Can Schools Punish Students for Off-Campus Speech?

Social media makes the line much harder to draw.

The NYT‘s Adam Liptak summarizes a case before the US Supreme Court (“A Cheerleader’s Vulgar Message Prompts a First Amendment Showdown“):

It was a Saturday in the spring of 2017, and a ninth-grade student in Pennsylvania was having a bad day. She had just learned that she had failed to make the varsity cheerleading squad and would remain on junior varsity.

The student expressed her frustration on social media, sending a message on Snapchat to about 250 friends. The message included an image of the student and a friend with their middle fingers raised, along with text expressing a similar sentiment. Using a curse word four times, the student expressed her dissatisfaction with “school,” “softball,” “cheer” and “everything.”

Though Snapchat messages are ephemeral by design, another student took a screenshot of this one and showed it to her mother, a coach. The school suspended the student from cheerleading for a year, saying the punishment was needed to “avoid chaos” and maintain a “teamlike environment.”

The student sued the school district, winning a sweeping victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia. The court said the First Amendment did not allow public schools to punish students for speech outside school grounds.

Next month, at its first private conference after the holiday break, the Supreme Court will consider whether to hear the case, Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., No. 20-255. The Third Circuit’s ruling is in tension with decisions from several other courts, and such splits often invite Supreme Court review.

While the case is seemingly rather silly—and likely moot by this point, as the student would be a senior now and there’s almost certainly no team to cheer for this year—the stakes are high:

In urging the justices to hear the case, the school district said administrators around the nation needed a definitive ruling from the Supreme Court on their power to discipline students for what they say away from school. “The question presented recurs constantly and has become even more urgent as Covid-19 has forced schools to operate online,” a brief for the school district said. “Only this court can resolve this threshold First Amendment question bedeviling the nation’s nearly 100,000 public schools.”

How they will decide is not at all clear.

Justin Driver, a law professor at Yale and the author of “The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court and the Battle for the American Mind,” agreed with the school district, to a point.

“It is difficult to exaggerate the stakes of this constitutional question,” he said. But he added that schools had no business telling students what they could say when they were not in school.

“In the modern era, a tremendous percentage of minors’ speech occurs off campus but online,” he said. “Judicial decisions that permit schools to regulate off-campus speech that criticizes public schools are antithetical to the First Amendment. Such decisions empower schools to reach into any student’s home and declare critical statements verboten, something that should deeply alarm all Americans.”

While I have complicated views of schools being in the business of teaching values and otherwise taking on parental roles, I understand the need to maintain decorum and discipline in the classroom. But fully endorse Driver’s argument that students ought to be able to speak freely, including on social media, while on their own time.

But, of course, that doesn’t mean that said speech is free of consequences. If she’s publicly spewing vulgar epithets at her coach, it’s not completely unreasonable for the coach to suspend her from the team.

I can’t imagine anyone coming to the defense of a student who used racial or sexist or anti-LGBTQ messaging against school authority figures or fellow students on their social media platforms. Indeed, most would argue that their presence creates a hostile or unsafe environment.

Where one draws that line—would pro-Trump tweets or Instagram posts qualify?—is incredibly problematic. But few would argue that there is no line.

Precedent isn’t of much help:

Recipes of 2020

The key precedent is from a different era. In 1969, in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the Supreme Court allowed students to wear black armbands to protest the Vietnam War but said disruptive speech, at least on school grounds, could be punished.

Making distinctions between what students say on campus and off was easier in 1969, before the rise of social media. These days, most courts have allowed public schools to discipline students for social media posts so long as they are linked to school activities and threaten to disrupt them.

And the 3rd Circuit opinion isn’t likely to be embraced as precedent:

A divided three-judge panel of the Third Circuit took a different approach, announcing a categorical rule that would seem to limit the ability of public schools to address many kinds of disturbing speech by students on social media, including racist threats and cyberbullying.

In a concurring opinion, Judge Thomas L. Ambro wrote that he would have ruled for the student on narrower grounds. It would have been enough, he said, to say that her speech was protected by the First Amendment because it did not disrupt school activities. The majority was wrong, he said, to protect all off-campus speech.

I can’t imagine the Supreme Court saying schools have no interest in protecting students from actual threats and bullying conduct, which are clearly not protected speech. True, law enforcement could take on those cases rather than the schools. But in the era of “defund the police,” do we really want to get the cops involved in settling social media disputes between teenagers?

FILED UNDER: First Amendment, Law and the Courts, Supreme Court
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    The district overstepped it’s authoritay (!) (or is that “authoritah?”). In an earlier era, Suzi would have repeated what was said to her mom rather than capturing a screen shot, but the principle is the same. She didn’t use the language on campus (or in a forum that students are allowed to access while on campus–at least not in districts I have worked at), what she said is an issue for her parents and loved ones to address, not the school.

    9
  2. Scott says:

    You’ll never get hard or fast rules. Schools and administrators need to have some wisdom and know when to let things lie. This seems like one of those cases to me.

    I remember this case: Morse v. Frederick

    This is the Bong Hits for Jesus case.

    Morse v. Frederick, (551 U.S. 393 (2007)), is a United States Supreme Court case where the Court held, 5–4, that the First Amendment does not prevent educators from suppressing student speech that is reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use at or across the street from a school-supervised event.[1][2] In 2002, Juneau-Douglas High School principal Deborah Morse suspended Joseph Frederick after he displayed a banner reading “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” [sic] across the street from the school during the 2002 Winter Olympics torch relay.[3] Frederick sued, claiming his constitutional rights to free speech were violated. His suit was dismissed by the federal district court, but on appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed the ruling, concluding that Frederick’s speech rights were violated. The case then went on to the Supreme Court.

    Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the majority, concluded that the school officials did not violate the First Amendment. To do so, he made three legal determinations: first, that “school speech” doctrine should apply because Frederick’s speech occurred “at a school event”; second, that the speech was “reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use”; and third, that a principal may legally restrict that speech—based on the three existing First Amendment school speech precedents, other Constitutional jurisprudence relating to schools and a school’s “important, indeed, perhaps compelling interest” in deterring drug use by students.

    Again, I don’t see this as “promoting illegal drug use” but rather a mocking of an event or authority. But that’s me.

