Following my last post, it came as no surprise to me that the legal system (in this case the Indiana Court of Appeals has at least began to address the issue of teenagers using MySpace to voice their opinions, even if they are not popular (see the CNN report here and the USA Today article here). According to the ruling (from the CNN report),
A judge violated a juvenile’s free-speech rights when he placed her on probation for posting an expletive-laden entry on MySpace criticizing a school principal, …
The three-judge panel on Monday ordered the Putnam Circuit Court to set aside its penalty against the girl, referred to only as A.B. in court records.
“While we have little regard for A.B.’s use of vulgar epithets, we conclude that her overall message constitutes political speech.”
Apparently, the language used by the student in question wasn’t exactly the greatest, but aside from the fact that this ruling shows that schools are going to have a very difficult time controlling what students post online outside of school, this also goes to show that schools have a responsibility to work with students on issues of ethics and responsibility when it comes to using the Internet. There is no doubt in my mind that First Amendment rights will be staunchly defended by the U.S. legal system, but all of us (including students) need to remember that rights come with responsibilities. Another strong argument for civics and citizenship education in K-12 education…
Image Credit: “Justice”, dweekly’s photostream: