Sunday, July 29, 2012

No criticism allowed?

Our school district is starting a new website to encourage public comment on school issues. This sounded like a great idea until I read further:
[The community relations director] said the [web design company] monitors and moderates the website to make sure offensive content isn't posted.

"If someone has an idea, you can like it, but you can't put an idea down, so hopefully it will have the ability to keep things positive and productive just because of how it's designed," she said.

Only a very short-sighted institution thinks that suppressing criticism leads to better policy decisions. Fortunately, even short-sighted institutions, if they're public, are subject to the First Amendment. It would be unconstitutional to censor comments based on the viewpoint of the commenter. I wonder if the district's moderation guidelines have taken basic First Amendment principles into account. I'll see what I can find out.


PsychMom said...

My daughter is obsessed with Harry Potter these days and we have watched the movies, all of them, several times. The books are being read along side.
Delores Umbridge comes to mind as I read your post today, Chris.

Always a smile. Any criticism of the ruling viewpoints seen as treason, and actively suppressed. Rules of conduct abound.

Not much point in having a suggestion box, if you're only going to read suggestions you like. How ridulous.

Suzanne Lamb said...

Very convenient. The posting policy will keep things "productive and positive," and will essentially prevent any real dialogue.

Either these folks don't understand the First Amendment, or they are confident their schools have produced a generation of adults with no faith in their own constitutional rights.

I'm interested in hearing where this goes.

Chris said...

PsychMom and Suzanne -- I'm always amazed at how the school system seems to exist in a different universe from aspects of democracy that we take for granted when we talk about virtually any other public institution. And about how the infantilizing practices that the kids are subject to always seem to end up getting applied to the parents as well...

By the way, PsychMom, believe it or not, I haven't read any of the HP books. But I think I can envision the type of character you're describing.