    4
  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    I’ve long been troubled by the lengths schools go to control and suppress student’s speech and how far the court’s have allowed them to go, so the fact that this involved off campus speech is a no brainer for me, the school should butt out.

    Over the weekend, there was this bit school related article:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/26/us/mimi-groves-jimmy-galligan-racial-slurs.html

    My thought here is that while she was wrong, he waiting several years to use that against her is pretty passive-aggressive and her wrong doesn’t justify his actions, regardless of how unresponsive the school district was and uncomfortable the environment is.

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  4. drj says:

    I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be a line at all,* but this?

    The school suspended the student from cheerleading for a year, saying the punishment was needed to “avoid chaos” and maintain a “teamlike environment.”

    What kind of school district lets it come to this?

    That coach could simply have have said (as sensible adults dealing with teenagers should do in cases like this): “That student has had a bad day, she’s venting, let’s ignore it because that message wasn’t meant for me.”

    WTF is wrong with these people?

    * E.g., in cases that students or staff could genuinely feel unsafe.

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  5. grumpy realist says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Suppy osedly one main reason for the university acting hysterical about this was that they already had been in the limelight for some pretty racist and anti-Semitic behaviour done by existing students….

    ….sacrificial goat, anyone?

    3
  6. R. Dave says:

    I understand the need to maintain decorum and discipline in the classroom. But fully endorse Driver’s argument that students ought to be able to speak freely, including on social media, while on their own time. But…[i]f she’s publicly spewing vulgar epithets at her coach, it’s not completely unreasonable for the coach to suspend her from the team. I can’t imagine anyone coming to the defense of a student who used racial or sexist or anti-LGBTQ messaging against school authority figures or fellow students on their social media platforms.

    …Where one draws that line—would pro-Trump tweets or Instagram posts qualify?—is incredibly problematic. But few would argue that there is no line.

    Seems to me the parts I bolded in the quote above are the obvious place to draw the line. Students should be free to spew vulgar epithets and even engage in racist and anti-LGBTQ messaging off-campus (just as they’re free to express the opposite sentiments) as long as it’s not directed at anyone at the school.

    4
  7. wr says:

    @drj: “That coach could simply have have said (as sensible adults dealing with teenagers should do in cases like this): “That student has had a bad day, she’s venting, let’s ignore it because that message wasn’t meant for me.””

    Or could even have gone one step further and called the student to the office and explained that this kind of behavior makes the team, the school, the coach, and the student all look bad, and that we all vent when we’re angry or frustrated we should be aware when we’re doing it in a venue where many people can see it. And then the coach should have explained why she didn’t make varsity, and what she’d have to improve to make it later on… including her attitude as expressed online.

    Of course that’s called teaching. Can’t have that when schools exist primarily for control and punishment…

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  8. drj says:

    @wr:

    Can’t have that when schools exist primarily for control and punishment….

    Sounds harsh, but if you look at the school’s argument that’s exactly what it is:

    The school suspended the student from cheerleading for a year, saying the punishment was needed to “avoid chaos” and maintain a “teamlike environment.”

    Teen writes “fuck cheer” on Snapchat and there is going to be “chaos” if she’s not punished for an entire year?

    Who believes such nonsense?

    Oh wait, stupid of me: at least 4 Supreme Court Justices will buy this.

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  9. Sleeping Dog says:

    @grumpy realist:

    The university’s actions don’t bother me, as an organization they should be able to admit who they want, subject to certain fairness and equity limitations. That the incident in question was several years old, when the girl was 15… How about if she were 14, 13, 12, 11? So I do wonder about the University. I’m glad I didn’t have to answer for some of the sh$t I did at that age.

    As far as the boy, if at some future date, his resume or application were to come across my desk, I’d pass on him, I’ve had enough passive-aggressive people working for or with me and I wouldn’t want him in the organization.

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  10. Not the IT Dept. says:

    I don’t think you can have hard and fast rules about stuff like this. For every 19 teenagers (or 29 or 39 or 1,189) ranting about how much they hate something or someone(s), there’s going to be 1 teenager who brings a gun to school and acts on that rant. Until such time as we create a magical device we can point at people that will tell us who’s sane and who’s on the brink of total melt-down, we’re going to have to take each case separately. drj and wr are totally correct.

    2
  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    @wr:

    Of course that’s called teaching. Can’t have that when schools exist primarily for control and punishment…

    Thank you, you beat me to it. This incident exists somewhere on the continuum with the 6 yo who the school has the cops arrest him and is expelled from school because he brought a weapon to school that some negligent adult left where he could find it.

    2
  12. Joe says:

    I remember when my oldest, then probably 12, posted his opinion to FB about what he considered a substandard casting decision establishing his role in a school musical. That was up for about 2 seconds before his mother and I identified a “teachable moment.” Luckily, assuming anyone even saw it, none of his peers were sophisticated enough to screen shot it, and that’s probably the only relevant difference.

    5
  13. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    The case before the Supreme Court, and the case in the Times involving the use of the n-word and the withdrawal of a university offer, are not the same case. People might be getting confused because they both involve cheer teams.

    The case before the court seems to me like a silly over-reaction by school authorities, and where our national tendency to litigate everything looking for hard and fast rules instead of accepting ambiguity, judgement and that life usually isn’t fair is biting us on the a** again.

    The Times case is tougher. Pretty clearly actual harassment (based on the article) and clearly racist. On the other hand, bringing it up 3 years later and basically destroying the person’s chance at a 4 year degree is life altering as well. On the other, other hand, its pretty clear the school culture in general is very problematic, that previous incidents kept within the school didn’t result in meaningful action, and it would take something like this to generate very needed change. On the other, other, other hand I don’t see anything to indicate if the guilty party was routinely guilty of this behavior, or did something really really dumb once as a HS freshman. On the other, other, other, other hand, while I thank my lucky stars social media didn’t exist in my school days, even when I was a dumb HS freshman I knew better than to use that word in any context.

    5
  14. ImProPer says:

    It is an interesting case, with much broader implications in our modern culture, than there is at first appearance. As a problem child that was deservedly issued a lifetime expulsion from public school in the 9th grade for much worse behavior, I find myself siding with the school in this case. Inspite of it becoming a National pastime, people that denigrate others should not enjoy constitutional protection to do so with impunity. I’m not advocating for criminalizing the behavior, just don’t think we should protect individuals from the logical consequences of their behavior. Getting kicked off the team for taking her tantrum public, is a logical response. Hopefully it is an easy case for the SC

    4
  15. Owen says:

    The kicker for me is that

    The student expressed her frustration on social media, sending a message on Snapchat to about 250 friends.

