With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility For Chip McGee's Feelz. And For Wombats.

Bedford New Hampshire School Superintendent Chip McGee is a sensitive man. Chip McGee is sensitive to his duties as an educator. He's sensitive to the instruction and welfare of his students. He's sensitive to the constitutional limits on his power as a government official.

But mostly, he's sensitive to Chip McGee's butt. And Chip McGee's butt hurts. Chip McGee's butt hurts as though Chip McGee was "the Gimp" at Rod Stewart's last acid and cocaine-fueled anal wombat insertion party.

Why does Chip McGee's butt hurt so? Because feelz.

A number of students at Bedford High School were disciplined after making remarks on Twitter about Superintendent Chip McGee’s announcement on the social networking site that classes would resume on Wednesday.

It seems students said rude things about McGee's insistence they attend school the day after a blizzard. Chip McGee understands that the students have a right to speak their minds. After all, the Constitution guarantees even students the right to free speech. But with that great power comes a great responsibility, the responsibility not to upset Chip McGee.

I want to stress that the widespread rumors that Rod Stewart inserted a wombat into my anus are just that - rumors!

I want to stress that the widespread rumors that Rod Stewart inserted a wombat into my anus are just that – rumors! No credible witnesses have come forth to support these allegations. And if any do, they'll be suspended, and it will go down on their permanent records!

“Kids said some very funny, clever things,” McGee said on Thursday. “And some kids stood up and said, ‘Hey, watch your manners.’ That was great. And some kids — a few — said some really inappropriate things.”

And so Chip McGee suspended four of them, for tweeting, from the privacy of their homes, about just what an appalling dildo-bat Chip McGee actually is.

“It’s been a really good exercise in issues of students’ right to speech, on the one hand, and students’ and teachers’ rights to an educational environment that’s conducive to learning,” McGee said. “Kids have the right to say whatever they want about me.”

However, this does not mean students should expect to be able to make inappropriate comments on social media without consequences, McGee said — even though the tweets were sent outside of school.

Actually, the First Amendment means that students do have the right to say that Chip McGee is an appalling dildo-bat from the the privacy of their homes, even on social media, without governmentally-imposed consequences. And Chip McGee, for whatever reason the citizens of Bedford, New Hampshire in their wisdom decided, is the government. Schools may discipline students for speech that disrupts the classroom (shouting, during math class, that "Chip McGee is an appalling dildo-bat") or for speech advocating illegal activity,

But it is not illegal to call Chip McGee an appalling dildo-bat, or "the Gimp" at Rod Stewart's last anal wombat insertion party, from the privacy of one's home, or even on social media. In the first case, this is protected opinion (I sincerely and genuinely believe that Chip McGee is an appalling dildo-bat), and in the second, mere hyperbole. (It was probably just a ferret, or maybe a mongoose.) Particularly given that in Bedford, New Hampshire, Chip McGee is the government. He is The Man, as that wombat, and Rod Stewart, could assure you. And if these students and their parents sue Chip McGee, and win (as they assuredly would) he'll never pay a dime.

“The First Amendment right means you can say what you want, (but) it doesn’t mean that you are free of repercussion,” McGee said. “It can’t disrupt what we’re doing in school … If something disrupts school, and it (occurs) outside school, we not only can take action, we have to.”

McGee said he hopes that students will learn from this incident about “the line” of decent and appropriate commentary.

“You only learn that by checking where it is, and having something happen when you cross it,” he said.

"I support free speech, but" is the eternal cry of the government censor who knows censorship is illegal, but abuses his power because, fuck it, he's the government. In Chip McGee's case, it's a very big but. A but large enough to fit a wombat.

Or maybe a ferret or a mongoose.

UPDATE:

We tweeted these innocuous questions to Chip McGee earlier today.

No wombats, or ferrets or mongeese, were harmed during the making of those tweets. And yet Chip McGee has deleted his twitter account, in record time.

IT'S GONE.

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White

Comments

  1. mcinsand says

    How about an apology for not even thinking to make the easy pun. Mr. McGee certainly has a chip on his shoulder.

