The Printing Press to the Internet
3. Cyberspace & the Free Expression
C H A P T E R T H R E E Cyberspace & the Free Expression CONTROVERSY: When J. Snyder and “K.L.” were eighth graders attending Blue Mountain Middle School in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, in 2007, they created a MySpace parody profile of their school principal. Some of the least offensive text read as follow- ing: “HELLO CHILDREN yes. it’s your oh so wonderful, hairy, expressionless, sex addict, fagass, put on this world with a small…PRINCIPAL I have come to myspace so i can pervert the minds of other principal’s [sic] to be just like me.”1 The students used their home computers to create the site. They were suspended for 10 days. J.Snyder’s par- ents sued, arguing that the suspension violated their daughter’s First Amendment free speech and state and federal due process rights. In Snyder v. Blue Mountain School District, 593 F.3d. 286 (3d Cir. 2010), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, 2–1, ruled that the school district did not violate J. Snyder’s First Amendment free speech rights by suspending her for statements she attributed to her principal on the MySpace profile. On the same day, another Third Circuit three-judge panel drew the opposite con- clusion in a case involving a student who used an off-campus computer to create a vul- gar, fictitious MySpace parody profile of his principal. In Layshock v. Hermitage School District, 593 F.3d 249, 263 (2010), the panel ruled, 3–0, that, “the District is not empow- ered to punish...
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