Could Would Should

Well, The Ataris and Sum 41 didn't perform Friday night. I basically paid $164 to see Blink-182. Luckily, they played a killer show. But still…$164? I have issues.

I called it about a month ago – Weezer will be the musical guest on the season finale of Saturday Night Live. What's more, the host is Christopher Walken, who ringlead one of the best SNL episodes last season. This better be good.

The following story hits close to home, and not just because the person involved is named "Mrs. Dunn." If you know anything about me, you'll know why:

It all started with an inept cover of an Incubus song.

After 14-year-old Derek Dubois' friends laughed at his solo acoustic version of "Pardon Me," he set out to convince them that he actually had some talent.

Dubois, a high school freshman from Cumberland, Rhode Island, wrote and recorded a ribald, Adam Sandler-influenced song in which he graphically imagined a sexual relationship with a young substitute teacher who had taught him English the year before. He called it "The Mrs. Dunn Song" and made it available to the world on Napster, where it's still floating around.

"I wrote the teacher song as a joke to prove to everybody that I can play and write," Dubois said Thursday (May 10). Instead, thanks in part to Napster's peer-to-peer magic, "The Mrs. Dunn Song" led to sexual harassment charges for Dubois and a public war with his high school that shows no sign of ending anytime soon.

"I'm a firm believer in constitutional rights," Joseph M. Nasif Jr., Cumberland's superintendent of schools, said Thursday. "But this student crossed the line when he recorded the song and uploaded it to Napster, knowing it would be available to hundreds, if not thousands, of people."

The teacher, who is now employed full-time at Cumberland High School, became aware of the song in March, about a month after it began circulating. She heard a threatening undertone in the song's explicit fantasies about her: "I'll be the pimp, you be the whore / …When I see you I fall into a rage / I don't really care if you're double my age / …I'm not a stalker, I just like to peep."

She accused Dubois of harassing her, and the honor student was ordered to serve a 10-day suspension.

He served one day and then appealed the decision with the help of his parents and the Rhode Island branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, which says "The Mrs. Dunn Song" is protected by the First Amendment.

Rhode Island's state commissioner of education is reviewing the punishment, with the latest closed hearing in the case scheduled for next week. Both sides say that if the commissioner upholds the suspension, they expect the case to end up in court. But in the meantime, Dubois is back in school.

"We don't believe the school has any authority to punish Derek for something he did on his own time on his own computer," said Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island branch of the ACLU. "We're arguing that what he did was protected by the First Amendment, [and that] it simply is not sexual harassment – it was not directed [toward] the teacher in any way. It was not intended to be used against her."

Dubois wrote a letter of apology to the teacher, explaining that he didn't mean for her to hear the song, but superintendent Nasif says that's not nearly enough. Despite lines like, "Oh, Papa, don't be the preacher / But I'm lusting after my English teacher," the song is no joke, he said.

"I don't know if this young man is capable of carrying out the horrendous sexual threats that are included in his song – therefore I have to assume that he can and do anything in my power to prevent that."

Dubois said he didn't mean to hurt the teacher's feelings and that the song was meant only to make his friends laugh.

But the teacher, whose full name has not been released, is taking a leave of absence from the school because of the song, which she says has caused her so much stress that she's unable to work.

Dubois won't be posting more songs to Napster anytime soon, in any case – his father has taken away his recording equipment and cut off his computer access.

What age group are you in? (out of 12 votes)
18-34 • 12 votes • 75%
Look at me! I'm a hacker! • 4 votes • 25%
I'm on to you, Henry Freedland. Watch it.

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