Student Suspended For Posting Cartoons on Youtube

Jack Christie, a Canadian high-school student, makes Youtube cartoons that could be characterized as slightly offensive.  After all, they include cursing and some crude jokes about cocaine and pedophilia.  But since there are lots of cartoons like these on the internet, they didn’t seem particularly noteworthy — until Christie’s school administrators discovered them.  At this point, they were deemed so troubling that Christie was sent home and suspended.  He was given a choice: take the videos down or face a police investigation.  Christie refused, and is saying that schoo officials are violating his freedom of speech.

“They’ve unfairly judged me and judged my character based on something I made for entertainment,” he said. “I have the right to post videos on the Internet on my own time.”

Christie made the videos as part of his politics and economics courses.  According to the Globe and Mail, they “feature an animated representation of himself leading a pair of kids on adventures and purporting to explain various subjects, such as politics and corporate whistle-blowing.”  His teacher said that he had no problem with the content — and indeed, nobody seemed to find the videos offensive until Christie put them on Youtube.

Other students are angered by Christie’s removal from school.  And a civil-liberties advocate quoted in the Globe and Mail piece said that it’s unclear how extensively schools can regulate students’ off-campus activities.  “You might tell a student that it is offensive, but I don’t think I would go so far as to suspend or to demand students apologize or take it down,” he said.

Christie, meanwhile, is continuing to speak out, despite the fact that the school might not allow him to go to his prom.  In a video posted on Youtube recently, he asserts his rights to the school board (the video is accessible here, but I’m not embedding it here because it has some strong language).  In it, Christie as a cartoon avatar explains somewhat gleefully that all the attention is just making him more popular, and says,

“I have the right to say and advertise whatever … I want, and I hope that today’s bunch of 17- and 18-year-olds are smart enough to understand that it’s all comedy and nothing more.”

It certainly seems like school officials overreated on this one – and as Anna North points out on Jezebel, “If their biggest worry is having YouTube commenters find out that their teenage students are irreverent and enjoy cursing, they might want to adjust their priorities.”  Seems sensible to me!

 

Photo from Editor B's Flickr photostream.

80 comments

Sarah M.
Sarah M.4 years ago

If these videos were made as a part of his school assignment, as the article suggests, than of course he should have been suspended. If they had not been however, suspending him for something he did outside of school would be ridiculous.

Lika S.
Lika S.5 years ago

Another thing I was thinking, I went to his you tube, and he is very "in your face" about what he puts in his video. I'm suspecting that this isn't your usual rebellious teen, this kid has possible anger issues, and if he's calling pedophilia a free speech issue, I'm wondering if he'd been assaulted as a child himself, by an adult? Maybe this guy needs help. Just thinking outloud...

Lika S.
Lika S.5 years ago

Since when the heck is pedophilia "free speech"?

April's Law - please sign the petition. Our children's safety is NOT open for debate, and we need to keep our children safe from sex predators on and offline.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/worldwide-petition-for-aprils-law-in-the-us/

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal5 years ago

A bit much for my taste...

kenneth m.
kenneth m.5 years ago

Lock him up. Pervert. I don't want any kids seeing this filth

dawn w.
Dawn W.5 years ago

Please forgive my ignorance,I don't know anything about Canada's rights or freedom of speech.But it seems wrong to punish this kid for his self-expression outside of school.Hope he wins the fight.

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado5 years ago

So sad about the decision to suspend this student.

clara H.
Clara Hamill5 years ago

How dare they stifle his creativity. It might be sick or horrible but if he didn't do it at school then they have no right to say anything.

Patrick F.
Patrick f.5 years ago

Jack Christie for Prime Minister!

Anne-Marie V.
Anne-Marie Vogl5 years ago

Thank-you Adrian for re-inforcing the message of how important it is to lock our doors securely against the horrors of a lost and confused world...

My Doors Are Locked...

Adrian, Are Yours???...