What the Flapjack?
Somewhere along our nation’s midsection, nestled into the almost perceptible dips in the Indiana landscape, lies the thriving community of Garrett. Garrett is filled to the brim with more than 6,000 lovely people who I’m sure are simply delighted to be residing in a small town in our nation’s love handles.
However, it seems as honorable as the Garrettonians may be, some of them may have a little too much time on their hands, or might possibly have a god complex. Officials at Garrett High School should be feeling the heat of my eye of judgment right now, because they’re the ones I’m eyeballing.
High school officials recently expelled soon-to-be-graduating senior, Austin Carroll, for something that thousands of other students do every day. What was Austin’s crime? He didn’t brandish a weapon at school. He didn’t threaten to pop a cap into anyone’s derriere. He didn’t raise a hand to another student or a member of faculty. Instead, Austin sent out a tweet that was liberally flavored with the f-word. Since I can’t use the actual f-word, I’ll just substitute it with another word. So, in essence here was Austin’s tweet: “Flapjack is one of those flapjacking words you can flapjacking put anywhere in a flapjacking sentence and it still flapjacking makes sense.
If anything, the kid should have been expelled for repeating such an old joke.
No one is trying to deny Austin sent the tweet. I would imagine that is pretty provable. It also seems as though the tweet was either sent out on a laptop issued to Austin by the school, or at the very least on a private computer while Austin was logged into the school’s network.
However, the tweet was reportedly sent out to the Twitterverse at 2:30 in the morning. Maybe Austin is just an extremely dedicated student and is always showing up at school in the middle of the night. It would seem the worst case scenario is Austin sent out a tweet on a school-issued laptop, but sent it while he was away from school. Superintendent Dennis Stockdale stated he can’t comment on a particular student’s case, but that the school has never disciplined any student for anything they posted online on their own computer outside of the school’s network.
I find it hard to believe teachers aren’t privy to all manner of profanity issuing forth from their students’ mouths on a daily basis. I would also imagine in the majority of the cases, the teachers either let it slide or dole out a more apt rebuke or even punishment. In Austin’s case, the tweet didn’t physically, mentally or emotionally harm anyone, so is it really an offense, much less one that is expulsion-worthy?
Personally, I think the entire situation smacks of absurdity. I don’t know Austin, but in this case I don’t need to. His tweet was harmless, and the fact that he wasn’t on school grounds when he tweeted makes it completely off limits to the school. Even if he was using a school issued computer, his Twitter account is still his personal account, not a school account. It doesn’t matter if some of the school officials didn’t approve of his choice of words, they should not be allowed to completely overreact like they did. Even if I acquiesce and agree that Austin should have been punished, I am firmly against the school telling him to pack his bags and hit the road.
Let’s allow teenage boys be teenage boys. Let them send out stupid tweets to their friends, because that’s what boys in high school do. Let them rip off a flapjacking joke once in a flapjacking while, because life is too flapjacking short to worry about such complete flapjackery.
Rachel Birdsell is a freelance writer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.