The pictures were exactly what you'd expect from a European summer vacation: Cafes in Italy and Spain, the Guinness brewery in Ireland. So 24-year-old Ashley Payne, a public high school English teacher in Georgia, was not prepared for what happened when her principal asked to see her in August 2009.
"He just asked me, 'Do you have a Facebook page?'" Payne said. "And you know, I'm confused as to why I am being asked this, but I said, 'Yes.' And he said, 'Do you have any pictures of yourself up there with alcohol?'"
In fact, the picture that concerned the principal - showing Payne holding a glass of wine and a mug of beer - was on her Facebook page. There was also a reference to a local trivia contest with a profanity in its title.
Payne was told a parent of one of her students called to complain. And then, Payne says, she was given a choice: resign or be suspended.
"He told me that I needed to make a decision before I left, or he was going to go ahead and suspend me," she said.
She resigned. Attorney Richard Storrs is fighting to get Payne's job back.
"It would be like I went to a restaurant and I saw my daughter's teacher sitting there with her husband having a glass of some kind of liquid," Storr said. "You know, is that frowned upon by the school board? Is that illegal? Is that improper? Of course not. It's the same situation in this case."
But here's the really troubling part: Payne had used the privacy settings on Facebook. She thought that only her closest friends could see her vacation photos or her use of the "B" word.
"I wouldn't use it in a classroom, no," she said. "But Facebook is not the classroom. And it's not open to the students of my classroom. They are not supposed to see it. I have privacy in place so they don't see it."
Monday, February 07, 2011
This country's insane puritanism
Have we completely lost our collective mind? Just look at this:
The rest of the article is, indeed about privacy. And that's an issue to be concerned about - yes, indeed.
But leaving that aside for a moment, what I want to ask is this: What on earth is wrong with a grown-up having beer and wine on vacation? It just boggles my mind.
The article is entitled "Did the Internet Kill Privacy" and it's posted on the CBS website.