The Christian Blog KGB : 2006-08-23
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The Christian Law Association wants Christian schools to put the hammer down on student web activity, especially blogs. I recently came across their suggested school policy:
STUDENT WEBSITES

Any student who decides to operate a personal online website or contributes to a blog must register the website/blog with the pastoral staff. (Ex.: myspace.com, blogger.com, etc.) The website must be registered immediately upon its creation. Any student who creates a website or blog prior to attending the Academy must register the website/blog as soon as he/she is accepted as a student. All websites/blogs will be monitored for content on a regular basis. Any student, including home school students, found with an unregistered website/blog or website/blog material that is deemed inappropriate to the purpose and mission of the Academy will be in direct disobedience to this ruling and will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including immediate ineligibility to attend the Academy.
Is it just me, or does this sound like Big Brother run amok? I'm not for unfettered free speech in a private school--the school does have rights, after all, but what about the students? Commenting is definitely contributing to a blog. If I'm a student and I post on six new blogs in a day as I'm surfing the net, I have to "register" each one? Notice that a student may be expelled for posting to an unregistered blog even if the comments are deemed appropriate. Want to get rid of an irritating student? Catch her posting an innocuous comment to an unregistered site and she's history.

If I was a student and informed of this policy, my first thought would be that I was going to start posting comments on about 50 new sites a day. Happy regular monitoring, Big Brother! A full-time web monitor (and how many schools can afford that?) spending four minutes per site can monitor 120 sites per eight-hour day. Five students posting on five new sites per day will completely overload the monitor before the first week is up.

Yes, I confess that may be a bad attitude, but what's next? Web browsing logs turned in as homework? Comprehensive reporting of music listening and TV viewing? If I write a song or poem, would I have to turn it in to the school for approval before sharing it with my friends? Why is the web singled out for iron-clad control of expression?

This is typical lawyer overkill. Why not simply state that any student found to be disseminating inappropriate material (websites, blogs, flyers, pamphlets, etc.) will be subject to disciplinary action at the administration's discretion? That would be more comprehensive, but less insulting and less KGB-like. Forcing people to register sounds like the communist approach--CLA is very patriotic and anti-communist, so why promote commie-style regulation, especially when the threatened regular monitoring is totally untenable?



5 comments for The Christian Blog KGB

1. Devil's Advocate Email Web 2006-08-29  1:11pm

While the policy itself might be a little draconian, I understand the perspective that they're coming from. Across the internet day after day, young Christians post dogmatic posts that are seasoned neither by wisdom nor experience. There are no nuances; there is little to no humility. Ultimately, they give a black eye to organizations they represent. (For example, seminary students who post without considering the full impact of their words do damage to the reputations of their seminaries.)

I suppose the goal of the CLA is to make sure that there is an accountability measure built into their student code of conduct for what their students post on the Internet.


2. Randy Email Web 2006-08-29  3:53pm

DA, you're totally right that they're building in accountability. I just think they're going about it wrong. It's like saying you can kick students out if they speed--okay, but just how do you monitor that unless they get a ticket? You can't monitor all student comments, so why make a policy that's impossible to enforce? My suggested rule can at least be implemented, and doesn't punish "good" students like the above policy manages to do.


3. Travis Seitler Email Web 2006-08-30  7:11am

So let me see if I've got this straight: a bunch of Christian lawyers are telling Christian schools to implement this policy... to avoid lawsuits?

And if a school doesn't enforce such a policy, will they now be less likely to receive support from the CLA if/when such a lawsuit comes down the pipe?

If the policy were limited only to those websites accessed through the school's computers, it would at least be a little more understandable. Still, like you said, there's far too much room for abuse here (on the part of the school administration), and this just smacks of CYA.


4. amy.k Email Web 2006-09-15  8:52am

Grr. I commented and forgot to enter the 5. Dangit.

Basically, the way I figure it, policies ought to be up to individual schools. If institutions choose to set and (try to) implement policies which are blatant attempts to control their students rather than train them in righteousness, I can choose to go elsewhere.

But were a policy like this one to be enforced in all private insitutions seeking the help or backing of the CLA, it would do less to train and more to stifle. And the students metriculating from those institutions would, without major counseling in a different direction, become one of two things: bitterly, resentfully compliant people with no idea how to have much less express their own beliefs and opinions, lest they be expelled from life; OR enraged, anarchus citizens out to destroy the institutions like the one that destroyed them and their sensibility.

When it boils down, policies like this give parents two choices: they can send their children into a debauched public school system, or into an overly controlling and stifling private school system. And neither situation is particularly conducive to the development of godly, well-balanced and well-educated citizens.


5. Randy Email Web 2006-09-15  8:59am

Sorry about the number, Amy, but it's saved me hours a week in removing vulgar and obnoxious spam. Maybe I can keep a copy in the text box if you forget once.

I basically agree with you (surprise!). Balance is so hard to find, and unenforceable controlling policies are not the solution.


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