"D Bag" Bill Would Protect Online Free Speech

Senator wants to protect kids right to dis schools on their blogs

By Scott Ross
|  Friday, Jan 30, 2009  |  Updated 7:11 AM CDT
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"D Bag" Bill Would Protect Online Free Speech

www.gadgetell.com

Avery Doninger and her mother Lauren love the First Amendment.

A Connecticut state senator is sponsoring a bill to protect kids' right to call school administrators "douche bags."

When Sen. Gary LeBeau heard that teenager Avery Doninger had been banned from serving on the student government because she had referred to the superintendent and other officials as "douche bags," the East Hartford Democrat had one simple thought.

"What they did to that young girl was wrong," he told CT News Junkie.

LeBeau's proposed bill would draw a "bright line" on the issue of free speech rights in the age of the Internet. Specifically, it would ban  "punishing students for the content of electronic correspondence transmitted outside of school facilities or with school equipment, provided such content is not a threat to students, personnel or the school."

The whole thing started when Doninger took to her online journal to express how "pissed off" she was because the school had canceled Jamfest, an annual battle of the school bands, which she had helped organize.

Doninger admits that the blog post was "not my finest moment," Doninger told MSNBC

But, as she wrote in the essay accompanying her college application, "I believe in democracy. I believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I believe that each citizen is responsible for participating in the maintenance of democracy by challenging government officials when they overreach.

"The principal accused me of failing to be a good citizen. I disagree. Apathy and passivity are poor citizenship."

Students do not ''shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,'' according to a 1969 Supreme Court decision, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, noted the New York Times.

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