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RE: Statement from Student Expelled for Recommending Web Proxy at School


RE: Statement from Student Expelled for Recommending Web Proxy at School
by Rattle at 5:03 pm EST, Feb 10, 2004

Elonka wrote:
] He went up before a review board today, and read them a
] statement (linked below). After hearing the statement, the
] board then voted unanimously to make the expulsion permanent.

A few snips of his statement:

The school is simply a holding pen for those too young to work. Security cameras dot the halls, police officers prowl like hungry pigs, and the student handbook bans such things as "unauthorized reading material." Personal and intellectual freedoms are suppressed to an extent that the student body has for the most part given in to either a drug induced apathy, or a happy obedience. ... Dundee crown, of corse, has a web filter. I do not appreciate this. ... With all of my school's clear problems, why did I focus on combating censorship of the internet? Probably because I saw freedom of information as the main source of social progress, because essays from noted libertarians like Herbert Marcuse, Eric Raymond, and Noam Chomsky were some of the material the school had been censoring, and I saw real change potentially locked away in words the school library wouldn't stock.

In short, this kid is more concerned with being right then being in trouble. That might have been noble if this was the courts he was dealing with, but its not, its his school district. High School is not the real world. Its even more unfair.

To any of the young haxors out there.. When it comes to your school, worry about your ass first, then saving the world second. Not because saving the world is less important, but because you are not in a position to fight for anything and get anywhere. As far as the school is concerned, you don't have any rights. The1 might not be too far off with his impression of the school district, but you can see where being blunt about the situation got him. There are good reasons why you address judges as "Your Honor", police as "Officer", and don't tell your school board they are a bunch of idiots. You treat the people who hold the axe over your head with respect, otherwise regardless of the virtues of your case, you will not attain your desired outcome. I'm getting the impression The1 was in cocky haxor mode, spitting a constant stream of the standard radical philosophy you get from a teenage hacker who's only as far into into digesting most of this information as age will allow. (Not far) We were all there once, drilling one political perspective or another. We all had maybe one or two things half right.

It sounds to me like he decided to fight a losing battle, with a very bad strategy. Its all damage control now. The legal end of this should get him back in school, but its going to cost his family a lot of money and its sure as hell not going to right any of the wrongs he is concerned with.

Hehe.. For one, I would have suggested replacing Chomsky with Barlow, and "libertarians" with "civil libertarians" (or something like that). The last thing you want to do in front of your school board is look like a radical. (The1, take note: You want to appear as a "moderate" and "reasonable" to people in positions of power. This is achieved not by changing your opinions, but rather adjusting your approach.) It sounds like he thought he was presenting in front of the high school version of the supreme court. It doesn't work that way. This wasn't his opportunity to argue the case for freedom of expression and knowledge transfer, it was the last opportunity to eat crow and get out of a disciplinary situation. No school policy was going to be changed because of a hacker armed with a copy of SSH, a home proxy/server, a Chomsky book, and a bad attitude.

] I have my own thoughts on the efficacy of the statement, but
] I'll leave it to you to make up your own minds.

I don't want to seem like I'm bashing him.. :) I understand how frustrating his situation has got to be. I would have been using my web proxy and telling my friends about it too. I was all up in my school's computer gear. I had the same shitty attitude.

Is he getting screwed? Definitely. We know he wasn't doing anything really wrong. Good for him, having the knowledge to subvert systems that limit his open quest for knowledge. I applaud that. However, herein lies a lesson or two about the wrong way to apply that knowledge.

What he was doing wrong was (excessively) bucking the authority of his school. It appears he broke school policies multiple times, did his best to skirt around all their rules, and was being as obvious and cocky about it as possible. They really hate that. They hate it even more when there are technical elements involved that they don't understand. This is an old problem. As someone else with a history of trouble making for authorities, I admire the intrepid spirit, but the complete lack of tact isn't something I can provide a defense for. Speech is speech, action is not speech. The1 was taking actions that broke the rules and then telling others how to do the same actions. The speech element may have been what the school points to as the final straw, but that's not enough to make any kind of free speech defense, and then turn it around and apply it to his actions.

The clincher is that he's in high school. He doesn't have any speech rights to begin with. If this wasn't a high school situation, it would be different. A college library, a public library, etc. Here, he wasn't in a position to do anything other then get into trouble.

Finally, the school. Since we are only hearing one side of this, its hard to tell much. Either this kid is completely unreasonable or the school handled this in the worst possible way. I'm guessing they see these as "problem children" rather then "gifted children". It makes you wonder, if this was a kid who had a horrible attitude but excelled past the rest of the school in math, would he be getting expelled? Computers, engineering, or whatever this shows seems to be lost on them. This kid drops some crypto and gets hit harder then for some violent crimes. It _is_ stupid. There are better ways to handle these situations.

RE: Statement from Student Expelled for Recommending Web Proxy at School

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