    Social media labeling of followers and associates as friends does not make these comments private. Most probably the majority of the friends are schoolmates, one of whom was the coach’s daughter.

  16. Modulo Myself says:

    I’m guessing that this school has some profound problems with parents and students re: sports and how to cope with failure and loss. I grew up close to where this school is and from an early age I was always on a team and there was just so much bad adult behavior–parents threatening refs and coaches, insane outbursts of anger when a team lost, organized coups against administrators, cheating. A lot of it was considered extreme but acceptable. When a friend’s dad did donuts on a soccer field after a ‘controversial’ loss, nobody thought he had problems or should be held responsible for his actions. There was just an overall moral blankness.

    I think the case with the white girl using the n-word is pretty similar. The amount of anger directed at an 18-year old black kid for not letting racism slide is telling, I think. A lot of Americans seem to believe that shitty, racist behavior is completely excusable–unless it goes way too far–while trying to deal with its consequences is a big mistake.

    3
  17. Michael Cain says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    She didn’t use the language on campus (or in a forum that students are allowed to access while on campus–at least not in districts I have worked at)

    Serious question… students at those districts are forbidden from using their smartphone in study hall? During passing periods in the halls? The darned things run full web browsers these days.

    1
  18. grumpy realist says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Rod Dreher over at TAC has been wringing his hands and wailing about what a monster the boy is and how the Woke Left is bringing us all to perdition….

    The fact that both people on the right AND the left think that this was a case of overkill and said boy is probably going to reap karma as soon as any HR individual does a background check on him in the future just totally slips Rod’s mind…..

    4
  19. Modulo Myself says:

    As far as the boy, if at some future date, his resume or application were to come across my desk, I’d pass on him, I’ve had enough passive-aggressive people working for or with me and I wouldn’t want him in the organization.

    The kid was trying to explain to his white father why white people using the n-word was not acceptable, even though black people use it. This is the exact opposite of passive-aggressive. A passive-aggressive person would say nothing and let it fester.

    5
  20. James Joyner says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    The case before the Supreme Court, and the case in the Times involving the use of the n-word and the withdrawal of a university offer, are not the same case.

    I’m not confusing the two cases. I was offering racial epithets as a case where off-campus speech would have obvious on-campus impacts.

    2
  21. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    The Times case is tougher. Pretty clearly actual harassment (based on the article) and clearly racist.

    Here’s what happened:

    The video depicted Groves, who was 15 at the time, and had just obtained her learner’s permit, saying “I can drive, [slur].” The remark was not directed at anyone in particular. The brief video clip featuring it circulated on Snapchat until it was obtained and saved by Galligan, who had grown furious at how often he heard his white classmates using the N-word.

    Reason.com

    How is that either “actual harassment” or “clearly racist”?

    On the other, other hand

    The appropriate progression is:

    * On the one hand
    * On the other hand
    * On the gripping hand

    After that it just gets silly.

    3
  22. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Undoubtedly the girl was wrong and if the boy had brought the issue to the school at the time of the incident, he would be a hero. But waiting 3 years and using her as a cudgel for a grievance he had with the school? There’s no right here, both these individuals have committed different wrongs.

    @grumpy realist:

    The internet doesn’t forget and he’s likely to suffer consequences that he won’t realize are happening to him.

    3
  23. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    The passive-aggressive behavior isn’t the conversation with the father, that is mature and correct. The passive-aggression is using a several year old video clip of some girl’s stupidity to settle a grudge he had with the school who ignored his entreaties to do something about hate speech.

    2
  24. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    The kid was trying to explain to his white father why white people using the n-word was not acceptable, even though black people use it.

    That’s not the context of the action.

    “I wanted to get her where she would understand the severity of that word,” said Galligan.

    Galligan got the video years after it was sent (and not to him), then waited to release it specifically to cause the most possible damage. That’s not supposition. That is his explicitly stated intent.

    Because someone said a word. A word not directed at Galligan, not in reference to Galligan, and–based on the context–not meant as an insult.

    7
  25. Modulo Myself says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    He didn’t wait 3 years. The video popped up in their senior year and he saved it. The article makes that very clear. And he claims he went to the school several times to complain about racism in the school.

    The only wrong he’s committed is in being in over his head. Which makes sense–he’s a kid and was trying to deal with racism all on his own apparently.

    2
  26. Modulo Myself says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Yes, it was unfair of him to have a damaging video of somebody. How dare any black person hold a white person accountable for what they are saying? Honestly, if he had edited a video to make it seem as if a white classmate said the n-word and was caught, the same people who are outraged about him releasing the video would be equally outraged about how he faked the video because it made this girl appear terrible.

    I grew up, by the way, in all white town at the beginning of the golden age of rap and I knew damn well that no matter how much I loved NWA or Public Enemy when they said the n-word I couldn’t say it.

    6
  27. Modulo Myself says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    The passive-aggression is using a several year old video clip of some girl’s stupidity to settle a grudge he had with the school who ignored his entreaties to do something about hate speech.

    It’s almost as if he thought these 2 things were related.

    4
  28. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Ah. Now I understand. You believe that intent doesn’t matter and that a word–in and of itself, devoid of any context–has power over you. And, it would seem, you feel it’s okay to “take down” anyone white person who uses that word–regardless of the context, the intent, or time that has passed.

    I don’t debate with devout evangelicals of any stripe, so I won’t bother you any longer.

    Have a pleasant new year.

    5
  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’ve told this story before. A few years ago I was picking my daughter (then son) up from High School. As I waited in line I saw her in a verbal dispute with the school property manager. It turned out the property manager had rebuked my kid for saying, ‘fuck.’ At which point my daughter began quoting verbatim from a California state legal case, federal precedent and the student manual, with the result that the property manager apologized.

    Marin County, California!

    As far as I know no riot broke out, the school was not burned, gangs of HS kids did not rampage through the neighborhood and Satan did not manifest in the school gym.

