In Ohio, and possibly your state, school administrators must give students written notification before issuing a punishment. School officials in Hudson, Ohio failed to abide by this state law and therefore recently reversed the suspension of a 9-year-old student for writing a fortune cookie message that appeared to be violent.
The message was part of a class assignment to write a fortune-cookie message that was positive and fun. Karl Bauman abbreviated a phrase from a computer game by writing, “you will die with honor.” The actual computer game states, “Congratulations. You have died an honorable death.”
Following the suspension last month, Karl’s parents and the ACLU planned an appeal. This legal threat prompted school officials to reluctantly remove the suspension from Karl’s record.
Superintendent Joseph Siegferth said Tuesday that the reversal was granted on a technicality and “does not change or alter in any way the reason for suspension.”
The Superintendent must feel that the Columbine massacre gave him the right to censor students. The fortune cookie message may be morose but it is not a threat to any student.
The Superintendent simply dislikes violent video games and does not want students to play them or even refer to them. He probably would suspend students who simply were discussing kill techniques for a video game.
Now that school officials and politicians are using any means necessary to discourage people from playing video games, game companies should include the Constitution as an appendix in their manuals. School officials may try to claim that a video game conversation is disruptive speech and therefore not protected by the First Amendment, but it is unlikely that the courts would agree with them.