My View: Kids have free speech right to be racists outside school
Some students sent out racist tweets about Washington Capitals player Joel Ward after he scored a winning goal against the Boston Bruins.
May 25th, 2012
06:15 AM ET

My View: Kids have free speech right to be racists outside school

Courtesy Michelle ReidBy John S. Wilson, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: John S. Wilson is a contributing writer for The Loop 21, Mediaite and Black Enterprise. He frequently writes about health and education policies and politics. You may reach him on Twitter: @johnwilson.

(CNN) - Last month, a few high school students sent out racist tweets about Washington Capitals player Joel Ward after he scored a winning goal against the Boston Bruins in overtime. Responding later in an interview, Ward, who is black, said, “People are going to say what they want to say," and he shrugged off those comments. But the students' high schools sure didn't.

Almost immediately after reports of the tweets, the schools began looking into ways of punishing the students for their actions outside the classroom. The schools absolutely should express their discontent with the offensive tweets. But should they punish the students? Do they even have the ability to do so? Not likely.

One official, Jonathan Pope of the Gloucester School Committee in Massachusetts, admitted as much in an interview with "We don't know whether we actually have any legal standing to implement any kinds of penalties for that kind of behavior done outside school on a private communication system."

Pope and other school officials may want to look toward the Supreme Court on this point. The 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines ruling held that students' speech was subject to punishment if it "materially and substantially" affected an institution's educational mission. These few tweets couldn't possibly pass that bar and thus qualify for the schools' disciplinary action.

Yet Richard Safier, Gloucester superintendent of schools, did just that and handed down suspensions from extracurricular activities and sports programs, saying, "Such misconduct contradicts the values and standards of Gloucester High School and the Gloucester Public Schools as a whole," according to The Gloucester Daily Times.

Random racist tweets from a few students would no more blight that school district than a commuter flipping the bird in the midst of road rage would indict a community of drivers.

Words indeed do matter. But censorship matters even more. When public schools begin to punish children for what they say or don't say - absent doing so on school property or with the school's equipment or express sponsorship - we're no longer on a slippery slope, we've already fallen and may not be able to get up.

This has been played out numerous times in the media over the past few months. Words that have offended many have come from the mouths of Rush Limbaugh and Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen as well as tweets from CNN contributor Roland Martin. Boycotts have ensued, and suspensions and apologies have flowed. The difference is not only that these men are adults, but as public figures they are accountable to their audiences and their employers. In those cases freedom of speech didn't apply because government censorship or punishment was never involved. They were private actors suffering the consequences of the free market - subject to their employers and the whims of their audiences. But this is different. Public schools have boundaries and must stay within them.

Students who don't break laws or their schools' rules are accountable to their parents, not an audience or the state. The public shame of this incident should be enough. Not everything that's offensive is punishable.

And, worse, by taking this action the Gloucester school district is opening itself up to legal liability if students decide to sue and protect their free speech rights. It's ironic that the school may be the party in need of a teachable moment.

The opinion expressed in this commentary is solely that of John S. Wilson.

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Filed under: Behavior • Legal issues • Policy • Voices
soundoff (653 Responses)
  1. Perceptron

    (1) The racist tweets are only symbolic of the schools inability to undo what these children's family and friends have done to these kids. No one is born raciest. They are made racist by family and friends.

    (2) Punishing people can, in no way change someones mind about anything. Schools are becoming and extension of the penal system. I just saw my sone graduate high school and there was a strong police presence behind the scenes. That made be very angry and I made more than a few remarks to the police. Punishment and handcuff is not the reason I send my kids to schools.

    (3) Racist rants are a "teaching moment" and a good time to engage students to understanding themselves and clear articulating the truth. Racist remarks, are usually in-articulate utterances of confused minds. Anyone who sees the truth of the world would make such mistakes.

    (4) This is america, And as long as someone is not inciting a riot, they can say what every they want. Period. And the state should not intervene. That is called communism.

    May 26, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • hlangerhans

      (1) The racist tweets are only symbolic of the schoo(ls) inability to undo what these children's family and friends have done to these kids. No one is born rac(ies)t. They are made racist by family and friends.

      (2) Punishing people can, in no way() change someon(es) mind about anything. Schools are becoming an(d) extension of the penal system. I just saw my so(ne) graduate high school and there was a strong police presence behind the scenes. That made (be) very angry and I made more than a few remarks to the police. Punishment and handcuff() (is) not the reason() I send my kids to school(s).

      I just used parentheses to illustrate a selection of the spelling, typing, punctuation, and grammatical errors in your first two points. I do this to establish that you are not a person who should be expressing an opinion on how our schools should be run. The police at your "sone"'s graduation ceremony were risking their own safety there for his and your protection, no doubt because of prior violent disturbances at similar events. I'm sure they appreciated your angry remarks. Restricting freedom of expression is a tenet of fascism, not communism.

      May 26, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  2. judybat14

    I only want free speech for my own point of view. Everyone else is offensive and needs to be silenced by the government.

    May 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  3. AK

    Bear in mind that only Caucasians (Whites) have so far evolved the ability to be racist.

    May 26, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Perceptron

      The most racist people I have met are actually non-white.
      But a witty remark non-the less.

      May 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  4. sage sally

    What if i was born a racist and cant help it, is that ok?

    May 26, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  5. James

    No way does the school have any right to do anything to the kids in this case. Growing up in a small town we had several instances where the school tried to punish students for things that happened off school property and not at any school related function. They failed at it everytime.

    May 26, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  6. Gene Cole

    A well written, logical post. Many thanks.

    May 26, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Oh Crap

      For a very stupid action.

      May 26, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  7. DrPantagruel

    The liberals seem to want to outlaw any speech they disagree with. It has become quite popular with them. Let's hope they don't start burning books. That's supposed to be the conservatives' job. The liberals are supposed to welcome free speech.

    May 26, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Oh Crap

      But I thought we gave up being americans???

      May 26, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Oh Crap

      All we are teaching our kids is to not have an opinion. (right or wrong) We must follow the line set by our betters. (or the corporate viewpoint) In this case, some dork scholl offical. This is part of the problems with schools today. We all see far to many stupid people involved in education, (and way to many in administration areas). These kids may have been offensive but this isn't the schools business. But then again maybe this is something under the patriot act and we didn't know it and the school is another enforcement tool of homeland security??? (btw, for you pinheads...I'm joking)

      May 26, 2012 at 11:40 am |
      • AK

        Problem: How do you define "right" and "wrong"? Only religion(s) do that.

        May 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Manen Ah Aeydah

      It's because they aren't really Liberals at all. They are Leftists, supporters of centralized State control of society, production...and individuals. As Leftists, of course they support all censorship that advances (moves Forward) their political agenda.

      May 26, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • HWB

      Liberals have never welcomed free speech, never have, they only welcome speech that agrees with their point of view and nothing else. You could see that throughout their history. Liberals are now called progressives, prior that they were liberals, prior that they were socialists and prior that they were called commies. All they ever did was changed their stripes, not their monolitic views.

      May 26, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  8. MassiveMarbles

    Tolerance of others should be taught at home, if not, it spreads to the world and creates the rot our current society is immersed in.

    May 26, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  9. Theo

    Punishing someone for expressing their opinion is a violation of civil rights.

    The idea that there are some opinions that are wrong and that cannot be expressed without "consequences" is bigoted.

    May 26, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Questions401

      The right to free speech does not mean you can say anything you want with out consequences… If you call your boss bad names to his face you can't claim free speech to avoid getting fired. You have the right to say what you want and deal with the consequences of saying it.

      As for the school, I believe they reserve the right to cut students from sports teams and ban them from proms for any reason they see fit, at least they do here in my state.

      May 26, 2012 at 10:48 am |
      • Bill

        Yes, but freedom of speech makes the point that the "government" cannot dictate what you say, and the school system falls under government. This is different from you saying something to your boss that gets you fired.