    It’s almost never about the word, it’s almost always about the intent, but that is way too nuanced for the people who teach our kids.

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  30. @Sleeping Dog:

    There’s no right here, both these individuals have committed different wrongs.

    Yep. But that’s an impossibly difficult notion for people trapped in the binary.

    5
  31. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    The two were classmates, the article indicates that they knew each other, but weren’t friends. The video clip was made when they were both 15 and he saved till they were seniors.

    The fact he saved it is pretty creepy in and of itself.

    @Modulo Myself:

    I would say they are related. The boy appears to have a lot of repressed anger and the anger is justified, but it sure came out in a weird way. I’ll also venture he is holding a lot of anger about his father, who doesn’t seem at all sensitive to what the boy’s life is like, despite being married to a black woman and iterating with her family.

    4
  32. drj says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    She was 15 at the time. Even if it was said with malicious intent (which doesn’t appear to be the case), she was still a kid.

    Four years is a lifetime at that age. Have some compassion.

    6
  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    We are talking about children. They can’t sign a contract. They can’t join the army. They can’t rent a car or check into a hotel room. They can’t drink. And they are under constant, crushing pressure to perform in an asinine system in order to chase a phony dream.

    The whole adult world needs to climb down off their backs. Social media means this shit can follow a kid forever. Hold a child responsible for the rest of their lives for using a racist slur? It’s virtue signaling in lieu of teaching. It’s monstrous. It’s cruel. We need a more rational, more nuanced, more realistic policy approach that’s about something other than guilty white people trying to expiate their own guilt by hammering children.

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  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Can Schools Punish Students for Off-Campus Speech?

    Well, pretty obviously they can, regardless of how the SC rules, but that doesn’t mean they should. Somebody has to be the grown up in the room and I think it’s a bit much to demand of a teenager.

    In the real world, I remember having a number of disagreements with my teenaged sons over things they felt passionate about. In these discussions the expressed themselves in rather stark terms, terms any construction worker would be quite familiar with. Now some parents might have instructed their angry children to tone it down and to clean up their language, but I never did. I always encouraged their honest expressions of how they felt about things.

    Besides, who taught them to speak like that?

    5
  35. R. Dave says:

    @Michael Reynolds: We need a more rational, more nuanced, more realistic policy approach that’s about something other than guilty white people trying to expiate their own guilt by hammering children.

    I don’t even think it’s about feeling or expiating guilt, actually; I think it’s about feeling powerful and gaining social status. For the most part, call-out / cancel culture is just a new form of bullying among kids and power/status-climbing among adults (or an offense-as-defense strategy against being on the receiving end of the same treatment).

    3
  36. wr says:

    @drj: “Sounds harsh, but if you look at the school’s argument that’s exactly what it is:”

    I have a good friend with a PhD in education, full professor at a UC, a huge defender of public schools… and it makes him crazy that so much of American education is aimed at teaching kids to sit down, shut up, and learn to be good drones who will never question why things are the way they are. It’s certainly not true everywhere, and definitely not with every teacher, but the system leans towards training children to know their place so they won’t cause trouble when they’re adults.

    5
  37. Modulo Myself says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    It’s not creepy at all. What’s creepy is expecting a black kid to go around believing the n-word is just being used in a non-malicious way by white people. That’s an insane fucking thing to believe. I don’t exactly agree with what the kid did. But I’m sure he has spent a good portion of his life wondering what white people really think and are capable of and that’s not his fault. That’s the world he was born into.

    3
  38. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Galligan got the video years after it was sent (and not to him), then waited to release it specifically to cause the most possible damage. That’s not supposition. That is his explicitly stated intent.

    Because someone said a word. A word not directed at Galligan, not in reference to Galligan, and–based on the context–not meant as an insult.

    It makes you wonder about what horrible thing she did to him that made him feel justified in doing this, doesn’t it? Because, it’s pretty obvious that using the n-word casually, not directed in an explicitly racist way, isn’t going to enrage a normal person enough to hang onto that video and carefully time the release.

    Either the boy is a freak, or there’s more to the story that isn’t being told.

    3
  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @wr:

    Of course that’s called teaching. Can’t have that when schools exist primarily for control and punishment…

    At least you understand what the priorities are, but you did leave out the warehousing of children part.

    3
  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: Wait a second. When the hoards of nKLANNNNNG… swarthy thugs dangerous people come to attack your family, you’re going to be thankful that I had my AR-15 on the coffee table where it was handy for me to get to instead of a closet or, even worse, a gun safe I had to unlock to access it. Just you wait!!!!

    3
  41. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    Either the boy is a freak, or there’s more to the story that isn’t being told.

    Or he’s just a future incel who blames women for all his failures.

    4
  42. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The whole adult world needs to climb down off their backs. Social media means this shit can follow a kid forever. Hold a child responsible for the rest of their lives for using a racist slur? It’s virtue signaling in lieu of teaching. It’s monstrous. It’s cruel. We need a more rational, more nuanced, more realistic policy approach that’s about something other than guilty white people trying to expiate their own guilt by hammering children.

    Kids fuck up. Everyone fucks up. We’re bound to fuck up, hurt people’s feelings, do offensive things through ignorance, stupidity, or accident. We shouldn’t be judged for that, but rather by how we take responsibility for that and try (or don’t try) to make amends.

    The NYTimes article frustrates me because it’s so clearly missing large chunks of the story. Why was the boy so pissed off at her specifically? How did she respond when this old video surfaced? It’s basically missing everything that would make the story make any sense.

    And the “fuck cheer” court case is stupid as fucking hell. That’s a teachable moment, and if the school’s position were “until the girl apologizes and takes the post down, even junior cheer says ‘fuck her’” that would be fine and appropriate. And again, the reporting frustrates me because how the hell does this become a Supreme Court case?

    I have a suspicion that buried in these stories there’s a bit of pretty, entitled white girl demanding to not be held responsible for her actions, and parents backing her up. A gentle whiff of the guy with his gun strapped to his hip to go to the coffee shop, refusing to wear a mask, shouting “I got rights”

    Actions have consequences. And sometimes you have to learn to put in a good faith effort to smooth things over with people you offended without meaning to. We shouldn’t throw that out just because we’re upset with cancel culture.

