Do School Administrators Not Realize Students Have Access To The Internet?

from the why-bother? dept

We've had a few stories recently of school administrators trying to stop the publication of a school publication because they didn't like the contents. In some cases, the students just route around the administrator and publish online. But, an even bigger point is, what good do the administrators think they're doing in trying to censor content in the first place? Take, for example, the story of a principal blocking the publication of a student magazine at Orange High School in Orange, California. Apparently, the principal was upset about a cover story about tattoos, claiming (bizarrely) that the photo on the cover, of a (faux) full back tattoo that included the magazine's name ("Pulp") and the school's mascot, glorified "gangster" culture, specifically because the text was spelled out in old English lettering. Really.

However, the details show that the real concern had nothing to do with "gang" issues. The principal wanted the article to include extra information about how tattoos were permanent and not easily removed. As Lee Baker at the Citizen Media Law Project points out:
Although it may be helpful for students to be reminded of the difficulty of tattoo removal, such a concern should not give a school principal the legal right to suppress student speech.
Still, the bigger issue from my perspective is understanding exactly who the principal think he's preventing from "harm" in this action. It's not as if students don't know about tattoos or how to find out more info on tattoos. Those students have access to this wonderful thing we call "the internet." They can also probably walk into any number of tattoo parlors. Blocking the publication in a school magazine because the principal doesn't like tattoos hardly seems likely to actually stop anyone from getting a tattoo.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:54am

    Mike, if each person in a child's life does something to hep guide them and protect them from harm, the child will be safer / probably grow up better.

    The idea isn't to stop kids from getting tattoos, it is to stop them from glorifying gang style tats. You need to understand how signficant an old english lettered tattoo can be to a gang member to understand the significance. Otherwise, you are once again flailing around and blaming people for things without truly understanding the subject. Put that in your econ 101 and smoke it.

     

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  2.  
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    Jordan, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:09am

    School Admin and Internet

    I have worked with school administrators in two states. I can tell you that an alarming number of them are only vaguely aware of the Internet's existence.

     

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  3.  
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    Dan, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:13am

    Re:

    It may be significant to a gang member, but to a none gang member, it might just look like a cool tat.
    Olde English style lettering is not reserved for use by lads with guns.

     

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  4.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:16am

    Sing along

    Can't you just hear the Pink Floyd playing in the background?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:19am

    Re: Re:

    No, but in the middle of Orange County, California, well... it would sort of be like saying graffiti is just art.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:27am

    Re:

    Awesome reading comprehension.

    "However, the details show that the real concern had nothing to do with "gang" issues. The principal wanted the article to include extra information about how tattoos were permanent and not easily removed."

    Troll spotted, stop replying.

     

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  7.  
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    technomage (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:29am

    waiting for the mandate

    "Orange County California officially recognizes the existence of tattoos and deems that tattoos can only have lettering of 72pt Arial font with no more than 8% obliquing.

    Underline and Bold fonts will be barred from all tattoo parlors as well as any other font style.

    Thank you"

    /sarcasm

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:30am

    Schools educate. I don't see a problem with having some editing rights granted to the principal. The magazine is a way to help teach the kids, I don't see a problem with using to add a little caution and awareness about the subject. If the magazine has no educational benefit (i.e no input from teachers/staff) why does it even exist. The students are quite free to go start a magazine outside of the school and sell subscriptions to other students.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:33am

    Re:

    What good will the child be in his adult life if you "protect them from harm" all their younger life. I fail to see how this makes a person "grow up better".

    To grow up without real life experiences and no street-smarts, will have them getting run over left & right in the REAL WORLD.

     

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  10.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:35am

    Re:

    "if each person in a child's life does something to hep guide them and protect them from harm, the child will be safer / probably grow up better."

    I agree, but the last paragraph of the article addresses that. The point is that this doesn't protect them from a damn thing. The photo's still available, only now on a wider-publicised website instead of a local school paper, meaning many more kids will see it - i.e. more harm (if any way there to begin with), not less.

