allowed to leave what the school considered an act of ‘atonement’ but was rather a thinly veiled form of public shaming.”

    “On March 30, the plaintiffs and other suspended students attended another “restorative justice” session where a few hundred protesters gathered outside. They allege administrators failed to get sufficient security to escort them out of the building, leading to two suspended students being physically assaulted, with one suffering a broken nose, the lawsuit alleges.”

    This would fall under the definition of child abuse in Florida and if I had direct knowledge of it occurring here I would be mandated to report it to the Department of Children and Families. I hope someone has reported it there.

    I guess the administrators feel students hurling obscenity and profanity at other students is fine as long as those other students have violated the agenda. It’s perfectly clear they believe it is OK to punch a “Nazi” in the face. Wonder if they have started burning the unacceptable books yet. Maybe genie is right, this could be the start of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Got to go find my Little Red Book.

    • Incredible. Somebody probably violated criminal law if this is to be believed, and it isn’t the students in question.

    • This is an outrage. We condemn national policies (e.g. China, the Soviet Union) that attempt to “educate” dissidents of various kinds through terror, but allow schools and colleges to openly attack any student whom they think might be divergent from the norms they establish for themselves. This is getting very scary.

  7. ” If the school can punish students for “liking” a racist image, it can, and I assume will, eventually punish students who like President Trump. Or Ethics Alarms. Or Ayn Rand. Or veal.”

    Bratwurst? I’d fight a civil war for bratwurst.

        • It would appear you have some WESconsin surging through your veins.

          If that’s the case, you should know the “World’s Largest Bratfest” looms large, “Take Yer Brat To Work Day” (delivery available!) is two weeks from tomorrow.

          There, all five 1st Amendment Freedoms may be exercised.

          *Assembly: You & a ravenous throng 10’s of 1000’s strong.
          *Speech: “Gimme another one of them there Double Johnnies!”
          *Expression: Your “World’s Largest Brat Fest” attire will say it all.
          *Petition: “So what if I’ve had 10, you’ll hear from my lawyer.”
          *Religion: Do you even have to ask?

          Headlined by George Clinton & The P-Funk All-Stars? Fuggeddaboudit!

          Folks: Break Out Your Kraut Forks & Brat Bibs!


  8. What a shit burrito all the way around! If I were keeping score it would go like this:

    Kids having free thought. 1 pt.
    Kids using fellow students photos in demeaning ways (racist or not). -2 pts.
    Kids getting suspended for demeaning other students. 1 pt.
    Kids getting suspended for not being PC. -2
    Having a “restorative justice” session via mob chaos. -2pts.
    By my estimation the punishment outweighs the crime.

    I blame Common Core. And yes Chris I have a list of books I can give you on that topic. I’m not home now so you’ll have to wait.

  9. Well, why don’t we bring back the stocks and pillory like they had in Colonial times? I’m sure that that would be a useful deterrent for youth thought crimes. Or perhaps force them to wear a dunce cap and engage in self-criticism sessions.

    • Different issue. An employee’s public conduct reflects on his employer. There’s no right to speech without consequences from private employers. Schools are not employers, and they are the government.

      • But schools do have a responsibility to protect children, even from threats off campus–all school employees are mandated reporters. Why should we treat abuse from other students differently from abuse by adults?

          • My students come in every morning talking about what they saw on social media the night before; bullying on social media absolutely has a strong connection to the school, as it affects every aspect of students’ attitudes and behavior at school.

            • What if your students came in talking about the nightly news, and someone is offended? Do we block access to TV?

              What about a book, say Lord of the Flies? Or Tom Sawyer, which is full of unsavory (by modern standards) material? Would not the exposure to the words and actions of the characters not “affect… student’s attitudes and behavior at school?” What about video games, which I would argue are discussed as much as social media (judging by the overheard conversations my male teens and their peers have had, and by my wife’s experience at the high school.)

              Chris, my whole family are (or were) teachers, out to several cousins, and most of them might agree with you on the bullying. But not on how far we are discussing to push the school into fighting it. If it is actionable, it is a legal matter. If it happened off district grounds and/or after school hours, the school should have little to say.

              I appreciate the job you do, in other words, and am biased to support teachers and schools. But not in this.

              • What if your students came in talking about the nightly news, and someone is offended? Do we block access to TV?

                Huh? We aren’t talking about viewing offensive material. We’re talking about engaging in hostile activity toward another student. Your analogies don’t hold up.

