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Article posted May 29 2013, 10:33 AM Category: Tyranny/Police State Source: Techdirt Print

High School Girl Faces Felony Charges For Yearbook Prank

by Timothy Geigner

Let's start this off with the obvious: bullying sucks. In particular, when the bullies and the bullied are students, it sucks extra hard. That said, we've talked before about how overreacting to bullying situations ends up with everyone looking silly. And when the prosecutors and lawyers decide to get involved, all the more so.

Which brings us to Columbia, Missouri, where a 17-year-old high school student is staring down felony charges for changing a student's last name in the school's year book to something as unfunny as it was inappropriate.
A Columbia high school student faces a possible felony charge after her arrest for changing a classmate's name in the school yearbook to a sexually suggestive term. The 17-year-old Hickman High School junior was arrested May 14 after she allegedly changed a student's last name from Mastain to "masturbate" in the 100th edition of the Hickman Cresset yearbook. She could be charged with first-degree property damage, a felony, and harassment.
My first reaction to this was to be thankful that I didn't have any access to my high school's year book files. If I had, the overwhelming likelihood is that I'd still be serving time in a federal pen, with a teardrop tattoo or two on my face and a strong fear of showers. My second thought was, roughly: what the hell? Felony charges? I get that the school is probably annoyed, but this just screams of an over-reaction to suspected bullying. Hell, the victim of the prank doesn't even seem to think it's a big deal.
Raigan Mastain said although she wasn't happy about what happened, she also "wasn't devastated."

"I was kind of annoyed. It was stupid, but I wasn't that upset," she said.
Elsewhere, she pointed out that she didn't even know the girl that well, so the whole thing was strange to her.
Both Acopolis and the girl whose name was changed, Raigan Mastain, an aspiring graphic designer, called the last-minute change by another yearbook staff member as an act of immaturity, not malice. "I hardly knew her at all," said Mastain, who graduated from Hickman last week. "I barely worked with her. We weren't friends. But I didn't think I had any problems with her."
Still, given all that, Mastain went on to suggest that the charges would be warranted because "it's bullying" and "there needs to be consequences" while also noting that the damage to school property was immense. However, considering she's already graduated and didn't even know any of this had happened until a friend discovered the prank and sent her a text message, how much personal harm was actually done? And for all the talk about property damage, the school decided not to even reprint the year books, instead covering up the naughty word with a sticker. What does a sticker cost? $1? $700 worth of cost, plus a mildly annoyed fellow student, equates to felony charges?

As with so many of these stories, it's likely that emotions ran high and the school and community thought they needed to be seen doing something about so-called bullying. The end result, however, will be a young woman living the rest of her life with a felony on her record for what was a silly and stupid high school prank. That seems entirely unreasonable.

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Comments 1 - 4 of 4 Add Comment Page 1 of 1

Posted: May 29 2013, 1:23 PM

17444 This bullying thing is retarded. Kids get bullied its a part of going to school and growing up. If the state is so concerned about bullying why don't they bring felony charges against the police who bully on a daily basis.

Posted: May 29 2013, 1:43 PM

80202 If you think about it, "zero tolerance" is a form of bullying. Charging. A stupid teen for a childish prank, definitely bullying.

Posted: May 29 2013, 3:57 PM

75145 If the school, or another student, felt they uncurred some damages, that's what civil lawsuit is for. Sue her for damages related to either reprinting the books, or covering with the sticker, or whatever. Criminal charges has absolutely no place here, and only shows over again that the law in the hands of barbarians becomes a stick. The cultural and intellectual level of people in many places has deteriorated to the level where their officials throw charges left and right without slightest understanding of what they are actually doing.

Posted: Jun 03 2013, 8:36 AM

68228 Oh my gosh. I can't believe this. I think this is terrible. That girl SHOULD get felony charges. How dare she make a stupid joke. This of course comes from the same town that banned the use of a clothesline, but clothes may be draped over a fence.

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