        May 26, 2012 at 11:01 am |
      • Oh Crap

        Were do you draw the line. We see all the time admins calling cops over a 5 year olds temper fit, or expelled for some dumb a$$ed reason. Do you trust their judgement? And where and what is that teaching them? (right or wrong)

        May 26, 2012 at 11:56 am |
      • HWB

        Public vs private, there is a difference. Private they can do whatever they want to do, public is a different animal. You do that there and it becomes censor.

        May 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
      • jbyork

        If the school has the right to administer consequences for what takes place off school grounds, outside of school hours, then students are essentially under surveillance. If it starts with schools, where does it stop. Freedom of speech is essentially the freedom to disagree; if all we are free to talk about is hairdos and movie stars, weather and sports, there is no point in calling it a "right." Though it is said we shouldn't talk about politics, religion, and race, the fact is that those are the things that are the most fun to talk about, as long as we can agree to disagree agreeably.

        May 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Oh Crap

      I agree, now just to just see that dumb as a box of rocks administrator reverse his ruling would be great. (Thats about as likely to happen as the Lions making it to the superbowl)

      May 26, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  10. HippieGirl

    Did nobody else see that these kids were just suspended from extra-curricular activities and sports. These are special privileges were they are representing the school so if the school chooses to not have these students represent them I believe that is in no way infringing on the kids right to free speech.

    May 26, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • fitat50

      Exactly. I'm not sure what part of that is so hard for some people to understand. Maybe you and I are just especially smart.

      May 26, 2012 at 10:35 am |
      • HWB

        I believe you are the dumb one and over reaching. What I say outside of the school offensive or not is my right and the school cannot mess with that. If you doubt that then bring the ACLU into it and you will fall flat on your face.

        May 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Bill

      It is the duty of the school to educate children and in this case, teach them cultural diversity and respect for others. It is not the job of the school system to police the children with regards to what they do after school. I believe trying to positively reach out to these offenders rather than punish them may have a greater effect and less possibility of a lawsuit.

      May 26, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • JB Senior

      NOTHING is free – – – absolutely nothing – – there are always consequences – – there is a price for freedom of any kind.

      May 26, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Oh Crap

      But they did this on their own time, on their private phones and were no way shape or form involved with the school at the time. Let me put it this way, If your boss found out you were sleeping with someone that he didn't agree with on your own time in your own home and then fired you because he felt your relationship could be a "problem", would that be right?
      If your rights are taken from one, with time they will be taken from all. Stand up for your and others rights!

      May 26, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • DH

      While traditionally in opposition to the unintelligent sorts that spout racist drivel, I find I have to support them this time. What they do on their own time, as demonstrated here, had nothing whatsoever to do with their school or district. It's petty tyranny to try to find a pigeonhole excuse to punish them for expressing their beliefs, ignorant though they may be.

      I don't know their school district, but every district I've dealt with generally has fees assessed for students to participate in the assorted sports programs. If they're paying to be a part of it, then barring them from it without having a legitimate academic reason is tantamount to theft of their money.

      May 26, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • svann

      Those arent special privileges. They are school programs that everyone's taxes pay for. To say that the school can decide to exclude certain students based on arbitrary reasoning is wrong.

      May 26, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  11. Highland

    "May have never been more proud of a vote than casting my ballot this am. For everyone who marched, canvassed, called and collected signatures; here is to you." Quote from Wisconsin, Against the law. So much for freedom of speech.

    May 26, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  12. Highland

    Why do you even pretend that there is such a right as free speech? You can lose your job,be put in jail,abused,etc. for what you say. I guess you can say anything you want,but there may be consequences.

    May 26, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • svann

      There are consequences for everything. The school authorities might find there are consequences for their illegal action too.

      May 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  13. William4927

    This is very similar to how the Catholic Church would punish people for expressing opinions that contradicted the teachings of the church. But that was several centuries ago. I thought we were past all that.

    May 26, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Will S

      This is very similar to how the Nonconformists (aka Pilgrims) would punish people for expressing opinions that contradicted the teachings of the church. But that was several centuries ago. I thought we were past all that...Salem witch hunt, scarlet letters, and all that tomfoolery.

      May 26, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • HWB

      That is where principles come into play. The Church does not modify their principles for the expediancy of current trends. Obey them or get out.

      May 26, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  14. mal washington

    fortunately these high school students are in for a rude awakening, they just dont know it...this type of behavior and way of thinking is probably engrained into who they are..this line of thinking will cost them in ways they cant even realize now... this is likely not the first time they've posted garbage (or last) and likely not the only means of which they've expressed this type of say the "public shame" should be enough, come on, really... no part of me believes that these students feel ANY remorse, if anything they cant believe they got caught. joel wards response was perfect...ignorance and stupidity will always be alive and well.

    May 26, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  15. Aryella

    Everyone sees the world through glass – the glass of their own opinions. That's why comments were invented – so you could express your opinions whenever you wanted.

    Do I think it's sad that we're still struggling with racism this far down the path? Sure. But the crux of the matter is that people have the right to say what they want outside public setting. I'm of the opinion that the school is wrong here. Nobody is going to die because of a tweet. (Well, let's hope not.) Perspective, people.

    May 26, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Highland

      Is free speach why Fox News removed their comment page.

      May 26, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  16. Bnode

    Not only is it wrong to punish someone for their opinion it is also illegal.
    Punishing someone for being a racist will only instill in them a persecution complex and reinforce their opinion.
    I think that the best way to deal with this nonsense is peer pressure and education.

    May 26, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  17. Beenthere

    This article hits home for me. My son is an eighth grader in CT. He quoted an inappropriate line from Borat on his Facebook account at home on a Saturday night. He received an in school suspension because a parent in town logged into her daughter's account, saw the post and let the school know she was offended. My son has a private FB account and the mother could not have seen it if she weren't logged in under her daughter's account. I thought we lived in a nation where quoting a movie was protected under free speech but apparently not.

    May 26, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • Jason

      Quoting a movie is illegal, because it is intellectual property and copyrighted.

      May 26, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • noone

      Sue the school. They have no legal ground to punish a child for what they do while not at school.

      May 26, 2012 at 9:46 am |
      • fitat50

        Many schools drug test their student athletes. So if I follow your logic, a student who is kicked off a team for testing positive would have grounds to sue the school if he or she could prove the drug use took place off campus during non-school hours.

        May 26, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • TAK

      I would go after that parent for stalking and cyber bullying.

      May 26, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  18. kellyessamples

    I'm confused as to why this video is relevant?

    May 26, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  19. .

    CNN: the racialist channel. That's why nobody watches them.

    May 26, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  20. Jim

    The Tinker case involved activity in school. When a school attempts to control activity outside the school grounds, it is acting as just another police force and should be bound by the same rules the police (or "Congress") would face if they attempted to punish unpopular speech.

    May 26, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  21. Grob Hahn

    Is it really "racism" we're dealing with here? Or simply an example of blatant bigotry? When the R-word is overused, it loses its true meaning.

    May 26, 2012 at 7:41 am |
  22. Itsmyturn

    Sure, it's perfectly fine to be a racist outside of school. But only if you're black.

    May 26, 2012 at 6:10 am |
    • .

      That's not racism. It's social justice.

      Liberalism is a mental disorder.

      May 26, 2012 at 8:19 am |
  23. GEdwards

    "Such misconduct contradicts the values and standards of Gloucester High School and the Gloucester Public Schools as a whole."
    Apparently complying with and respecting the 1st Amendment contradicts the District's values and standards as well. Maybe the Superintedent should audit a couple the social studies classes.

    The students don't appear to be outstanding individuals, but when the gov't starts deciding what speech is acceptable, and punishes citizens accordingly, it's a sad day for America.

    Nice article.

    May 26, 2012 at 5:56 am |
  24. Old Bald Guy

    It's perfectly fine to be racist if you want. You can be anything you want, be it religious, atheist, conservative, liberal, or whatever. Have your hate or love however you like it. The trouble arises when people turn thought into action. Hate anyone you like, but if you cause harm, you can expect to suffer the consequences. We have no Thought Police yet, but the regular police can handle those who can't handle themselves.

