Chapter I: In Georgia, two Carrollton High School seniors made a truly cretinous video. Filmed in a bathroom, the male and female students students pretend to be doing a cooking show as they pour cups of water into the sink.
Showing their faces in the mirror, she announces, “Hey, today we’re making…”as the camera aims at the sink where there’s a piece of notebook paper with “niggers” written on it. The male student intones the word. The male student lifts cups of water and pours each one into the sink, over the paper. Under each cup is a piece of paper with the name of an “ingredient” written on it, which the young woman reads.
“First we have ‘black,'” she says. He then pours the cup of water into the sink over the paper with the slur. “Next we have, ‘Don’t have a dad!'” Other ingredients include “eating watermelon and fried chicken” and “rob people.”
“Specifically whites,” guy adds as he refills the “robs people” cup over and over using the sink tap. One cup labeled “make good choices” is empty. The couple feign surprise over the cup having nothing in it.
Once their opus was complete, the couple was so proud that they posted it online.
Why this is discouraging: In what alternate universe would anyone from the age of seven up think something like that would be acceptable to publicize? What kind of polluted culture is being fostered in Carollton? What are they teaching in the schools?
Even passing on that, how could anyone be so stupid as to think posting an overly racist video wouldn’t have serious consequences? Again, who is teaching critical thinking in that community? What have the parents been doing for 17 years, getting stoned?
Chapter 2: The students were expelled and informed that they won’t be allowed to graduate because of the video. Carrollton City Schools Superintendent Mark Albertus said In a statement that the students’ behavior was unacceptable and “not representative of the district’s respect for all people.”
Why this is discouraging: Apparently the school either has not heard of the First Amendment, doesn’t understand it, or, in the alternative, knows damn well it can do this, but is grandstanding to avoid the immediate public relations problem of how to deal with deal with the students within the law. The school cannot withhold a diploma, and either the superintendent knows that and is deliberately saying it is doing what it cannot do, or he does not know that, and is a gross incompetent, along with everyone else involved.
The speech involved did not occur in school. The Supreme Court’s decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969) held that administrators can punish students for off-campus speech when it is
- closely linked to school (known as a “nexus”) and/or likely to reach the campus community, and
- expected to disrupt school work or discipline.
Tinker has been applied in the internet era to justify school discipline when a student or students,
- created a social media page meant to get fellow students to harass a classmate (Kowalski v. Berkeley County Schools, 652 F.3d 565 (4th Cir. 2011))
- sent classmates instant messages full of violent language about shooting other students at school (Wynar v. Douglas County School Dist., 728 F.3d 1062 (9th Cir. 2013))
- wrote a blog with racist and sexually explicit, degrading comments about classmates that upset many students and disrupted classes (S.J.W. v. Lee’s Summit R-7 School Dist., 696 F.3d 771 (8th Cir. 2012)), and
- posted an online video of a rap recording about two school coaches that was intended to reach fellow students and intimidated the coaches with threatening, violent language (Bell v. Itawamba County School Bd., 799 F.3d 379 (5th Cir. 2015)).
None of which apply here. No student was named or targeted. Making an argument that the video would disrupt classes is especially futile now because school isn’t in session. Thus the students, if they are punished, will be punished for the content of their speech.
They can’t do that.
Chapter 3: The comments on progressive blogs primarily consist of attacks on whites, conservatives, Republicans, President Trump, and the United States. When commenting on substance, few seemed to have clue about the principles involved. On the blog of Boing Boing, a quirky, left-leaning website with a blog attached, the blogger said the punishment was “Just desserts for the racists.” (Wrong. In the United States, it is not “just” to withhold a diploma because of protected speech or offensive beliefs.) Then, in the comments, one reader states that the speech is obviously hate speech, and thus unprotected. Wrong. Another commenter get that part right, but says, “The First Amendment broadly has been held not to apply to public schools.” It applies when the speech has nothing to do with school, as in this case. Another commenter tells that commenter. “No it doesn’t, because schools aren’t bound by the first amendment” and links to the ridiculous Bong Hits For Jesus case. But that case does not apply: the speech in that case was a banner deliberately unfurled to be seen by students. Yet another said, “However awkward the School District’s words were, they expelled the dangerous kids to stop them from damaging other kids. That was a clear message in itself.” Nonsense. There was nothing “dangerous” in their stunt, and they couldn’t damage other students if they wanted to. The same commenter continued in that vein:
You can’t allow one group of students to threaten another group of students because of “freedom of speech”. The threatened group have a right to live without fear. These asshhole racist students threatened the safety of all the African American kids at the school by their actions and words. It’s clear that the videoers assumed that their friends at the school would agree with their nastiness, so this is not a one-off incident by a couple of bad apples – there’s a hateful racist group embedded in that school.We know (and the black students at that school know) that those racist attitudes are at the root of the denial of rights and of violence against people of African descent. The expulsions won’t change the racist kids minds, but it will hopefully silence their friends and prevent racist attacks, if it’s clear the school will take action against them whether it’s on campus or off campus.
Why this is discouraging: Virtually all of the commenters don’t understand the First Amendment, can’t read a SCOTUS opinion, and lack critical thinking skills. The last commenter above is especially troubling, for he has absorbed Left-think that has crippled his understanding of rights, justice, and the English language:
- No, there was nothing “threatening” in that video. Calling mere words threats because one disagrees with them or finds them offensive is a back door to censorship, which in turn facilitates totalitarianism.
- There is no “right” not to live in fear when mere opinions and words frighten you.
- No, the asshole kids threatened the safety of no one. this logic is becoming a society-wide Big Lie.
- It’s irrelevant who the couple thought their video would entertain or appeal to.
- The commenter is endorsing actual intimidation and speech control by force.
The writer sounds like an adult, and is apparently an adult who has been indoctrinate and mis-educated on a wide range of related topics. He believes that his speech is protected, but those he disagrees with isn’t. The education system has failed him, and his culture has failed him. I view him as a greater danger in the long run than the two teens.