Are they “douchebags”?

Yes, they are.

I’m usually not a big fan of name-calling, though I have been guilty of it more than a few times. But the story of Avery Doninger struck me as pretty ridiculous. Doninger, a high school student at the time, referred to school officials as “douchebags” in a blog post after they basically forced the cancellation of an event she had planned at the school. They did so on the day the event was supposed to occur.

As punishment for her blog post (made in her own time off campus), she was prohibited from running for student government. Her friends, who wore “Team Avery” T-shirts to support her, were prohibited from doing so. Read about the whole thing here.

I was pretty much a goody-two shoes in high school. I didn’t rock the boat, didn’t make trouble—at least not intentionally (I do have a couple things I regret, but that’s for a different medium than this blog). Avery Doninger doesn’t seem to mind so much. Not that she intended to go to the Supreme Court when she made that blog post, but her work after the administration reacted is something to admire, I think. She sued, saying that her free speech rights were violated by those school officials. All for one blog post. And now, it looks like that case might go to the Supreme Court.

I don’t know about the merits of the case. Doninger might need to face consequences for her actions (of course, she’s now long gone from high school, so it’s mostly about the principle of the thing), just as most of us could face consequences for things we say, in whatever place they appear. But forget the case for a second. The officials might be legally right, but they’re in the wrong about this in all other respects. This isn’t the right way to treat a student. It’s not the right way for an adult, an educational professional, to behave. So, in this case, I think I will affirm Doninger’s assessment of those school officials. They are “douchebags”, and Avery Doninger was right to say so.

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3 Responses to “Are they “douchebags”?”
  1. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on TV, but it’s my understanding that the US Supreme Court have pretty much made schools a free-speech-free zone, at least where school newspapers are concerned. By which I mean that school administrators have been given pretty free rein to muzzle the student press. Let’s hope that the justices view this case differently.

    • Christian says:

      It’s interesting in that regard, though. These statements were made off-campus, which has traditionally been protected speech, since a 1979 decision that basically affirmed that. The school’s argument is that, given the prevalence of social media and the Internet, even speech made off-campus can be so disruptive to the school that it can be curtailed. Logically, the school has a good argument, but I disagree. I also think the law as it stands now (I, too, am no lawyer) would protect her speech, but the appeals court doesn’t think so.

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  1. […] my friend (and UU minister) Christian Schmidt has started blogging. you are missing out on some excellent writing and musings if you are not subscribing to his blog. Yes, they are. I'm usually not a big fan of name-calling, though I have been guilty of it more than a few times. But the story of Avery Doninger struck me as pretty ridiculous. Doninger, a high school student at the time, referred to school officials as "douchebags" in a blog post after they basically forced the cancellation of an event she had planned at the school. They did so on the day the event was supposed to occur. As punishment for her bl … Read More […]



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