                I do appreciate the support, though. That was very nice of you. Thank you.

    • Glad to meet another Trekkie! The was a poor episode, but the interrogation scenes are second only to Babylon 5, when Sheridan was captured by the Earth Alliance.

  10. This is very frightening, as I’ve noted in response to other respondents above.

    The really scary thing is that it is working. My niece is an example. From middle school through college (she is now in law school) she was subjected to every kind of PC thought, with the result that this otherwise very bright young woman is a drone for PC, liberal attitudes. All rationality evaporates when any opinion is expressed that conflicts with hers: she immediately goes into PC/liberal mode, wherein every thoughtful response is dismissed out of hand because it threatens her ideology. Her “education,” was either successful or terrifying, depending on your point of view.

    • Her indoctrination was both successful and terrifying. I’m not sure I would agree that it was education, though. No offense against your niece.

      • Agreed that this is not education as we define it, and since I brought up a family member as an example, certainly do not take offense at your agreement with my position on ‘education’ and what it’s made her. But she was successful, got into law school, so the bureaucracy decides that her education has been successful, thus far. If my experience with law school graduates and lawyers in general is any measure, she will continue to mouthe the correct platitudes, maintain her ideology, but when all is said and done, we’ll see her go for the money, not into public interest law. A sorry state.

  11. This isn’t a question of free speech — it’s one of cyber bullying. This isn’t a random post online, it was “liked” by four students. That means that the student body was exposed to the post. In fact, there might have even been an easy way to send the post to the entire student body. This off-school/on-school distinction no longer applies in the digital age. If one is a bully, it is far more effective to send a post calling a girl a slut, a boy gay, an inappropriate picture, etc. to the students then to organize a campaign on school premises to bully that person. This can have devastating effects on vulnerable kids who do not yet have fully developed minds. Instead of the school bully beating up the weak kid after school, one post can have the mental equivalent of the entire student body slapping you in the face.

    Kids are allowed to be racists, but they aren’t allowed to engage in behavior that will make others feel unsafe at school.

    The school handled this poorly however. The shaming sounds like a verbal stoning — whatever happened to parental involvement and suspensions?

    I just finished watching Thirteen Reasons Why. The series has flaws (which I won’t discuss here), but I do think it really captured how kids are handling social media today. I recommend it to anyone who has children. I would caution parents to watch it first before watching it with their kids — it deals with bullying, sexual violence, abuse, and suicide in graphic detail. I certainly will not let my children watch it until they are much older.

    • ’13 reasons why’ caused my wife’s school district to issue a parent bulletin to ‘get ahead’ of the kids watching it on Netflix, as they deemed it dangerous to children.

      The last time this mechanism was used was when a Hurricane dumped tons of rain on the area (a rare occurrence in south central Texas) and the schools were flooding. That was years ago.

      They were that concerned.

  12. Kids are allowed to be racists, but they aren’t allowed to engage in behavior that will make others feel unsafe at school.

    The problem is, who get’s to say what “…that will make others feel unsafe” is?

    Whenever we create laws restricting speech, even speech that is deplorable, we run into what I like to call the “pornography problem.” How do we define what is pornography and what is not? It largely depends on who is looking.

    That is a difficult basis for law. The first amendment is meant to protect all legitimate speech. The courts have given the schools some leeway to restrict student speech, but the further you get from campus, the less clear the compelling government interest becomes. This case is a matter of, essentially, defining student clicks on a link on the Internet as an actionable act of unprotected speech because others can see what they clicked on. If you think about it, that’s really super thin stuff for discipline.

    And to my first point, broad laws allowing schools to define what is “unsafe” are likely to fail, and should.

    • Glenn Logan wrote, “The first amendment is meant to protect all legitimate speech.”


      “The first amendment is meant to protect speech”, period, end of discussion. Whether a particular speech is legitimate or not is an opinion and even “non-legitimate” speech (whatever the hell that is) is protected.

      • Zoltar: You are dead-on. Free speech is free speech. I’ve never heard about ‘legitimate free speech” — a totally new twist on this issue.

        Even if we agreed (and we don’t) that protection of free speech means “legitimate free speech,” who are the seers who can proclaim legitimacy or illegitimacy? The Founders fought for free speech against the mighty powers of England…those powers determined who was legitimate (in speech or otherwise) and who was not: The whole point of rebelling against England was the idea that the powerful could no longer decide who could speak and who could not, what religion was “acceptable” and what was not, etc.

