by Howard Applegate
When does a studentâ€™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,â€ says the Principal, â€œbut instead of removing the inappropriate material when asked, Becky decided to have her friends post it to a mirror site, viewable by the public.â€ A mirror site is a website which contains an exact copy of the original.
Old Paiute High School uses a â€œclosedâ€ system for student websites, viewable by faculty and other students, but not normally accessible to the general public. Korsofski said Arratolaâ€™s project was â€œcreative, but out of line. It was supposed to be a science project. Instead, she managed to offend several other students, faculty and parents.â€
Becky has a different take on the whole episode.
â€œSo what if it wasnâ€™t a legitimate science project? I got a â€˜Fâ€™ for it,â€ she admitted, â€œbut our websites are supposed to be for our opinions and things like that. This is totally unfair.â€
So, what were the objections to the material? One person we talked to, who didnâ€™t want to be identified, called it â€œblasphemousâ€. Another anonymous student called it â€œliberal-feminist hate speech.â€
When asked to define feminist hate speech, the student said, â€œI’m not sure, exactly. Just listen to Lars Larson or Bill Oâ€™Reilly, theyâ€™ll tell you what it is. Or tune in Hillary Clinton, and get it first-hand.â€
Science Teacher Ed Plum chuckled, â€œBeckyâ€™s website was very funny. I had to fail her for totally ignoring the assignment, but if I were the English teacher, Iâ€™d give her an â€˜Aâ€™ for creativity.â€
Beckyâ€™s mom, City Counciler Angela Arratola, expressed unhappiness with the whole affair. â€œThe girl is just acting out. Iâ€™m sure she doesnâ€™t believe that garbage. The school is over-reacting. People need to get a grip.â€
When asked if she will take down the website, Becky says itâ€™s out of her hands. â€œMy friends can put up whatever they want on their website. Who am I to say they should take it down.â€
Principal Korsofski is not backing down either. â€œWhen Rebecca has her friends remove the website, then she can return to classes.â€
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