Gotta dance: Brownsville grown-ups overreact to an Internet fad

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In the 1984 movie "Footloose," Kevin Bacon played a rebellious but good-hearted teenager from the city who throws a rural town into a tizzy because, even though dancing and rock music are illegal, he's just gotta dance. John Lithgow played the uptight minister determined to protect the town's morals, but in the end the minister realized that whatever harm he imagined coming from kids doing back flips was just in his head.

Brownsville Area School District officials must have never seen the movie. If they had, they probably wouldn't have sanctioned the two-day suspension of 13 students at Brownsville High School for performing the Harlem Shake -- the latest Internet dance craze -- and uploading a 29-second video of it online.

The school officials deemed the simulated grinding "graphic," inappropriate and a safety issue. One news report said the students had their teacher's permission to dance, but that is disputed by the school.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the National Coalition Against Censorship has urged the Fayette County district to revoke the suspensions and expunge the students' records. We agree. What the kids did was silly, but it didn't affect the school or its safety in any way.

Punishing the teenagers out of proportion to what they did is an overreaction that undermines the district's authority. No grown-ups should be hysterical over a dance craze that will soon fade. Even Kevin Bacon got too old to be subversive.

opinion_editorials


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