By Ben Spielberg
In the beginning of this past November, a woman named Dawnmarie Souza was fired from her job in Connecticut after she complained about her boss on Facebook. Unfortunately, a similar case is unfolding right now in northern California—a sophomore at Mesa Verde High School in Citrus Heights has just been suspended from his school because he called his teacher “fat” in his Facebook status, apparently after she had just assigned an unordinary amount of homework. The student in question, Donny Tobolski, was suspended for reasons involving “cyberbullying.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is already on it—one of their attorneys has already addressed the school in a 3-page letter full of legal words that I don’t understand, ending with “Mesa Verde violated Donny’s state and federal rights by suspending him for his Facebook posting. His suspension should therefore be expunged from his record immediately. We look forward to your prompt response.”
While I don’t agree with kids, or anyone, making fun of others, we have to remember that it is our First Amendment right to be able to say anything we choose to in real life or on the Internet. Sometimes this is hard to remember—Facebooking has become a universal language that almost everybody is speaking. We communicate and network through it, so much so that a man who’s account was suspended (for no “apparent” reason) is suing the company for $500,000. However, even though our technology is still growing, the law must evolve at the same pace. This is why a federal agency deemed anything said on Facebook as “free speech” in November 2010. While free speech is perhaps one of the most important things about this country, we must also be able to make a distinction between freedom and hate speech.
- Donny Tobolski Suspended for Calling Teacher ‘Fat Ass’ on Facebook (blippitt.com)
- ACLU Backs Student’s Facebook Insult Of Teacher (allfacebook.com)
- You cant insult your teacher in class – but can you on Facebook? (theglobeandmail.com)