    The glorification of gang culture is already out there and has been going on since before these kids were born. Information on tattoos and how to get them is also freely available both online and off, while the style of lettering is not directly tied into gangs in any specific way - the main gang connection is that 2Pac had them and he was the thug poster child (and thus imitated by wannabe gangstas).

    Nobody was protected here, it only makes the administrator look out-of-touch and reactionary while being utterly ineffective. The real harm to children is when people like this do exactly the wrong thing to make it look like they're doing something. I'm sure there's more appropriate things for Orange High to be doing than restricting access to free speech in order to block a style of artwork already freely visible on iTunes. there's no problem with protecting children if the actions taken do just that. This doesn't.

     

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  11.  
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    Overcast (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:39am

    "sanctioning censorship in order to protect students from making bad decisions on skin art almost certainly pushes it too far."

    You notice that in the article?

    Personally - I'd rather my kids were properly instructed on what their RIGHTS are, rather than the possible ills of a Tattoo - if I had to choose.

    But schools aren't about that now - neither is half this country. People go on about how 'this and that' is good for the kids; while they think it's ok to take away rights, "for the children". Schools don't teach kids about real History anymore.

    My son's best friend - who is a Sophomore never heard of the Nazi's - like... umm, isn't that a rather significant part of History? They don't seem to do much in the way of civics to teach kids about their rights and the constitution. Instead, they want to teach them all this "feel good" - "protect the kids" bull crap that doesn't help anyone and in the end, will cause a great many problems.

    So how is it good for the kids to show them that free speech is ok to be suppressed? Seriously - people with that mentality really should find a nice happy socialist country to move to.

    So if we take away rights to "protect the children" - who's going to protect them when neither they or us have any rights anymore? Don't hand me 'the government' - statistics and facts well prove the police can't really 'protect' any individual now, nor does congress care about our rights - they just care about their bank accounts, power, and rights for those that enhance their banks accounts and power.

     

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  12.  
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    Overcast (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:43am

    Re: Re:

    Yes - you are right. My kids make many of their own decisions on stuff.

    Why? Because - sadly; I seen the result of the opposite.

    A guy I knew in college lived a very sheltered life growing up. When he finally got into college, it was like all the tension on a rubber band than had built up over 18 years was released all at once. Fast Cars, Fast Girls, and a Buzz - he couldn't get enough... Until on one wet, rainy night he ran his Mustang into a concrete wall at 2 in the morning - had cocaine in the car - heck I didn't even know he was into that... He died in ICU about a week later.

    Too much, too fast is never good.

     

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  13.  
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    hegemon13, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:47am

    It's about the image and liability

    I can understand where the principal is coming from. I doubt he/she has any illusions that blocking the magazine will keep the students from knowing about tattoos. However, it is a school publication, and allowing it could lead some over-sensitive parents to believe the school is somehow endorsing the content. I know that it is a student publication, but that doesn't change the fact that some parents can cause a LOT of trouble. It is much more likely that the principal felt he was protecting the school's image and avoiding backlash from parents.

    As far as freedom of speech, it does not exist here. It is well established that students within a school context do not have the same free speech rights that they do outside the school.

    "Blocking the publication in a school magazine because the principal doesn't like tattoos hardly seems likely to actually stop anyone from getting a tattoo."

    This logic in itself is not enough. You could just as easily say, "Blocking the publication of pornography in a school magazine because the principal doesn't like pornography hardly seems likely to actually stop anyone from seeing pornography on the internet." That is true, but that does not, in itself, mean that the school should support it in a school publication.

     

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  14.  
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    JAy., Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:49am

    Not a Free Speech Issue

    "such a concern should not give a school principal the legal right to suppress student speech."