    4
  43. ImProPer says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I read the article you shared, just before reading James’ post. The most disturbing thing to me is the behavior of the University, a close second is the author of the article. In light of what damage, self centered hyper- sensitivity
    seems to be inflicting on a large segment of our youth, it imo, sends a bad message. University is a place that should be challenging, and preparing young adults for the real world, not trying to be Facebook popular, or propitiating to individuals refusing to get over an old middle school insult. Other than her lapse of judgment when she was 15 ( go figure), the young lady should be free at this point to make more mistakes in her future, without fear of repercussions of the ancient one. The young man might need some counseling about letting go.

    3
  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: My bad. My last comment in the thread should have been linked to @Sleeping Dog‘s comment.

  45. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Or they’re both horrible people, and this is what happens when horrible people collide.

    3
  46. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Modulo Myself:
    How about if he just called a girl fat or ugly? Do you think that would do less psychological damage? How about if someone called him a fag? Homo? Loser?

    Yes, the n-word is uniquely awful, but that does not mean its effect in a given situation can be assumed to be devastating, or that other words cannot do as much or more damage, depending on the circumstances.

    Again: these are children. Do you not agree that children should be treated with far more generosity than adults? Do you not see that damaging a child’s future without overwhelming reason is appalling? What has happened to liberal compassion?

    6
  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    We have discussed in this space the idiocy of the military’s Zero Defects mind set. We are applying that same approach to children. It’s the job of children to fuck up. Your kids fuck up. My kids fuck up. Each of as children fucked up. Our job as adults is not to help ruin their goddamn lives for fucking up, but to teach and correct and lead by example.

    Jesus, at least the Maoists sent you to a re-education camp after you strayed from party orthodoxy.

    8
  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Cain: From what I understand talking to students–and have experienced myself as a guest teacher–part of the reason that students resort to their phones in school is because of the places you can’t get to on a Chromebook from the districts closed system link. In the districts I teach at, you can’t visit Facebook, TicToc, Instagram, various other social media sites. I can’t access http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com from computers at scho0l–zero tolerance gun policy. I need to have a district YouTube account to load videos from YouTube. None of these things trouble me, you understand, but part of the reason that Chromebooks that are assigned to students get returned at the end of the year is because they have almost no value as tech tools outside the confines of the district system.

    1
  49. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    We’ll need to agree to disagree.

    After our last exchange, I went down to my wood shop and as I was trimming some veneer, I began thinking about the boy and recalled that it was reported that he had no remorse about what happened to the girl, that I found interesting.

    3
  50. JohnMcC says:

    @wr: Many years ago there was an essay which became a book that describes the social control that is commonly mistaken for education. Since it was in 1967, there was a different value-load for the ‘N-word’. Hoping to offend no one I will cite ‘The Student as Nigger’.

    Not much has changed in secondary school values in the last 50 yrs.

    4
  51. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Cain: One more point. At least in Washington State, study hall is a fond remembrance of a bygone era. I haven’t been in a building that had study hall as a period in the schedule since I started teaching in 1995. Two middle schools I teach at have a short reading period at one point during the day, but no one is permitted to use technology during that period unless they receive passes to the library (and my instructions as the guest teacher usually read “no one needs to go to the library today”).

    2
  52. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Again: these are children. Do you not agree that children should be treated with far more generosity than adults? Do you not see that damaging a child’s future without overwhelming reason is appalling?

    I’m not saying that the University did the right thing at all, but you’re losing a bit of perspective when you call it “damaging a child’s future.” She’ll go to a different college and she will be fine, or at least as fine as she was going to be going to her first choice.

    The article will probably do more lasting damage, which is itself a shame, and leads one to wonder whether the story needed their names. Of course, it’s also on social media, so the article is basically an attempt at damage control at this point so I don’t know…

    1
  53. Sleeping Dog says:
  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Cain: One final point: passing period at every school I work at is 3 minutes, but yes, students are, in theory at least, forbidden from using their phones in school outside of lunchtime. My phone doesn’t always have signal available, but I live in a small town and have less than 100% reliable cell service from my brand X carrier.

    2
  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: It was your comment about adults leaving guns out where kids could get to them, I believe. I’ve heard “locking up my guns is just stupid, how am I to protect my family with my gun unloaded and locked up in a safe” arguments too many times to suit me, though.

    2
  56. ImProPer says:

    @wr:

    “Or could even have gone one step further and called the student to the office and explained that this kind of behavior makes the team, the school, the coach, and the student all look bad”

    Agreed, and one would hope that this was done.

    “and that we all vent when we’re angry or frustrated”

    ie thrown temper tantrums, which are not character assets, no matter how ubiquitous they are in our modern culture.

    “we should be aware when we’re doing it in a venue where many people can see it.”

    This tantrum has certainly caught the eyes of many people, and is extending all the way to the Supreme Court. (Seems to be becoming a trend). I will go out on a limb, and conclude that contrition is not a part of this student’s current make-up.

  57. steve says:

    This seems a tad harsh, but it is probably a good lesson. Dont say stuff on social media unless you are willing to bear the consequences. Social media is evil. This probably doesnt affect her long term career and life. If she says something stupid on social media when she is 22 it could be a lot more harmful. Does it merit some sort of punishment? Probably. For these kids I think saying stuff on social media would be pretty much the same as me standing up in the school cafeteria 50 years ago and yelling “the coach sucks”. The all live in that world and that is how they communicate.

    Steve

  58. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    OK:)

    As a rationalist, I’d reply that there was a far greater likelihood that you 6 yo will take your gun to school or shoot himself or another, than there is you needing to repel a home invasion, but I know that you knew that. Unless Gurnerny(sp) hacked your account.

    1
  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @wr: I used to use an essay by John Taylor Gatto, a former NY State teacher of the year 2 or 3 times, called The 10 Most Important Things You Learn in School (or something like that anyway, I wasn’t able to find the article to link) in my composition classes. Number One was “stay in your place.”

    I was always amazed how many of my students couldn’t connect that statement to any negative ideas because it was an article about education. (“Well of course you need to stay in your place, that’s why you’re in school to begin with.”) Funny thing though, the students who had been identified as “troublemakers” by the schools they’d be in always wrote better essays than the others. Hmmm…

    1
  60. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnMcC: In graduate school, a student did an oral presentation on change and how various industries and services react to it. As I recall–and admittedly, the last data point stuck most in my mind because I was a teacher–using the definition that change happens when 50% of the stakeholders in a system adopt it–

    Agriculture requires 5 years to change
    Business and industry take 10 years
    Medicine takes about 20 years and
    Education takes over 60 years

    I was reminded of this factoid by your comment.

