The story of an Ohio 7th grader recently suspended from school for 10 days for “liking” a picture of a firearm on social media is another reminder that anti-2nd Amendment hysteria is alive and well.
The Ohio-based FOX 19 reported:
The parents of Zachary Bowlin posted a picture of the intended suspension notice which read, “The reason for the intended suspension is as follows: Liking a post on social media that indicated potential school violence.”
“I was livid, I mean, I’m sitting here thinking ‘you just suspended him for ten days for liking a picture of a gun on a social media site,” father Marty Bowlin said. “He never shared, he never commented, he never made a threatening post… anything on the site, just liked it.”
The picture in question is of an airsoft gun, and according to the students’ parents, their child didn’t comment on the post but simply liked the picture.
“I liked it, scrolling down Instagram at night about 7, 8 o’clock I liked it,” Zacahry said. “The next morning they called me down [to the office] patted me down and checked me for weapons.”
Since receiving the notice, the family said the school has dropped the suspension and there will be no repercussions for the child’s actions.
Friday morning an email went out to parents stating:
“Yesterday evening school officials were made aware to an alleged threat of a student bringing a gun to school. We act on any potential threat to student safety swiftly and with the utmost importance. This morning, the alleged threat was addressed and we can assure you that all students at Edgewood Middle School are safe and school will continue as normal. Thank you”
The story is also a good reminder that the nanny-minded among us are increasingly mining social media content for reasons to get bent out of shape.
And as Dan Abrams Law Newz points out, incidents like these could have troubling implications for 11st Amendment rights.
From the outlet:
Hitting like on an Instagram post might be a simple action, but Bowlin’s story hit on a wide variety of constitutional dilemmas. This story is about the intersection between student’s speech rights, and the school’s power to control that.
For example, note the element of a “chilling effect.” This term tends to pop up on writing about the First Amendment. It refers to what happens when protected speech is not uttered all because of fear of government retaliation. In this case, you’ve got a student who said he is now more cautious about “liking” social media posts. (In 2013’s Bland v. Roberts, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the First Amendment covered Facebook “likes.”)
This isn’t the first of these stories we’ve heard– and it certainly won’t be the last.