August 19, 2011

What To Do About Sexy High School Girls Having A Slumber Party

wait, that's not sexy

A case, the summary of which is everywhere:

During another sleepover, T.V. took a picture of M.K. and another girl pretending to kiss each other. At a final slumber party, more pictures were taken with M.K. wearing lingerie and the other girls in pajamas. One of these pictures shows M.K. standing talking on the phone while another girl holds one of her legs up in the air, with T.V. holding a toy trident as if protruding from her crotch and pointing between M.K.'s legs.   In another, T.V. is shown bent over with M.K. poking the trident between her buttocks. A third picture shows T.V. positioned behind another kneeling girl as if engaging in anal sex. In another picture, M.K. poses with money stuck into her lingerie - stripper-style.
And up to facebook went the pictures; and the school got involved; and the court got involved; and now I got involved.

Important to the story, these high school girls were volleyball players.  Not important to the story, but featured in every one anyway, is that they were cheerleaders.  We get it. They're white.

The judge ruled that the pictures were protected under the First Amendment, which is fine, but then said this, which is weird:

I wish the case involved more important and worthwhile speech on the part of the students, but then of course a school's well-intentioned but unconstitutional punishment of that speech would be all the more regrettable.

Why wish that?  If it was more important and worthwhile, we wouldn't really have a controversy.   The importance of the law is in these cases that don't have worth or importance.


The set up is one of free speech, but there's a different game in play.

The judge explained that it isn't true that just any old photo/speech is protected, but speech  that is "intended to convey a particular message" "understood by those" who would view it.  In this case: this is funny (message) to the people on my facebook page who would understand that it was funny.
The fact that adult school officials may not appreciate the approach to sexual themes the girls displayed actually supports the determination that the conduct was inherently expressive.
This is where free speech gets really interesting, when it bumps against generational mores.  The only thing "bad" about the speech was that the school officials didn't like it.  Nothing else.  Is that enough to allow the school to shut the kids down?  No.

But what about the argument that the pictures affected the school or other girls by causing "divisiveness?"  Isn't this kind of like harassment, or bullying, or intimidation, even if it is not as bad?  Wouldn't the "pure" girls feel reluctant to play volleyball with a team of sluts?

Petty disagreements among players on a team... is utterly routine.  This type of unremarkable dissension does not establish disruption with the work or discipline of the team or the school...Consider, for example. [the case in which] getting a phone call from a disgruntled parent, and evidence that a student temporarily refused to go to class and that five students missed some undetermined portion of their classes... did not rise to the level of a substantial disruption.
In other words, get over it.  If you don't meet these girls in school you'll meet them in college or in their 30s in Indianapolis (the whole city is horny.)  The fact that you have to avoid them or deal with them or sleep with them or argue with them is mostly your problem.  I sympathize, sure, and I'm happy to help, but it's still your problem.  You can't change other people, even if they are wrong.


But wait a second: how did the school even see the pictures?  Take a moment and come up with an answer.

...a parent brought printouts of the photographs to the [Superintendent]... The parent reported that the images... were causing "divisiveness" among the girls on the volleyball team... Separately, but on the same day... the principal was contacted by a second concerned parent, one who happened to work at the school as an athletic department secretary.

The school has a problem, and it isn't high schoolers wrestling with their hormones.  The school is infested with rats.

The true social implications of this case aren't about the girls' behavior, but the parents'.  To what extent are they allowed to impose their values on their kids, and, separately, what is the proper structure to impose these values?

This popular reading of this case is that the school (i.e. government) doesn't have the right to reach into the private home and control the speech of students, but that evades the important cause of this case: the parents want the government to control the kids because they aren't willing to do it.  See?  It's not just black kids.  Parents all over the U.S. have checked out, can't be bothered and anyway don't really know how to bother.  How can I explain to my daughter that this is bad?  I know: Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. School Dist.  Yeah.  That'll show her.

The way it should have worked is that one concerned mother calls the other mother, and she opens up with, "I just want to bring something to your attention" or "Jesus, do you know what your wenchy daughter is up to?!" and they work it out and stuff gets handled, and if it doesn't it gets kicked to the fathers, who freak out on their daughters and then reluctantly agree to talk to the other father about it and settle it once and for all, and if that doesn't work they can agree to meet in the Woolworth's and Woolco parking lot and punch each other like girls.  I recognize this is all quite sexist, but that's the way it should have gone down.  That's the way it has always gone down.

But the parents couldn't handle this as parents, i.e. as the ultimate arbiter of a controversy, because they are not practiced at being the ultimate anything.  Stripped of all power as children, and never given either power or responsibility, they drowned in freedom and looked for a practical solution to their existential crisis: everything always has a higher authority.  Call the school, call the cops, call the government.  The joke used to be, "hey, lady, don't make a federal case out of it!" but that's no longer a joke, it's the preferred method.

The idiocy of such parents is mind boggling, certainly,  but even more compounded by the message that it sends to their own kids:  higher authorities always exist for everything.  Just not God.  That's for stupid people.