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Outrage Of The Week

Friday, February 13, 2009

This week's outrage comes from Beaver Dam, Wis., where Beaver Dam school officials placed middle school teacher Betsy Ramsdale on administrative leave, following the discovery of a photograph of the teacher with a firearm on the teacher's personal "Facebook" page. A "concerned" staff member at the school where Ramsdale works brought the photo to the attention of school district officials. 

WKOWTV.com reported last week that schools superintendent, Donald Childs, was "unaware of any sinister intent on the teacher's part," and said the use of the photo "appears to be poor judgment." 

Poor judgment?  An argument could be made that pointing a firearm directly at the camera may be considered poor judgment; certainly if a photographer—and not a tripod—was on the other side of the camera.  But simply posing for a picture with a firearm and posting the picture on your personal webpage is not a crime.  In and of itself, posting such a picture should certainly not be cause for alarm, let alone disciplinary action. 

If Ramsdale had posted a picture of a close friend or relative who happened to be a soldier stationed in Iraq, and who happened to be posing in the field with his rifle, should we bring in the school counselors?  If she posted a picture of Roy Rogers or John Wayne toting their six-shooters, should we call the police?  And what if she had posed for a picture in a Formula One racecar?  Would school officials then worry about her speeding on her way to school and the bad safety message that would convey?  No, no, and, no.  Such irrational and paranoid rushes to judgment would simply defy common sense. 

Ramsdale said she "removed the photo immediately" and that she is "not interested in any controversy."

Unfortunately, she can't avoid the controversy.  She's in the middle of another case of overzealous enforcement trumping common sense.  That's outrageous. 

If you see something that you feel would be a good candidate for the "Outrage of the Week!" section, please send it to:  [email protected].  Please be sure to send additional background and citations where available.

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