  2. Rick says

    Yeah, apologize to the wombats, Ken, but not the gimps, the Rod Stewarts or the dildo bats.
    Talk about tough love….

  3. TTC says

    Are tweeted offers for him to touch the poop Charles C Johnson left on the Arby's dining room floor for $20 still protected speech?

  4. Basil Forthrightly says

    How does one distinguish an appalling dildo-bat from a non-appalling dildo-bat? Is there a bright-line test?

  5. Castaigne says

    I love reading about the scammers, the Prendas, all of the asshats. It gives me chuckles to see their eventual desserts.

    But when Patrick posts, I can almost guarantee I will see the most petty people to ever throw their weight around. I mean, disgustingly petty. Taking petty to levels so petty it's both magnificent and mediocre in pettiness at the same time. A petty vortex. Maybe that makes it a wimpy whirlpool.

    At any rate, what a fucking asshat.

  6. albert says

    The first asshat nominee of the year and it's not even February!
    .
    "…Learned a lot about Twitter this week! Updated my handle from @mcgee_chip to @BSDsuper_mcgee for clarity. Thanks to everyone for feedback…"
    .
    LOL
    Is that 'clarity', as in 'I understand the 1st Amendment' clarity?
    .
    If there is a God, by all that is Holy in Heaven and on Earth, please let there be a court case….

  7. Fasolt says

    From the Union Leader article:

    McGee said he hopes that students will learn from this incident about “the line” of decent and appropriate commentary.

    “You only learn that by checking where it is, and having something happen when you cross it,” he said.

    He's a smug asshat, as well. Guess he showed those impertinent little whippersnappers.

  8. Kevin says

    He now appears to have actually deleted his account, rather than just renamed it.

    I haz a sad.

  9. Nancy says

    Actually, although it has not been mentioned in Popehat, Boston already has a candidate for asshat of the year. The new mayor, Charlie Baker, wants the Olympics to come to town. He's very excited about bringing the Olympics to town. In fact, he's so excited about the idea he signed an agreement with the US Olympic Committee stating that employees of the city of Boston are not allowed to criticize the idea.

    No one ever thought we'd miss Mumbles Menino, but at least he knew we couldn't afford the Olympics.

  10. Fasolter says

    Quote from the Union Leader article about Chip "dildo-bat" McGee's promotion to Superintendent:

    "There's a lot of changes coming in education and I think this district is set up as well as anybody to deal with those changes," McGee said. "For me, the big thing is keeping track of students' social and emotional development, as well as academics."

    Well he certainly was keeping track of the social aspect of the student's lives. He didn't do their emotional development any good with that little fit he had over their Twitter comments, though.

  11. Canvasback says

    How do grownups get that weak? In his picture he looks kind of Ok, near normal. I don't understand why he'd pick this fight with a bunch of 16 year-olds.

  12. C. S. P. Schofield says

    Is it just me, or does it strike anyone else that school administration jobs seem to attract petty twits much given to acts of ostentatious stupidity?

  13. Mikee says

    @ CSP Schofield

    From my experience, there are far more petty twits failing upward in the private sector. We hear more about public malfeasance and stupidity like this because the government is barred from certain activities, but those restrictions may not necessarily be imposed upon the private sector. Employment terminations over something said online happen on a daily basis now. It used to be newsworthy, now it's so commonplace no one but the person being terminated actually cares anymore.

  14. Mies Rohe says

    I did not enjoy this post as much as I generally enjoy Popehat posts. Ken brings a better balance of class and criticism. Non-Ken posts usually make me appreciate Ken's style all the more.

  15. says

    I did not enjoy your comment as much as I generally enjoy other Popehat comments. Good comments bring something to discussion of the topic at hand, whereas yours was, frankly, a waste of time for you to write, and for me to read. Mies Rohe comments usually make me appreciate our other commenters all the more.

  16. Aaron says

    Website design feedback, but man, is it creepy that that picture expands to the full size of the column. When the browser's full screen, I just get thinning hair or lifeless face or sloping neck, filling up my screen.

