Courtesy of Pejmanesque, this story from the Washington Post:
The school honor roll, a time-honored system for rewarding A students, has become an apparent source of embarrassment for some underachievers.
As a result, all Nashville schools have stopped posting honor rolls, and some are also considering a ban on hanging good work in the hallways — on the advice of school lawyers.
After a few parents complained that their children might be ridiculed for not making the list, lawyers for the Nashville school system warned that state privacy laws forbid releasing any academic information, good or bad, without permission.
Some schools have since put a stop to academic pep rallies. Others think they may have to cancel spelling bees. And now schools across the state may follow Nashville’s lead….
Read the whole thing here. Unless, of course, you live in Nashville, in which case I guess I shouldn’t say that, for fear of diminishing the self-esteem of those who can’t read, and thus getting hauled into court.
Which reminds me (excuse the enharmonic modulation) that one of the things Sarah Weinman and I talked about at lunch the other day was the potentially fearful prospect of libel suits against outspoken members of the blogosphere. Believe me, it could happen, and then some, and I very much doubt that more than a handful of us bloggers have thought about it.
As you know, I believe in the amateur culture fostered by the blogosphere, and support it enthusiastically. But I did learn two things from my years of 9-to-5 work on a big-city newspaper that are highly relevant out here in the sphere:
(1) How to edit my own copy.
(2) How not to commit libel.
Back when I was on the editorial page of the New York Daily News, we were given regular updates on the evolving state of libel case law. What’s more, our copy was scrutinized by editors who knew a thing or two about libel (in some cases because they’d been sued). I’m not saying that made me libelproof, and I hope it didn’t make me unreasonably cautious, but it did make me aware of the perils of preemptive litigation in a way I suspect most bloggers are not.
Enough of these grim reflections. I want to go out and play in the cooooooold weather. But I did want to pass them on to any of you who don’t have anything better to do than sit at your computer on a Saturday afternoon.