by Andrew Crisp
Social media is a popular outlet for American youth. But more than 1,200 Rocky Mountain High School students on Facebook are following an anonymous page called "Rocky Mountain High Memes," which criticizes students and teachers, labeling one group of boys "faggots."
"It says 'no hate intended,'" said RMHS Principal Mike Hirano, referencing a sentence at the top of the page. "But I say there’s a lot of hate here."
Individual students are often called out by the page, which receives submissions from its fan base. Posts include pictures with words like "niggas" and one that called a group of male students "attention-seeking faggots."
"If you'd like to send in a Meme, send it to me in a message, that's the only guaranteed way it will be uploaded," wrote the anonymous author of the page.
A "meme" typically refers to images with accompanying text. Using images of the school and its students, the Rocky Mountain page has criticized the student body and faculty by name, making fun of them for their appearance or for their teaching. Hirano said the school doesn't know which student created the page.
"Best post since the creation of Rocky Mountain High Memes.... Period. Gay," wrote one commenter on an image which called a group of students "faggots."
Other students have contributed to defend their peers.
"It's funny how people act like they care so much about bullying and say how our society is so sad but if they see something that's funny but is putting someone/thing down, it's okay...." wrote another student.
Another post showed a group of African-American children, and the heading "It's Friday niggas." Two commenters expressed disdain for the word, while the post received more than 50 likes.
Parents have called the school, asking its administration to take down the page. Hirano said that while he's aware of the page and disagrees with its posts, steps to have it taken down have been unsuccessful. Calls to Facebook headquarters got the school nowhere. He said Facebook told him the page was free speech, and couldn't do anything to stop students from posting there.
"I handle it kind of like I would cyber bullying," said Hirano. "The only problem, it's hard for me to determine the originator from that Facebook page."
Hirano said the school can't punish students for contributing to the page. However, he can intervene if bullying happens in the school itself. But he can view the commenters on the page, who use their full names when logged into their personal Facebook accounts.
He said the school administration has been calling students down to the office if they make hateful comments and asking them to reconsider their behavior. Teachers have also been told to discuss their feelings with classes related to personal attacks against them.
"I ask them, 'Would you really say that to someone's face? Then why are you doing it here?'" said Hirano.
On Tuesday, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter released a public service announcement about the prevalence of "cyber bullying" in Idaho. The video was not related specifically to the Rocky Mountain High Facebook page.