Fun_People Archive
6 Jun
Student Loses Scholarship. We All Lose A Little Freedom

Date: Tue,  6 Jun 95 00:55:55 PDT
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: Student Loses Scholarship.  We All Lose A Little Freedom

[This stinks.  (So what else is new?)  It's always a tricky affair when the
not-too-bright people are put in charge of the too-bright...  -psl]

Forwarded-by: bostic@CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Bostic)
Forwarded-by: Margo Seltzer <>
Forwarded-by: Matthew Saroff <msaroff@MOOSE.ERIE.NET>

Student Loses Scholarship. We All Lose A Little Freedom
	-- by Jim Crawley, editor

Paul Kim may be the first person ever to have his own home page on the
World Wide Web censored. The 17-year-old high school senior lost his
National Merit scholarship, possibly admission to Harvard and his
satirical Web page.

Earlier this year, the Bellevue, Wash., student created an "Unofficial
Newport High School Home Page" on his home computer and posted it in a
public directory of his Internet provider, according to a recent article
in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He also submitted the page to the Yahoo

Included under a category about students' likes, Kim provided links to
three other servers that had a Playboy centerfold, an article about
masturbation and another about oral sex, the paper reported.

"I put a satire of the school on the Internet as a joke," Kim told a

The page was noticed by a staff member at another Bellevue school, who
reported it to Newport High officials. Their response was to withdraw the
school's endorsement of Kim's National Merit scholarship -- he has a 3.88
grade point average and posted a near perfect score on the SAT.  He
automatically lost the $2,000 scholarship. Then, the principal sent faxes
to the seven top-rank colleges that Kim applied to. Soon, afterwards,
Harvard rejected his application.

While Kim and attorneys from the ACLU are asking the school district for
$2,000 and a public explanation of the school officials' "violation of
Kim's free-speech rights," the school hasn't paid up nor showed signs it

The scary part of this story -- other than it's true -- is that it's only
the beginning of a trend.

You don't need to be a soothsayer to predict that other schools, Internet
providers or companies will try to determine what is appropriate content.
It's already happened.

But, the Kim case is the first time a government entity has censured (and
censored) someone for publishing a Web page on a non-government computer.
And, if unchecked and uncorrected, it sets a horrific impediment on the
Web and its development.

While a person's home is their castle (please note the WEBster's gender
neutrality), a person's home page may not be safe. As the Web grows into
a full-fledged, powerful replacement for some forms of the printed word,
Web publishers must be assured that they are protected by the First

So far, freedom of the press doesn't cover publications that are based
entirely on recycled electrons. If that lapse continues much longer, more
and more bureaucrats, legislators and demagogues will try (and succeed)
to censor the Web.

And, then no one will be laughing.

[=] © 1995 Peter Langston []