    2
  61. drj says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Or he’s just a future incel who blames women for all his failures.

    Or maybe he’s just self-righteous and full of himself – something that is easy to be when you’re nineteen.

    Or perhaps it’s because he grew up in a culture where people always talk about personal responsibility.

    For instance, if some black kid from the projects can be tried as an adult, it kind of follows that some underage white girl can be rightfully exposed for being an irredeemable “racist,” no?

    After all, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    While it certainly appears that this Galligan dude acted like a flaming asshole, in a cerrtain way, it seems he did a very American thing: i.e., holding someone else accountable without moderation or empathy. (This includes focusing on the offending individual rather than the systemic and environmental origins of the original injustice.)

    Having said that, the most blame, as someone else pointed out, should go to the University of Tennessee. What a bunch of spineless weasels.

    5
  62. Michael Cain says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Thanks. I was sure high school had changed, even from the days when my kids were in.

    1
  63. JohnMcC says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I faced college graduation without any idea of what to do with myself. Having spent 17 or so years in education, I took ed courses and thought of teaching. With all classes finished I went to the middle school where I was assigned to student-teach. Stood there in the hallway of the almost-empty school smelling the floor wax, hearing the crash of the locker doors I felt a huge wave of GET THE FUCK OUTA HERE. Hated junior high when I was in it; what was I thinking!?

    Now I am family taxi driver for 5 grandkids. From what I see, it’s all the same. With screens and facebook.

    2
  64. Mister Bluster says:

    @Michael Reynolds:..Social media means this shit can follow a kid forever.

    Unlike “Your Permanant Record that will follow you for the rest of your life!” that our grade school teachers used to intimidate us with every time we picked our noses in class in the ’50s.
    After three different elementary schools, one Junior High School and two High Schools in four towns in two states mine must have gotten lost somewhere along the line. It’s the only way I could have gotten a High School Diploma.

    1
  65. Michael Cain says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    “Your Permanant Record that will follow you for the rest of your life!” that our grade school teachers used to intimidate us with every time we picked our noses in class in the ’50s.

    At least then there was a legal regime that seals (and in many cases, destroys) those records when you reach 18. OTOH, the internet really is forever. Given a few hints, there’s stuff I wrote >25 years ago that’s pretty easy to find. Copies of same are in some foreign countries that are unlikely to ever adopt a “right to be forgotten” mandate.

    As my kids reached an age where they were likely to post, I tried so hard to instill in them an attitude of, “Assume everything you write is permanent. Assume that it is public. Assume that any alias you use will be linked to you. Read it three times before you hit the “post” key, and ask yourself if you will still be proud of it in ten years. Ask if you’ll be willing to justify it to your kids.”

    2
  66. R. Dave says:

    @Gustopher: It makes you wonder about what horrible thing she did to him that made him feel justified in doing this, doesn’t it? Because, it’s pretty obvious that using the n-word casually, not directed in an explicitly racist way, isn’t going to enrage a normal person enough to hang onto that video and carefully time the release. Either the boy is a freak, or there’s more to the story that isn’t being told.

    A few years ago, I would have agreed with you, but things have changed. I think you’re massively underestimating the degree to which this kind of call-out / cancel culture attack is now a normal, status-gaining thing for Gen-Z and, to a lesser extent, Millennials, to do to each other.

    2
  67. R. Dave says:

    @Gustopher: I’m not saying that the University did the right thing at all, but you’re losing a bit of perspective when you call it “damaging a child’s future.” She’ll go to a different college and she will be fine, or at least as fine as she was going to be going to her first choice.

    I don’t mean to single your comment out, Gustopher, but it’s a good example of something progressives often say in these situations that’s always baffled me. Among progressives, it’s common to simultaneously believe, or at least to argue, that (i) words have significant power to cause harm, to the point that simply hearing something one finds deeply offensive, whether or not directed at the listener, can be tantamount to literally being the victim of violence and (ii) bullying, including cyberbullying, can and does leave significant scars that can last a lifetime, yet (iii) when someone gets called out / “cancelled” in the near-permanent forum of social media for doing something racist or homophobic, the immediate and massive social shunning, loss of college admissions, scholarships, employment, etc., and (the allegedly regrettable but obviously inevitable) deluge of online harassment is no big deal. The inconsistency there is rather blatant, no?

    2
  68. R. Dave says:

    Whoops, forgot the blockquote tag on Gustopher’s quote in my immediately preceding post. Should have quoted this part:

    @Gustopher: I’m not saying that the University did the right thing at all, but you’re losing a bit of perspective when you call it “damaging a child’s future.” She’ll go to a different college and she will be fine, or at least as fine as she was going to be going to her first choice.

  69. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I always encouraged their honest expressions of how they felt about things… Besides, who taught them to speak like that?

    Back when my daughter rode her dinosaur to middle school, one day in a fit of rage I was informed my name/job title was “EvilDemonSpawnOfSatan”tm as she stormed out of the room. To her surprise, I applauded, and awarded style points for expressing her anger without swearing (in ANY of the 3 languages I swear in). OTOH, my better half was not amused with my response. Hey, kids gonna be kids, and goth knows I should have been exposed on a rock for my teenage behavior.

    3
  70. Modulo Myself says:

    @R. Dave:

    Let me clear it up for you. Being called the n-word is categorically different than being judged for using it.

    4
  71. Modulo Myself says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Well the adults failed here and this is the fallout. The n-word is not like sex or smoking weed or getting drunk. You can’t expect teenagers not to want get laid or have parties. But you can deal with the concerns of black students. The fact that this district seemingly didn’t care is a reflection of something else in the area, I imagine.

    1
  72. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: HA! I love it. Points for originality.

    My oldest once told me he wanted to beat the shit out of me. I told him as long as he never raised a hand against me, I was happy to hear him say it.

    My youngest once said, “I hate you I hate you I hate you” and that he wished I would “eat shit and die!” I told him, “I don’t care how much you hate me, I’m not ever going away because I love you more.”

