Indiana court rules in favor of student who published MySpace page

A court infringed on a student’s free speech when itconvicted her for harassment and placed her on probation for creating anexpletive-filled MySpace page that criticized a high school principal and theschool’s policy prohibiting body piercings, the Indiana Court of Appealsruled April 9.
“While we have little regard for [thestudent’s] use of vulgar epithets,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote in the 10-pageopinion, “we conclude that her overall message constitutes politicalspeech.”
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SPLCView: In contrast to the California law discussed above, this court’sdecision, which noted the limited authority school officials have to punishstudents for their independent, off-campus expression, much more closely tracksexisting law — at least for now.  (See the discussion, below,regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Morse v.Frederick.) Still, this case serves as an important reminder to all studentsof the need to exercise restraint when using expletives or profanity to expresstheir views. While such language may be protected in the context of off-campusspeech, it will almost always provoke a response from authorities that, ifnothing else, can detract from the intended message. In all cases, the editorialvalue of publishing such material should be carefullyweighed.