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Disorderly Conduct Charge for Offensive Classmate Ratings 371

Hatta writes "A Chicago-area teenager who posted a demeaning list of female classmates on Facebook has been arrested for disorderly conduct. Is this an appropriate response to online harassment, or a threat to free speech?"
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Disorderly Conduct Charge for Offensive Classmate Ratings

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  • yes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @09:44PM (#36123962)

    Is this an appropriate response to online harassment, or a threat to free speech?

    There should be consequences to being an asshole. Glad this guy found that out too. As someone who's gone through high school in this country, I don't feel bad about that guy at all.

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @09:45PM (#36123970)

    Things like this are becoming much more difficult for any rational person to reach a sensible conclusion on. My initial reaction would be that you don't censor or criminalize thoughts. Even mean or vile ones. As long as it is not libel, you just need to have thick skin and move the fuck on.

    On the other hand, it's a different thing when it's something that has a global audience of potentially billions, will be archived and indexed by search engines, possibly have a longer life than the person it is about, come up in searches for that person for the rest of their life by future friends, mates, and employers and otherwise follow them around indefinitely. You can't graduate the internet and move away from the "attack" and you can't just go to a new town. You are stuck forever with whatever some ignorant idiotic juvenile wrote years ago or whatever some spiteful twat might write about you today.

    If I had a kid and this happened pre-internet, I would tell them to ignore it and know they're better than that and that the words aren't true and to move on and eventually it will go away. With the internet, I don't know what I would do. As a parent, I think I would be helpless and stuck. How do you stick to the ideal that nobody should be able to dictate what you can do or say short of actual libel or threats and reconcile that with words or images that will be there under google for your name for decades to come?

    Perhaps more importantly, how do we make sure that we deal with this in a rational way and don't just say "that pisses me off, so I'm going to make a blanket law about it" like with that stupid bitch and her family that drove that little girl to kill herself over myspace? A case where it was so tempting to have so much anger and hatred over the incident that even the completely logical person was tempted to say "fuck it, I don't care what the lasting legal consequences are for the rest of society, as long as we come up with a way to stick that bitch in a max security prison for life".

  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @09:53PM (#36123998) Homepage
    "Free speech doesn't protect racist or sexist slurs."

    It only protects speech you like, right? Sorry, there is no free speech if it comes with strings attached. I might disagree with what they say - even find it sickening - but it is their right to say it, and not yours to say otherwise. Why? Redefining "free" to be only what you want is more despicable than anything a person could say.
  • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @09:55PM (#36124014) Homepage
    Wait, what? That's the most batshit definition of "free" I have ever heard. So it only is a restriction on free speech if you do it beforehand, and call it that? Well, North Korea must be the freest fucking country on the planet - they just kill you after the fact if you say what they don't like!
  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @10:14PM (#36124098) Homepage
    Laws restricting what you can legally say or placing penalties upon certain forms of speech are restrictions upon free speech. It is as simple as that, and I don't really see why the concept is so confusing to some people.

    If it is an acceptable restriction on free speech is an entirely different discussion, although one that I personally believe should not be given serious consideration. However, it is, without question, a restriction upon free speech to create any laws regulating free communication. That's why it is called what it is. Once you cut out certain kinds of speech, it is far to easy to expand the definitions. We've seen it happen again and again across the world and right at home.

    So please, be honest and say what you mean: you disagree with this particular freedom, at least to some extent. I find it offensive to the entire human race to go about redefining freedoms to only what you personally find acceptable.
  • Re:yes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, 2011 @10:22PM (#36124148)

    Ranking someone's boobs at a 2.5 on a scale of 1-10 does not fall under libel, because it's clearly subjection and only someone's opinion.

    I'd be surprised if his "list" actually constituted libel.

  • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @10:25PM (#36124158)

    You don't know what it is to lack free speech, because you've had it all your life. You're just a spoiled whiner who wants to be able to do literally whatever he wants, instead of almost whatever he wants.

    When a reporter in Russia gets disappeared for saying the wrong things; when a man in Afghanistan gets his organs spread around town square for dancing with his wife; when an elderly Chinese woman is sentenced to a lifetime of hard labor for requesting a permit to protest at the Olympics... that is a lack of freedom.

    When you are punished for leaking top secret documents, or copying other people's creations without payment, or spreading vicious lies about your peers... that is called living in an orderly society. You might think it's too orderly, but to claim you have no freedoms is fucking insulting.

