"Oh, Behave!" Iowa ACLU Turns Tables on Teacher Tattler Plan

Affiliate: ACLU of Iowa
April 18, 2000 12:00 am

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DES MOINES, IA — In an effort to give lawmakers a taste of their own medicine, the Iowa Civil Liberties Union is urging college students to contact the parents of those who approved a “snitch bill” authorizing school officials to notify parents of adult students deemed to have violated school alcohol rules.

“It is in the spirit of this law that we make this call to action,” said Ben Stone, the ICLU’s executive director. “If it is the proper role of government to interfere in the private relationship between an adult and his or her parent, then it is proper for citizens to ask the parents of lawmakers to get their adult children to behave as well,” he said.

Over the past two weeks, the ACLU affiliate has been mobilizing college students to contact the governor to veto the so-called snitch bill. In addition to authorizing college officials to contact the parents of adults to inform them of an infraction involving alcohol or drugs, the bill also calls for a study to determine if such snitching can be shown to improve academic performance.

Stone said he believes the bill’s call for such a study demonstrates the likelihood that this invasive practice will be expanded if allowed to start.

“This is Big Brother at its worst,” he said. “In a free society, it is adults who decide whether to involve parents in their personal affairs, not the government. This law is yet another example of the puritanical zeal some legislators seem to have for taking the so-called war on drugs and alcohol to ludicrous extremes.”

Stone speculated that, depending upon how forthcoming the lawmakers are regarding the whereabouts of their parents, the ACLU may need to lobby legislators to pass a law compelling lawmakers to disclose where citizens can write their parents. “We’ll just have to see,” he said.

The governor will veto or sign the bill within the next three days. One hundred and nineteen lawmakers voted for the measure: 81 in the House and 38 in the Senate.

College students can learn the names of the naughty legislators by visiting the Iowa General Assembly website at http://www.legis.state.ia.us/, or by contacting the Iowa Civil Liberties Union offices in Des Moines.

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