Skip to main content

We have regime-changes over this

Unless you've been living in your parents basement without any connectivity to the Internet, you've at least had to skip over the stories and video about the on-going turmoil in the Middle East. The overthrow of despots in Tunisia, the forced resignation of Mubarak in Egypt, and the 'near' civil war in Libya (with its subsequent hit on oil and gas prices around the world) are all consequences, in part, to the drop-dead simple organizing ability of twitter and facebook combined with ubiquitous cell phone usage in those regions.

So powerful is that combination that despots in Egypt and Libya tried to shut down the web to minimize its effects. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has gone on record a number of times defending so-called "Internet freedom" and the ability to use social networking as an important tool for peaceful protesing.

Which leads us to a story published last Friday on ZDnet, where three seventh grade students attending Chapel Hill Middle School in Douglas County Ga. were harshly penalized (two suspended, one expelled) for publishing remarks critical to school teachers on facebook.

Yes, I know it's a long stretch between middle eastern populations oppressed for decades, and three kids in a middle school here in the good old US of A. However, after reading about the so-called facts of the matter I do have some opinions about the correctness of the situation.

  • I was born in Atlanta and grew up attending schools in Fulton and DeKalb counties (I graduated from SW DeKalb in 1972). In all the time I spent in school I never once encountered a situation as draconian as the one in Douglas County. If it had gone to that, my parents would have been all over the school board and the teachers who did something like this like the wrath of God. My parents (and many, many others) were involved with what we were doing and what was happening. The school board and the school administrations clearly knew what lines not to cross.

  • I've raised two children of my own in Orange County FL. Just like my parents before me (and my wife's parents), we were heavily involved from kindergarten forward until both girls graduated and headed off to college. Both girls were young enough to have Myspace, then Facebook, accounts. They were young enough to have cellphones and be a part of the early cellphone texting craze that first swept through their demographic. While the rules were fairly strict (they were in middle and high school magnet schools), we were prepared to defend our girls with whatever it took, including facts, if anything like what occurred in Douglas would have happened to them. Once again, as it was when I was in elementary and high school, Orange County clearly knew where the lines were.

  • There is a very clear line between what happens at school and what happens away from school. Facebook is what happens away from school and at home. Teachers forcing students to log into their accounts at the school library, having them read the postings, and then deleting them, is a gross intrusion into their personal and private lives away from school. Using force and coercion directly on students without having their parents available is an attack on both children and parents which must not go unanswered.

Raising children is a sacred trust. Anyone who attempts to get in the way of that sacred trust without cause[1] deserves to suffer from the full and complete wrath of angry parents. At the very least, the teachers and administration of Chapel Hill Middle School should be repremanded, and the teacher(s) who sanctioned the forced deletion of Facebook content on school property should be fired. If the school administration had felt there was a problem, then it should have worked immediately through the parents and with the parents present at all times. But the school board gave up the moral high ground in this situation with their unilateral actions aimed at the children.

I've read that the parents of at least two of the students are hiring attorneys to mount a legal fight. I hope they succeed, and I hope in the process they leave large swaths of legally scorched earth at the Douglas County school board. And possible bring about a much-needed regime change on the Douglas County school board.

[1] The only true cause to interfere is if the there is credible evidence that the children are in imminent danger, such as the result of child abuse, or worse, that the parent's actions will result in the death of their children.


Popular posts from this blog

A Decade Long Religious Con Job

I rarely write inflammatory (what some might call trolling) titles to a post, but this building you see before you deserves it. I've been seeing this building next to I-4 just east of Altamonte/436 and Crane's Roost for nearly 12 years, and never knew who owned it. Today on a trip up to Lake Mary with my wife I saw it yet again. That's when I told her I wanted to stop by on the way back and poke around the property, and photograph any parts of it if I could.

What I discovered was this still unfinished eighteen story (I counted) white elephant, overgrown with weeds and yet still under slow-motion construction. It looks impressive with its exterior glass curtain walls, but that impression is quickly lost when you see the unfinished lower stories and look inside to the unfinished interior spaces.

A quick check via Google leads to an article written in 2010 by the Orlando Sentinel about the Majesty Tower. Based on what I read in the article it's owned by SuperChannel 55 WA…

Be Careful of Capital One Mailings

Capitol One ("What's in your wallet?") sent me a bit of deceptive snail mail today. I felt sure it was a credit card offer, and sure enough, it was. I open all credit card offers and shred them before putting them in the trash. Normally I just scan the front to make sure I don't miss anything; the Capital One offer made me stop for a moment and strike a bit of fear into my heart.

The letter's opening sentence read:
Our records as of December 30, 2009 indicate your Capital One Platinum MasterCard offer is currently valid and active.Not paying close attention during the first reading, I quickly developed this irrational worry that I was actually on the hook for something important, but I wasn't quite sure what. The letter listed "three ways to reply" at the bottom; via phone, the internet, and regular snail mail. I elected to call.

Once I reached the automated phone response system, the first entry offered was '1', to "activate my Capital …

cat-in-a-box channels greta garbo

So I'm sitting at my computer, when I start to notice a racket in back. I ignore it for a while until I hear a load "thump!", as if something had been dropped on the floor, followed by a lot of loud rattling. I turn around and see Lucy in the box just having a grand old time, rolling around and rattling that box a good one. I grab the GX1 and snap a few shots before she notices me and the camera, then leaps out and back into her chair (which used to be my chair before she decided it was her chair).

Just like caring for Katie my black Lab taught me about dogs, caring for Lucy is teaching me about cats. She finds me fascinating, as I do her. And she expresses great affection and love toward me without coaxing. I try to return the affection and love, but she is a cat, and she takes a bat at me on occasion, although I think that's just her being playful. She always has her claws in when she does that.

She sits next to me during the evening in her chair while I sit in mi…