  17. That Anonymous Coward says

    With all of the evidence piling up, why do people still doubt my theory that power causes a form a brain damage?
    We should be putting resources into finding out how much power it takes to turn someone into a wombat snuggler, and them limit power accordingly.

    One can only hope that the citizens will not be distracted by the smug idiocy, and work to stop the snuggler before they have to have an emergency millage to fund the legal fees & settlements.

  18. albert says

    Chip Mcgee:

    (before becoming Superintendent in July, 2014)

    >Assistant Superintendent
    Bedford School District

    >Teachers College of Columbia University
    Ed.D., Education Administration
    1998 – 2004

    >Columbia University – Columbia Business School
    MBA, Business
    1999 – 2001

    >Brown University
    BA, History
    1989 – 1993
    .
    Salary: $109,146 (see patch.com)
    .
    "Education" seems to have changed a lot since I was in school. It is, apparently, no barrier to "smug idiocy", which is, I suspect, acquired long before "higher education".
    .
    "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach; those who can't do, or teach, become school administrators." – Chief Seneca
    .
    I gotta go…

  19. annie the moose says

    In defense of Bobby, erg Chip, McGee, we don't know the content of the tweets in question. It is within the realm of possibility (I reserve judgement on probability) that the tweets were of such a nature that they were disruptive to school functioning to a degree which would justify the school taking disciplinary measures. It the tweets were of the "I'm taking my shotgun to school tomorrow and killing any teachers who show up so the next set of teachers will know how to treat snow days" nature then discipline would be appropriate.

  20. CanonicalKoi says

    @Aaron–what browser are you using? In Safari, the image scales just fine.

    Mr. McGee should be forced to sit through a Social Studies (or whatever the kids call it nowadays) module on the Constitution. He needs the refresher. Badly.

  21. Fasolter says

    "…Learned a lot about Twitter this week! Updated my handle from @mcgee_chip to @BSDsuper_mcgee for clarity. Thanks to everyone for feedback…"

    Shouldn't his handle have been @BDSM_super_mcgee? He missed an opportunity there.

  22. Deathpony says

    outrageous Patrick. Everyone knows Rod Stewart sticks to koalas for his anal insertion parties. Wombats are too close to Australian males for comfort.

  23. Jon H says

    There's one thing I find surprising about McGee.

    He apparently doesn't insist on being called "Dr. McGee". That seems to be a common affliction among pretentious school administration twats.

  24. Mies Rohe says

    Feeling insecure? Now you are mocking commenters? Touchy, touchy. I detect a bit of the superintendent in your reply. Need I get in line and behave at the risk of drawing more of the writer's ire?
    It's no secret that for many Popehat is like watching Kobe Bryant play with a team that simply cannot keep up with him. We come here for Ken, get used to it and enjoy whatever residual light shines your way. If this were your blog alone you'd hear little more than crickets in reply.

  25. albert says

    @Fasolter
    :)
    .
    @PonyAdvocate
    Those cases are quite different in the details. The key seems to be _exactly_ why the school disciplined the student. One could be construed as promoting drug use. The other was clearly bogus, having to do with criticism of a school "administrator". Besides, has SCOTUS ruled on this issue yet? Those are 'just' Federal Courts.

  26. PonyAdvocate says

    @albert

    Well, most cases differ from one another with regard to various details. The two cases to which I refer, however, are both concerned with the fundamental principle of students' First Amendment rights, and, specifically, how to abrogate them. Doninger was decided in the Second Circuit. Morse was a Supreme Court decision. The majority's expressed belief that the "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS" sign was advocacy in favor of drug use, rather than just a way for a smart-ass student to annoy a tight-ass school official, is silly, and what the moral philosophers call a "rationalization" (as opposed to a "reason").

  27. albert says

    @PonyAdvocate
    The devil is in the details. That'll teach me to skim those links. _I_ wouldn't assume that "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS" advocates drug use (it's a joke, guys!), but this is the court that gave us Citizens United, so…
    Doninger, IMO, was a bad decision. Wonder what SCOTUS would say about it.