  • by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @10:31PM (#36124192) Homepage Journal
    My freshman year of high school in the mid-90's, homemade fliers distributed by a disgruntled ex-boyfriend showing a photograph of one of the female students topless with words like "bitch" and "slut" were spread all over campus overnight. The school staff tried to clean them all up the next (school) day, but there were still some laying around in odd places at 2:30 that afternoon.

    In case you're all wondering, no, the FBI and police were not called. No random arrests and child-pornography investigations occurred. We all knew what breasts looked like, and while they were nasty-looking tits, the event occured in a place where the majority of the population were too poor to file lawsuits and pranks could be pulled and fireworks could be lit without federal intervention and terrorism charges.

    This is just one more instance of the new American business model of making more and more people criminals. Those Middle-east war vets have to do something when they finally return, right? DHS gropers, prison guards, cops. It's much easier to justify hiring more of those when can make some more criminals out of ordinary citizens by way of ever-encroaching laws.
  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @10:32PM (#36124196) Homepage
    "THis guy is just being an abusive idiot."

    Perhaps, but a restriction upon free speech still is one. I am not necessarily saying it is wrong necessarily to have a law restricting it, but that it is wrong to lie about your intentions. Redefining free speech to not include what you dislike is dishonest and despicable.

    "Outright abuse is another. Only an immature twit can't tell the difference."

    Or a person who actually knows where this kind of thinking leads. Not long ago did we have committees to determine if you were a communist. It isn't immature to know that such a travesty is only a few "well intentioned" laws away from returning, especially with the constant assault on our freedoms from every angle. Neither political party cares about them, and people like you are too clueless to realize when they are at risk.

    "Being permitted to say something does not protect you from the consequences of saying it. The typical example is yelling "Fire" in a movie theatre. That's illegal and I'm fine with that, not because I don't like free speech or only like some free speech, but because acting to harm others should be against the law."

    Do you people have like a book you get this crap out of? People thinking that statement is an argument for why they can pick and choose what certain freedoms mean is way too common, especially here on slashdot.
  • by macraig ( 621737 ) <> on Friday May 13, 2011 @10:33PM (#36124206)

    I endured worse than what this kid is described as doing from more than a score of kids on a daily basis, and NO ONE in the school district rushed to my defense like this. Not a single one of my tormentors was ever arrested, suspended, or even disciplined.

    I wonder: if this had been a GIRL shopping such a list about boys, would we have even had a Slashdot article to read about it? Would we even if it had been a boy with a list tormenting other BOYS?

  • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, 2011 @10:34PM (#36124216)


    IAAJBTINLA (I Am A Judge, But This Is Not Legal Advice) I have not yet seen the actual charges in this case, but I think this charge will be laughed out of court, and rightfully so (at least if it came before my judge).

    In most states, 'Disorderly Conduct' is defined as a person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally: (1) engages in fighting or in tumultuous conduct; (2) makes unreasonable noise and continues to do so after being asked to stop; or (3) disrupts a lawful assembly of persons;

    None of the above apply to the conduct of this kid. And even if by some twist of logic they do contort the letter of lat to apply, it would still have to stand up to both due process and first amendment challenges, which set a VERY high burden for the prosecution.

  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @10:36PM (#36124224) Journal

    "Free speech doesn't protect racist or sexist slurs."

      It only protects speech you like, right? Sorry, there is no free speech if it comes with strings attached. I might disagree with what they say - even find it sickening - but it is their right to say it, and not yours to say otherwise. Why? Redefining "free" to be only what you want is more despicable than anything a person could say.

    Fine, then you'd have no problem with people standing outside your house and yelling abuse at you day and night for weeks or months on end??? Because it's free speech right. You wouldn't bring noise pollution laws, or harassment laws to bear? No you'd defend them to the death. NONSENSE.

    When's the last time you or someone you cared about was harassed to the point of being suicidal? If you have children are they fair game? Would you be fine if your children were disabled or mentally impaired? What if your wife/girlfriend/mother was on anti-depressant pills and suicidal?

    People talk such NONSENSE and BUNK when it comes to free speech. No one decent human being would find the above examples acceptable or defensible. There is a reason that these things are illegal. There are reasons for harassment and stalking laws. These are good things even if they violate your overly broad view of what free speech means.

