Tuesday, November 13, 2012

D.C. Daily: November 13, 2012

Both houses return today from their month-long recess for the campaign season. The Senate will convene at 2:00 PM and will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 3525, the "Sportsmen's Act of 2012". At 5:30 PM, the Senate will take a roll call vote on the motion (cloture on the motion to proceed to consideration of the bill was invoked prior to the recess on September 21.)

The House will also convene at 2:00 PM. The House will consider four bills under suspension:
  • H.R. 6190, the "Asthma Inhalers Relief Act of 2012".
  • H.R. 6371, the "Streamlining Claims Processing for Federal Contractor Employees Act".
  • S. 1956, the "European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011".
  • H.R. 6586, to extend the application of certain space launch liability provisions through 2014.
The House Rules Committee will meet today to consider H.R. 6156, the "Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act of 2012".

Morning Media: November 13, 2012

Bill Whittle returns to the site with a great Afterburner, analyzing what the reelection of Obama really means:

Chris Matthews explains his love for Sandy:

And we finally have an explanation for the end of the Mayan calendar:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Destroying Freedom: Teachers and Facebook

I am starting a new series of posts today titled "Destroying Freedom". These posts will highlight ways that our freedoms are being taken away from us. This will not be a feature that appears every day, but it will appear as I find stories regarding the topic.

Today's topic deals with a teacher's post on Facebook. After last week's election, Sharon Aceta, a teacher at Rawlinson Road Middle School in Rock Hill, South Carolina, posted this on her personal Facebook page:
Congrats Obama. As one of my students sang down the hallway, 'We get to keep our fooood stamps'...which I pay for because they can't budget their money...and really, neither can you.
Aceta was suspended for one day for a violation of the school's social media policy, but school officials say she will probably not face any additional disciplinary action.

h/t The Huffington Post

My take:
Places of employment have the right to institute policies for their employees, and the employees can choose to live with the policies or seek employment elsewhere. However, a public school is a government-run institution which is expected to abide by the provisions laid out in the US Constitution and the South Carolina Constitution.

Too often, policies in any workplace (not just government-run organizations) fail to keep up with emerging technologies. A "social media policy" would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, but it is a reality in just about every workplace today. In many cases, these policies are intentionally left vague so that they can--at a person's discretion--cover a large variety of potential problems.

Did this teacher violate a social media policy? Without seeing the policy, it is difficult to tell. However, even if she did violate a specific written policy, I do not believe that a teacher should be punished for an expression of her political views. Freedom of speech is a right guaranteed by both constitutions, and it should only be restricted when the speech has the potential to do harm. A person may disagree with the views expressed in the post, but the post does no harm to the students or the school. (If she had mentioned a particular student by name, I would agree that there are potential privacy violations present, but since no name was mentioned, this would not apply.)

Furthermore, it is difficult to find anything false in her post. First, what her students are singing down the hallway may not be verifiable, but I heard similar statements from students who rode my bus. Second, if she pays taxes, a portion of her tax money goes to the food stamp program, so she is paying for the food stamps. Third, it is simple to verify that Obama cannot budget the government's money: the Senate (controlled by his own party) has refused to pass a budget for over three years, and Obama's last two budgets have been so ridiculous that they were defeated by unanimous votes. The only item mentioned the could potentially be false is the claim that the people on food stamps cannot budget their money. While this is probably true in most cases, there may be a few people who do make an effort to stick to a budget but have fallen on hard times.

If a teacher is posting her political opinion with a statement that is not blatantly false and does no harm to the school or her students, the school has no basis on which to suspend her. Educational institutions supposedly pride themselves in promoting diversity and free thinking, but it appears that diversity of political thought is frowned upon in education. Yes, some (including the Huffington Post article's author) may view this post as "offensive", but there is no Constitutional "right to not be offended". There is, however, a right to free speech, and that right should be defended by our government, not infringed upon.

Morning Media: November 12, 2012

Yesterday was Veterans Day. The always eloquent Allen West offered this tribute to our veterans:

Student Obama is asking for more time to finish his homework:

And finally, one more tribute to our veterans: