Facebook and free speech tested?

Freedom of speech has been tested in Calgary, Alberta. The 20 year-old twins Steven and Keith Pridgen have been convicted of academic misconduct for a group posting on Facebook called, "I no longer fear hell, I took a course with Aruna Mitra".

An investigation into the situation was not handled as perfectly as it should have been. Aruna Mitra's spouse was one of the professors who were involved in the investigation. Students who appeared before the investigating panel were refused the opportunity to speak.

The Pridgen brothers should have been given the opportunity to prove their statements made on the site. It is important to note that there are other websites which use much stronger language then the site posted by the Pridgens. One of the sites is "Rank my Professor" which gives students an opportunity to grade their professors. Mitra received a very low rate of 1.1 out of five.

The Pridgens are taking their case to court, bravely asking for a judicial review. It is interesting that the dean of legal studies headed the investigation panel. The defense of truth, which the law of defamation affords, means that the students should have been given the opportunity to prove that the website had truthful content.

It will be interesting to see what occurs at the trial. Will the university have the strength to admit it's error?

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