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In Defense of the Editor Who Reported Teacher's Dirty Net Comments

kurt-greenbaumA teacher who was spending the school day online posting vulgar comments on a local newspaper’s website has lost his job. So why is everyone mad at the editor who turned him in to school officials?

Kurt Greenbaum of the St. Louis Post Dispatch e-mailed the school when he noticed the it was the source linked to a commenter who had repeatedly tried posting a dirty word for part of the female anatomy.

The posting was part of a water cooler discussion on “strangest thing you’ve ever eaten,” Greenbaum said in a blog post about his decision to report the comment. According to his story, the comments started showing up mid-morning, and when he identified the IP address as belonging to the school, he called them.

They asked him to forward on the automatic e-mail created by the paper’s WordPress. The school’s headmaster called back six hours to say they’d confronted the teacher, and he resigned.

Which still doesn’t explain why everyone is up in arms at Greenbaum. Post after post attacks the Post-Dispatch’s social media editor as do numerous articles.

They say he overstepped. They’ve called for his resignation.

What about the guy who was violating the terms of service on the Post-Dispatch blog site? Not to mention doing it during work hours? And on a school computer?

By alerting the school, Greenbaum wasn’t telling on a teacher so much as he was warning the district that their IP address had been flagged for a violation. It could just as easily have been a student, in which case the district would be aware that students were posting inappropriate conduct on the net during school hours.

It turned out it was a teacher. Even worse. He’s old enough to know how inappropriate the consequences of his actions are. Not to mention he’s a teacher – he should know what’s appropriate DURING school hours. As a teacher, you have to think about what a student sees if he or she is standing behind you in the school. If he was doing it after school (like the teacher with the “b-word” on her personal Facebook page), he’s just a bit of a creep – but not doing anything that should get him in trouble. They can have lives.

When you go online, people like to assume anonymity, but those pesky terms of service get in the way. This teacher agreed to them when he posted on someone’s site. He gave up the right to defend himself for doing something not appropriate or work related on company time.

So who’s right here?

Image: Inquisitor

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