    However, if the school did have some code of conduct by which any student athletes had to abide and those students didn't do so, then they get what's coming to them. Other than that, the school has to just accept it unless they want their free speech abridged, as well.

    May 26, 2012 at 4:40 am |
  25. HZ

    where's the freedom of speech? you may not like it, but it's their right to say it.

    May 26, 2012 at 3:33 am |
  26. Mike Smith jr. Semper Fideli

    as a marine i may not agree with what they say but ill give my life for the their right to say it.

    smeper fi

    May 26, 2012 at 2:33 am |
    • Flyonthewall

      Yah! Smeper Fi to you too!!

      May 26, 2012 at 3:36 am |
      • .

        Smeper fi?

        May 26, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • NoTags

      If you are going to plagerize someone's quote, even by paraphasing it, you should still give the author credit.

      Your post is paraphrased from this quote; "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." (Voltaire 1694-1788)

      May 26, 2012 at 5:30 am |
    • Kayge84

      Its narcissists like you that push people to think that the military is attention starved. Save your breath and focus on something more... productive.

      May 26, 2012 at 7:39 am |
  27. Lara

    It's perfectly logical for people to have racist feelings when an ENTIRE race has proven over and over and over again to be immoral, freeloading, criminal dregs of society. . . . or, at least, those they see every day and have contact with. Stop whining about the negative responses people have toward you and put your energies toward BUILDING UP your race!!!

    May 26, 2012 at 2:27 am |
    • slip34

      sounds like you have issues...

      May 26, 2012 at 4:19 am |
    • Doctor

      I am sorry for you. See a doctor and tell him that maybe you are paranoid or just have incredible low self esteem. Best.

      May 26, 2012 at 7:21 am |
  28. tom

    It's clear to me that the school is out of line. This is a freedom of speech issue, and as much as we may disagree with what they say, they certainly have the right to say it outside of school. The school should back off.

    May 26, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  29. eatabird

    There's a big difference between flipping the bird and flipping the bird with the 'N' word following .Same goes for any other ethnicity or religion. You're targeting a person for something specific rather than in general.

    May 25, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • RonFromNM

      It may be ugly, but it's still free speech. The solution is more speech by others pointing out why it's small minded and wrong, but censorship is NOT the answer!!!

      May 26, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • itwasntme

      No, they targeted the guy that scored the winning goal, they did not target 'the black guy'. Not condoning what they did, but had someone else scored the goal, this would be a non issue as they would have 'targeted' someone else.

      May 26, 2012 at 1:09 am |
  30. Truism


    The question was not whether 'air' is definable (communications 101, i.e. "listening closely before you speak"), but rather, WHO gets to define it. Ouch, is correct.

    May 25, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  31. ug

    The schools for whatever reason thinks that they have control of the kids even when they are not in schools or doing what ever they do...the schools have no business what so ever to stick it's filthy nose into a kids life. They are suppose to teach the kids...they are not their wardens. The schools can go stick it!

    May 25, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  32. the_punnisher

    Like Steve Martin said " It's not okay to shout MOVIE in a crowded firehouse....

    May 25, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  33. fitat50

    I agree with this guy. Kids do have a right to "free spech: outside of school. I'm just sorry he seems to be so freaking clueless as to what "free speech" means.

    (Hint) It does not mean speech without consequences.

    May 25, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Hint two

      (hint) The author never said that speech shouldn't have consequences - he actually pointed out cases where there were consequences and supported such. His thesis is that, in this instance, the school (government) was out of bounds.

      May 25, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Maya

      Do you have a reading comprehension problem? No one said that free speech means speech without consequences. A public school is a STATE actor and is therefore bound by the First Amendment. The First Amendment was created precisely to keep the government from punishing people for objectionable speech.

      May 25, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  34. wef

    "KIDS" just repeat what their parents say.... bigotry religion etc....

    May 25, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • art

      exactly! and besides, the kids were from boston where the black athlete is only accepted for being an athlete. other blacks in that city are just n-–s. small wonder that the great bill russell only lived there during the basketball season. a white man kills his wife and claims she was murdered by a black man and police question every black they see. only when the husband kills himself does the civility return. that's boston being boston.

      May 26, 2012 at 1:39 am |
  35. fitat50

    Dear God:

    I believe in You. And I've tried to live the best life I could. I've never asked you for much. But tonight I'm beging you. Please let the next person who tries to claim that "free speech" eans these pumks a free pass, be struck by falling space debris. Please.

    May 25, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • God

      Dear fitat50,

      Your request is denied. Just the idea that you would ask me to take someone's life simply because of something they said goes against everything that I stand for. If you honestly believe in me, then you should already know that.

      Praying for me to actually hurt someone is way worse than the reason you want me to hurt someone the begin with. I hope that you will ask for my forgiveness and try to better understand my teachings.

      With love, always,


      May 26, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • Jessie M.

      If your god listens to you, he's not a very decent god. Everybody has their right to freedom of speech and THOUGHT, not even YOUR god can take that away!

      May 26, 2012 at 2:39 am |
  36. AK

    If by 'ok' you mean legal, then 'yes.'

    If you mean moral/ethical/and just plain common sense, then 'no.'

    May 25, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  37. innersixx

    In American, you have the right to be racist. You have the right to free speech. Not everyone will agree with you, and some will hate you. But if we want to protect our rights to free speech, we need to defend the speech we don't agree with. Punishing these students for their views, as ignorant as they were, done outside of school is over stepping boundaries.

    May 25, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  38. bodyoflilly

    I'm glad the school took away some of their privilages, it was hopefully a lesson learned. And you cannot depend on parents to punish them.

    May 25, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • innersixx

      A learned lesson that you do not have the freedom to do or say what you want in your free time.

      May 25, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
      • bodyoflilly

        No a person does not have the freedom to say what they want, I want to say allot of things but I don't. If these kids continue, then their "freedom of speech" might ruin them one day.

        May 26, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Capone

      And which lesson would that be? That if you say something that someone else doesn't like, you'll be punished? Or is it that America is only about freedom in theory?

      May 26, 2012 at 1:39 am |
  39. quisp65

    Being racist means too many things. We don't ever talk about 1/2 the cause of everything (heredity) because it offends us. Time to end this PC!

    May 25, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • jonathan

      Being racist is not heridatary, you are not born with it in your DNA. that is a foolish thing to think

      May 25, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  40. fitat50

    The answer to the question "Is it OK to be racist outside of school," is no. It's not "OK" to be racist anywhere. If the question is, "Is it legal to be racist outside of schooL?" – the answer depends on where you live. In France there are laws against "spreading racial or religious hatred" and an old lady named Bridgette Bardot has been fined repeatedly for violating them with anti-Muslim remarks.
    I don't want to see that come to the U.S. But I still think a school should be able to kick punks off their sports teams for it.

    May 25, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • whatdii care

      Freedom of speech is just that (including racism). I don't have to like (or tolerate) people just because it's not PC.

      May 25, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Capone

      Private schools, yes.

      Public schools, no.

      May 26, 2012 at 1:41 am |
  41. ziegfledf

    It's an indication of the state of our educational system that the school's only response to an incident like this is to dish out punishment. Why not use it as an excuse to do some EDUCATING! We all know that this was wrong. Wouldn't if be better to take this opportunity to explain to these students and their fellow students why it is wrong?

    May 25, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • bodyoflilly

      Sociology should be a class required to graduate highschool. This class will explain truth and the students will have a stronger understanding before making decisions. They are only teenagers and without these classes the only option the school had to educate them with was discipline.

      May 25, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Brian

      What was wrong was the school's effort to punish them. By "educating" them, as you put it, they punish them in a way. What they said was perfectly acceptable. That's the society we live in. Don't like it? Don't let your kids hang around them.

      May 25, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
  42. fitat50

    The person who said the only "unprotected class" in America today was "straight white males" wasn;t specific enough. Didn't you mean to say "straight, white, fundamentalist Chriistian, Tea Party-Republican , missionary position only, white males.