  28. Joe says

    I'm spending entirely too much time trying to figure out whether it's the parties which are "acid and cocaine-fueled", or the wombats. (It's not both; everybody knows a wombat will bogart your drugs if you get him started.)

    I briefly supposed that the acid might be taken in suppository form, and the wombat was only on cocaine, but that doesn't make any sense.

  29. figpucker says

    And Chip McGee, for whatever reason the citizens of Bedford, New Hampshire in their wisdom decided, is the government.

    It does not surprise me that citizens who like to ban books would appreciate having a man who likes to censor twitter in charge of their schools. If the more level-headed citizens did not show him the door for caving to a group of hecklers demanding that an optional book be removed from a list of options, he undoubtedly feels secure in his position relative to punishing adolescents who say mean things on twitter.

  30. Sad Panda says

    Mies Rohe is right. Or almost right. All Popehat posts should be made by Via Angus.

    Also, Chip is clearly more of a douche-nozzle than a dildo-bat. I can't believe that wasn't caught in edit.

  31. CJColucci says

    Although the safe bet is that Chip is a censorious ass-hat, the case law on student speech is neither as clear as we all need it to be nor as favorable to student speech as many of us would like. Without knowing the content of the posts that led to discipline, it is entirely possible that Chip was right — even if by accident. But he probably would have done it anyway, right or wrong.

  32. Christopher says

    Does anyone else get the sense that this guy is like a real-life version of Principal Vernon from the Breakfast Club? Totally a "Don't mess with the bull young man, you'll get the horns!" attitude.
    Sheesh, what a depressing person to think about.
    By the way, the Union-Leader comments section…total sh^tshow.

  33. Nate says

    Furthermore, the idea that students should be subject to discipline because they've crossed a nebulous and shifting line that "you only learn … by checking where it is, and having something happen when you cross it" is absurd. What meaning can there be to a punishment if it is delivered as a consequence of arbitrary personal judgement, and not on the basis of clearly defined and public rules?

  34. Nate says

    Also now that the twitter is well and truly gone can anyone link to an archive of screen caps of the tweets? Also does anyone know what the supposedly offensive tweets said?

  35. albert says

    @Nate
    As far as I know, none of the students "crossed the line" (unless someone can prove otherwise). McGee wouldn't have needed to delete his account if they were wrong. He should have left it up for all to see. The fact that he deleted it is evidence of:
    .
    1. He had second thoughts about his decision, or
    2. Someone with half a brain advised him to do it, or
    3. He was so embarrassed he couldn't stand looking at it.

    From eagnews.org:
    .
    "…University of California Los Angeles School of Law professor Eugene Volokh told the Union Leader the district must be able to demonstrate that the students’ comments would actually disrupt learning before taking action. “This is not just some rude thing some student says about another student,” he said. “One right that Americans of all ages have is to criticize, including in vulgar ways, public officials.”

    New Hampshire ACLU legal director Gilles Bissonnette agreed with Volokh’s assessment, and said the tweets from students he combed through did not meet the threshold of causing a disruption.

    “Speech can’t be regulated by schools – particularly speech outside the school setting – on the basis of speculative fears of possible disturbances, or embarrassment to school officials,” he told the Union Leader.

    “While more information needs to be known about the specific Twitter posts that resulted in discipline, all the tweets that I have seen, that are publicly available since this morning, do not remotely reach the level of potentially causing a disruption.”…."
    .
    So there, y'all!
    .
    Now, I wonder if twitter stores 'deleted' tweets. If those tweets are truly gone, then that wouldn't seem to bode well for Chip, in the event that he (the board) were sued, would it?
    .
    "Take my word for it, your Honor, those tweets crossed the line!"
    .
    I gotta go…

  36. Chal says

    I'm curious how far these protections extend. Could a government employee be fired for making disparaging tweets about their boss outside of work? Or does at-will employment trump free speech in that sense? Conversely, would a private school administrator have been able to suspend the students?

