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Friday, October 27, 2006

Free speech & student blogging

The clash between high school administrators and students over the latter's online free-speech rights is increasingly being worked out in courts around the US, USATODAY reports. It appears that the participatory Web is forcing everybody – school officials and boards, parents, and students - to know more about First Amendment law than we've ever had to. In some cases students have been expelled for venting about school personnel in blogs or social sites. In a case in Texas, a student "was kicked off her cheerleading team last year when a friend posted a derogatory statement about other cheerleaders on her blog. [School] officials … said the posting was a violation of the code of conduct for cheerleaders [requiring] 'high moral standards'," according to USATODAY. One problem there, it appears, was a misunderstanding of how someone else can post in a person's blog. Anyway, "school officials say students are increasingly crossing the line from innocent rants about teachers to harassment or worse." But an American Civil Liberties Union attorney told USATODAY that punishment is appropriate in cases where students "post admissions of illegal activity - such as high-schoolers who post pictures of themselves drinking, doing drugs or committing other criminal acts … [or] racist remarks or postings that promote or predict violence should be punished." The Associated Press looks at educational and punitive activity at the college level. On a global scale, "bloggers are being asked to show their support for freedom of expression by Amnesty International," the BBC reports. Here's the Electronic Frontier Foundation's FAQ on student blogging and free speech . Meanwhile, blogging's not going away. Chicago Tribune Internet writer Steve Johnson blogs that, "with 175,000 new ones created every day, blogs [are] about to join the mainstream."

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