What she does in school is one thing, but this was outside of school, so what business is it of the school’s? Next up: punishment for thinking naughty thoughts. Or should I just say thinking…

The American Civil Liberties Union sued Minnewaska Area Schools and Pope County officials Tuesday, claiming they violated a middle school student’s constitutional rights in two incidents involving Facebook. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, the ACLU of Minnesota claimed the school disciplined a 12-year-old after she posted “a typical young girl’s comment that she `hated’ a school hall monitor who had been `mean’ to her.”

According to the lawsuit, school principal Pat Falk said the comment constituted bullying, and the girl was given detention and told to apologize. She was at home when she posted the comment and did not use a school computer, the ACLU of Minnesota said.

The girl was disciplined again when she posted another comment, in which she cursed because someone reported her. The ACLU claimed the discipline violated the girl’s right to free speech. In a second incident, the ACLU claimed school administrators forced the girl to give them login information to her Facebook and email accounts after a boy’s mother complained that her son and the girl were using computers to talk about sex.



  1. birddog says:

    This is a violation of her rights, they have no problem with kids being Tried as adults, so this is a double standard.

  2. Yaknow says:

    yea, as a society we are fucked.

  3. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

    You know, if the photo was of a closed door, I wouldn’t know what to post? ((Except for the expansive header.))

    In a few days/weeks you might post that door with a caption contest?

    Power does corrupt. It would be easy to dismiss “if” they actually provided a good education otherwise? But sadly, one does tend to be substituted for the other: authoritarian over reach with poor academics.

  4. Silenus Zarkoff says:

    She should write a song about it. Around 1900, a little girl named Elizabeth Cotten didn’t like a woman who was baby sitting her and wrote a song called “Oh, Babe, It Ain’t No Lie.” It contained the lyric:

    One old woman in this down keep a tellin’ her lies on me.
    Wish to my soul that old woman would die,
    She keep tellin’ her lies on me.

    Today I suppose Ms. Cotten would be arrested for terrorism or something. But fortunately for her, the Grateful Dead heard the song before Homeland Security did. They recorded it and made Ms. Cotten a nice chunk of change.

    • thanks for your post on the Watermelon Sushi fan page, silenus. i moved it to the Hip Hapa Homeez group page which is where we engage in discussions of all things multicultural, mixed-ethnic, interracial and transracial. the Watermelon Sushi page is only about the film. again, mahalo nui loa!

  5. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

    Here’s another take on the same story. Interesting to grog they all come from the same base line wire report? Little more tech in the sidebar at this site:

    http://news.techeye.net/internet/school-sued-for-bad-lesson-on-the-us-constitution

  6. ABO says:

    The company I work for, Walt Disney, will fire me if I blog about anybody I work with.

  7. dusanmal says:

    All the hype aside, this is a typical conflict information age have brought top us. School must have ability to address issues that affect kids while at school. Information age allows for easy impact on the school from theoretical “outside”. I see no difference here vs. old fashioned bully beating someone he knows from school somewhere outside on the street because of the conflict arising from some situation in the school. Schools have disciplined for such behavior and should do it. Maybe a legally better way would have been to send Social Service at the parents door because that is where foundation of the problem is.

    • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

      dusanmal–given I so often rag on you, I have to compliment you for being close to the mark on this comment. I never heard of my school taking action against kiddies for off school grounds, but who knows?

      I don’t think though that parents should automatically be thought of as lacking skills just because the kiddies get into a flame war. Kids are quite capable of doing that all their own. Once the parents find out about “whatever” then their challenge arises.

      Nice area of law to develop: how much/what kind of not at school activities are the schools responsible for?

      Pro’s and Con’s………yada, yada.

      • Animby says:

        I would disagree with both of you but I’m afraid one of you feel I was bullying you.

        Poop. If someone writes, Dusanmal, I’m gonna be waiting for you and kick your ass, that certainly could be thought of as bullying/threatening.

        If someone writes, Bobbo, I really hate you for your abortive attempts of reasoning. That’s not bullying. That’s not a threat. That’s freedom of speech.

        In any case, if the child did not use school facilities to write her Facebook entries, then I don’t see how the school has ANY authority. The civil code addresses these sorts of attacks and the aggrieved could have sought justice from civil authorities. Further, a school forcing a child to reveal passwords and log-in data seems waaay over the top to my liberal-conservtive-libertarian-republican-democrat-confused sensibilities (Thanks you Bobbo.)

        One thing I know for sure: Schools should be involved in education NOT law enforcement.

        • Brian says:

          the ironic thing here is that the ACLU usually ATTACKS people for anything that they arbitrarily deem “hate speech”. Saying you “hate” someone or a characteristic about them would seem right up their alley. So, I guess the kid and his parents should be glad that the other kid’s parents didn’t talk to the ACLU first. I could see this turning into an ACLU-vs-ACLU mudslinging fest, really.

        • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

          Keeping the rolling abortion rolling: Animby–as stated, I think you have the better position: school has NO authority over off school grounds/facility activities.

          I don’t know what special fact patterns could be hypothesized/experienced that would urge any school to act but having a bright line separating responsibilities has a lot of merit going for itself.

          Brian–I think the ACLU hates hate speech regarding the traditional “protected groups”–you know sex, religion, race, handicapped and so forth. I don’t think they care if you hate dandruff, the cross town high school team ((unless they are predominately hispanics?)), teachers, and so forth.

          We all do support our ACLU right?==the most effective means to support our civil rights there is? Guns not even making the list? ……. No?

    • This hits pretty close to home for me. My daughter was harassed at school and on her facebook. The situation was resolved using the facebook postings along with documented reporting at school. Together these artifacts convinced the school authority (principle) to act decisively. It only took a well worded riot act to the offending students and parents to remedy.
      The fecebook entries were not identified as ‘the’ crime but treated more as supporting evidence of harassment at school. The documented incidents at school were the real charges.

  8. deowll says:

    I will be interested to learn how the case turns out.

  9. shooff says:

    It is about time. The First Amendment is clear. Why do you think the Religious Right wants to get rid of Public School?

    They want to inhibit speech, not save money.

  10. Hmeyers2 says:

    This is a tough call.

    While what goes on in Facebook pages isn’t school, these little kids are often harassing people that they only know through school.

    And it disrupts the school and the venom and bad feelings affect behavior in school. I mean these are kids that like to harass each other because they simply haven’t matured to know better.

    I’d go with the idea that for “full fledged” rights you need to be an adult.

    • Uncle Dave says:

      “I mean these are kids that like to harass each other because they simply haven’t matured to know better.”

      You mean like kids have been doing since the we were came down from the trees? Actually, they’ve shown apes doing pretty much the same thing to each other, so even earlier.

      • Animby says:

        What UncDave said.
        You cannot treat a child as if they are born with a fully mature emotional control system. We are not shown her actual comments, but it certainly seems like they fail to reach the level of bullying. And the school has no right to get involved as the incidents took place outside the school. If there is a problem here, it should have been handled by civil authorities.

        Schools are entrusted with shaping our children and we don’t need those children fearing authoritarian school administrators.

    • So what says:

      So lets change school to work and kids to adult shall we.

      While what goes on in Facebook pages isn’t work, these little adults are often harassing people that they only know through work.

      And it disrupts the work and the venom and bad feelings affect behavior in work. I mean these are adults that like to harass each other because they simply haven’t matured to know better.

      I’d go with the idea that for “full fledged” rights you need to be an adult.

      Kinda makes you go hhmmmm don’t it.

      • Hmeyers2 says:

        Your idea leaves teenagers at a vulnerable age subject to bullying. The kind of stuff that leads to suicide and some kid bringing a gun to school and killing 5 people.

        Complex issue.

        Really.

        At work, your boss might fire someone for harassing another employee on Facebook.

        School? The kids have no choice of their own whether or not to go there. They can’t “quit”.

        So I don’t feel your example is apples to apples.

        • So what says:

          You don’t feel its apples to apples? Really

          Three work place shootings in one day

          http://tinyurl.com/7jmqg6z

          Adults are on facebook
          Adults are bullied
          Adults commit suicide
          Adults bring guns to work (school)

          The example is dead on.

          This is not complex. The school has no right to censor anything done outside of the class room that is not specifically part of the school curriculum period.

          Dress code at school, yes, at the mall on Saturday, no.

          Curfew on athletes they agree to, yes, curfew for the average student on their own time, no.

          No drinking at prom yes, no drinking if the parents allow it at home, no.

          If you want it simple its none of their damn business.

          • Hmeyers2 says:

            In fairness, right now few people know what to do about the emerging more connected world.

            Maybe it is right to do nothing.

            Maybe people should get thicker skin.

            Maybe modern changes need more time to sink in to the culture.

            15 years ago talking on a cellphone in a restaurant was “rude”. Today it is normal.

            Things change. Maybe those little kids and school administrators need to find something else to do with their time and mind their own business instead of coddle everyone.

          • deowll says:

            “No drinking at prom yes, no drinking if the parents allow it at home, no.”

            If the kid is under 18 a lot of seriously unpleasant things can happen to you.

  11. spsffan says:

    Geez. I don’t particularly see a problem with the girl saying she “hates” a particular hall monitor because they were “mean to her” even in school, in front of the class, teacher and principal.

    That isn’t bullying. It’s just calling the like she see ’em.

    But off campus?

    And people wonder why I wouldn’t have kids, even if I wanted to! F’in Nazis!

  12. Joe says:

    School administrators are some of the worst people.

  13. Publius says:

    The school workers accuse the girl of bullying.

    The cop accuses the driver of being aggressive today.

