Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Free Speech 101


If I have to hear the whole "freedom of speech" argument one more time in the capacity of something that is completely inapplicable (not to mention totally out of line), I'm going to twist off. Oh, never mind. I just did. I also think I can speak for several others when I say, "WTF is wrong with people??" Ready for this one? You're not. Trust me. No one is.

The parents of a boy are suing a school district. OK, no shocker that there's a lawsuit out there. But it is a bit surprising that they are suing because their 8th grade son was kicked out of school for creating a phony MySpace page that profiled his middle school principal as a child molester. (I am not giving the name of the school, the principal, the dumbass kid, his dumbass parents, none of it. I can relay the incredulousness of the story without having to subject the principal, who is NOT a child molester, by the way, to any more than he has already been subjected to.) Apparently the parents have more of a problem with their son being kicked out of school than the reason their son was kicked out. That reason being their son publicly slandering the reputation of a non-child molesting individual who is a middle school principal.

Look, do you know how many tubes and hoses make up the Internet? I don't either, but there's a lot. I can surmise that because no matter where you are in the freaking world (and probably on that space station thing as well) you can get on the Internet and see it all. Worldwide. At any time. Nice.

The profile was headlined "Your Princeypal," didn't carry the principal's name, but did include a photo of him and identified that school where he was the principal, both of those items resulting in the not needing of a name. The profile has been removed. so stop searching MySpace for it while you're reading this. When it was up, it listed the principal's general interests as "giving students anal" and "jacking off in my office," and named his heroes as Michael Jackson, Adolph Hitler, and Saddam Hussein. Under "About Me" it said, "I like to give anal to the little boys at my school such as (and then there were other kid's names). I have also f-ed my assistant principal (insert name)."

This resulted in the kid getting suspended. But on February 7, he was informed that he's out. Does that seem unreasonable to anyone? Other than his dumbass parents? And, of course, him?

Mr. and Mrs. Dumbass are of the opinion that students "disrespecting teachers outside of school is an age-old tradition, and one from which teachers neither need nor deserve protection...It would be naive to think that even the most popular principal is not the subject of student ridicule and parody." Of course they are seeking Dumbass Jr.'s immediate return to school along with a judicial order protecting his off-campus speech, which previously included the observation that the principal had an affinity for the Purple Penetrator, a sex toy. Apparently they feel it's important that he keep vocalizing that item as well.

Good f-ing hell, where do I start? How about with "age-old tradition"? No, it's not an "age-old tradition" to publicly portray someone as being a self-proclaimed and active pedophile! And it's not the "disrespecting teachers outside of school" that people need to be protected from. It's people like Mr. and Mrs. Dumbass and their rightfully expelled Dumbass son that people need to be protected from. So, tell me, Mr. Dumbass, would it be OK with you if we whipped up a MySpace page with your picture and your place of employment on it and put all of your son's poetic verse on there as well so that it applied to you? Sure! Right? NO problem. Because it would be naive to think that even the biggest dumbass would not be the subject of ridicule and parody.

"Parody". I think I'm going to have to draw the line at "parody" consisting of vividly depicting someone as a loud and proud child molester (and an office sex-haver to boot.). I also think I'm going to have to draw the line at Mr. and Mrs. Dumbass walking around without a helmet. And at raising their peach of a son there.

Look, here's how the free speech thing works: This will come as a surprise to many when I say that free speech is not all inclusive. Correct, there are limits! It's not just a free for all out there. There is free speech in this country. You can say whatever you want. Your speech is protected. All of those statements: True. However, speech that results in harm is not, repeat, not protected. The example of this that seems to always be cited is that you cannot yell "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater because it could result in harm. (This is presuming that there is no fire.) It's a reasonable example. But the problem with reasonable examples is that they only seem to be understood by reasonable people, something that Mr. and Mrs. Dumbass clearly are not.

And although the glaring issue at hand is the slanderous MySpace page, there really is a bigger issue here which I'm sure I will never hear addressed. The bigger issue is that this is a result of a 13 year old's behavior. If you have a 13 year old or if you have an any-year old child who does something of this magnitude, that's the issue. Why is your kid thinking, not only does something like publicly portraying the middle school principal a child molester sound like a good idea, but that it is also something that he wants to and will do? The thought process of the individual who thinks like that is the real issue.

And considering that the person-who-thinks-like-that's parents have filed a lawsuit to get him back into the school he was expelled from, I really don't have to speculate as to why he thinks like that, nor do I have to speculate about why he did what he did. And while there are plenty of things that I could speculate about (like the amount of algae in that family's gene pool), I just can't. I might not have known where to start, but I know where to stop. Where can I send these helmets?

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