Student free speech takes another pasting in ruling on Internet postings

A federal appeals court ruled that students can be punished at school for their postings on MySpace even if the postings are made off campus in the students’ own time. The court found that the postings were disruptive to the school according to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines.

Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, thought it was wrong to apply Tinker to off-campus speech and also objected to allowing schools to regulate off-campus behavior, no matter how repugnant. Lo Monte said, “The behavior is reprehensible, and everyone agrees it should be punished, but the right way to punish it is to call in the parents and not unleash the authority of state government. The circuit has left no stopping point for any off-campus behavior to be punished by the school just because someone complains to the school. That could be not only speech, but a bad romantic breakup or anything that causes a student to be upset and miss class.” -db

From the Student Press Law Center, July 28, 2011, by Emily T. Gerston.

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