    Both are bullies using propaganda and the cover and the power of the state to execute the bullying.

  14. msbpodcast says:

    Yes its bullying, but unfortunately they’re authority figures, (as opposed to real authorities, [most of them couldn’t compose something for public consumption anymore than you, kid,]) so you just grumble quietly to yourself and suck it up.

    Even more unfortunately, while you’re are making up a letter never to be mailed containing some of the finest rhetoric you’ll never regret, putting it on FaceBook pretty much insures that you will definitely regret it.

    I was in that position long before the invention of the PC and though they never tamed me, they eventually got me to not be so all up in their grill about it.

    I was a wiseass, pain-in-the-ass, unapologetic, little so-and-so, I had an nearly eidetic memory, and would ace tests without so much as opening their books because I read at home constantly, in two languages. I had no friends and instead of playing utside, I read … constantly, sometimes a book a day.

    Kids, if you have a beef with the powers that be wait until you’re out of school before you yell at them and tell them to kiss your ass-te-risk on your way out the door and down the road.

    You’ll find that it simply isn’t worth your bother and the briefcases full of grievances and Phyrric imbroglios you’ve piled up over the years from dealing with the cock-suckers and the bitches isn’t even worth your time to read at them.

    You just want to get the fuck away from there…

    • Lynn says:

      It sounds like we are the same person
      “I was a wiseass, pain-in-the-ass, unapologetic, little so-and-so, I had an nearly eidetic memory, and would ace tests without so much as opening their books because I read at home constantly, in two languages. I had no friends and instead of playing outside, I read … constantly, sometimes a book a day.”
      Spooky. Yet I seem to be happier than you. Wishing you well today, my friend.

      • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist, stands in the bread line of hungry souls, stops, and offers a crumb says:

        I’m just the opposite of yousetwo: Can’t remember shit!

        Yet, I am happy too. Or am I just forgetting how unhappy I am?? ….. and what’s the difference??

        What were we talking about?

  15. Aaron says:

    I grew up in county near by where this took place. Back when I was in school and even now. They have suspended and kicked off students for sports teams if pics of them drinking showed up and that was even before these social media tools.

  16. rider1 says:

    And when someone posts stuff like this and something bad happens because the school ignores it everyone freaks out the school ignored it.

  17. Lynn says:

    So funny, I was just reminiscing with a friend about the round-robin newsletters my circle of geeks and nerds used to pass around in high school, 1972, 1973, 1974. I did the artwork and one issue had fantasy drawings to my friends’ specifications, some of the best work I ever did: Patty in a hazmat suit going down the hallway with a flamethrower, charred remains around her; Dorothy standing with her arms raised in triumph while a mushroom cloud rises over the destroyed school building, etc. I have never hurt anyone or committed a crime in my life. Today, I guess I’d be a felon just for making the drawings.

  18. MartinJJ says:

    Welcome to the new world order mindset. When you hand over your children (or yourself) to an oversized government, there are always many idiots out there happily wanting to abuse their powers over others. You see it everywhere now, police, schools, TSA, etc, etc. Instead of protecting you as they should, they now take a totally offensive stand towards you. You are guilty until you can prove you ain’t. The only thing they do not realize, is when the real new world order comes down, they will be a victim of the system also. Before WW2 in Germany they were called Brownshirts. Gestapo in the making. History repeats itself.

    Vote Ron Paul before it really is too late.

  19. JimD, Boston, MA says:

    Hope the ACLU takes the District to the CLEANERS !!!

    Put the FASCISTS in their place !!!

  20. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist, stands in the bread line of hungry souls, stops, and offers a crumb says:

    Lynn says:
    3/9/2012 at 8:16 am

    I had an nearly eidetic memory, and would ace tests without so much as opening their books because I read at home constantly, in two languages. //////// I’m just the opposite of yousetwo: Can’t remember shit!

    Yet, I am happy too. Or am I just forgetting how unhappy I am?? ….. and what’s the difference??

    What were we talking about?

    • Lynn says:

      I’m glad you’re happy, bobbo. This is not an ironic comment. I really am glad. Life is too short to spend being unhappy.

      • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

        Does this smell like chloroform to you Lynn?

        Ha. ha. No–the beautiful recognition is that I am basically “unbothered” and I have forgotten at least the acute phase of most of what has made me unhappy. I can’t take credit for it. Just lucky my brain works that way.

        What can you ever really “think” of someone who seems to mismanage their own emotional life?==Making mountains out of molehills. Focusing on minutae rather than letting it go? All as so many do?

        Its not their fault in major point of fact, but best to cross to the other side of the street.

        • Lynn says:

          Thanks for the compliment, bobbo, but I thought you were married? Also I think I am old enough to be at least your mother. Trust me, you wouldn’t be wanting any of this. No chloroform necessary. PS, “making mountains out of molehills” – isn’t that what the comment threads on DU are all about?


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