    May 25, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Cide

      Straight, white– definitely aren't. I don't pay any attention to the shenanigans of today's political parties or hold a biasis/hatred for anyone else. It just seems like we have to cede ground on every issue-–because what you posted is the view everyone has of us. I don't get angry about it either, at all. Just sucks monkey balls when we all pretend it isn't there.

      May 25, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  43. Oodoodanoo

    Isn't Gloucester, MA the same high school where a bunch of girls made a pregnancy pact and all got knocked up?

    Great school system there.

    May 25, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  44. abbydelabbey

    free speech may allow you to make racist comments, but common decency does not allow for racism.... not ever.

    May 25, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  45. fitat50

    I guess when all is said and done. Art Linkletter (I'm seriously showing my age) said it best – "Kids say the darndest things."

    But that doesn't mean we have to let them get away with it in the name of "free speech."

    May 25, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  46. ComeOnMan9

    I say be yourself. If that self is a racist, bigot, closet black panther, kaykaykay newbie, whatever have at it. If that is what you desire to exhibit your life to others. Create ill will and receive it. So simple really.

    May 25, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  47. wanglonde

    what do you get when a Jew, a Christian and a muslim walk into a bar.........obama!

    May 25, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  48. wanglonde

    who are you fools to tell people what they can say and what they can't? I'm sick of you kiss a$$'s giving our rights away because some blaq welfare clown whined. they kill white people and no one ways Shi'ite. Fair is Fair They should stop crying and stand up as men instead of babies...get over this socialist crap...obama stinks..Courtesy Flush coming in November!

    May 25, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • bodyoflilly

      I fully understand that racism exist in many people and this is only a sign of hate. Hate in their hearts, and yes they should be stoped dead in their tracks. Racism against ALL races needs to be taken into account. As a child growing up the prejudice comments about the white race were overlooked leaving students helpless.(I would say that white guilt was the main participant in this overlooking) Since i've experienced this hate first hand I would like to say, I hold a special place in my heart for those who look beyond color and see beauty. and I pray for people who are as ignorant as (Wanglonde) who disregard intelligence for appearance

      May 25, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • Tara

      The black man who wrote this article seems to agree with you...wamp, wamp, wamp.

      May 25, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
      • bodyoflilly

        Man you leave a post and all the racist come revolting against u .

        May 26, 2012 at 1:04 am |
  49. Jeremy

    What blows my mind is how people still think this has anything to do with racisim. Racisim is more than hate slander hurled towards one particular person.

    These students are immature, hear racist jokes all the time and really lack sensitivity. Despite all that, it doesn't mean they are racist. They are hurling the most 'offensive' terms that they can think of towards someone who angered them – that isn't racisim at all.

    May 25, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Julie

      You're right, saying "racist" things doesn't necessarily mean the speaker is racist.
      Nor does drinking mean you're an alcoholic – but if you do it enough, you might find it taking hold in ways you never thought possible.
      Also, you must remember that even if the speaker of a racist comment isn't racist – how is the object of the comment supposed to take it? What are they left feeling and thinking?
      I.E. – I've nothing against fat people, but I don't call them lard or big pigs, because to do so would be mean, rude, hurtful to them AND – make me look like a hateful person.
      Racism isn't always about the speaker – it's about what the spoken words to to others. The speaker isn't the only one who gets to judge whether what came out his/her mouth was racist.
      Get it?

      May 25, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  50. Observer91

    I'll admit that they have a right to do so if they want, but doing so in the first place is morally ridiculous. But it doesn't matter that much. The number of racists in this country has been decreasing over the decades to the point where racists are a critically endangered. Within the next few dozen years they will be all but extinct in this country. Good riddance.

    May 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  51. lumpy

    it amazes me that people are surprised when kids do/say stupid things. hell, adults do/say stupid things. our obsession over what people say is shell game to cover the fact that our society is structurally preferential. just because someone says or thinks something, doesn't make it valid. focus on what people DO, on behavior. it's much easier than trying to police thoughts and communication. preferences based on race is an issue (but it is a human issue, not an American issue), but just because it is in general, doesn't mean that it is in every case where the parties involved happen to be of a different race.

    May 25, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  52. Franklin Washington

    My view is free speech should not be limited. What the little punks did was reprehensible. They sure enough wouldn't have done so with Joe Ward standing in front of them (But Boston is known as a hotbed of racist Irish with low IQs). Anyway– I still believe the kids had every right to tweet whatever they wanted. Or say whatever they wanted. We must be strident these days to resist 1984's looming presence (and practice).

    May 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • lumpy

      well said, Franklin Washington! well said!

      May 25, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Scott IL

      Ecuse me Frank, But isn't saying irish people from Boston rhave low IQ's racist? Your stereotype is showing.

      May 25, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
      • ohSilly

        Well, as you should know by now, it is totally cool.... literally hip.... to insult white folks in whatever way you like. White trash, red neck, low IQ irish, .... and even pedophile!... white people are open game.
        In the mean time, we must treat nimorities (well, blacks in particular) like special ed kids... we have to watch our mouths... tread careful.... for fear of provoking a tantrum or violence.
        This special treatment is what this article is all about: I mean seriously, do we really have to ask if people can speak freely on their own time??? really? We have to ask this question now? That is how careful we have to be these days? too much.

        May 26, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  53. fitat50

    If you're a kid who plays a sport in school., let's try a test. Spend all weekend posting vulgar, racist remarks about your coach. See if you're still on the team Monday. And if you're not, sue. Let's see how far your lawsuit gets.

    May 25, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  54. Trent

    We as a society need to stop pretending that words don't have serious consequences, and start holding people accountable for the actual consequences of their words.

    May 25, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  55. John

    It's sad to think that in America the only "unprotected" people are straight white males.

    May 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Trent

      and only whites with nazi belief systems...the rest get as hammered as anyone else....

      May 25, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Julie

      Oh boo-hoo, John.
      What a whiner – yeah you poor, poor white straight males, so trodden upon and abused.
      Grow up.

      May 25, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  56. fitat50

    Students who represent their school in sports or other extra-curricular activities are ambassadors. If your off-campus behavior makes the school decide you are not the kind of person they want to represent them, that's their right.

    May 25, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  57. Paul

    The gov't can NOT be allowed to restrict private speech in ANY situation (except maybe plotting real criminal activity). Someone was offended? Too bad! Who decides what is offensive? The guy down the street called me a name, so shall I be allowed to sue him and take his property? Should he be arrested? No. I can tell everyone what an a$$ the guy is and maybe he will be ostracized. The cure to hate speech is more speech, not less.

    May 25, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  58. fitat50

    I'm a huge believer in free speech. And it saddens me to see that so many people have no idea what it means. For the record, "free speech" does not mean you can say anything you want, anytime you want, any place you want, with no fear of consequences.

    May 25, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  59. Trent

    I have a right to swing an aluminum bat. It isn't my fault if you step in front of it and hurt yourself.

    May 25, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  60. oldguy

    Generations ago, if you were thought to harbor communist beliefs you were a pariah or worse. Now the taboo is racism. The best way to promote a repugnent idea is to make martyrs of those that support it.

    May 25, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  61. MESSEJ

    THOSE OF YOU WHO DISAGREE THE SCHOOL SHOULD PUNISH THESE STUDENTS ARE WRONG.....WRONG....WRONG!! Most social media sites restrict what a poster can post and will even delete your account if your comments are offensive....SO WHY SHOULDN'T THE SCHOOL WHICH MOLDS THESE STUDENTS FOR AT LEAST SIX HOURS A DAY GET INVOLVED?? THIS NATION NEEDS TO STOP DIGNIFYING HATE ALL IN THE NAME OF FREEDOM. In the school house these days education does not affect GOOD CITIZENSHIP like it used to. The only negative behavior discouraged in a PUBLIC SCHOOL IS BULLYING AND BEING A GOOD SPORT....The author John Wilson naively SUGGESTED THE PARENTS WOULD PUNISH THE CHILDREN; WHICH IS RIDICULOUS. IF A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT IS "confident" enough to post racial comments on a social site, their parents have already encouraged that negative, racist behavior. .SINCE THEY POSTED THE COMMENTS TO A SOCIAL SITE WHERE OTHER STUDENTS, WHO ATTEND THEIR SCHOOL, BOTH WHITE AND BLACK CAN SEE THESE COMMENTS; those racial comments can POTENTIALLY cause CONFLICT AT THE SCHOOL. If this happens THE SCHOOL HAS a right to intervene.

