In 2007, an Indiana Court of Appeals overturned a decision of an Indiana Juvenile Court regarding the behavior of a female, middle school student, refered to as A.B. The Juvenile court found that posts to a MySpace page that were filled with obscenity, met the conditions of harassment as defined by Indiana Code 35-42-2-2(a)(4). The Court of Appeals, however, determined A.B.’s post to be protected as political speech under Indiana’s Constitution, Article 1, Section 9 (A.B. vs State, 863 N.E. 2d 1212 (2007)). The Indiana Supreme Court, however, in 2008, disagreed, to a degree. The higher court declined to view A.B.’s speech as political but determined that the state had failed to prove that the juvenile had intended to harass the alleged victim. A more detailed synopsis of this case can be found at the Citizen Media Law Project.
As I understand it, a different female juvenile, refered to as R.B., created a fake My Space page “as” her middle school principal. R.B. then invited several of her friends to become “friends” of the fictitious principal. A.B. accepted the invitation knowing full well that the principal (Mr. Gobert) was not the actual author of the profile. A.B. posted several obscene comments on the page. To compound matters, A.B. proceeded to create a MySpace Group called “Fuck Mr. Gobert & GC School”.
Mr. Gobert discovered the page after he had been informed by a student of a separate web page referencing assistant principal, Mr. Taylor. Mr. Gobert & Mr. Taylor had to go to great lengths in order to access the full contents of these sites.
In my opinion, none of the three courts correctly addressed this case. Wether definable as such by law, the behavior of these young ladies was “delinquent”, although not criminal. The use of terms such as “fuck”, “shit”, “bastard”, and “die …die” are indeed obscene and an abuse of the right of free speech.
A.B. takes the opportunity to rant about school policy and Mr. Gobert’s enforcement of that policy in one of her posts. However, each post must be viewed independently. From my understanding, several subsequent posts failed to include any “political” agenda. Additionally, the communication was not directed at Mr. Gobert. In fact, Mr. Gobert had to take extreme measures to be “harassed”. From the information provided us, it is also difficult to distinguish any injury to Mr. Gobert.