NYC Dept of Ed to Ban “Sexting”—When Teens Are at Home
posted at 9:50 am on June 20, 2010 by Howard Portnoy
New York City government has become a microcosm of the federal government with its insatiable lust for more power and control over citizens of the state. First, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his overzealous Health Commissioner Thomas A. Farley out-Obamaed Barack Obama with their move to banish the salt shaker from your kitchen. This proved to be but a warm-up act for Bloomberg’s all-out nationwide assault on sodium that has included pressuring food manufacturers to cut the salt in their products.
Not to be outdone by his fellow nanny-state visionaries, New York Schools Chancellor Joel Klein last October issued an edict that would ban school bake sales, replacing this homey tradition with vending machines laden with such healthful treats as Doritos and Pop-Tarts.
Now Klein is making headlines again, this time with his announcement of a plan to ban student “sexting”—the use of a cell phone to send sexually explicit messages. On its face, this doesn’t sound problematic until you discover that Klein’s intention is to implement this ban even when the act takes place off school grounds.
If a man’s home is his castle, then by extension a teen’s room is his. But not even a moat around the room will ensure the teen’s privacy if Klein gets his way. Local CBS affiliate WCBS-TV quotes the chancellor as saying, “We’ve always been respectful of First Amendment rights. I think we’ll get the right balance here.” How he is able to mention his plan in the same breath as the phrase First Amendment is baffling. Nor is it clear what measures he envisions for policing what students do outside of school. A number of scenarios come to mind, none of them Constitutional, let alone non-offensive.
Also problematic is the recommended punishment for students found guilty of sexting, namely a 90-day suspension.
Many New York parents have expressed concern over what appears to be an invasive proposal. The majority of those quoted in the WCBS article share the view of Brooklyn resident Valerie Valdez that “[i]f they’re [teens are] doing it inside of school, that’s perfectly fine, but outside of school they don’t really have a right over what you do with your phone.”
The New York Civil Liberties Union has come down against the policy as well. Spokeswoman Donna Lieberman describes the proposed ban as “a vague, undefined prohibition that impacts expression outside of school.”
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