Opinion: Potential NC law protects teachers, suffocates students

Kaitlin Newkirk

Abbi Pittman

Kaitlin NewkirkHow many times have you made a Facebook status complaining about a teacher?

If you’re anything like my friends, I’m going to guess a lot.

But now, be careful which words you choose, because a new law proposed in North Carolina could get you fined $1,000 or sent to jail.

According to NBC News, the law would prohibit students from building a “fake profile or website” for their teacher using social media sites, posting a “real or doctored image” of the teacher or posting inflammatory remarks about teachers online.

Seriously? Social media was created both as a tool to stay connected and a forum for our thoughts, ideas and personalities.

We have a right to say what we want on our Facebook page and not be afraid of consequences, as long as it’s not crossing the line from venting our frustrations into cyber bullying.

But posting a real image of a teacher? How is that legitimate?

NBC News reports that the law states that students who “torment,” “intimidate” and “threaten” are eligible to be fined or arrested.

But where is the line drawn?

When language goes to such an extreme that a professional’s reputation and job are on the line, that’s when direct action needs to be taken against the student.

Posting doctored pictures and creating fake profiles online is an issue.

That’s fair.

But posting a Facebook status isn’t.

If you make a status that says, “Man, I could really kill my teacher right now!” Is that really a threat? Was it intimidating?

There is no clear line that says what is and is not allowed. Judging what is “threatening” or “intimidating” is extremely subjective, and that could strongly impose on our freedom of speech.

Students can’t know what they are allowed to say anymore. That is the real crime.

Especially when Facebook is such a commonly used outlet for students’ frustrations.

Teachers are not even supposed to friend their students on Facebook anyway, so how would they ever see inflammatory statuses or remarks?

And how will this potential law affect our privacy? Who is monitoring these students? Would the privacy terms and conditions of sites such as Facebook and Twitter be violated?

There are just too many unanswered questions in the terms of this law.

Legislators need to clearly define what is and isn’t a problem and how it will be enforced.

There is a fine line between protecting and downright suffocating people.

So let’s not cross it, shall we?

Newkirk, A junior English major from Wilmington, is an opinion writer.