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Parodies Prove Lucrative 19

Posted by michael
from the Boston-Public dept.
Monkeyman334 writes "Here is an article about a student who was suspended for making a parody site about his vice principal, and the ACLU filed a lawsuit because they felt it was a violation of his free speech rights. The judge sided with the ACLU and the student was awarded $62,000. Someone should let these guys know."
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Parodies Prove Lucrative

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  • Except that being intelligent, creative and curious makes the jobs of (some, at least..I'd argue most) educators (defined both as teachers and low-level [principals, vice-principals] administrators) more difficult. The rules that exist to make it difficult to kick out pupils do so for a reason. School is supposed to educate young people. Public schools are designed to indoctrinate kids into our society. The gap in between these two goals causes all sorts of problems, like kids who actually think, and therefore have different religions or political beliefs, or beliefs in general (knowing people who were expelled for being pagan, having nearly been expelled for practicing free speech on my own time, in a way that was purposely not derogatory to the school or any individual within it [I knew they'd hang themselves, if I gave them the rope, anyway], and having watched a teacher being forced to not teach about a specific poet, because he was homosexual [she wasn't telling anyone he was, but because allen ginsburg was a 'known homosexual', he and his work, all of it, were verboten) than those espoused by the school become problematic. How can you teach that the country was founded on christianity (yes, I'm talking about public schools) and peace and all that yummy stuff, when you have students who know and will speak about violence towards native americans (my little sister got in *big* trouble in third grade for ending an essay about Columbus with "But I don't know why everyone says he discovered America, there were lots of people called Indians here when he got here"), or japanese internment camps in WWII, it makes it difficult to indoctrinate the young people well. The rules exist so that people who think and want education can still get it. That the rules allow people who do not wish an education and are troublemakers simply because they don't want to be there is unfortunate, but honestly, I also think it's unavoidable (the reasons are complex -- but it's difficult-to-impossible to write rules that are based upon intent and motivation, rather than action. You can't write a rule against willfully disobeying a teacher with no good reason, you can just write a rule against willfully disobeying a teacher).

    That said, I don't see what the point of suspending this boy was. He wasn't using school time or resources. There's no law against showing people having sex with cartoon characters. If he made a picture showing the VP having sex with a small child, then claimed it was real, *that* would be a problem, and is a situation handled in state law. While there's a place for insisting on respectful behavior towards adults and other students at school, there's no place for thought police to insist that a student always think and talk about his VP with respect.

  • Hate to say it, folks, but I'm slightly on the principals side.

    One year ago I spent four months teaching algebra in a High School in a normal middle class area. It changed a few of the ideas I had about public education. One of them was that you could get by on charisma, intelligence, and efforts to do something beyond the order -- and by "get by" I mean you could educate high schoolers w/o resorting to disciplinary tactics and falling back on institutional authority.

    I was probably 80-90% right -- that's about the number of students who are willing to go with the flow and/or respect you for your knowledge and efforts. The problem is that you're left with an intractable 10-20% who really just don't want to be there and don't respect you because you ARE the institutional authority. If you let them get out of hand, you start losing part of the rest of the 80-90%. And one of the ways to let things get out of hand is allowing disrespect of others or authority figures.

    I'm not talking about objections to the way things are done (though you'd be surprised how fast THOSE can get out of hand -- "But we're not READY for the test today... PLEEEAAASE can we move it to Monday?"). I'm not talking about appeals. I'm talking about things like ... well, distributing pictures of the principal having sex with Marge Simpson. :) Most of you haven't been in the position of teaching in a public school, so you might underestimate the problem.

    What's the last resort a teacher has with a recalcitrant student? Or a principal? Nothing, really, except one thing: the abilitiy to decide if you can continue to attend that institution.
    I won't ever teach in a public school unless I have an darn near unconditional right to say who gets to stay in my classroom. It's harsh, but it'd be the only way I can make sure I can do my job.

    I'd love to find a nice way to resolve that with free speech, but I can't think of anything. The only thing I can think of is this: Free Speech is guaranteed to citizens in law. Free education isn't an unalienable right; it's probably a privilege more on order with a driver's license. You want your education, you don't do anything to make the jobs of educators any harder than they already are.

    --
  • the kid only got $10000 of the 62000, but that is still pretty good pay for gimping the vp's head onto some marge simpson porn.
  • It seems to me the primary problem is that the public school system is not allowed to toss the 10% of the population that ARE troublemakers out so hard they bounce. As a result, that 10% screw it up for everybody else.

    Perhaps, if we would acknowledge that what people have a right to is the OPPORTUNITY for education, and that if they throw it out the window it's their own tough luck, we could begin to straighten out the school system.

    However, as long as education is funded by public money, this is unlikely to happen.
  • Same at my school, of course student politicians tend to do whatever the administration wants anyway.
    Occasionally we get someone who just says their speech anyway, you've got your recommendations, you have your diploma, say your speech, they aren't going to stop you unless it is truely over the top.
  • I believe the average pimp's commission is around 94-95%, if that helps any.
  • During my GF's graduation, the Principal made grand statements about freedom, the internet allwoing publishing of all material, and other BS.

