Opinion: internet meme gets a “Ruff ” response


A screenshot of Michael Horton’s famous “what in violation” meme.

Michael Horton, Staff Reporter

In today’s society, the internet is the center of everyone’s attention, and since most people don’t take things too seriously, many things on the internet turn into inside jokes. These jokes are often referred to as memes.

A recent meme that’s been taking the internet by storm is the “What in Tarnation” meme. It originated from a picture of a dog wearing a cowboy hat with the now-famous phrase underneath it. People of the web took it upon themselves to put cowboy hats on everyone with their own variations of the phrase.

On Feb. 26, during first period, I took it upon myself to hop on the bandwagon with a K-Park version of the meme. It featured Assistant Principal Mark Ruffin By Michael Horton Staff Reporter wearing a clearly-photoshopped black cowboy hat, with a jab at our school’s strict dress code as the caption.

It got a lot of attention almost instantly. I was getting likes and retweets from students that I didn’t know. Even students that didn’t attend the school were getting a kick out of my meme

But it all came crashing down at the beginning of sixth period that day. Ruffin called me out of my Pre-Cal class to talk to me in the hall. He asked me how I was doing, and we had about ten seconds of awkward small talk. I decided to cut to the chase, and I informed him that my tweet was posted entirely in fun and that I meant nothing by it. He said that he wasn’t offended by it, but he certainly didn’t act like he thought it was funny. He said that, since I posted it during school hours and on campus, that it needed to be taken down immediately. He said that even though I didn’t post anything bad, someone else could. I took down the meme shortly afterwards. When it was deleted, it had 223 likes and 165 retweets.

I understand where Mr. Ruffin is coming from, but I disagree with his opinion. The school should have very little, if any control over what students post, in or out of school. It’s an invasion of freedom of speech. And besides, our own K-Park News has taken similar jabs at teachers and principals with no backlash.

As the use of phones during schools and the general usage of the internet both increase rapidly, an important question is asked: what should students be allowed to post relating to school campuses, faculty, and students?

While my post only featured one faculty member, the point of the post wasn’t to call that person out, it was to relate a controversial school dress code rule, and someone whose job it is to enforce it, to a popular online phrase. While I understand that cyberbullying has become an issue in the past few years throughout schools, I believe that some posts relating to schools should be allowed. There is a fine line between making jokes and bullying and I don’t believe that my post was near that line. It seems a little overpowering to me that a school should feel the need to take down a clean and respectful post, simply because a faculty member is featured in it.