13-year old's Snapchat drinking binge is not protected speech

Originally published at: 13-year old's Snapchat drinking binge is not protected speech | Boing Boing


will and grace drinking GIF


Based on the article, the 13 year old was found by her mother black-out drunk- incoherent and barely conscious. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance.
Her mother is suing over a 45 day suspension from competing in games. Kid can still practice with her team. That mother has her priorities all fucked up. If that is on the list of items to be addressed at all, it should be way down at the bottom. Black-out drunk at.13?! Hospitalized because of alcohol?!

Edited to fix that the suspension is 45 days, not 45 games. Half the season.


Her future bar tabs will empty the family coffers!


Had I found myself in similar circumstances as a kid, my folks would have told me I got what I deserved and probably punished me further. Any talk of lawsuits or any of the such would have been immediately dismissed with prejudice.


“Back in my day…”

OH man - I sound so old. But yeah, if you survived the beating after be released from the hospital, then you would have been grounded a long damn time.


this looks like it will go up the food chain. sure, the kid should not be drinking so damn much. on the other hand, the school has limited avenues to punish students for speech / actions off of school grounds or activities. public school is a government entity and should be held accountable every time students rights are violated.


Somebody should put this to music or something:

The right to free speech protects the civilian against the state punishing them for the act of speech. Nothing more, any other consequence is still possible.


I don’t know if we have the whole story. Maybe the mother is trying to use the team as a positive factor in the girl’s life? Maybe the girl is rebelling and only listens to her coach?

Whatever the outcome, I hope the kid gets the help she needs before she turns into her mother.


Lets Go Reaction GIF


I don’t really understand what’s going on here - did the student cause harm to other students, or to the school, by her (admittedly horrible) behavior?

The article says “Citing a rule barring students from being under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, on or off campus, the district suspended N.C. from extracurricular activities for 45 days starting on the first day of the fall term, Aug. 16.”

If that was something that the student agreed to in order to be on the team, then it is understandable that she was suspended from game play. Or if her behavior was linked to a school event, or caused damage to other kids. But if that’s a rule for all students in the school, how can the school decide what people do outside of school AND in events that do not effect the school?

I’m not defending this kid’s behavior, I just am not comfortable if the school can write rules for your conduct in times/events/places that have nothing to do with school.


I don’t know about elsewhere, but in the US, a school district is considered the state and being kicked off of a sports team is considered a punishment. In this case, the question was a matter of “Is drinking (protected) speech?” And the answer was “No.”


Schools everywhere have some pretty broad rules covering things like “reputational harm”, “inciting behaviour”, with clauses stuck in like “students are responsible to the school, on or off campus, while school term is in session” and many more besides. Any school district will have a dozen or so such rules that give the school a fair amount of leeway, and the principal can pick and choose as they see fit.

Applying judgement to the student’s situation and what the school can reasonably deal with, and where bright lines of community expectation have been definitely crossed is just another part of the principal’s job.

[source: my father was a school principal who liked talking shop at the dinner table]


I’m wondering what kind of thing led to a 13-year old drinking drinking herself to oblivion at the urging from others? I’m really surprised Social Services isn’t looking into this.


Playing in the games may be considered an extra curricular activity that the schools have more ability to restrict.


Binge drinking isn’t speech…?


When I was a kid, we had a notoriously BAD football team. Like, 0-ALL bad. For three years, they were atrocious. Then, my senior year… they won a game! One game only. By forfeit (other team had to cancel last minute). So, what do you do when you’re so bad you can only win one game by forfeit?

The team promptly went to one of their homes and the majority of them proceeded to have a drunken party to celebrate the win.

This was off campus, on their own time. The party was eventually broken up by the cops. No one was arrested, but it was pretty widely known what happened and who was there. Everyone was suspended for a week and kicked off the team. The agreement every athlete who participated in sports signed listed drinking as an absolutely forbidden thing. I’m sure a lot of them were punished by parents, too. I doubt anyone even dreamed of suing the school. There was no more football that year (I note though that in recent years, the team has been state champions, so apparently they got a better coach!).

So, I’m interested to find out what will happen here when/if the parent appeals. If your speech off school grounds is considered protected, even if you’re under 18 (and please note we make LOTS of exceptions for Constitutional protections of children, so I found that ruling a bit of a surprise), then how could they possibly police your drinking. But I’m sure lots of adults in that community will see this as fundamentally a different issue, even though it’s really not. A morality clause is a morality clause is a morality clause. And the way we deal with them judicially is all over the map.

Beyond that, mom needs to get her head out of her ass and get her child help. Suing the school seems the wrong way to spend your money when your kid’s drunken Snapchat moment is a desperate cry for help.


I never would have survived the beating.

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Anyone can sue, winning the case is the hard part.

If this happened in my household. .

Kid: Mom, Dad, I messed up
Mom and Dad: Yes you did, and now you have to pay the price. Suck it up buttercup.


In our modern world, it’s vitally important to have The Conversation with kids even earlier.

  • When doing something stupid, controversial, or illegal, never provide undeniable proof that you did it.
  • Be aware of where the security cameras are.
  • There are always security cameras.