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Which Classmates They Would Kill': ACLU Sues Indiana School After Girls Are Suspended for Off-Color Facebook Jokes


"Simply engaged in teenage banter."

(Photo:AP/Paul Sakuma)

The relevance of private postings on Facebook to school and work environments has become a highly debated topic ever since the net giant's influence spread to nearly every part of modern life. So it was only a matter of time before the ACLU filed a suit regarding Facebook posts, and indeed, now they have. From Indiana comes a story of several teenage girls who were suspended from Griffith Middle School for making inappropriate, off-color jokes on Facebook. The Indiana ACLU has challenged this action in court, according to the Indy Star:

"This conversation spanned numerous subjects, from the pain of cutting oneself while shaving to the girls' friendship, before turning to a discussion of which of their classmates they would kill if they had the chance," the suit continued. "At all times, the conversation was purely in jest and could not have been interpreted seriously, as is evidenced by the girls' repeated use of 'emoticons,' by their use of abbreviations indicative of humor, and by the nature and tone of the conversation.

"The girls were simply engaged in teenage banter."[...]

"Any reasonable person could see the conversation was purely in jest and could not be interpreted seriously," said Gavin M. Rose, ACLU of Indiana staff attorney, in the news release. "Free speech rights under the First Amendment, even when it's speech we don't like or agree with, must still be protected, and schools do not possess infinite reach into the private lives of their students."

Now, at this point a reasonable person might ask, if it was so self-evidently a joke, why were the kids suspended? Apparently even joking about these things violates the school's "bullying, harassment and intimidation rules."

Still, one has to wonder - if joking about killing your classmates is normal "teenage banter," doesn't that say something a bit troubling about how teenagers are being educated, or what they're being taught is acceptable?

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