    May 25, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Kevin

      You are kidding, right? You have _got_ to be.
      For the record, the comments that the kids made are reprehensible, and I in no way support or agree with them... BUT....
      They weren't at school. They weren't using school equipment. They didn't MENTION or INVOLVE the school in ANY way. So _WHY_ should the school have ANY right to deal with this?
      How would you react if your boss decided to dock you a week's pay because he happened to drive past your home and realize you had posted a "save the whales" sign on your lawn? (or, pick your own insane example). It's the same thing.... There is NO connection.
      If the tweeting were _done_ at school, or mentioned the school, or in any way INVOLVED the school, then perhaps. Otherwise, they have no business.
      Next thing you know, kids will get suspended because they eat the wrong foods, or because the school disapproves of the music they listen to at home, or some such.. It's a VERY slippery slope...

      May 25, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
      • riley

        Actually, you don't have the right to free speech protected from private employers. What you say on facebook, your yard sign, or cnn, can legally get you fired unless you work for a government agency. Speech is protected from govt censorship, not private censorship.

        May 25, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • S.M.

      OK sure... If the school is going to start paying child support to help raise the children outside of school, pay for school cloths, housing, etc, then they can start getting involved in how they're raised outside of school hours.
      Sorry, I don't agree with what the brats did, would you want the schools to start taking it a step further and tell you how and when you'll punish your child?

      May 25, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • 1morejawhead

      Spucatum Tauri!!! Let's see you go back to school and post whatever you want, wherever you chose, and let the university or college cancel all your classes. You couldn't spell the two words "Law Suit" fast enough! The same thing would apply towards employment. No harm? No Foul!

      May 25, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • sharky

      So you want public schools to be in control of your child every single day whether they are in school or not? Now that is scary.

      What happens if more people decide to home school then or try and send their kids to private school? The public school system is horrible enough for education purposes, you want them now to act as parents too? Since that public school system is run by the Government you are effectively saying the Government controls your kid every step of the way and tells them how to act, think, and behave. Scary.

      May 25, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
      • sharky

        My comment was to MESSEJ

        May 25, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  62. MIke Williams

    This is ridiculous. When i was in school students were routinely getting arrested for drugs, fighting, etc, outside of school. The school was NEVER punishing them. These kids should never be punished for something they said, the school has no standing whatsoever.

    May 25, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • MESSEJ

      NO ONE IS SAYING THESE KIDS SHOULD BE PUNISHED TWICE...MIKE......Most social media sites restrict what a poster can post and will even delete your account if your comments are offensive....SO WHY SHOULDN'T THE SCHOOL WHICH MOLDS THESE STUDENTS FOR AT LEAST SIX HOURS A DAY GET INVOLVED?? THIS NATION NEEDS TO STOP DIGNIFYING HATE ALL IN THE NAME OF FREEDOM. In the school house these days education does not affect GOOD CITIZENSHIP like it used to. The only negative behavior discouraged in a PUBLIC SCHOOL IS BULLYING AND BEING A GOOD SPORT....The author John Wilson naively SUGGESTED THE PARENTS WOULD PUNISH THE CHILDREN; WHICH IS RIDICULOUS. IF A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT IS "confident" enough to post racial comments on a social site, their parents have already encouraged that negative, racist behavior. .SINCE THEY POSTED THE COMMENTS TO A SOCIAL SITE WHERE OTHER STUDENTS, WHO ATTEND THEIR SCHOOL, BOTH WHITE AND BLACK CAN SEE THESE COMMENTS; those racial comments can POTENTIALLY cause CONFLICT AT THE SCHOOL. If this happens THE SCHOOL HAS a right to intervene.

      May 25, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
      • NJ907

        MESSEJ, I completely agree with your position on the detestable nature of these comments. However, to your point that (if I understand correctly) the school system is justified in meting out punishment when there is a perceived lack of accountability on the part of the parents lacks merit and fundamentally goes against the foundation of freedom our country is founded upon, cliche though it may be. You also assert that this behavior MUST be the result of poor parenting, which I find equally absurd–one could easily make the argument that the school, which as you point out has access to these children 6 hours a day, also failed to rid the classroom of this racism. Let me be clear–I find the reaction of those purported "fans" abhorrent, and as a Bruins fan I am disgusted. But in this country you have the right to (on paper at least) to express your feelings, misguided as they may be. For example, I absolutely HATE WHEN PEOPLE TYPE ALL IN CAPS TO EMPHASIZE A POINT, because I feel it is an eyesore and detracts from the message. However, I don't have the right to tell you NOT to overuse capital letters; I can only hope that others will see the ridiculousness of your behavior and react according. The same goes for the racist students: let them be publicly shamed for clinging to racial epithets and derogatory comments. But do not, as John Wilson accurately points out, push us over the edge of the slippery censorship slope by allowing a public school system to dictate what students can say outside of the classroom.

        A more accurate statement you could have made about this country would be, "THIS NATION NEEDS TO STOP DIGNIFYING HATE ALL IN THE NAME OF RELIGION." But that's a topic for another forum.

        May 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
      • Maya

        Your comparison is ludicrous. Social networking sites are PRIVATE property own by PRIVATE actors, and thus have the right to kick anyone off their property for any reason. The school is a state actor and is bound by the First Amendment. You must have failed civics miserably.

        May 25, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
      • sharky

        So MESSEJ you pretty much want the Government to control your kids.

        May 25, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  63. No Racism

    No Racism but majority of black drivers in Maryland drive like nuts.

    May 25, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • eyekey

      Right.... you have followed proper scientific procedures and recorded your data....of course you have!

      May 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  64. ricardo

    Isn't the point of free speech sort of to protect the things that people say, which others may find offensive? I hardly doubt freedom of speech exists in the case of the situations where people stand up and shout out things that everyone loves to hear.
    People trying to say the author of this article isn't really black, or wishes he was white, only because he didn't decide to throw his arms in the air and scream out cries of racism and demand phony apologies be issued, or that someone be expelled, fired, etc (as is usually the case in these situations), hardly makes him an "uncle tom". It means that this guy understands the law, and also that perhaps there are bigger issues at hand across this country than some tweets about a black hockey player from some kids in a high school.

    May 25, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • SouthernCelt

      Free Speech is not unlimited as some uneducated people may think. For example, you can't scream Fire in a crowded theater, and saying some things in public are liable to get you either killed or severely beaten. There is what is legal and what is right; the two don't always intersect. If a child's parents don't teach them what is acceptable in society it is the School's responsibility to make them a functioning member of society. Racism is never acceptable no matter who it comes from, least of all a child.

      May 25, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
      • Commenter

        I certainly don't condone what these kids did and I think their parents should be ashamed, but...the kids didn't do anything "in school". They wrote their thoughts on privately owned equipment and posted them publicly. Public schools don't have the right to hand down punishment related to whatever they want unless it happens on school property or at a school-sponsored event. Certain exceptions apply, as the author noted. However, these children were within in their rights in the US. Other countries have laws against hate speech, but not the US. You and I both agree that what they did was "bad" in some form or another...but it wasn't within the school's rights to punish them. Even worse, they will now probably have to spend taxpayer money to defend a lawsuit that they are almost guaranteed to lose, thereby encouraging more students to do the same thing because they will know they can't be punished.

        May 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
      • Maya

        The school is a government actor, and so are prohibited from suppressing objectionable speech. The parents are not. It is sad that you fail to see the difference.

        May 25, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  65. the_dude

    You can't legislate sorry blacks but it is the truth.