    Sorry, guys, this is not a free speech issue. If the magazine is a school-sponsored publication, the school gets editorial rights. Just like Oprah can change what gets into her "O" magazine, the school administration can do likewise.

    If the students want free speech, tell them to organize in someone's basement, hit the streets to sell advertising, and hire their own printer to print the magazine. If they want the school to publish the magazine for them, they have to bow to the whims of the school administration.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:54am

    Re: Re: Re:

    so a little coke at 14 years old to get him started would be better?

     

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  16.  
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    duane (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:54am

    Re: It's about the image and liability

    Almost a good point, except that all the principal wanted to do was add in a bit about high tattoos are permanent and other scary messages.

    If there was worry about parental backlash, killing the article was the best option. This is just heavy-handed editing that will make the article suck.

     

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  17.  
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    Peggy Marton, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:01am

    re: tattoos

    In order to protect students or children from getting a tattoo or whatever, you need to have discussion and flash the light of day on the subject. The more information someone has about something the better the decision they are going to make. There is a lot of information about tattoos that is not disiminated because it would discourage people from getting them. The principle could have submitted his own article in the school paper and used it as a learning tool. He could have asked a class to research tattoos on the internet and produce a comprehensive article that way. There is always a positive way to reach children. Denying things is the weakest method.

     

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  18.  
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    Altaree, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:10am

    Just a pissing match

    Sounds like the student and the principal got into a pissing match over a small edit and the students found out who has a bigger .....

     

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  19.  
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    Steve, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:11am

    Christ, I'm 40 and I can't help but shake my head at the technological ignorance of those barely 10 years older than me.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:15am

    Porn is available on the internet...so should the students be allowed to publish porn in the school newspaper?

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:25am

    Re:

    yes. obviously.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:39am

    a tattoo is such a petty mistake. i'd let kids have them when they were 8 if they wanted, then by the time theyre teenagers and they need a lesson on consequences, they will have an object one chiseled on their body.

     

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  23.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:56am

    Re: Not a Free Speech Issue

    If the students want free speech, tell them to organize in someone's basement, hit the streets to sell advertising, and hire their own printer to print the magazine.

    ...or post it online.


    ..oh wait...

     

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  24.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:59am

    Re:

    Of course not! Seeing naked people would almost certainly scar most high school kids for life, or longer!

    /sarcasm

     

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  25.  
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    taoareyou, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 10:07am

    Welcome to Real Life

    In the real world, if you submit an article to be run in the paper, editors can add to and take away from copy or send it back for a rewrite. Editors do this based on many factors, including how they want the publication to be perceived. This is not censorship. Nobody is telling the kids they can't write or say something. It sounds like the principle simply asked to include a reminder about how permanent tattoos are and the students cry censorship.

    From what I have read, the principle exercised editorial judgment based on the school and surrounding culture and readers. The students have not been "censored", the government has taken no steps to prevent them from saying or writing what they want and publishing it with their own money.

    The Editor-In-Chief axed an article because the writer(s) refused to modify it as directed. Had this been a real publication the writer may even have been terminated.

     

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  26.  
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    Kenneth D. Welch, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 10:12am

    Re: You Pussy

    shut the fuck up you pussy. do not be political girly-man!

    it's censorship. i don't think the tattoos would be anything gang related, but stupid soccermoms like you, think all tattoos are gang related.

    i do however agree with the school's right to censor the contents of what is in fact, the school's publication. the students are representing the school, in their own media, so it does not belong to them 100%. simply the credit of writing it.

    they should just publish the content under their own website, completely separate from the school.

     

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  27.  
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    Sheinen, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 10:21am

    At the end of the day this is all a massive load!

    All the kid had to do was add a line saying, 'if you're gonna go for one of these, be sure you get the right one, 'cos once it's there it aint coming off!' and everyone would have been happy.

