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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Consequences of a digital world.

Aka, ‘Reply All’ claims another one. Whoever invents the “Are you SURE you want to send that?” reminder slash *last line of career defense fail safe* will be chilling on a beach somewhere with the hotel clothes hanger guy.

In this social networking age, after all we know... strike that: after all you’d think people would know by now, comes another story of Reply All remorse. I heard this story on the radio over the weekend about a high school soccer coach in Cheshire, CT being the latest victim of this horrible affliction.*

After I listened to a law professor discuss some of the implications on a local call-in show, it highlights a few problems with living a digital life in the real world.

First, the background. Girl’s soccer team captain Molly Dupont was suspended from her team for underage drinking at a private party away from school grounds. Oops. That infraction warranted an automatic 3-week (or 6-game) suspension as stipulated by an extensive policy on the school’s website, as well as a contract signed by both student and parent. Since the punishment came near the end of the season, she was in effect done for the year.

Cue outraged parents in this *sleepy* well-to-do gateway to New England.

Through a series of subsequent email exchanges with parents, the coach, Tony Crane, expressed disapproval with the school’s policies. Oops part two, because it was that email where he replied to all – including a local reporter previously contacted by a parent. School officials subsequently became aware of the coach’s view and *offered* him the opportunity to step down.

School – 2, Coach & player – 0

This opens up a Wiki’s worth of societal issues in what appears at first glance to be just another case of poor judgement, but isn’t. I’m paraphrasing most of the discussion and subsequent points it raised along with a few of my own thoughts at the end:

– When it comes to netiquette, people still have a long way to go in terms of awareness over even the most basic of things.

– So too with personal responsibility, as many teens and parents still feel they’re above the rules, putting winning ahead of punishment. She was the captain of a team. She was underage. She drank when she knew she wasn’t supposed to. Deal.

– Few reporters turn down legally obtained information, but shouldn’t they have at least asked the coach to confirm what he said?

– At what point does a coach’s personal views expressed away from school property not remain protected free speech? (It was pointed out that while free speech is protected, the First Amendment does not guarantee you a job if an employer requires your loyalty.)

– How does the punishment of the coach for an arguably lesser offense exceed that of the student? 3 weeks vs. a damaged career and potential blackballing from other jobs?

– That said, how does a coach condone underage drinking if they disagree with school policy?

Messy, innit.


*Ask your systems admin if Replay All is right for you.

1 comment:

Woot said...

notice how nobody wants to post their immediate reaction to this story? busy weighing up the consequences of each word, i guess.

expect a real comment once i've ran it past my lawyer :o)