    May 25, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • sharky

      Except it did happen, it was called the Civil Rights Act.

      May 25, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  66. Dan

    Racism has nothing to do with it. Things the kids do outside of school don't affect the school. If they'd been caught boosting a car, there would certainly have been some legal ramifications, but I can't see the school handing down school punishments for it. This has to do with mediocre people wishing to rant and posture in order to ingratiate themselves with what they see as public opinion. And maybe the more ignorant members of society will go for it... but nobody with any clarity of thought will see an ounce of logic in the school's decision.

    May 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Dan

      Hint: those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.

      May 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
      • Ken

        Really Dan – just where do you think those that "do" get the knowledge from? Just comes to them? Go back to your couch and cookies before your mom finds out you're playing with the magical box again. Loser

        May 25, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
      • DPeters

        Hey Dan,
        Come spend a few days teaching math to my 38 inner city middle school kids with me. You would run for mommy.

        May 25, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  67. jez

    I love these weak black "excuses for men" that pander to racism. Racism doesn't work on either side of the line, but punks like this "author" would kill to be white themselves. I love people of all races, but those punks who talk from both sides of their mouths need to shut the F-up.

    May 25, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  68. donny

    i get sick of hearing that word racist

    May 25, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • ann

      The people who are thE racist are blacks and hispanics. I am WHITE and have never been racist, but they are toward me. They need to STEP UP TO THE PLATE, meet people half way. This is getting OLD.

      May 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
      • Jim

        You were just racist when you said "Blacks and Hispanics."

        May 25, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
      • sharky


        And how was ann racist by saying "Black and Hispanics?" Are those now racist terms that are not allowed to be said or something?

        May 25, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  69. Trent

    Someone's right to say what they want ends where it does harm to others. Just like you have the right to wave your fist around, but not if it hits someone and causes harm. So if you don't want the schools to punish them, then there is a more fair alternative. Jail time. Permanent criminal records. Community service. Civil lawsuits where they pay money to those they harm emotionally and fiscally. And a suspension of their ability to post comments on public forums.

    May 25, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • RightNYer

      I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but in this country, we don't put people in jail because they "harm" someone "emotionally."

      May 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  70. melillylee

    May not be right, what the kids wrote, but the school shouldn't be able to do anything to them about it. Not their purview.

    May 25, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • chefdugan

      I'm white but ask any black person if they think racisim is on the wane. It's alive and well and will always have people who over- react at any opportunity. (see Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton) The big problem is that no white person can ever even get an inkling of what it is to grow up Black. White people can't put themsleves in the shoes of Blacks no matter how hard they try. You need a really good Black friend to do that.

      May 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
      • paulm5545

        I'm sorry, but you cannot be serious...or maybe you are just very young and haven't seen much of the world. white person has ever been the target of racism, so there is no possible way they could empathize with a black person? No white person has ever been discriminated against because of the way they look, so they need "a really good Black friend" to show them the way? If your post was an attempt at humor, then disregard mine.

        May 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
      • Tracy

        Ok You mentioned that white people don't have any idea of what it's like to be black.
        My Mother who is dead now lived in a black neighborhood and went to an all black
        school. She and Her Brother's were white. You say when My Mother was bullied
        and beat up She had no idea what it was like to be black? Do they have any idea
        what it is to be white in that situation? I doubt it. So it was ok for them to beat up
        on Her though She didn't say anything against them or made any attempt to treat
        them as if they were. This was during Your so called civil rights movement times.

        So excuse Me if I don't agree with You. She had made a couple of black friends that
        would walk Her home because if not She was going to be beat up on like she was
        some kind of piece meat. How dare You say something like that and try to justify how
        it really is. It's not even close. I hear more racist remarks from those that say racism is
        on a high trend. It's not. It's the same as it always was. No matter where You go You
        are going to run into it.

        My Mom wasn't racist. My baby sister is going to marry a black man and My mom didn't
        have a problem with it even after being treated as badly as She was. So I tend to take
        offense when people try to compare the two and say We don't what it's like on that
        other side of the fence. Maybe those same kids should have walked in My mom's
        shoes because Her dad was too busy being a dad to another family and not with the
        woman He was married to. My Grandma tried to do as much as She could while those
        kids were young. One boiled egg was split between 4 kids so please spare Me the
        We have no idea what it's like being in their shoes because half the time We do know
        as We've been through it too and I'm sick of that word called 'slavery' that's shoved
        into those same racial slurs every other sentence to be punished for something I nor
        My parents did. It happened I'm sorry but let's move on.

        Those kids did no different than Your so called Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson do
        every chance they get. The schools have no right to punish them unless it was
        on school property or a school function. I hate what they said and did but it doesn't
        give these school's the right to dictate what We should be doing as parents. I'm not
        racist and My kids know it but boy do know tons of racist kids. But You know
        they see beyond that as they have black friends too and lo and behold those girls
        don't sit and complain and whine about racism like so many other's do.

        May 26, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • chefdugan

      Anyody who thinks ANYONE in the public school system is capable of making an intelligent decision about ANYTHING is nuts. They come out of teachers colleges almost illiterate and go downhill from there.

      May 25, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  71. Roger666

    Then teachers stop complaining that you are not the kids babysitters. If you are going to punish a kid when he/she are not in school then you take responsibility for raising them. Also if then kid is not wearing a school uniform how do I know what school they go to. If a kid goes to the mall and are just generaly being disrespectful loud and unruly does this fall within the catagory for the school to take measures.

    May 25, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  72. theaussie11

    I do not condone these comments in the slightest, BUT the school has no power to punish these kids, if it didnt happen on school time, property or with school property. If this was done on the weekend evening at a friends house, what can the school say? And then if they do take action, they are violating your first ammendment.

    When I was in highschool I got caught saying some stupid stuff online and the school found out. When I asked the the principle if her actions on the weekends (whether it be at a bar, at home or on vacation) should affect her status in the school, she said certainly not.

    Do you see the hypocracy?

    Racist speech isn't the correct speech, but it's still free speech.

    May 25, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Hawk

      Agreed. While I condemn racism and hate speech, it is not within the school's jurisdiction to punish the students unless the offense was committed on school property, using school property or involving the school in some way. Any punishment should come either from their parents or any local laws that may have been violated.

      May 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  73. fitat50

    Thanks coach. Finally somebody gets it. We're not talking about suspending these kids from school. That might well be a violation of their first amendment rights because everybody, including racist little twits, has a right to an education. Nobody has a "right" to play a sport or to participate in any other extra-curricular activity. That's a privilege.
    Virtually every school has a code of conduct for students who wish to participate in extra-curriculars and it usually requires them to show good character on and off campus if they want to continue representing the school.

    May 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • riley

      Exactly. Schools can suspend kids from extra curricular activities for just about anything. They can not suspend them from class. I couldn't find specific state law but did find a case in Ohio Assuming, the state in question does not allow for legal appeal of suspension of extra curricular activities there is no legal recourse..

      May 25, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  74. Kiesha

    I don't think the school should be able to punish the kid. It wasn't something that happened during a school function or on school property. Though I love that the school seems to have no tolerance for racism, those kids can say what they want on their twitter accounts.
    As for the individual's that want to point out the statistics of blacks in prison, not sure what that point had to do this particular issue of the hockey player, sounds to me like you just every opportunity to point something negative about blacks when something about racism is discussed. I guarantee you didn't stop to think just how many of those men were wrongly convicted. I'm not denying that blacks have a bad rep for being criminals; but you can't deny with the history of this country when it comes to racism that the percentage of wrongful convictions is also going to be higher than that of white people.

    May 25, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  75. Alan

    The end of free speech is a communist goal.

    May 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  76. Coach

    I understand his point however from my own personal experience coaching high school sports if you are involved in any sort of extracurricular activity from choir, drama, basketball or ternnis your actions whether on campus or off are a reflection of you school. Most students know this. They sign a contact when start school or start the activity stating this. If you get arrested for underage drinking at a local house party on a Saturday night you can bet your butt your going to receive punishment from you school. In this case the kids are unlucky that their tweets received such media attention. If it had gone under the radar nothing would have happened, but it became a big deal and they have to deal with the consequences and realize they they are a representative to their school community at all times.

    May 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  77. humtake

    This is a tough one. But I do believe in the Socratic method here. Schools shouldn't overreach, but it is society's job to guide every citizen to be as good as they can be. All aspects of society should be involved in guiding our kids, so it shouldn't just be the schools but anyone in these kids' lives should be passing them advice on why this is bad. The problem is, everyone these days is turning to the government to solve all of their problems and look at where it has gotten us. We are a society now where responsibility is an afterthought and people run straight to the government when they feel they have been wronged.

    May 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  78. erin

    I'm sorry, but the school is entirely within their rights to take away certain PRIVILEDGES for this type of behavior. Students do not have a "right" to play sports. They are kicked off the team for drinking (off-school property and time), why not for being racist jerks? That type of mentality can have just as much of a negative impact on extra-curricular programs, IMO.

    May 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • vasechek

      that should be a sporting decision made by the coach, not a political decision made by the principal.
      why should public schools have privileged kids and unprivileged ones?

      May 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Vee

      Exactly–we do have Freedom of Speech but, just like all of our other 'freedoms', there have to be limits. There are people who think they're 'free' to break the law: who enjoy stealing and fighting and abusing people–because in some sick way it makes them happy. Is that 'the pursuit of happiness' or is it criminal behavior that needs to be stopped? I'd say the latter. Kids today need boundaries: they are not 'free' to do or say whatever they want to...not if it is offensive or hurtful to themselves or anyone else. The intelligent hockey player who shrugged off the racist comments has the benefit of age, maturity & common sense. The kids who made derogatory remarks about him don't. I'm just sorry that adult racists can't be punished. But then again they are–punished by their own ignorance.

      May 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
      • Maya

        That is irrelevant because racism is not illegal.

        May 25, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • af

      saying inappropriate things, no matter how dumb, is different than underage kids drinking. One is a crime (underage drinking) and the other (FREE SPEECH) is NOT. There are no excuses for these comments yet they should be fully protected.

      May 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Rynomite

      Actually, I would say this behavior is far worse than drinking. I would certainly rather have my kid be caught drinking beer under age than being a rude racist.

      That said, I don't agree with kids being suspended from extra-curricular activites like drinking anyway. It's counter-productive. Extra-curricular activites tend to KEEP kids away from things like drugs/alchohol. Kids play around with that stuff when they aren't being kept busy.

      May 25, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Nodak1

      They can be kicked off the teams for breaking the law (i.e. underage drinking) but it isn't illegal to be racist. We cannot venture into the area of thought crime.

      May 25, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Scott

      They can be suspended for drinking because drinking is illegal. Being a racist is not illegal, and is in fact protected free speech.

      May 25, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  79. Jacob

    Seems like people forget how many died for freedom of speech to exist. Ignore the ignorant and stop putting them in the news we have so much bigger problems to take on being humanity as a whole. When black and whites fight they fight with such a compassionate hatred but i think it works both ways because when blacks and whites work together the most creative and beautiful music and movies and community programs are created. It really is good vs evil like Bob Marley said ironically Bob was created by a black woman and a white man. – Bruins Fan

    May 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • LittleDustBunny

      Freedom of speech pertains only to speaking out against the gov't. It does NOT pertain to hate speech. No one died so someone can make racist remarks.

      May 25, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  80. Mona

    Great article, I completely agree. As much as I hate disgusting racists comments, censorship is worse. There is no such thing as the thought police, it's impossible to control others. Per usual, racists aren't bright. Those kids were easily identified by other kids in their community who went on to print their full names, addresses and phone numbers on Twitter. MA communities are close knit and don't tolerate this stuff(I grew up there). So those kids and their parents got squeezed by the communities and were punished.

    May 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  81. cc

    Don't bet on this, Mr. Wilson. Although I agree with you the Supreme Court might not. Morse v Frederick, 2007, was also a case about a student's speech outside of school. The court upheld the school's suspension of the student. Since this contradicts the case you cited it seems like the court has since changed its mind about how much control the school should have over student activities outside of school.

    May 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • vasechek

      was that a public school or private?

      May 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  82. Amy

    It is far outside the school's responsibilities to punish their students for what is done on social networking sites. However, rather than punishing the student, perhaps they could take the opportunity to start a monthly multicultural activity, sponsor a multicultural club, or bring in a speaker from the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Anti-Defamation League to address the student body on the issue of racism/hate.

    May 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  83. Rynomite

    Obviously to most, rude actions are not to be condoned.

    That said, I am not sure where I stand on the right of the school to punish the students by handing down suspensions from extra curricular activities and sports programs. I wonder how is a suspension for this really any different than a suspension for drinking, smoking, or attending parties most high school athletic codes enforce? How can one punishment be legal and the other not? (mind you, I don't believe in those punishments either...)

    May 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  84. Dredre

    Words are just that words. There are very few ppl in this country much less the world who haven't had some kind of hate word hurled at them. And anyone who lets it bother them is weak. We all say things out of anger...who hasn't said something mean to their spouse, whom we love? So please enough w/ this damn political correctness forcing us to speak, do and be something we're not. The " N" word( even that cracks me up) means ignorant...if someone's behavior is ignorant than I'm calling u the " n " word( and yes I have called black men the n word, they didn't like it they shouldn't have in case # 1 make obscene comments when I was w/ my 4 year old daughter &#2 shouldn't have attempted to steal my purse on the train...they deserved it and I'm glad it shocked both of them, as if I was the wrong one!)and I have acted ignorantly and if someone called me white trash or even the N word i wouldve deserved it. Again just words.and @ Justin,the only thing you learned was to be a were robbed AND jumped !

    May 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • LittleDustBunny

      Um. No. That is not what the "n" word means or someone would have called you one long before this. Or maybe they already have. Either way, to consider it PC to refrain from using derogatory language is ridiculous. Some day someone's probably just going to go ahead and punch you in the face the next time you use the word and I hope I'm there to see it b/c I need a good laugh.

      May 25, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • LittleDustBunny

      Btw, it's disgusting that you used that word in front of your 4 year old child. I wonder if CPS is aware of your abuse and how you are indoctrinating your child into the skin head world.

      May 25, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  85. Kellee

    It's ok to be a racist in America because America was founded on racism. That is why every other country has progress not worrying about racism, but America is the only country that has outlawed slavery for over 150 years, but still in 2012 we have racism. I guess France and Great Britain is correct they are the more socially better countries. They don't have racist hicks destroying their country.

    May 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • dtboy

      LOL! As long as there are humans, they'll be racism.

      May 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • mm

      racisim is a two way street genius this country is not just white and black...

      May 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • vasechek

      so few words, so much ignorance...

      May 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Thia

      Have you EVER been outside of the US? Not likely if this is your perception of the world.

      May 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Kevin

      You have got to be kidding me! That is the most ridiculous statement, yes we have an awful history in this country but you really should educate yourself about the rest of the world. Pick a country and somebody is being oppressed and discriminated against there. So please stop with the old sop that the USA is the worst place ever. Yes we have problems but we are moving forward( Slowly) get out and look around.

      May 25, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • shamrock26

      "America wasa founded on racism"??? You sure have a very poor grasp of history.ublic school anyone?

      May 25, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
      • LittleDustBunny

        So, you don't recall that huge genocide wherein the founders of this country slaughtered, poisoned, and starved to death its original inhabitants into near oblivion?

        May 25, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  86. rizzo

    Tin pot dictators dressed as school administration have been cowing children for decades under the guise of 'protecting order', this is nothing new.

    May 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  87. Jason Viper

    I've seen both sides of it, and believe me, it comes from both sides. Went to a majority black/hispanic school and there are those that went out of their way to belittle anybody not of color, and I didn't escape it either. Also recall an incident when our baseball team went to Farmingdale High School on LI (yes I'm calling you out), and their Lacrosse team was letting out of practice and they hurled every black epithet you could think of towards our black players in the middle of the game. I just do my best to avoid the idiot racists on both sides and live my life the way I want to.