    I appreciate the need for a well balanced artical that addresses its subject matter from all angles. Otherwise it's just a meaningless rant...much like this blog

     

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  28.  
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    monkyyy, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 10:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    no i think he meint that parents should let thier kids make dumb mistakes before something like drugs

    like a 6 year old eating their weight in candy and the parents letting them with a simple warning

     

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  29.  
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    chris (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 11:44am

    Re:

    The idea isn't to stop kids from getting tattoos, it is to stop them from glorifying gang style tats. You need to understand how signficant an old english lettered tattoo can be to a gang member to understand the significance.

    i agree.

    old english letters were invented by black gangs to symbolize their black gang super powers and like you, i think black people are scary.

     

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  30.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Re:

    "i think black people are scary"

    I can also, based on this principle's thought process, only assume that all gang's are British people from several centuries ago, in which case they are of little threat as they are dead.

     

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  31.  
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    taoareyou (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re:

    Who said anything about black people? You know there are Hispanic gangs and multiracial gangs? You are the only one going off on a tangent about "black people".

     

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  32.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Multiracial yes, but also all Englishmen from the 1700's.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 1:21pm

    Re:

    Here Here.

    I agree. The simple fact is that the Principle simply wanted a few cautionary statements *added* to the piece. He wasn't trying to *remove* information.

    The fact that the kids publishing the piece didn't want the cautionary statements moved them from reporters to *proponents* of tattooing.

    In effect, they were trying to stifle the *principal's* right to a little free speech as I see it.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 1:23pm

    Re:

    It sounds like the principal was merely interested in protecting himself from the wrath of school board officials. Administrators would easily blow something like this out of proportion. The fact is none of the students were being helped by this censorship. As if not seeing this in the paper would prevent them from knowing that Olde English tattoos exist, or that their opinions would suddenly be formed by such an article.

    Realize that these "kids" are young adults, not children.

     

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  35.  
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    braindead (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 4:09pm

    Re:

    sheltering the child from real life issues is hardly a way to protect them from harm.

    if protecting them from harm is really the issue then the children should be informed about said harmful issues.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 4:51pm

    Re:

    Sorry, but I am not sure where you live, or what century, but schools no longer educate. They are in the childcare business now. They only exist so that kids have somewhere to go while parents work. They stopped educating long ago.

    The best education I got was by sitting outside and watching people. I did it as a child in the ghettos of NY. I then joined the ARMY and sat back and watched people in foreign countries. But the best time was when I was in Special Forces, training foreign soldiers, meeting their families, watching them and learning their cultures.

    Now I use that information as a drug and gang enforcement officer.

    Again... I learned nothing in school, other than my teachers were pussies and were afraid of their own shadows. GFL out there kids.

     

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  37.  
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    Techn1x, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 12:42am

    Re:

    Ha! You think that's bad. My school blocks WIKIPEDIA. Google Images. Google Videos. Youtube. Gmail. And Many many more (including Myspace, Facebook etc, but that's understandable)

    I know that wikipedia is not a good thing to source, but why the hell does it need to be blocked? It's not like its porn or anything.

    School administrators can be so stupid - the one at our school is an ex-special-needs teacher. She (yes, she) knows nothing about computers, I don't think she even knows what Linux is.

    Right clicking is disabled, and much more. The computers are vegetables. You'd think all this security would stop hacking and other bad things, but you underestimate the stupidity of the admin. She does not know what a proxy/circumventor is (I've asked her, she gave me a glazed look), which gets around the filtering. ALL the usernames and passwords are stored in a standard format making it EASY for brute forcing (I have hacked my own password many times through the mail server)

    School admins are ridiculous sometimes, there should be a law against schools hiring idiots. WE'RE BEING REPRESSED LOL.

    I feel better now;
    Email me if you want details for the mail server xD

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Jerry Kershner, Jul 1st, 2009 @ 9:19am

    Administrators Responsibility

    I'm not defending all admistrators or all decisions. But I certainly defend the administrators' responsibility to defend a certain "image" of their school. While an expression may be appropriate or even necessary for an individual member of the school's constituency, it is essential for the administration to attempt to have the "school" project what is interpreted as the gestalt whole image of the school as would reasonably be expected to be defined by the school's board or by its community standards.

