Friday, February 03, 2006

Chilling effect: Parry Aftab, director of claims free speech by teens can be contractually limited

To quote the last paragraph of for details:

"Aftab suggests establishing a policy at the beginning of the school year, which outlines acceptable Internet use and disciplines students who violate it. "Then it's a contractual issue," she says. "

This is entirely unacceptable. This implies that individuals can contract away their First Amendment rights. Much as you can't sign a contract to be murdered, and the other party claim that your signature frees them from legal responsibility upon your death, you can't sign a contract that allows a company or organization the ability to gag your speech in this manner. The right to free speech is inalienable, and inherent to all Americans... even teen-age ones.

This idea, carried to the logical bounds, would result in broadly-written McCarthy-style loyalty oaths at the high school level. Ms. Aftab, you do our nation's future leaders a grave dis-service, and you should be deeply ashamed to have said something so abhorrent in a public forum.

I am sure that my old teachers in the tiny high school in Iowa I attended would expect me to speak out against this tyranny. Yes, internet access on school grounds can, and should, be filtered, to conserve precious bandwidth. The mere fact of attendance (and signing of mandatory contracts to hold harmless) should not be a legally-binding contract against criticism. The schools' mandate to educate students extends to all; not just the kids deemed media-friendly.


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