    If my old man could let me live, it was the least I could do for my sons.

    3
  73. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    The girl in question may not be able to go to another university. Who knows how this will impact her future applications. She’s currently attending community college which is great but…not the same. I suspect most people on this site are aware of the impact of degrees on future earning potential, do you think her offense deserves a life-long punishment and lower standard of living?

    As for Galligan, he describes an environment (and the girl almost accidentally backs him up when she says they all talked like that, specifically referencing certain popular songs) of routine racism issues at the school and nothing was done about it. Does that make him a future woman-hating incel, or someone who took a deliberately provocative action to draw attention to a problem that was being ignored rather than just shutting up and taking it?

    I’m reminded of something Heinlein once wrote about that there is no such thing as a juvenile delinquent. By definition, juveniles can’t be delinquent because they don’t know and haven’t been taught better, and that in actuality behind every so-called juvenile delinquent was one or more delinquent adults who failed to properly train the child (whether they be parents or school authorities). As Reynolds keeps pointing out, they’re just children.

    5
  74. R. Dave says:

    @Modulo Myself: You really aren’t addressing the actual points being made by others in this thread, Modulo Myself. Do you honestly think your comment here is responsive to the point I made, or are you just emoting for the fun of it?

  75. Gustopher says:

    @R. Dave:

    when someone gets called out / “cancelled” in the near-permanent forum of social media for doing something racist or homophobic, the immediate and massive social shunning, loss of college admissions, scholarships, employment, etc., and (the allegedly regrettable but obviously inevitable) deluge of online harassment is no big deal. The inconsistency there is rather blatant, no?

    It’s not nothing, but it’s also not ruining her life, as our friend Mr. Reynolds said. It’s the University of Fucking Tennessee. There are other universities of the same calibre that will doubtless be perfectly happy to have her.

    I’m just saying, have a little perspective.

    Part of her white privilege is that so many people want to bend over backwards to understand her and defend her and give her another opportunity at grabbing that brass ring. And so many others don’t even get one opportunity.

    I’m not saying that we should grind everyone down under the heel of oppression, poverty and discrimination until no one gets a chance to succeed, but maybe focus a bit more on the injustices to those who don’t get the opportunities in the first place.

    She will go from attending one midrange school to another, perhaps cheering for a lesser football team, and her life will continue. She will go from doing better than most, to doing better than most, but with marginal differences.

    Above, our friend Michael Reynolds says

    Again: these are children. Do you not agree that children should be treated with far more generosity than adults? Do you not see that damaging a child’s future without overwhelming reason is appalling? What has happened to liberal compassion?

    Generosity here should be measured in giving her an opportunity to show that she is better than a brief clip on Snapchat where she is informing the African-American community that she has a learners permit.

    I think the situation is stupid, and could have and should have been stopped with an honest, heartfelt apology — “I was 15, stupid, and used some hurtful language. I didn’t mean to offend, but clearly I did. Even without knowing that I caused offense, it’s embarrassing. I don’t know why this kid decided this was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but he puts up with a lot of crap that he shouldn’t have to, and something was going to be. I’m sorry I added to the pile of crap, and I’m going to shut up now.” But also, I think the harm done to her life is minimal.

    It didn’t go that way, for whatever reason. The reporting now is so far after the fact, and after so many people have dug in their heels to try to make it a principled stand that I don’t trust any of them to be honest (with themselves or anyone else).

    Either she got a raw deal where in the end things will be basically fine, or she got all uppity that one of those people is trying to take away what she earned fair and square with her white privilege. We’ve seen that latter story play out over and over the past year to the point where no one will name a child Karen for at least a generation.*

    I’m not going to guess what’s in her heart, and she’s basically going to be fine. If this has ruined her life, it’s just in the teenaged melodrama way. Life isn’t always perfectly fair, a fact which many of us here a probably grateful for.

    *: I think the name Karen will be rehabilitated before Jane.

    3
  76. Modulo Myself says:

    @R. Dave:

    What points? This kid used the n-word and got busted, and supposedly it’s a childish fuck-up as if once white people turn 21 racism goes away. It’s like saying when you’re young you make bad decisions regarding booze and sex, but when you’re older neither of these interest you.

    Honestly, I think the responses to this sad story are more disturbing than the kid who used the n-word. I can empathize with her. I don’t get the adults who seem to think that it’s all an overreaction.

    3
  77. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnMcC: I was kicked out of the first teacher ed program that I entered and I took 15 years off working as a laborer before I went back. Even afterward, I found that I was better suited to entry-level classes and students at 2-year schools than I was to loftier pursuits and moved on from K-12 as soon as I could. I’m back now, but without the pressures of the role of “guarantor of student achievement” that formed the basis for almost every parent/teacher conference I ever attended.

    1
  78. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @R. Dave: Eleanor Roosevelt is credited with the saying that “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” but I find myself wondering how much any of us really believe it to be true. I have used the quote without attribution in the past in discussions and been told “whoever said that is an idiot.”

    1
  79. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Modulo Myself:
    What the district failed to do is not the issue. The black kid’s exposure to racism is not the issue, harming this girl’s future does nothing to help this boy.

    This girl was a child, she is allowed to make mistakes, to learn from them, to make amends and go on. You will not solve 300 years of racism by hurting this girl. You are allowing your moral outrage to lead you into cruelty, pitilessness and not least, very bad parenting. I find your cold, heartless extremism appalling.

    You need to take a look at yourself and remember that we all have a duty of compassion.

    And let me add, when you find yourself in the position of being dressed down on a matter of morality by me, FFS, that’s a pretty good indication that you have gone over the edge.

    6
  80. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Whoever said that is an idiot.

    People just don’t work that way, and young people really don’t work that way. Buddhist monks strive to be that way, and fail.

    It’s as dumb as libertarianism, in exactly the same way libertarianism is dumb. It starts with an assumption that people aren’t people (but are something we might wish people were like), and from there is makes perfect sense. And taken the logical extremes, it allows you to shut off your compassion — the person being abused deserves it, because they allowed it.

    1
  81. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You will not solve 300 years of racism by hurting this girl.

    Just to play devil’s advocate: are we better off in a world where the children of the privileged are immune from the consequences of perpetuating a racist, oppressive culture, or a world where a small number are randomly punished for racist comments more severely than they deserve?

