Free Speech

Internet Deplorer

Student speech rules


Last summer North Carolina legislators made it a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail or a $1,000 fine, for any student to use a computer with the "intent to intimidate or torment" school employees. 

Activities covered by the law include creating a fake profile, signing school employees up for spam mail or onto a pornographic site, publishing doctored or undoctored photos, or making a "statement, whether true or false, intending to immediately provoke, and that is likely to provoke, any third party to stalk or harass a school employee." Sarah Preston, policy director with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, worries that the lack of definitions for terms such as intent and torment could "chill free speech," giving police prosecutors too much discretion and "invit[ing] arbitrary enforcement" that "could punish factually true statements."