    May 25, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  88. yonyo

    I don't think that the school should be able to do anything. The incident didn't happen on campus, if it had it would be governed by the same logic as cursing, which I remember being punishable because it is offensive. However, in public these students have the exact same right to be obnoxious as members of neo-nazi organizations and westboro baptist church.

    For all those people saying the parents should be embarrassed, are you so sure they didn't pick it up from their parents?

    May 25, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  89. Ryan in Texas

    Illegal Aliens

    May 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Ryan in Texas

      have rights

      May 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
      • Ryan in Texas

        why not legal kids?

        May 25, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  90. justingn

    I absolutely agree, and here's why:

    When I was in middle school, I dropped the n-bomb against an African American kid who had stolen something of mine. He and five friends jumped me in a dark corner of the school, and beat me up. I got my property back, they got suspended for several weeks, and I learned a valuable lesson.

    Hate hurts. A lot.

    Haven't used a racial slur out of hatred since.

    May 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  91. vasechek

    good call. besides the legal side of it, it's better when racist dimwits are out in the open, so you can hold your nose and step around them, rather than having to deal with someone who's secretly a racist dimwit but doesn't advertise it for fear of punishment.
    why stand in the way of people making asssses of themselves?

    May 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  92. bibleverse1

    Free Speech is not a shield from consequences. The school should not have punished the children. The school over stepped what is decent in terms of the scope their power. They did not incite a riot or cause harm to anyone. I am sure their comments were acceptable to them and those in their groups.

    May 25, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  93. ffacts

    population: 13% are black, 6.5% are black males. about 2% are young black males. This tiny group should rarely be heard from, however so much negativity, crime, absent parents, gang activity, inmates and most anything negative there is, comes from this tiny part of total population. young black males are this countries biggest virus!

    May 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • fred37ify

      That 13% of the population makes up 40% of the US prison population ! Feel free to draw your own conclusions !

      May 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
      • LittleDustBunny

        Or perhaps don't "draw conclusions", but instead take statistics within the proper context. Don't "draw conclusions"; ask "why is this so?" Isn't it quite possible that Black males are arrested and convicted at a much higher rate than their White counterparts yet do not actually commit more crimes? Critical thinking skills: use them.

        May 25, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Rhope

      Jesus! Did you even realize the the tweets were about a black player......being made by non-black kids?

      May 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
      • Tony

        Its funny that if the same comments were made by black kids (what ever that means), it would've been ok by the public forum. Which makes you wonder, what's going on? Is this equality for all or are the folks who run the country and the media stuck back in another decade.

        May 25, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • erin

      ffacts- funny, I would say that it's ignorant idiots like you.

      May 25, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • DennisCarter

      You are a complete idiot. That's not what i really want to call you. It is the only thing I can get away with here. Coward.

      May 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  94. SoTrue

    Hey the people here are right. They have the right to be racist, bigots, backwards thinking, idiots, and as anti-american (because this country gives you the right to be stupid doesn't mean its American to do so) as they want to be. You can't stop it so let them spew there vile hatred which is really there own feeling of inadequacy projected at others all they want. There children will be so proud of them.

    May 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • vasechek

      indeed. let them do it and let them deal with the social consequences of this anti-social behavior.

      May 25, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  95. coastlinecascot

    Kids should be able to express there views anytime outside of school without school repruccusions. they the kids should only have to deal with the repruccusions from their parents. However with liberal social engineering. this is how the state takes over the responsibility of the parents.

    May 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Kevin

      It is freedom of speech, not freedom from consequences. If you choose to behave like a backwards person, don't be surprised when people treat you as such.

      I don't think the school is in the right here, but I also disagree that it is only between the kids and their parents. What you say is between you and everyone who hears it and if you're ill sighted enough to tweet something like that, then you have to deal with the consequences.

      May 25, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
      • vasechek

        everyone who behaves like an a-donkey in public will have to face the consequences and that is prolly the best punishment right there. the "target" of these tweets didn't let it offend him so there's no real harm done, except to the reputations of the offenders. what more can you ask for?

        May 25, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  96. slaveworld

    What ever happened to Sticks and Stones?

    May 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • juanmom2

      It went away with the realization that words CAN hurt! These kids are only repeating what they hear at home, racist kids=racist parents!

      May 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  97. concerned in cleveland

    Hate is a Right in our Free country. I have the right to hate anyone I want and to speak it, so long as I do not incite illegal actions, such as violence againt the person or people that I hate.

    Deal with it hippies. Kiss my brass.

    May 25, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • John

      First, try hating less - you'll be a happier person. Second, it's not free if you're doing through someone else's "property." Such as this website comment board. CNN could shut-up angry-just-to-be-angry, filthy mouthed people like you if they wanted to because it is their site. Much the same as if a visitor was in in your house swearing up a storm and you asked them to leave. Want to be offensive? Buy, create, and maintain your own website and do it there.

      May 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
      • juanmom2

        Great point John:-)

        May 25, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
      • Michael

        Very well said. I've often wondered how many racists or bigots ever take the time to look themselves in the mirror and ask "has any of this hate I've spewed actually made my life better?" I suspect the answer is no. And I suspect also that basically none of them can claim that their life is better because of their racism or bigotry.

        May 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
      • LittleDustBunny

        Exactly! Well said!

        May 25, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  98. Shelly

    In answer to the question of the school taking action in the case, I think we can thank the past two decades for that, during which the role of the school and its teachers has expanded from educator to disciplinarian and pseudo-parent. The fact is schools can't tell where their disciplinary boundaries end anymore because so much of the boundary-setting that used to be done by parents has now been hoisted onto the schools. Not doing anything might 'damage' them just as much as overstepping their bounds. That being said, the student's behavior was undeniably juvenile. but let's keep that word in mind for a bit, shall we? the word "juvenile" meaning "not fully grown or developed."

    May 25, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  99. Timshappywife

    Who defines what is racist and what is not?

    Some say that pointing out the recent mobs of young people ransacking convenience stores is racist- if you mention the ethnicity of the perpetrators. Some think its racist to point out that most violent crimes against blacks are perpetrated by blacks. It has been said that the recent push for photo identification at polling places is racist.

    We cannot even begin to have a discussion about race issues if we cannot discuss race issues for fear that the conversation itself is racist.

    Who gets to define what is racist and what is not?

    May 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Guff

      The first rule of racism is DON'T TALK ABOUT RACISM!

      May 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Truism

      Why not ask: 'Who gets to define what 'air' is?'
      It's nothing more than a collaborated, commonly-held 'belief system'. As is 'what is racist...'.

      Instead of talking about racism, let's just understand that we all have "choices" to make in life.
      There will be those who choose to be 'ignorant', and exist in the negative 'society' they help to create and shape...
      And there will be those who choose 'life, love, and pursuit of happiness'...
      These are the people who life positive and fruitful lives.
      In each of our own 'end-of-times', we all get to see the error of our ways.

      May 25, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
      • bertdeuce

        ouch, philosophy 101... measureable chemical properties are more than a justifed belief...

        May 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
      • Truism


        The question was not whether 'air' is definable (communications 101, i.e. "listening closely before you speak"), but rather, WHO gets to define it. Ouch, is correct.

        May 25, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • juanmom2

      IMO, racism is when you comment negatively on stories about Latino's and Blacks but ignore stories when the perp looks like the majority (white), if a black killer is bad so is a white killer, if a black guy is a "thug" then so is a white guy. Stop using code words and stereotypes and get to know people as individuals.

      May 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
      • vasechek

        yet, they make legal differentiation between a hate-crime and a regular garden variety crime. if a murder is motivated by racism it is punished more harshly. nothing wrong with that. this is why news media trip over themselves to let you know when the victim is black and the shooter is hispanic, for example, – not to make you think that all hispanics are out to shoot black people, but to insinuate that the shooting may have been racially motivated – not to claim that it was, but to get you thinking that way.

        May 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
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