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Univ. of Del. student's Web page is protected speech

By The Associated Press
09.08.08

NEWARK, Del. — A federal magistrate has ruled that the content of a University of Delaware student's Web page was offensive but was protected speech and not a violation of university policies.

Maciej Murakowski was suspended in April 2007 after the brother of a female student living in his dorm complained to police that his sister was uneasy and fearful after reading Murakowski's writings.

The Web page included jokes about rape, kidnapping and torture. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Pat Thynge ruled in Murakowski v. University of Delaware that the Web content was an "alleged attempt at humor or parody" and not a "true threat" to any individual or group.

Thynge ruled Murakowski was entitled to a "nominal" award of $10 for the violation of his right to free speech, and some court costs.

The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., reported that Thynge also found the university's decision to suspend Murakowski for a semester was justified because of his other actions, including ignoring an order not to return to his dorm after he was suspended.


Previous
Student disciplined for online postings sues Univ. of Del.
Maciej Murakowski says school violated free speech by suspending him and barring him from campus over concerns about offensive material on his Web site. 08.02.07

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First Amendment protects Calif. woman's 'rude, boorish' blog (news)
Shasta County Superior Court official rejects newspaper reporter's requests that blog be taken down, restraining order be issued for former friend. 02.24.08

2nd Circuit: School can punish teen for online criticism (news)
Students 'may be disciplined for expressive conduct, even conduct occurring off school grounds, when this conduct "would foreseeably create a risk of substantial disruption within the school environment."' 05.30.08

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