        This is a no-holds-barred right in the US. The ACLU defended American Nazis for just this right, among others.

        It is disturbing that the concept of “legitimate free speech” has crept into this discussion.

        • We just have to remember that…

          Just because we the people have the right to do and say whatever we want, does not make that what we do and say right.

          There are consequences to our words and actions.

          • Wong here, Zoltar. People in the US have the right to THINK and SAY whatever they want, but they do NOT have the right to DO whatever they want. This is our system of law. If you take you bias, hate, prejudice, or sociopathology out of thought and speech and turn it into action against other citizens you have crossed the line. Then you’re in for it, and should be. The primary reason for the Civil Right and Voting Rights Acts of 1964, for example, was to make the acting out of bias and prejudice in specific venues illegal. Those laws (1) gave the government the right to prosecute people acting on the biases/prejudices; and (2) paved the way (like it or not) for a gradual change in attitude toward blacks and other minorities by making certain actions illegal and therefore unacceptable behavior for the American culture. This is our history.

        • Examples of illegitimate speech are fraud, defamation, incitement, fighting words among others. Thankfully, there is very little illegitimate speech, but there is some.

      • Well, I think I communicated that insufficiently.

        By “legitimate,” I mean speech that is not defamation, fighting words, fraud, inciting lawlessness, etc.

        Contra your assertion, all speech is clearly not protected, but I can understand why you might’ve misunderstood what I meant.

    • Glenn, schools have always had the job of keeping kids safe. This is not new, and bullying is not new. But the internet has changed everything. If a kid (from his home computer) sent a message to the entire school body that a classmate was a homosexual and will give blow jobs for $1, can you just imagine how the target would feel on his next day of school? The laughs, the whispers, the stares? And then the rumor balloons out of control and kids start offering him dollar bills, notes are placed in his locker, drawings, etc.? And now other kids start piling up on him on social media?

      Even if the parents take away the poor kid’s computer, the damage is still being done.

      Of course the school just get involved. But how they address it is another story. They are struggling right now, no doubt.

      • Spartan,
        The internet has only made these kinds of things easier and faster to spread.

        In the scenario you presented, the target of the bullying has a real good case for defamation against the bully. Hit these fucking bullies where it will make a lasting impression, in the courts and in their wallets! Sue the pants off these assholes! Have the court order no internet usage for a year, assess huge fines for such things, mandate long, long hours of community service.

        • Suing people takes money and resources. You’re right that it should be done, but in the meantime, the school has a duty to protect its students.

      • Spartan: Wrong. The public schools were not designed to ‘protect and educate.’ Rather, they have always had the job of making good workers for the US. The private schools and the universities have had the job of making leaders for the US. (You may disagree, but look at our leadership and their bios.)

        In one respect, the public schools have in fact done a good job, especially with the children of immigrants from the 1890s and forward — they taught them English, gave them basic skills, etc. But the public schools as the ‘protectors’ of children is a relatively new concept. Once the bullying issue came to the fore, it gave leave for the schools (and liberals, thoughtlessly, about the future) to extend the concept of bullying to internet speech, and anything else that didn’t fit their ideology.

        Can we not agree that the public school system is (1) out of control and (2) not doing its job? Common Core, e.g., teaches kids to take tests, not to amass knowledge and skills; individual school systems have differing notions of ‘bullying’ and ‘protection,’ leading to the extreme example being discussed here. It is not within the public school systems’ purview to indoctrinate children toward one ideology or another. It is definitely not within the public school systems’ purview to punish children for exercising their right of free speech. This is totalitarian behavior, pure and simple.

      • In your scenario, the actionable bullying: the notes, the drawings, the harassment should be handled by the school. Prior to the internet, students gossiped about each other by word of mouth or by passing notes back and forth. But no school in its right mind would discipline students for gossiping about another kid while at a slumber party. The means by which the rumors are spread does not change the scenario, only the size of the audience and the speed at which it spreads.

        • I disagree. What if, in my hypothetical, ALL of the bullying was done via the internet and the only action in school was the kid was treated like a leper? And this behavior continued for weeks and months on end.

          Are you really saying that the school should take no action?

          That’s ridiculous.

          • Spartan asked, “Are you really saying that the school should take no action?”

            The school has no jurisdiction to take action for things that take place off school property.

            How far are you willing to go with allowing schools to punish students for things students do off school grounds? Seriously Spartan, think about it.

