Friday, March 09, 2012

The Crayon Is Mightier Than The Narrow Mind


Lately, there’s been a lot of discussion in Canada about Internet privacy, protecting ourselves from warrantless searches and other new ways government might intrude on our lives.

But there’s a story related to the protection of personal rights that has escaped the attention of many in the Mainstream Media and was completely unreported by our National broadcaster.

For the last two weeks, teachers, law enforcement and child services in Waterloo, Ontario have contorted themselves into pretzels to justify what they did to Jessie Sansone and his family.

For those uninformed or getting their news from the CBC –- basically, the same thing -- the gist of the story is this:

Sansone’s 4 year old daughter made a crayon drawing of a gun on a kindergarten white board. She identified it to her teacher as the weapon her daddy used to battle monsters.

Springing into action, the teacher informed the Principal, who informed Police and Child Services. When Jessie Sansone arrived to pick up his daughter from school, he was arrested, handcuffed, strip searched and interrogated for three hours.

Meanwhile, other police officers descended on his house, ordering his wife to report to Police headquarters while a Social worker took custody of an infant child. They then tossed the family home –- without a search warrant.

Ultimately, it was determined that the only “gun” in the house was a plastic Nerf toy that shoots foam darts and Sansone has never owned a real firearm.

So far, Waterloo police have been tight-lipped on any evidence of Monsters discovered in the little girl’s bedroom closet.

What’s more, it seems the crayon drawing has also disappeared, wiped from the whiteboard before any record could be made of it.

In other words, there’s no proof it was ever there in the first place, let alone that it perfectly matched one used in a recent string of Waterloo Pharmacy robberies, as police initially claimed.

“Sarge, that’s a .44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world! Man, that kid can really draw!”

To be fair, the pharmacy robberies must have involved a much smaller gun since Sansone was forced to disrobe, lift his testicles and bend over during his interrogation.

Or maybe the investigating officers were attempting to assess just how much the innocent man’s butt-hole resembled what they see when they look in a mirror.

Unfortunately, it seems Jessie Sansone’s story is far from unique in the Province of Ontario.

It probably takes a lot to shock a worldly man like Toronto radio host Mike Stafford. But in this February 29 audio clip of other parents describing their experiences, he’s clearly stunned by what this country has come to.

Now I’ll leave what happened in Waterloo to the multiple civil suits that are no doubt looming.

What concerns me is what this says about our education system’s ability to recognize and inspire a kid’s imagination.

When every childhood scrawl or flight of fancy is interpreted as a cry for help or evidence of darker forces will our children ever feel free enough to express themselves creatively?

Everybody who makes movies, either before or behind the camera, can recall leaving a Saturday matinee and re-enacting a favorite scene with their friends.

If that instinct isn’t nurtured, it never grows and we end up with dour, politically correct films that nobody ever sees -- like a lot of what was featured on last night’s (also unwatched) Genie Awards.

Are we raising a generation that will be unable to explore its creativity and, as a result, be unable to recognize, be moved by or even enjoy the creative work of others?

Artists work to access the creative spirit in the rest of us. If it’s been extinguished, they have no way to benefit either us or the society. And we have a far less accurate internal compass to guide us through life.

W.O Mitchell’s classic Canadian novel “The Vanishing Point” includes a telling sequence in which a young man’s creativity is stifled by a teacher, pointedly illustrating the pitfalls of frustrating artistic expression.

It’s troubling that the education system does not seem to have changed in the 40 years since it was written, doubly troubling when you consider that what the book has to say also seems beyond the understanding of our teachers.

You wonder how the average Canadian teacher would react when confronted by a drawing like this…

like mommy

This is from a wonderful new website Funny Exam which juxtaposes the creativity of kids with the inability of many educators to fully appreciate and therefore encourage it.

At least the teacher in this example had the good sense to ask this little girl’s mom what was going on. She answered as follows:

“I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer.

I work at Home Depot and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had and then I found one more in the back room.

Several people were fighting over who would get it. Her picture doesn’t show me dancing around a pole. It’s supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot.

From now on, I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly before she turns it in.”

One wonders how much personal anguish could have been saved if one Canadian teacher had simply explored the creative spark of the child in her charge instead of buckling to the suffocating culture of the nanny state.


DMc said...

Interesting JIm. Yes. Deplorable.By the way,what's your stance on the Harper Government's draconian crime and prison provisions that fly in the face of the stats about crime in Canada?

It's not enough to pretend to be the reasonable man. It's not enough to cherry pick the items you think that make "the other side" (whoever they are) look bad. Instead of easy shots, the day you want to line up and argue TRUE common sense - instead of faux populism, you'll find me your trusty Sancho. Until then. Yawn. Cherry picking. Not worthy of you.

jimhenshaw said...

Y'know what I find most interesting about the prison debate -- CBC News spent a solid week bashing the government for building new prisons. Then the next week they ran a special report on "overcrowding" in prisons, prisoners forced to sleep three in a cell meant for one etc.

It's probably still on line if you want to watch it.

So, is the construction unnecessary based on current crime rates?

Will it be needed once the new crime bill kicks in and cops can finally crack down on gangs who are averaging about one a day murders in Vancouver and Burnaby?

Or does it just mean that we can treat our current population more humanely -- maybe even bring Conrad Black home so it's safer for you to go to Florida...?

Anonymous said...

Double yawn.

Why is it that so many of these, well, can't really call them "discussions", lets just call them scoldings, start off as "but what about this [unrelated matter], huh? What about THAT!!!!"?

Might as well ask you: who is more dangerous to women, Limbaugh or George May:

Seems even Olivia Chow believes the system might need a bit of tightening.

Lets face it, if this four year old were a 24-year old anarchist and the police reacted this way, the left would be birthing a copious amount of kittens.

But I guess once some people find a boogey man, he has to be trotted out for every ill under the sun.

Jim will answer for himself, of course, but THIS conservative will be very happy to see many of the dumb provisions in this be chewed up and spit out by the courts. Bad laws deserve nothing less.