I noticed that the often-delightful-sometimes-frightful Boing Boing covered the story of the students who got busted for creating a video about a teddy bear’s planned attack on teacher who shared a resemblance to and the last name of one of the students’ actual teachers, an item I mentioned in April 2007. In the Boing Boing coverage, there’s a link to a putative trailer for the video, and a mention of some current news about the events.
Recap: Students made a movie about a teddy bear ordering other stuffed animals to kill teachers; teddy bear’s plot is thwarted by students. School officials suspended and then expelled the students during an investigation of the production of the video; school board upheld expulsions. Prosecuter determined there was no threat from video. Students sued about violation of their first-amendment rights. School board capitulated and paid damages and fees. The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression awarded the school board a golden muzzle for muffling free speech.
Now, the teacher who was the object of the plot is suing the students!
A math teacher whose name is used in a student film featuring an evil teddy bear that orders other stuffed animals to kill a teacher is suing the four children who made it, alleging it defamed him.
Daniel Clevenger’s lawsuit, filed May 16 in Henry Superior Court, is the second round of legal action related to the 78-minute film “The Teddy Bear Master.” Two months ago, school officials settled a federal lawsuit filed by three of the students to fight their expulsion from Knightstown Intermediate School.
This stuff is so whack you’d have a hard time dreaming it.
Anyway, Boing Boing caught wind of the trailer for the film and pointed to it, probably causing the views of the video on YouTube to skyrocket. It’s a Boing Boing hit!
Sadly, what’s overlooked is that this is a for-real first-amendment matter. Thanks to the TJ Muzzle that the school board got, that part won’t be forgetten. Too bad that the sensational part will be what’s more likely to be remembered, though.
Wouldn’t it be cool if Boing Boing picked up on some of the other outlandish abuses of the first amendment that the TJ Center documented? How about the school board of Miami-Dade (FL, US) that removed “children picture books from school libraries because the books were not sufficiently critical of life in Cuba under the Castro regime?” How about the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement that denied a beer distributor’s application to sell beers (e.g., “Santa’s Butt”) because it disapproved of the artwork on the beers’ labels? They’re Boing Boing misses.
- TJ Center muzzle awards to Miami-Dade County School Board for censoring children’s picture books, to the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement for protecting us from lewd beer labels, and to Charles A. Beard Memorial School Board of Knightstown (IN, US),/a> for infringing on the kids’ free speech in making the video.
- The AP coverage (via CNN) of the more recent suit in which the teacher is taking civil action against the kids.
- Boing Boing item that sparked this post.
- The trailer for the video.
- Meanwhile, the story is spreading through the blogs. Kudos to Shenlon’s (Ben Carlsen’s?) entry on Proprioception, Kristin Darguzas’ for her entry on Parent Dish, and the author of an entry from Cosmo Baby. They all went for the substance of the issue.