            • Zoltar, you think about it. These are student distribution lists — not random people. This is all about the school. The bullying would not be happening, but for school. Plus, the kids can access social media from their phones or school computers WHILE IN SCHOOL.

              There is no longer a distinction between school/home anymore when it comes to information distribution. It doesn’t matter where you press the button.

              • That’s a terrifying position. It certainly does matter, just as it matters where you are having any conversation. Arguing that the job of educating my child provides an open invitation to meddle with what takes place in my home is Big Brotherism, plain and obvious.

                • But it’s not taking place in your home Jack — it’s taking place in the cloud.

                  Arguing for a home/school distinction with the internet is ridiculous. And, even if we were to take your position, how do you enforce it since social media is used during the school day? Facebook posts commented on during school hours are punishable and those after school hours are not? What about texts that were sent at home but are still on a kids phone as he walks into school — now the offending text is on school grounds. What if the bullier sends the text at home but the bullied student doesn’t read it until he is on school grounds? Was he bullied at home or at school since the bullier cannot control when his victim reads it?

                    • A phone conversation can place where each person is. A tweet, photo, post, etc. can be viewed at anytime. The sender has no control.

                    • Zoltar, you need to calm down and stop turning every discussion into a personal shaming exercise directed against your target. No, Spartan should not “be ashamed of herself” for having different ideas about how to best protect children. Stick to the arguments and cut the insults and condescension.

                    • It’s actually not irrelevant to look at these issues if one is trying to create a bright line between school and home behavior.

                      These are the types of questions that courts grapple with all the time — especially when it comes to jurisdictional fights.

                  • Social media can be blocked at a school. My district monitors and blocks much of it on their network. Even cell phones can be blocked, if one wants to buy a commercially available jammer (some movie theaters do just that). Not saying that my distric has gone that far, but if we are looking a Orwellian home invasive measure ‘for the children,’ then these are the answer on school grounds. Then off school grounds is up to the parents, on both sides of the bullying.

                    • I can’t imagine that will fly. Some kids need to have phones on them — especially kids with separated parents. And if kids have a cell phone, they have access to the internet.

              • Spartan wrote, “This is all about the school. The bullying would not be happening, but for school.”, “There is no longer a distinction between school/home anymore when it comes to information distribution. It doesn’t matter where you press the button.”

                Holy shit Spartan, you’re teetering on the edge!!! There is a whole lot of reality just beyond that edge you’re precariously perching yourself upon.

          • The public schools are not in the business of enforcing the law. Their business is, presumably, education. If administrators in a public school believe that a student has broken the law, they must report it to the appropriate legal authorities. If, however, administrators in a public school believe that a student has broken an unwritten law about bullying or prejudice, their only resort is to the PARENTS of that child. They have no legal right to exercise their own form of justice – on a minor! — based upon their own, uncodifed, law.

              • Right. So you go to the parents, explain the situation, what is involved, the school’s stance on this, and ask for their help. If they are assholes enough to deny the negatives of cyber bullying (or horrors, NEGATIVE SPEECH) then the schools do have a problem. Their next action depends on whether the case in point is one of real bullying or one of speech that the schools decide is against the mores they’ve set for themselves. I don’t profess to know the answer, but if all the schools can do is resort to their OWN FORM OF BULLYING, they have not explored this adequately. We presume they are the professionals here, but I see no evidence that they are in fact either professional educators or institutional leaders, so their responses will continue to be wrong.

          • uhh… Spartan, there is a little button on the Internet device. We call it a power button.

            My daughter was the victim of cyber stalking (lured into sexting) and some low key bullying (both different instances) at around 12 years old. Her parents (that would be my wife) noticed a change in her demeanor and we kept at her until we found the problem. In the one case we took the device away for a month, as she began acting out some of the less dangerous suggested scenarios from the pervert (!); in the other we deleted the App from which she was being bullied.

            I control WiFi in my house, and my kids know it (and sometimes hate that their dad is an engineer), so I am paying attention to what they do, as far as they know :). I have caught one of my sons watching ‘questionable’ videos (not quite porn, but titillating to a 13 year old) and we dealt with it (as a ‘you are exposing your little siblings to this stuff’ rather than ‘this is wrong because I say so’) and they know they have NO expectation of privacy in our home. They know I will drug test them in a heart beat, and I have made a child take a STD test (at his expense) when he violated our trust.

