YouTube vids created for class get student suspended, spark cries of free speech
Like many Toronto youth, Jack Christie posts videos to YouTube. Sure, his animated clips are often off-colour and crude—but they’re nothing most of the web-surfing public would be surprised to see on the information superhighway. Apparently, he created the vids—titled “Jack Christie Talks to Children”—for presentations in his economics and politics classes over the course of the last school year. He used his own laptop, and one of his teachers even lent his voice to the soundtrack. But last month administrators at his Whitby high school found his work online. Now, the Grade 12 student is suspended from school and is the subject of a police investigation.
The Globe and Mail has the story:
Jack Christie’s videos are the kind of thing you see every day on the Internet. Crudely animated stick figures swear and fire automatic rifles. There are off-colour jokes about everything from race to pedophilia to cocaine. Absurd incidents – such as the assassination of an evil talking mango – seem to happen at random.
But administrators at the Grade 12 student’s Whitby high school were so offended when they found the animations on YouTube last month, they sent him home and called the police. He is being kept out of school during the investigation.
We find it more than a little weird to see an Ontario public school attempting to police YouTube, both because it’s creepy and because it’s a strategy destined to fail. Really, all the student has to do is refuse to stop posting content, call a major newspaper and suggest his right to free speech is being trampled on—then, presto, the school will basically have to back down. A spokeswoman for the Durham District School Board obliquely explained the school’s actions as such: “If something is considered detrimental to the positive moral tone of the school, it doesn’t necessarily have to happen inside the school [for us to get involved].” So, when did local secondary schools assume the mantle of the morality police?