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Calling Principal "Douchebag" on Blog — Freedom of Speech?

Calling Principal "Douchebag" on Blog — Freedom of Speech?

School officials banned a high school student from running for student government, because she used vulgar language to criticize school officials on her blog. The student wrote: "Jamfest is canceled due to the douchebags in the central office."

The student sued the school in federal court for violating her First Amendment rights. She is now appealing the lower court decision that sided with the school. The US Supreme Court has ruled previously that schools can regulate speech that interferes with schoolwork or discipline, or that is vulgar and lewd. But all the cases have involved speech that occurred on campus or at school events. The lower court ruled that because she addressed school issues, and could expect that students would read it, her punishment was legal.

Should a student be able to call school administrators douchebags on her blog, and run for student government?


Join The Conversation
gabichou26 gabichou26 9 years
Hm. I don't think she should be in student government, but really, I don't think the school should be allowed to actually ban her because of something she wrote on the Internet.
gaptooth gaptooth 9 years
Menthadict, put your tongue in your cheek and then re-read my comment. The whole thing is rather stupid. Some of the responders here need to lighten up. I've raised a teenaged girl and it ain't easy in the best of times. This was a situation which should have been handled at home and not at or by the school. If the administrators are so thin skinned they had better not read the bathroom walls. I think that 'douchebag' would be rather tame!
Merlin713 Merlin713 9 years
The Federal Government can hear cases that pertain to federal matters. Since this brings up the Constitution, it's fair game. See "Federal Question." Since it was her blog, she can write whatever she wants. She has to be prepared for the consequences of that as well.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Wow, I can't believe you are all backing the school administrators! The girl's remarks were not threatening and did not rise to the level or libel or slander. I probably would have called them something worse than "douchebags". (BTW, what's with the resurgence of this word lately? My 17-y-o DD has used it a few times recently, too.) She did not use school time or equipment to post the comments. Yes, students should have some respect for people in positions of authority. However, those people should also behave professionally and EARN that respect. Sadly, I don't see a lot of that. A lot of the staff and faculty at my kids' school district are incompetent, and a lot are worse than that. I'm constantly having to re-educate my high-schoolers. (A so-called "government" teacher recently told my daughter that the Supreme Court only decides "three or four" cases a year, for example.) I see a lot of cases where school administrators will not tolerate criticism, no matter how well-intentioned or valid. This sounds to me like one more case of academic totalitarianism.
menthadict menthadict 9 years
That's a rather stupid punishment. It's most likely that she got caught up in the moment, and you know that we can say things we don't mean...
gaptooth gaptooth 9 years
I think the punishment is a little over the top. Maybe she should instead have to write on the chalk board 100 times: "I will no longer comment on the school administators personal hygiene or lack thereof." That should satisfy them! Oh, and she should furnish her own chalk. Sounds like the administration has enough problems without funding discipline.
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
I suppose I see the advantage there. I don't know, it just all seems a little silly to me (this situation, not anything violent of course). Maybe her opponent told on her. It is politics, after all. :-P
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
Princesskitty, schools keep tabs on student's online activities because so many violent threats against schools are found that way. There are news stories all the time about a student being arrested for putting plans to shoot up a school on the internet.
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
No, but seriously, I think the school is being a little silly, but so is the girl. This is just like the debate about whether or not the school should be able to search the lockers of students without their permission. Students' constitutional rights are a little iffy when it comes to the school. I still don't think the school should read her blog, though. That's just ridiculous.
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
:rotfl: Was the principal on her friend's list? haha
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
Because she's cool.
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
Why was the school reading her blog? lol
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
I'm experiencing these types of Constitutional violations at work! It seems if I start to talk shit about my boss, get this, he'll fire me. WTF!
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
I realize there is a fine line between free to speak and free from repercussions of speech, but it's a line that has to be established to keep order in this country. It's also illegal to slander others, but that could be considered free speech as well. Free speech doesn't mean you can say whatever you want without consequence, it just means you can say whatever you want.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
She is free to say anything she likes, but the school officials are also free to take offense and punish her for it. She's didn't get in trouble because she didn't have the right to say it like she would have in other countries; she got in trouble because of what she said. You can't say anything you'd like and scream "free speech!" and magically lose accountability for your words. You are FREE TO SPEAK, but you are not free from the consequences of what you say.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Should the federal government even be hearing this case since it happened in a public school?
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
She probably would have won the election, just by running on a "the principal is a douchebag" platform ;)
foxie foxie 9 years
Husky, that's insane. Absolutely, completely, frighteningly insane. This has nothing to do with civil liberties or 9-11 or any of that mumbo-jumbo stuff you're equating it with. This is about a girl who wants her school officials, who she deems douchebags, to give her a special opportunity. How about we rally behind the concept of people being held accountable for their actions? Why not rally behind structure and common sense? I am so, uber sick of that Franklin quote. That quote makes no sense and it stands in place of actual logic in just about every argument regarding national security. If you believe in it's sentiments then I suppose you don't believe in any laws, military, or justice system either, since all of those things stand at a balance between liberty and security. You can't HAVE freedom if you don't protect it and secure it.
wingedkiare wingedkiare 9 years
I'm on the school's side - nobody's saying that she can't post whatever she wants in her blog, she's just being held accountable for what she said. If she had a job and called her boss a douchebag and they found it, she'd be fired. Frankly, I'm tired of teenagers feeling like they're entitled to whatever they want without having to take responsibility for anything.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
That's the only logical explanation.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
Gosh, apparently I could have sued. I didn't even know that! Apparently the authorities had arranged it so I would be completely in the dark about my constitutional rights. It was a conspiracy, no doubt.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
What, kris? You mean you didn't sue? What's wrong with you? That was a clear violation of your Constitutional right to be on your high school student council.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
By the way, I was only a class officer for THREE years because one year I was not allowed. Why? Because I had been called out a certain number of times for my shorts being too short. I still think that's pretty stupid, but that's just the way it was. I wasn't causing any trouble, but it didn't ruin my life.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I agree, cine and kris. If she had been expelled, it would have been a different story. However, as many have stated throughout these comments, participation in student council is a PRIVILEGE afforded to her by the school and they can choose to revoke it at any time.
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
I am completely on the school's side. If you are under 18, you have very few rights and the sooner this girl learns that you can't do or say anything you want to the better. Anything you put on the internet is public and you have to accept responsiblity for that. Complaining privately to your friends is one thing, but posting that on the internet is libel. I don't think a libel suit could be brought against her in this case because the school is in the public eye, but if you write damaging things about people you can be sued for that.
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