Thursday, February 23, 2012

Schools should not be policing YouTube

Huffington Post: "After two minors from Gainesville High School in Gainesville, Fla., posted a nearly 14-minute-long racist rant on YouTube, the girls are "no longer students at the school," WCJB-TV reports. Last week, eight police officers were brought to the campus in light of death threats the girls were receiving in response to their videos. The videos included comments like, "You can understand what we are saying, our accents, we use actual words. Black people do not."
The school has no business trying to regulate what is said/posted on YouTube. To say that the girls are no longer at the school and then to say that the comments were not welcome certainly makes it sound as though they were expelled for their speech. Schools are doing too much of this over-reach into the private lives of their students.
"Gainesville High School principal David Shelnutt did not go into detail on the extent of the disciplinary action taken against the girls, but did tell WCJB that their comments were not welcome at the school. "There's no place for comments like that, that video here at GHS," Shelnutt told the station. "There's no place for that in the Alachua County Public School System, and my opinion, no place for that in society in general."
Does he also expel a student who repeats what a candidate like Santorum says but in more extreme fashion, or one who repeats a Malcolm X rant? Perhaps a teacher who uses the word "nigger" in context during a class as part of a thoughtful discussion on race and Huckleberry Finn? (oh, wait ...)

Someone needs to be
the bad example.
The school needs to hire the temporary extra security but stay out of it. I know that everyone in education will disagree with me one this, but I think the constant nannying by schools has partly caused the change in who takes responsibility for children's behavior. I could see a lot of pointed teacher commentary (directed at the two girls, in class) that included "What do you expect?" and "What would you have felt if the situation were reversed?" but I don't think they should have been expelled.

This all seems to be an extension of the anti-bullying laws that do much the same thing. Having said that, however, it must be noted that many students are under the mistaken impression that they are immune to response and that anything they say in the privacy of their bedrooms is "nothing" - forgetting they are saying it to a video camera and posting it for all to see.

The parents are not blameless. The girls are minors and should not have had total and unquestioned access to all social media. Goofiness is typical and could have been over-looked, but they just found out that being racist and insulting has consequences and that being racist and insulting a second (or third) time becomes more than momentary brainlessness. I would imagine that the parent never once said anything approximating "I will occasionally check what you post, be nice."

It would have been easier than:
"While we can never take back the words and actions that these two children have said, we have to start to heal and forgive IMMEDIATELY. Stop the violent threats to our homes and our children, stop the anger, because this will solve absolutely nothing, and most importantly, look at yourself for change and love."
Interesting that she feels that she can demand anything, that people need to forgive and forget IMMEDIATELY. Maybe the girls can at least be an object lesson for others.
My daughter has gone into a severe depression from what has happened and her remorse and sorrow is beyond description.
Yes, she has become depressed because she has lost friends and someone spoke back in a nasty fashion, but she should be more depressed by the fact that she cast herself in a pit from which she will take years to climb out: peers, colleges, future employers checking her Facebook and YouTube accounts and reacting accordingly. She will live this down but not easily. A simple Google check will suffice because, while HuffPost and the TV station will not print her name, all of the kids at school will - especially those with an axe to grind. Her name will soon be linked to that video.
She wishes she could take it back, the girl said. “I’m not a racist person. I still don’t see someone and judge them because of skin color,” the girl said, but after the video, “no one is going to believe me anymore.”
And why should they? In the video, she is replying to comments about an earlier racist rant. This apology is invalid. This girl knew about and pushed as many buttons as she could and demonstrated, as clearly as anyone can, that she is racist. You know the rule "Once is a fluke, twice is coincidence, but three times is a law of nature."

All teenagers should have a chance to go through a stupid phase and grow up to realize that they really don't agree with their stupid phase. The problem is that YouTube makes it permanent.

And then you have this from Britain's Daily Mail, of all places, about two OTHER white girls:
In this latest disturbing video, the girls start by saying white students 'turn black' as soon as they enter the school, claiming you 'catch the disease'. At one point they add: 'Guys, if you're watching this video now, and you have a weave, and you're black, please be offended - because we're making fun of you.' It ends with one of the girls saying: 'Don't post this on Facebook because all our friends are black.' They chuckle, flash peace signs and say 'peace and love'.
Too late.

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