    Turns out, the senior class President's speech had to be approved 3 times before being allowed.

    Education/youth is the test bed for rights being removed. Students are growing up with no rights, so in effect they'll not miss them later.

    This probably explains most of the problems I had in school.
  • Free education isn't an unalienable right; it's probably a privilege more on order with a driver's license.

    Wrong, it is. I think the UN declaration of Human Rights says so, and common morality says so too. Depriving a person of an education is very harmful and wrong.

    It is not at all comparable to the privilege of having a drivers' license. And what good is freedom of speech if the government (public school=government) punishes you by denying you an education. There is no free speech if exercising it causes government reprisal, even if it isn't of a criminal or civil lawsuit nature.

    Saying one has a right to free speech and then having the gov't punish them for it is just like saing one has a right to speed, but still gets a ticket. It doesn't make any sense.

    Free speech is only free if the gov't CAN NOT PUNISH YOU IN ANY WAY, including, BUT NOT LIMITED TO: prison, fines, forcably having your money taken from you and given to someone else (civil judgements), being banned from gov't jobs, etc.

  • There is a system like the one you describe. It is called private education. There they have the right to expel anyone, with or even without cause. You can get all the law and order you want in some of those schools. Public education is for those that want to not be subject to private control, and hence should get the rights guaranteed by the government (public school is government - any infringement of rights is an action by the government and unconstitutional - the First Amendment definately applies), or those that can not afford private school (this may be changing - with vouchers eventually everyone could go to private school if they chose).

    Public education is a needed fall back for those that are not willing, or are unable, to be in a private school environment.

    If you make public school like private school, you eliminate a needed choice.

  • i never realize that the aclu took such a huge cut of settlements..
  • It's appropriate to say anything at any time?

    Appropriate? Maybe not. But you should not legislate what is appropriate speech, and arbitrary decisions by school officials are even worse.

    Would your graduation have been better if the president had stood up there and insulted everyone?

    Well, yeah. It would have taken my mind off of the heat. As it was, DC Mayor Marion Barry crashed my graduation. It was pretty funny.

    What exactly would that have solved?

    I wasn't really looking for the class president's speech to solve anything.
    ___

  • Finally, someone gets what they deserve. Well, I'd have liked the money, too...
  • ...if lawsuits involving improper suspensions and/or expulsions resulted in settlements that must be used to further the student's education? That is assuming that missed school was the only damage. I always wonder about the events that led up to the expulsion that are always omitted from these stories.

    ----------------------
  • You're right that public schools are not a unalienable right. But I don't think its right for people to take that away because he did something that IS his right. And when you punish someone for something that is his right, you're saying its not okay to excercise their rights, and that is wrong. And this wasn't inside school or with school resources. So I dont think your comparison of a drivers liscense is just. If I go to the DMV and pass my test, I get a liscense. If I make a parody of the DMV in a viagra commercial, they have no right to take away my license. Nothing in the article said he was a bad student (it did say he graduated).
  • No, the student was awarded $62,000, the lawyer took $52,000 of that.
  • Yeah, maybe the kid had the legal right to publicly ridicule his vice principal on the Internet. But if I have a legal right to walk back and forth in front of my neighbor's house carrying a picture of his mom having sex with a donkey, wouldn't I still be kind of a butthole for doing it?

    Suppose I did do exactly that, and my neighbor understandably got pissed off, and did something an understandably pissed off person might do, like kick my ass. Then the ACLU lawyers would heroically swoop in and get me $10,000 for my rights being violated, collecting a snappy $52,000 for their own trouble. It's kind of hard to tell who the good guys are any more.

    Sometimes I think the First Amendment should read, "You have the right to act like a dickhead."

  • I always thought slashdot was a parody of those rabid pro-linux zealot sites. But more recently I've been wondering if some of the views expressed here are actually genuine !

    Anyone care to own up to posting an honest opinion on this parody site. Go on, admit you didn't get the joke...

  • I don't know what the world is coming to when a student can be suspended for taking the mickey out of his principal. Really ridiculous.

    Unfortunately, I am not surprised in the slightest. Many of or students seem to be living in an atmosphere of fear on our campuses, and the attitude of radicalism and activism that was prevalent in the 1960's seems to have died, as our modern students are concerned with only their resumes and appearing to be quite the good corporate drone.

    The reason that this principal thought he could get away with this is because the modern student, and the modern young American, has become a sheep.

    We need to bring alive the radicalism of yesteryear among our young, and have them challenge the establishment as they once did, if we are to see this type of behaviour punished.

    I fear that this is a false hope though. The corporations appear to have won. Their carrot, dangled in fron of our sheepish students, is turning our society into a non-confrontational, confirmist nightmare of autonomy, something not unlike Japan.

    We need to wake our students up somehow. How, I don't know, but I think that more radical teaching in school may help.
    --
    Clarity does not require the absence of impurities,

  • I Like To Lick My Balls.

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