  37. CanonicalKoi says

    @Aaron…I'm no Chrome expert, but I found that it saves things like being zoomed in from page to page and session to session. Try either zooming out or go into the Chrome menu, see what your zoom is set at and change it back to 100% (if that is, indeed what's wrong with it).

    I'm still puzzled on how McGee thinks he can defend reprimanding students for this. smh

  38. albert says

    @Nate
    Thanks. If that's all there is, then I'm even more amazed by this. I know, I know, I shouldn't be, especially after reading popehat for so long.
    .
    "The more I read the papers, the less I comprehend, the world and all its capers, and how it all will end," – Ira Gershwin, 1938
    .
    There's quite a discussion at Schneiers: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2015/02/texas_school_ov.html?nc=29#comment-6688552 on the 'Texas Case', which is relevant here.
    .
    I'll wager there's enough material on asshat school admins/teachers to fill an entire blog, every day. 'You can't make this stuff up'.
    .
    I gotta go…
    .
    P.S. I might put 'asshat' in my spel-chek dictionary.

  39. Chal says

    Thanks Ken. I guess complexity is the natural consequence of non-state-related interactions with the state.

  40. says

    As someone who has been an educator, the thing that I hate about this and brought up on my own page, is that it's an attempt to normalize the idea that a school is free to use its authority in a capricious and arbitrary manner. The onus is on the student, not the administration to determine if what he or she says will give offense– in other words, must always engage in self-censorship. That's a valuable lesson…that dictatorships like to teach.

    Had this been say, shouted out in class or at an assembly, it'd be a different matter. Had it even been on a school network, it would have been a different matter . but it wasn't. This was the electronic version of punishing a student because you found out he said bad things about you in a park. On Sunday.

  41. Colin says

    Hey Guys,

    I'm actually a student at BHS. I want to clarify that students were mad about returning to school because of crappy driving conditions and a few of my friends had minor car accidents. Other than that, I think its really funny that this has kinda blown up because no one at school really gives a shit anymore.

  42. albert says

    @Colin
    What about the students who were disciplined? Wouldn't that go on their records? Couldn't that be used to prejudice later disciplinary decisions?

  43. says

    It depends on the school policy. I'd say a four day suspension probably wouldn't (but don't quote me). IN general, the biggies, the things that really muck up your academic record like long-term suspension and expulsion get kicked up to the school board in most districts for final approval/modification.

    And then there's the fact that most colleges? Don't give a damn so long as your grades and test scores are okay. The dirty little secret is that your permanent record has to have something really bad on it before it drastically impacts your potential college career, especially if you're going from community college to a four year institution (nobody gives a damn about your high school diploma if you have an associate's degree).

  44. Colin says

    I should elaborate. What I mean is that nobody at our school expected this story to have a following of people who disagree with Mr. Chip's questionable decisions. We all sympathize with most of the kids who got suspended because a few of them missed important assessments, and will have to report this suspension when they apply for colleges. However, there was one instance where a student jokingly talked about a bomb threat, so we wouldn't have to attend school. I think a suspension is justified in that scenario.

  45. Aaron says

    @CanonicalKoi This is getting off-topic, so I'm not sure how long we should continue, but… my zoom in that screenshot is 100%. I am not at all zoomed in.

  46. says

    This thread is old but this just came today.

    "Parents, Teachers, Students, and all other Community Members,

    I am writing to ask you to fill in a short feedback form on my work as the superintendent of the Bedford School District. In the survey, I have listed seven “competencies” that an effective superintendent should master. While there are many other competencies, these seven relate particularly to my interactions with parents, teachers, students, and community members. I would appreciate your feedback so I can continue to improve. I will keep the survey open until Friday, April 10.

    LINK: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BSDsuperintendent_feedback

    Thank you!

    Sincerely,

    Chip McGee

    The mission of the Bedford School District is to develop a community of learners who are intellectually curious, resourceful, and respectful of self and others. Academic achievement, through constantly improving standards, is the district's highest priority."