For years I have been telling legislators we are not school board members, yet some still don’t appear to understand. It is not unusual for a state legislator to start in a local office before going to the state house, but we must always be mindful of the responsibilities that accompany the respective jurisdictions. Through the years I have seen many disappointing bills emerge from the Republican majority having the effect of curtailing our first amendment rights, but the one that passed this year is especially problematic.
Do you want your government to control who can be friends on Facebook? The bill passed would make it illegal to communicate if you are a teacher, a student or a former student wanting to send messages to each other. This was based on a presumption that the teachers might be tempted to molest their students. F.Y.I., child molestation comes from having an evil heart, not from Facebook. People have been molesting children since before the internet was invented and unfortunately perversions will likely continue regardless of how many new laws are passed. The best safeguard for children is vigilant parents. We must confront the existence of bad actors in this world, but their repugnant behavior demands far more than merely another layer of laws.
The Democrats tend to be more philosophically inclined to trust government to solve our problems, so if they were in the majority, the passage of this bill would not be too surprising. However, with the Republicans in charge, many who publicly claim to adhere to their party platform which pushes personal responsibility and limited government, this is a disappointing assault to our freedoms. The passage of this bill serves as one more example that the legislators from both parties have lost touch with the real world outside of the Capitol. Both the House and the Senate passed the bill unanimously.
When I first heard the legislature was prohibiting Facebook friendships, I thought it was one of those “unintended consequences” that happened by accident. It was sandwiched into a larger bill that dealt with sexual predators. This is a classic example of why a bill should not be passed if it is only a “little bit bad”. The good can be repealed later, but the bad stays forever. The legislature used this special session to pass a correction bill. However, instead of repealing the Facebook provision entirely, they made a modification.
The new bill requires all school districts to establish written policies pertaining to Facebook and social media friendships. It still grows government bigger by not respecting the jurisdictions and duties of the school boards. The legislators who passed it still have an assumption that our school districts are not capable of knowing how to run our schools without the state telling them how to do so. The question is not whether the schools should have policies. The question is why the state thinks local school boards are incapable of running their schools in the manner they see fit.
If the legislature didn’t have enough egg on their faces yet, now a lawsuit has been filed by the Ladue school district questioning the legitimacy of the new modification of the law.
The lawsuit was filed because a parent could not communicate with her child on Facebook— because the parent was a school teacher and the child was a student.
Not too long ago, many people viewed the judicial system as a threat to the lawmaking capacity of the legislature. After what has happened with this misguided bill, the judicial branch of government may be able to offer relief from a law that is unconstitutional. Thank you, judges, for upholding our freedom of speech. It is comforting to know that some are trying to protect our first amendment rights. *
“Congress was broadcast live on Facebook for the first time in history. Now you can waste time and not get work done by watching Congress waste time and not get work done.” – Jimmy Fallon