Germaine student expelled for publishing satirical website

by Howard Apple­gate
    When does a student’s right to free speech go over the line?
    Old Paiute High School Prin­ci­pal Janet Kor­sof­s­ki believes she knows. Mon­day she took the unusu­al action of expelling stu­dent Rebec­ca Arra­to­la for post­ing a satir­i­cal sci­ence paper to her stu­dent web­site.
    The web­site, enti­tled “A His­to­ry of the Man Project, and Why It Failed, as told by God to Becky Arra­to­la,” caused quite a stir at the school. The site por­trays the Earth as a lab­o­ra­to­ry where God, and a team of “techies” pro­duce a series of defec­tive prod­ucts.
    â€œIt would have been okay,” says the Prin­ci­pal, “but instead of remov­ing the inap­pro­pri­ate mate­r­i­al when asked, Becky decid­ed to have her friends post it to a mir­ror site, view­able by the public.” A mir­ror site is a web­site which con­tains an exact copy of the orig­i­nal.
    Old Paiute High School uses a “closed” sys­tem for stu­dent web­sites, view­able by fac­ul­ty and oth­er stu­dents, but not nor­mal­ly acces­si­ble to the gen­er­al pub­lic. Kor­sof­s­ki said Arratola’s project was “creative, but out of line. It was sup­posed to be a sci­ence project. Instead, she man­aged to offend sev­er­al oth­er stu­dents, fac­ul­ty and parents.”
    Becky has a dif­fer­ent take on the whole episode.
    â€œSo what if it wasn’t a legit­i­mate sci­ence project? I got a ‘F’ for it,” she admit­ted, “but our web­sites are sup­posed to be for our opin­ions and things like that. This is total­ly unfair.”
    So, what were the objec­tions to the mate­r­i­al? One per­son we talked to, who didn’t want to be iden­ti­fied, called it “blasphemous”. Anoth­er anony­mous stu­dent called it “liberal-feminist hate speech.”
    When asked to define fem­i­nist hate speech, the stu­dent said, “I’m not sure, exact­ly. Just lis­ten to Lars Lar­son or Bill O’Reilly, they’ll tell you what it is. Or tune in Hillary Clin­ton, and get it first-hand.”
    Sci­ence Teacher Ed Plum chuck­led, “Becky’s web­site was very fun­ny. I had to fail her for total­ly ignor­ing the assign­ment, but if I were the Eng­lish teacher, I’d give her an ‘A’ for creativity.”
    Becky’s mom, City Coun­cil­er Angela Arra­to­la, expressed unhap­pi­ness with the whole affair. “The girl is just act­ing out. I’m sure she doesn’t believe that garbage. The school is over-react­ing. Peo­ple need to get a grip.”
    When asked if she will take down the web­site, Becky says it’s out of her hands. “My friends can put up what­ev­er they want on their web­site. Who am I to say they should take it down.”
    Prin­ci­pal Kor­sof­s­ki is not back­ing down either. “When Rebec­ca has her friends remove the web­site, then she can return to classes.”

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