A recently floated proposal of the opposition in New Zealand to fine "early school leavers" (young people who quit school without attaining any qualifications or employment) has resulted in a mock online campaign by fans of popular singer Lorde to save the school dropout from doing jail time.
Last week local media reported the opposition National Party was mulling slapping a fine on parents of early-school leavers to a tune of NZ$3,000 (just under $2,000) if it won next year’s election.
The penalty, widely condemned as a “draconian” proposal, would apply to the parents of students who were not continuing further studies or taking on employment, as it is currently legal to leave high school at 16 in the country.
In the wake of the announcement, news outlets began putting together lists of successful New Zealanders who dropped out of school early.
Mention of Lorde, a student at Takapuna grammar school in Auckland until 2013, when she left to pursue her budding music career, sparked a passionate response online.
Twitter exploded with memes full of concern that the Grammy-award winning Lorde could end up in jail – something not at all likely to happen. Soon, the hashtag #FreeLorde was trending.
Imagine wanting to imprison an artist who made NZ so famous and well known for a having a talented 16 year old girl, Lorde who her concerts were being sold in minutes and Royals is a #1 hit and changed the pop music... we gotta save Lorde till we die #FreeLORDE— Euphoria ❤️ (@ThisIsAdham) October 8, 2019
before u go to sleep tonight make sure u pray for Lorde’s release from prison #FreeLORDE 🙏🏽— c (@christinajuuI) October 10, 2019
Other fans hurried to point out the unlikelihood of Lorde being punished for dropping out of school:
Sir I apologize for the confusion, but this is meant to be a joke towards the proposed policy in New Zealand that will fine parents like $3000 for leaving school without graduating.— Lord(e) (@ForMelodrama) October 8, 2019
you do realize the rumor is a joke right...— Cry Baby (@offtothedelrey) October 8, 2019
Hey dopes, Lorde is NOT in prison— Anthony Last (@drummer2207) October 9, 2019
Other fans expressed their love for the artist’s music:
Singer Lorde’s management team has not offered an official comment in response to the online campaign, and there has been no response from the artist herself.
The National Party has not expanded on the details of its suggested school-leavers policy and whether penalties could be applied retroactively, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern dismissed the idea of sanctioning parents on 3 October, adding that the Government was making good on its promises related to welfare.