    The former scenario leaves little incentive to change. The latter scenario is cruel, but makes racism everyone’s problem because you never know when your stupid comment will be taken out of context and used against you three years later.

    (Aside: who originally saved the Snapchat? And why? And why start sharing it out again? There’s a lot more to this story that we aren’t privy to)

    We might want a world where the punishments are more proportional — where, for instance, repeating the n-word because it is used in black hip-hop condemns the kid to listen to Vanilla Ice for four hours, or until they can recite and dance to the entirety of “Ice, Ice Baby” — but that world isn’t coming, at least not any time soon.

    So, kids are going to get caught in the gears of an oppressive system — either institutional, systemic racism stunting the opportunities of black and brown kids, or a backlash stunting the opportunities of random white kids as people are questioning the systemic racism along with some brown and black kids. At least with the latter, the harm is distributed, and it becomes in everyone’s interest to improve the situation.

    (Alternately, people will start being performatively racist, to signal their small-minded, small-town values and then find the larger world shut off from them, because no one wants to hire the racist.)

    Do you have a better idea than mob justice? That can actually happen? I don’t.

    Also, I’m pretty sure the Reign Of Terror had some much nicer name used by the people who were leading the victims to the guillotine.

    ——
    ETA: Wow, I got an edit button! Also, I’ll go with the mob justice as the lesser of two evils, particularly when the people caught up in it have every advantage and will generally be pretty ok in the long term. And I wish people were something better than they are, but too many people aren’t going to change unless it affects them or their kids personally.

    1
  82. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I do prefer and believe in a different formulation of the same idea — you have a choice about whether and how much to let something affect you, but it’s a very hard choice.

    2
  83. ImProPer says:

    @Gustopher:

    Just to play devil’s advocate: are we better off in a world where the children of the privileged are immune from the consequences of perpetuating a racist, oppressive culture, or a world where a small number are randomly punished for racist comments more severely than they deserve?

    I would think that either worlds are undesirable, and wouldn’t be rationalized or tolerated in an enlightened society. I realize we don’t currently live in one, but shouldn’t that be the goal, rather than sacrificing members of the unpure?

  84. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    I have a suspicion that buried in these stories there’s a bit of pretty, entitled white girl demanding to not be held responsible for her actions, and parents backing her up.

    Yes … **clapping**

    1
  85. R. Dave says:

    @Michael Reynolds: What the district failed to do is not the issue. The black kid’s exposure to racism is not the issue….You will not solve 300 years of racism by hurting this girl.

    Conor Friedersdorf over at The Atlantic made a really good observation about this on Twitter:

    One divide in the culture wars seems to be grounded in different intuitions about whether an individual transgressor should be held accountable commensurate with the harm they did or the overall harm associated with their category of transgression

    He goes on in a subsequent Tweet to note that progressives and conservatives flip sides on that depending on whether the transgression is racist speech or violent crime (though I think drug use/sales would be a better example than violent crime), which I think is also useful for progressives to consider if they’re inclined to immediately justify holding individuals who say or do something racist accountable for the aggregate harm of racism rather than the particular harm of their own specific statement or act.

    I absolutely believe it’s morally wrong, indeed abhorrent, to do that. Even a deterrent theory of punishment, which @Gustopher seems to be advocating here, in my opinion, doesn’t come close to justifying the massively disproportionate harm of the mob justice approach to these things that progressives are so enamored of these days.

    3
  86. Gustopher says:

    @ImProPer:

    I would think that either worlds are undesirable, and wouldn’t be rationalized or tolerated in an enlightened society. I realize we don’t currently live in one, but shouldn’t that be the goal, rather than sacrificing members of the unpure?

    Have we ever lived in an enlightened society?

    I mean, ideally, we would fundamentally change the nature of humanity, so we are less cruel and more compassionate, teaching our little ones that empathy is a virtue and to embrace the downtrodden. But, in the meantime, before we evolve into beings of light and leave our physical forms behind, what then?

    @R. Dave:

    Even a deterrent theory of punishment, which @Gustopher seems to be advocating here, in my opinion, doesn’t come close to justifying the massively disproportionate harm of the mob justice approach to these things that progressives are so enamored of these days.

    I have faith in the power of white privilege. The short term harm for the individual may be massively disproportionate, but the long term harm will be pretty negligible. It might be mob justice, but the mob is ultimately pretty impotent.

    One in a thousand Americans are dead from covid, and countless more will have long term health consequences, and this disease is striking black and brown communities the hardest because of generations of systemic racism, and we’re worrying about the future of a pretty white cheerleader who got embarrassed on the internet, and who will have to go to a different college — maybe (gasp!) even a community college for a year.

    That’s some pretty powerful fucking privilege right there, and that’s going to protect her from the consequences of her actions, and the consequences of mob justice.

    If she’s really lucky, she might be able to play the victim role well enough to get a little bit of the wing nut welfare circuit, like the Covington Twerp did.

    We differ on the assumption of the level of harm.

    1
  87. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: On that, I will concur with you. I will also note that Mrs. Roosevelt’s admonishment is probably easier said than done, and that based on my limited understanding of how her marriage worked, was an inordinately strong willed person.—-

    1
  88. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    So if X is suffering more than Y we should ignore Y. If injustice A is worse than injustice B we should ignore B.

    That’s why I ignore the homeless people under the freeway, because hey, what about Yemen?

    2
  89. ImProPer says:

    @Gustopher:

    “Have we ever lived in an enlightened society?”

    No, but believe that there has periods of great Progress.

    “I mean, ideally, we would fundamentally change the nature of humanity,”

    As tempting as this sounds, I would disagree.
    If for no other reason, it is up to now impossible, and could possibly be used as a rationale to avoid the pain of future personal growth. ie. humanity is so messed up, the only way to fix it is to modify it, meanwhile sacrifice children for the illusion of moral superiority.

    “so we are less cruel and more compassionate”,

    I would never argue with you on this, and would note that I have read several of your posts, and am of the opinion that you are a very compassionate person.

    “teaching our little ones that empathy is a virtue and to embrace the downtrodden.”

    Agree with you 100%

    “But, in the meantime, before we evolve into beings of light and leave our physical forms behind, what then?”

    Not give into frustration, and make things better where we can.