Students Whine About Facebook Suspension

Written by commonsensejournal on December 22nd, 2007

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Just some more snotty brats who know nothing about communication law. An article on FoxNews.com from the Associated Press, “3 Ohio Teens Sue High School for Facebook ‘Parody’ IDing Teacher as Pedophile,” describes how “Three teenagers have sued school officials over lengthy suspensions they received for setting up a Facebook page that identifies a teacher as a pedophile.”:

“They’re not saying it’s true, they’re saying it’s just parody,” the students’ attorney, Marc Mezibov, said Friday.

ARE YOU SERIOUS? This guy is an attorney? That’s libel, not a parody. A parody is a SNL skit done about a public figure, not a ludicrous, malicious lie.

The boys were suspended from Taylor High School for the maximum 90 days for creating the entry in November. They’ve served 10 days and were told the rest of the punishment would begin Jan. 2, when classes resume after the holiday break.

U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott ordered school officials to let them return pending a hearing on the lawsuit Jan. 10.

“Each of the boys has written an apology to the teacher and questioned whether they exercised their best judgment,” their attorney, Marc Mezibov, said Friday.

They should do more than “question whether they exercised their best judgment,” they should apologize and pay restitution. The teacher should sue the students in civil court. This is libel, plain and simple, if it’s not true, which apparently it isn’t.

The students want to be reinstated, their disciplinary actions deleted from their records and the district ordered to pay their attorney fees and unspecified damages.

There have similar cases across Ohio and the country, said Scott Greenwood, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney. Courts have ruled that students can’t be punished by schools for such off-campus acts and that such suspensions violate free speech, he said.

This is just another example of judicial activism. The courts are to reasonable interpret law and also help balance and keep a check on the other two, just like they should keep a check on the courts. Freedom of speech is not absolute and no serious communication professor, judge, or attorney will disagree with that. There’s copyright, libel, slander (which both need to prove actual malice), obscenity, and invasion of privacy, to name a few. All of these are carefully considered by real judges. Only a morally inept judge or attorney would argue that students can call their teachers pedophiles, therefore engaging in libel about them because it’s not true, and get away with it.

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