Fort Wayne, Indiana, student expelled for ‘satire’

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by Dark Knight, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. Dark Knight

    Dark Knight New Member

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    By Kelly Soderlund

    The Journal Gazette

    (Ft. Wayne) A Carroll High School student defended a friend and classmate Monday who was expelled from school this month for writing a book critical of the school administration.

    Jeff Fraser, a 17-year-old senior and founder of the Allen County Teenage Republicans, wrote a book titled “Carroll” that was modeled after Jon Stewart’s book “America.” The book blasted the administration for its lack of diversity, criticized teachers and their methods and singled out a few students in what was meant to be a satire, said Fraser’s friend, Sam Wysong, 17.

    “I understand that the administration feels very offended because the book was written mainly about them, but things must be kept in perspective,” Wysong told the Northwest Allen County Schools board Monday night. “Expulsion seems like an overreaction to a first-time offender of this nature.”

    More at link: http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/13644286.htm

    DK note: Schools and the administrators are becoming more and more like dictatorships than taxpayer funded entities in my view.
     
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  3. Marthatex

    Marthatex New Member

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    That's a tough one. Didn't we used to write things like that at the end of the year in the school yearbook? If it's a satire, well...

    Sounds like another creative kid being punished. However, depends on what he said about people. And if he wrote it at school on school computers he evidently doesn't have as many rights.
     
  4. Mr. E

    Mr. E New Member

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    I think I'm going to have to reserve judgment on this one. I'd have to read the book to know how to feel. If it is a true satire and has evidence to support its criticism, then okay. But if it is unsupported and just meant to be rude, the kids deserve to get in trouble.
     
  5. eve

    eve New Member

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    Well, I'm a die-hard for the 1st A. I might not agree with what you say, but I would fight for your right to say it. As long as it doesn't incite violence or contain gratuitous porn. But our society is dangerously close to forgetting what content-based censorship really means.

    Also, if I were an administrator there, I would have been so happy the kids had written something thought-provoking, I would swallow my humiliation and defend the U.S. Constitution.

    Think of Swift, Twain and so many others...

    Eve
     
  6. Marthatex

    Marthatex New Member

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    Oh my goodness, just think of the Mark Twain quotes. If some of them would "jolt" and offend people now, or maybe make some just laugh out loud - just think how he came across in the 1800's, or whenever he wrote.

    If he was trying to imitate Jon Stewart's book, well it could have been pretty bold.

    The thing is it's one thing to mock people who run the country or even Supreme Court Justices - whom you might not run into every day. But a little risky to make a satire of people whom you deal with on a daily basis and who grade you and pass you on to the next grade.

    That said, I believe in the First A also, as long as no one is harmed.
     
  7. Dark Knight

    Dark Knight New Member

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    That's the thing, if he said some really strong stuff, then a suspension might be acceptable, but expulsion for someone who isn't a threat to other students or the school is way over the line.
     
  8. mysteriew

    mysteriew A diamond in process

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    I am afraid that I agree with Eve. The kid actually wrote something.
    Maybe it is upsetting, maybe even rude. But he took the time and interest to actually string enough words together to form a book. Isn't that why we send kids to school? To teach them skills like that?
    As long as he wasn't proposing something illegal or harmful, then lump it! Maybe there is too much truth in that book, and that is what the school is actually worried about!
    Now the book is written. Are they going to expel any student that reads it?
     
  9. eve

    eve New Member

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    The problem with basing censorship or punishment on content is self-evident when you have an unpopular or politically incorrect opinion. I believe schools should largely go with the letter/spirit of the law, which would only quash speech that incites dangerous activity/violence or is comprised of obscenity. That being said, there could be libel/slander issues for which the writers would have some degree of personal liability.

    Still, if the piece was truly a satire and the administrators/subjects could said to be "public figures" in the school, the writers would have some license with their content, I think. It probably gets murkier if the writings were purely hateful or cruel to other students, especially with all the "hate speech" rules/ legislation now in the hopper.

    I would love to see the piece. Censorship or punishment for content is something to which I am generally opposed. Also, as a teacher, I am happy when my students try to write anything, especially a literary form (satire) which has been part of our culture and in fact has been instrumental in the expression of free speech and often, social change and commentary in our country.

    Eve
     
  10. Ang50

    Ang50 New Member

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    Hopefully this kid is a top student, and with good parents. If he is, and assuming the book was somewhat thoughtful, he'll get into a top college.

    I love the irony of schools - my mom has been a public high school librarian for years. She's come home many times and says how they just can't expel anyone - the administration tries, kids who sell drugs at school, repeatedly bring weapons to school, beat up other kids. They can't get them out, but this school can kick out a kid who writes. Great job - so glad tax dollars are going for this stuff!
     
  11. eve

    eve New Member

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    Yes, and if my guess is correct, this student was pointing out some of the hypocrisy and the administrators didn't like it one little bit. You think?

    Eve
     
  12. Ang50

    Ang50 New Member

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    OK, now that I've read the article, I'll comment a little more.

    THIS SCHOOL IS ENTIRELY OUT OF LINE!!! :banghead:

    Also, what they've done isn't backed up by any case law anywhere. The US Supreme Court case, Hazelwood, might be what they would try to apply, and it would fail. Hazelwood says that if the school is paying for it, and people would think that the school is saying it, then the school can reasonably restrict what is being said. Hazelwood was a student newspaper - and the decision was a HUGE deal. So if we're just talking that this kid wrote a book on school computers, there's no way this is going to apply. It would only apply if he tried to give the impression that it was a school-sponsored book. And even then, they can't expel him over this - the Hazelwood students just couldn't print certain articles in the newspaper.

    The school might have the right to take away the one copy on school premises, under Bethel, which gave schools the right to restrict student speech during a school assembly. There, a student gave a really vulgar speech, gestures, swearing, etc. The school then wouldn't let him speak again at graduation. Basically, in that decision, you don't have to tolerate student speech if it is disruptive - you can restrict the time and place for it, or not allow it at all if it is vulgar. But again, it doesn't fit this case if this is the student's own work, and if it is disruptive or vulgar, you take the book away, you don't expel him.

    And finally, if this were a student writing assignment, there's a lot of case law that says you can take away credit or give a poor grade if the work is indecent, vulgar, doesn't meet guidelines, etc. But once again - no expulsion.

    I hope the parents get a lawyer - this is pretty much slam dunk from what I've seen. This is way out of line.
     
  13. Ang50

    Ang50 New Member

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    I agree. Even if some criticism was "pointed" as the article says, that doesn't mean that he can't say it. And BTW - whoever the school system legal counsel is, has their head up their butt. You don't give up First Amendment rights when you sit down at a school computer. What an idiot!

    I recently was in a law school competition on a very similar subject, so I'm damn confident in what I'm saying. If there was a case out there that allowed schools to restrict based on use of computers, I would have read it. First off, courts would never make a ruling that narrow. They'd say school resources or property. Second, even when using school resources, administrators still can't arbitrarily control the speech.

    What bugs me about this is that hopefully the kid will sue to protect his rights. And then the school district is going to spend a whole bunch of taxpayer money which could go to teachers, the arts, etc. in order to try to defend their violation of his 1st amendment rights. And they will be wrong. And they'll probably keep paying the dumb-butt legal counsel 6 figures a year, too.
     
  14. mysteriew

    mysteriew A diamond in process

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    And then the school will complain about how they don't have any money.
     
  15. Dark Knight

    Dark Knight New Member

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    Who does the school think paid for those computers? Tax payers!!!! Hello???
     

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