            I am almost the only one in my family to not have worked in a public school as a teacher or admin (my father in law never did.) My knowledge of public education policy (in Texas) and school politics ranges back to the living memory of my parents (mid 1950’s on up) who lived and worked in them. (That is not to say my conclusions are right or wrong, just well informed)

            All that to say it is the parent’s responsibility to educate, protect and mold the child: not a village, not the government, and not the school.

            • I don’t think I disagreed with you until the last paragraph. What do we do about all the kids that don’t have slickwilly as a parent?

              • Oh dang, Sparty, you are going to make me go full conservative on this one:

                It is NOT the government’s role to take care of “all the kids that don’t have slickwilly as a parent.” Parents are responsible, period, and everything we as a society have done to mitigate that duty are wrong. We encourage slipshod parenting every time we provide what parents traditionally had to.

                Since this is an ethics blog, I will address it in those terms. Ethically, the parents who do not pay attention are at fault. (Note that I indict myself here as well, as my wife tends to see impending issues first: I can get caught up in life like anyone)

                If one wants to have children, understand they are not toys, or accessories, or status symbols. They are not a chance to regain your lost youth (you have grand kids for that,) or to live out your life dreams, or little robots who live to serve your whim. Being selfish, and/or lazy, and/or distracted to the point that you do not learn how to protect them, even from themselves, is an ethical failing.

                YOU, THE PARENT, ARE THE ADULT, ipso facto, who must guide children who are not adults, and (if you or they fail) may never be adults. (Many in our society never become adults, as they never take personal responsibility for their actions.) Parents should accept the possibility that a child might not be capable to care for themselves their entire lives, or may die at any time, and ethically the parents are on the hook, come what may.

                Centuries ago parents protected their children from invading armies, who would rape, enslave or kill them; today you most protect from the virtual predators who would rape, enslave or kill them. Different set of tools, same goals. Learning how to protect their kids as best they could from the threats they had then was the ethical responsibility of parents 4,000 years ago; nothing but the types of challenges has changed today.

                We have had generations now who have not had to fear an invader or totalitarian government here in America; ask a refugee from Yugoslavia, or Cambodia, or almost any African or Latin American country what this is like. Hear their stories about parents hiding their kids and being killed to protect them. Our very security lulls us to sleep, where we care more about what car we drive or what the latest fad movie star thinks more than protecting our children. Incidentally, the existence of this fantasy bubble indicts our society ethically as well.

                Children are not just little people we must protect. Children are a life-long responsibility, some of the best friends you may ever have, and may end up changing your diapers. They might pick your nursing home and may (or may not) visit you there; might arrange your funeral, or decide if your quality of life is worth the cost. You will share in their victories, mourn with their losses, and be frustrated at how like ourselves they are.

                Children are their parent’s ethical responsibility

                Not related to ethics, but true nonetheless: children are your chance to join in the march of life through the ages, to continue what all your forefathers did before you: successfully raised kids who did the same. They look to parents for help, support, and as role models. They will magnify your minor flaws as well as your greatest strengths. Your choices can lift them up or burden them down, and can be passed to their kids for generations to come. Abused can become the abuser; but responsible raises responsible, down the generations, and parents set that in motion.

                You will have this relationship through eternity, as chosen by God himself.

                Approach the responsibility with a healthy fear and great caution: THIS is the biggest decision, and greatest responsibility, you will face in life.

      • The Texas law allows courts to unmask cyber bullies, and makes the bully’s parents civilly liable. This may actually have some benefits to society, when actions are linked to perpetrators. In the old days, a bully could be confronted and stopped (sometimes even with an anonymous bullet, in early days).

        (The part of the proposed law I object to is making the school district over reach into the entire world, no matter where the post originated from)

        Story from my rural school, which had more cows in the city limits than people even when school was in session (we served a good portion of the county, and still were tiny): There was a bully whose mom was always protecting her darling from the consequences for his actions. We’ll call him ‘Jim.’ Jim repeated several grades early on, and thus was older than my classmates and I. He also was a BIG boy, large in height, breadth, and girth (not obese, but heavy set.) He was physically imposing, and spoiled rotten by his mom, which is never a good combination. Since the school was forced to keep student until their 21st birthday, there were a lot of older kids (adults, really) that were never going to graduate. They were ‘stockpiled’ in the shop areas of the school under a shop ‘teacher’ who could only be described as a better bully himself, with these boys. (It was the only way to control them)

        Well, Jim was pretty used to getting his way when the teacher’s back was turned, which is to say, most of the time. One day he shoved a smaller kid down and turned his back. Now this kid was (unknown to the school) into drugs, and was high that particular morning, and he snapped. When Jim turned his back, he grabbed a length of iron pipe and jumped on Jim’s back, beating Jim about the head and shoulders all the way to the ground. It took several people to get him off Jim, who was unconscious and bleeding.
        When Jim returned to school (after a lengthy hospital stay,) he was the most polite, unconfrontational guy you could imagine. When I asked him what changed his attitude, he told me that while in the hospital (and when his mom left the room) his dad had explained to him that his attitude would run into someone with a gun one day, and that would be that. It sunk in!

        This is how bullies were dealt with when their actions were known. The civil lawsuits will make them known again, and make them pay.

        • Yes, we all have anecdotes like that — and they all involve instances of one-on-one bullying. Cyber bullying can involve an entire club, class, or team against a student. Is the kid with the iron pipe supposed to go around and beat up each kid individually that participated in the bullying?

          That’s how cyber bullying works — it’s rarely one kid against another but rather a gang of hateful kids working together to harass a single student.

          • Actually, this ‘Jim’ had a gang surrounding him helping the harassment. They liked to isolate the victim and bully them, usually over months or years.

            In fact, they used to pick on the ‘teacher’s kid’ (that would be me) until I dared them to hit me, or shut up. I told Jim that we would both go to the office, and who would they believe, the gang (who was on record for this stuff) or the teacher’s kid, who never got into trouble even once? Jim realized that I could go to the office even if he did not beat me, and the result would be the same. My word was better than his, and his bullying depended on my continued intimidation and basic honesty to not lie. His mommy couldn’t help in that situation, and so the gang left me alone.

            What is the difference? The kids now can do it without consequences, being anonymous. Unmask the kids, make the parents civilly liable, and things will change.

          • Also, the kid with the pipe never did have to hit more than Jim. First, he was arrested for assault and drugs (we never saw him again) and second, the gang stopped when the members saw what could happen.

            Stand up to bullies, and they pick different targets.

      • Spartan, I don’t think you dealt with my comment in your response.

        There are doubtless examples of on-line speech where, according to legal precedent in the circuits where schools may legitimately constrain speech when there is a clear nexus between the speech and the maintenance of discipline and order in the school. SCOTUS so far hasn’t addressed this, and hasn’t provided any useful guidance for off-campus speech of any kind that I am aware of, preferring so far to leave the cases in the circuits.

        The example you gave is a clearly such a case, which, depending on what circuit you are in, where schools are legally justified taking action. The problem becomes that these laws tend to be too broad, and the subject of this thread is an example of a situation where the school’s authority probably trampled student rights.

        In my personal view, almost all these laws are overbroad. Schools should not be able to discipline students for on-line behavior like this unless they can directly demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that it was destructive to discipline, not merely that it affected somebody negatively or that someone got upset. Nobody has a right to be free from insult, criticism, or even racism or homophobia expressed on an Internet forum. To the contrary, the US Constitution explicitly says otherwise in very general terms that doubtless would include the Internet if the amendment were drafted today.

  13. On a related note:


    At AU, African American and other students demanded a “sanctuary space” be established for minority students at a campus cafeteria; a policy granting extensions for final exams to minority students; and an open-door policy for outside groups such as the NAACP to investigate hate crimes and racial incidents at the universit

    In the mid-1950’s, the city of Montgomery in Alabama offered sanctuary spaces for certain minorities in their buses. I wonder why MLK Jr. and company made such a big fuss about it.

    • “Color-blindness” (a general policy of non-discrimination of any kind based on race) is now considered stealth racism by the Left. Since that was the only possible sane way to approach race relations without a race war…get ready for a race war.

      • … and how will that work out? Whites won’t be the aggressors (at least initially) but they will defend themselves. Sheer numbers doom any race war.

        Unless you think the Feds or Military will support genocide against civilians in the USA, especially if race is the motivation. Not likely.

        I don’t think minorities are stupid enough to go there, or they would have already. My 2 cents.

        • I don’t know, slick. I didn’t think anybody would riot, destroying businesses that served the community because a cop had defended himself against an aggressive thug who was attacking him, trying to get his gun, either. I was wrong.

          • DD, aren’t those totally different scenarios? Genocide (what a ‘race war’ really is) is in a whole ‘nuther class than the rioting we have endured in my lifetime.

            • They are, indeed different scenarios. I was simply pointing out that I found both to be equally unlikely. I have been shown to be wrong on one. What is the probability that I am wrong on the other as well?

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