Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category
Two Indiana high school girls got a painful lesson that whatever you post online can come back to bite you. A large amount of that pain came from what their high school put them through after declaring their Internet post violated school athletic rules, including an initial ruling they would be banned from all sports for one year. The school itself is now feeling some pain — the girls have fired back with a federal lawsuit that will end up drawing the line, as others have put it, between school space and MySpace.
The contretemps stem from two Churubusco High School girls posting naughty pictures of themselves on MySpace. The pictures were taken during a summer sleepover. According to the girls’ own lawsuit against the school:
“[T]he girls took pictures of themselves pretending to kiss or lick a large multi-colored novelty phallus-shaped lollipop that they had purchased as well as pictures of themselves in lingerie with dollar bills stuck in their clothes.”
Say this about the girls: when it comes to novelty phallus-shaped lollipops, they’re not racist.
The pictures were put on a MySpace page that presumably was open only to their chosen MySpace friends. But someone got his or her hands on the pictures and made the outside world aware of them. That outside world happened to be the school’s principal, who responded by suspending the girls from sports and all other extracurricular activites for one year.
Geez, all that happened to the Popsicle Twins was that they allegedly didn’t make the West Coast feed of “The Gong Show.”
The school system justified the punishment based on Indiana High School Athletic Association Rule 8-1, a version of which also is included in the high school’s handbook:
Contestants’ conduct, in and out of school, shall be such as (1) not to reflect discredit upon their school or the Association, or (2) not to create a disruptive influence on the discipline, good order, moral or educational environment in the school. NOTE: It is recognized that principals, by the administrative authority vested in them by their school corporation, may exclude such contestants from representing their school.
“Our athletes travel to surrounding schools, our conference schools, and represent [Churubusco] High School and they represent the community,” Smith-Green Community School Corp. Superintendent Steve Darnell told Fort Wayne television station WANE. “We certainly want the best behavior to represent our school.”
Isn’t it cute how high schools still treat their athletes as if everyone else in the community looks up to them?
The school did have one deal to offer the girls, after their parents filed an appeal: go through three counseling sessions, apologize individually to the athletic board, and you only have to sit out 25 percent of the volleyball season. So they did. And that was that.
Until this: the American Civil Liberties Union, every conservative’s favorite punching bag pre-ACORN, in late October filed a lawsuit on behalf of the girls. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne, accuses the school district and principal Austin Couch of violating the girls’ First Amendment rights. As Kenneth Falk, the legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, told WANE:
“Students, not in school, have a right to communicate and this is how people communicate today. We cannot start looking through those communications, which are clearly expressions… protected by the 1st Amendment. We can’t start policing them.”
I think we can all agree that it wasn’t the wisest thing for the girls to post those pictures. Social Media 101 is that no matter how private you think something is on the Internet, something can always leak out, especially if it’s particularly damaging. Though someday, when the current young generation is running things, they probably look askance at anyone who DIDN’T post salacious pictures of themselves online. (“Your resume looks great, but I’m sorry to say I could find no online pictures of you naked beer-bonging. That makes me think you’re not the kind of person who would fit in at our company.”)
But the school administration, as school administrations tend to do, completely overreacted. Let’s put it this way: if everyone who posted naughty pictures of themselves online was banned from athletic competition, Churubusco probably wouldn’t field any teams. Neither would their opponents. I could see the administration having authority if the pictures were taken at a school event, or under some circumstance when they were under school auspices. That’s why a school can suspend students who engage in novelty phallus-shape activity on the school bus, but not those who do so in their parents’ house.
It would seem, too, that the school might take into consideration that the girls made a good-faith effort to keep their photo private. In this case, it would be no different than if, pre-Internet, the girls had made prints to show their friends, except someone took one and handed it to the principal. It hasn’t been revealed who forwarded the girls’ photos to the principal. I’m sure they would love to know.
Look for the Churubusco girls to appear in the next edition of the “Stop Snitchin'” DVD series.
And what makes this supercreepy, as alluded to in the headline? It’s that the photos of two pre-driving-age girls licking novelty phallus-shaped lollipops were pored over and judged upon — with an apology forced in front of — an all-male athletic board (all varsity coaches at Churusbusco serve on the board. And they’re all dudes). In just about any other circumstances, these guys would be in jail for spending so much time looking at pictures like that.