     

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  39.  
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    jack Wilkson, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 4:30pm

    a reply to this idiocy

    sheltering children makes it harder to exept life latter when they are less capable of change, children are easily tought which is originally why they go to school so early in life and aside from this the whole point in making a magazine is to show others your ideas if something is missing from the article such as the difficulty to remove a tattoo then send a message to the creater to tell them about it don't ever block someone elses ideas. it's simply another way to assert control
    P.S. im 17 i know i may seem rebelious and it may be that reason alone why i wrote this but please understand

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2009 @ 6:16am

    I don't know if this article is about blocking students from the internet or about not wanting kids to have tattoos, but I am figuring out what to do for 30 more minutes at the school, and all I searched on google was: "what to do on the internet while your bored at school" Don't try commenting on this comment b/c I wont be on this site again.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2009 @ 6:18am

    I don't know if this article is about blocking students from the internet or about not wanting kids to have tattoos, but I am figuring out what to do for 30 more minutes at the school, and all I searched on google was: "what to do on the internet while your bored at school" Don't try commenting on this comment b/c I wont be on this site again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    Nate, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 7:47am

    Lee Baker of CMLP is a self-declared "expert" on U.S. law. The only thing he knows a rat's ass about is cruising the gay bars. He is not a lawyer and he is not even a U.S. citizen. He is just a gay-boy from Toronto who does a great job of sucking cock! He is an expert in the fine art of oral manipulation. He should take his opinions on tattoos and inscribe them on the ass of his favorite law professor at Harvard. That's how he got his high faluting job of "legal analyst" at CMLP. What a joke this makes out of Harvard Law School and CMLP!

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Tommy Boy, Feb 11th, 2010 @ 5:06am

    Lee Baker of CMLP has slept with so many would-be lawyers and professors that he is notorious. If he doesn't have five sexually transmitted diseases by now he is the luckiest dude in the whole world. The only time I ever see Lee Baker is when he is cruising the gay bars. I am also gay, but I take precautions, do not prostitute myself to every man of every race and age, and do not pretend to be a "lawyer"! This is another indication of Lee's incredible stupidity. Everyone knows that Lee is flunking out of Harvard and is on his way back to Toronto. Give me a break!

     

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  44.  
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    Seth, Sep 15th, 2010 @ 1:32pm

    Lee Baker, formerly of CMLP, has left law school because he has decided he wants to work in the computer field. He has joined Anaara Media, run by Fuad Kamal. Fuad hired Lee Baker because Fuad Kamal is also a self-admitted gay and not afraid to employ other gays. I admire Lee Baker for admitting that he has no talent in the legal field and pursuing his real interest -- computers! Fuad Kamal may start out as Lee Baker's mentor but end up his lover! I hear Lee Baker is very feminine looking and usually plays the "woman" in all his relationships. This is just what Fuad wants as he is a very dominant sexual partner. Maybe Lee will finally settle down with Fuad and appreciate being dominated by an aggressive male. Fuad Kamal can be brutal in bed so I am warning Lee Baker! This is not unusual for a gay man such as Fuad who can no longer practice his religion of Islam because it does not tolerate homosexuality. Fuad Kamal was never really that religious anyway -- just a closet gay who finally came out!

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Joshua, Sep 10th, 2011 @ 1:38pm

    Lynn Adelman was hauled into a Milwaukee, Wisconsin courtroom recently for impersonating a lawyer. Lynn Adelman is actually retired and has serious mental impairment. His relatives say he has a progressive mental deterioration that may be Alzheimer's. This is very sad because Lynn Adelman was recently seen wandering the streets of Milwaukee, apparently unaware of his surroundings.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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