There is a disturbing case out of Illinois where a teenage boy has been arrested for posting his ranking of 50 female students at Oak Park-River Forest High School in Oak Park, Illinois “by their sexual characteristics and alleged sexual behaviors” and posting it on Facebook. It is another example of the criminalization of our society and raises serious first amendment questions.
Prosecutors charge that the listing ranked the girls “by explicit, derogatory nicknames and assessed their physical appearance, sexual desirability, sexual activity and other characteristics.” He used a point scale to rank the girls. He printed out the listed and passed them out in addition to the posting on Facebook. Clearly, any students who hands out such obnoxious lists is properly subject to discipline in the school. He was ultimately expelled from the school. However, the prosecutors took the act of boorish, unacceptable behavior and made it a crime.
Oak Park Police Detective Commander. LaDon Reynolds, found that such conduct warranted a charge of “disorderly conduct.” One father, Dale Jones, father of one of the girls, is quoted as saying that even this charge is insufficient and that they want more criminal charges to be brought against the boy.
Charging obnoxious postings as a crime threatens free speech and would allow prosecutors and police to arbitrarily select out particular messages or authors for prosecution.