    But hey sandlotters, continue to mod this drivel up!!! Because slashdot has come to mod up only mindless groupthink drivel. (The irony is these defenders of free speech will mod me down!!!!)

  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @10:37PM (#36124232) Journal

    We've never had free speech in the US and probably never will, as long as people can make excuses to suppress it like "national security," "cyber bullying," and "copyright." So, how could anything be a threat to what we haven't got?

    Why would you want to live in a place where someone could stand outside your door and hurl abuse day and night for weeks on end without any consequences?

    Freedom does not mean the freedom to do whatever you like. If your actions harm others - whether it's as destructive as murder or as simple as a limited verbal assault, they should not be protected. That's not the kind of freedom I want. That's called the law of the jungle.

  • by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @12:15AM (#36124694)

    Yes, if "Kelly" doesn't want to be rated

    So, if someone doesn't like a certain type of speech, it should be restricted?

    that is a slur and a racial slur. Sexual slur, too.


  • by bitMonster ( 189384 ) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @12:32AM (#36124764) Homepage
    Speaking as a father, I hope that the ex-boyfriend was beaten senseless by male relatives of that girl. That, my friends, is how people used to be kept in line, and I believe it was more effective and put significantly less cost on the public.
  • Re:From TFA: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by popeyethesailorman ( 735746 ) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @01:03AM (#36124894) Homepage
    I may not agree with what he said, but I'll defend to the death his right to say it. In other words, it's a threat to free speech.
  • Re:Freudian? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @02:04AM (#36125102)

    Not the original poster.

    I fucking reserve the right to use demeaning language and behavior (you git). Only a brain dead moron would even raise the question. Jump up and down until your balls drop boy. The internet is a grown up place, not for unsupervised bawling snot monkeys. Classmates (whatever the fuck that is) can enforce it's own policies (or not). Now that we've settled that.

    By hunting down an asshole kid and handing him his ass in court, they encouraging fucking anonymous posting. I prefer letting the post be signed and letting his female classmates deal with boorish behavior the old fashioned way. They will embargo him (unless he has a nice car and clothes).

    Ranking girls in your class by tits and ass is typical adolescent behavior. Girls do the same a few years earlier.

  • by Aryden ( 1872756 ) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @05:49AM (#36125590)
    oh my god, all people are helpless little flowers. We have to do it FOR THE CHILDREN...

    Give me a fucking break. If having your ass and breasts rated on facebook is horrible for the girls getting 1's and 2's, how about the girls getting 10's? I mean shit, you might as well go arrest Mark Z as well as the people at [].
  • by Macthorpe ( 960048 ) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @06:23AM (#36125640) Journal

    There is a massive difference between, a site where people post pictures voluntarily and people are rated by complete strangers they will never meet, and the kind of systematic bullying and abuse that can happen in a classroom to kids who are not emotionally fully developed as a result of things like this.

    It is up to people in responsibility to show children how to act responsibly. The kind of "stand back and let 'em sort it out themselves" attitude you're advocating is not helpful in the slightest.

  • A bit of logic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DrVomact ( 726065 ) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @08:48AM (#36126060) Journal

    I may not agree with what he said, but I'll defend to the death his right to say it. In other words, it's a threat to free speech

    You are a clueless idiot. You may not agree, but you'll defend to your death my right to say it. In other words, you're a clueless idiot.

    Not so. He's willing to protect your right to call him a clueless idiot unto death (damned generous, I say!), but it does not follow from this that he's a clueless idiot. It is true only that you evidently think he's a clueless idiot. Your claim may or may not be true, but we will have to await a conclusive deductive proof to assess its truth value.

  • by NoSig ( 1919688 ) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @09:02AM (#36126124)
    That's terrible because there's no telling what your possibly insane or manipulative daughter is going to perceive as harassment and there is no telling either what her possibly insane, aggressive or just plain bored friends are going to perceive as a call to go beat up some random hapless guy. Once we are down with group beat-downs being acceptable, how are you going to prevent your group of vigilante misfits from beating up anyone they don't like and who don't have enough standing in the community to create some back-lash? In fact, it seems you are exactly asking to have a group of (by definition) criminals who beat up people they don't like. What a wonderful world we'll have when that guy's relatives take your advice and go beat your daughter and her friends senseless too. There is no place for your views in a civilized society.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.