A Small Victory for Free Speech & Common Sense
Chalk up a small victory for freedom and common sense. There's gangbanger "tagging" or graffiti defacing walls and other public sites in Mississauga, a community of 700,000 just west of Toronto.
What should the city fathers (and mothers) do? Don't target the gangs, mostly ethnic. No, target all youth and ban the sale of art supplies to anyone under 18 years of age? It doesn't take Nostrademus to predict that, uh, all a 17 year-old would-be vandal needs do is get a 19 year old gang member to buy a can of spray paint for him.
Luckily, the ban-the-art-supplies proposal, favoured by some councillors and the Peel Police, was shot down by a majority on council recently.
The Mississauga News (March 29 - April 4, 2012) reports: "City councillors are looking for ways to curb graffiti in Mississauga. One approach, to ban the sale of drawing and painting implements to those under age 18, as the City of London has done, was met with opposition at today's meeting of General Committee. Mayor Hazel McCallion, several councillors and staff all chimed in against the idea. In a report on the feasibility of a bylaw that would prohibit the sale of 'any can of spray paint, broad-tipped marker pen, paint pen, glass-cutting tool or glass etching tool or instrument' to anyone under the age of 18, staff recommended against taking such a step, citing concerns with enforcement. McCallion and many councillors expressed similar concern. 'I don't think a ban on these products will do anything and I doubt we have the human resources to enforce it,' said McCallion."
Good as far as it goes, Madame Mayor, but the proposal, as well as being impractical, is demeaning and wrong. It reflects the stifling nanny state that treats all citizens as criminals or morons and seeks to legislate all sorts of beheviour. So, a tiny minority of youth -- mostly immigrant gangbangers-- desecrates others' property with their doodles and tags. Why punish the vast majority of people under 18 who may wish to buy a can of spray paint or magic marker?
What does that teach? It teaches that the State considers everyone a criminal or an irresponsible child. Far better to treat everyone as a responsible person and punish only those who don't live up to that ideal.
A similar example of the stifling nanny state is the ban in Ontario and B.C., among other jurisdictions, on the use of hand-held cellphones in cars. Yes, some drivers talk on cellphones and are distracted. Some drivers are so addled, they shouldn't even talk to a fellow passenger or listen to a radio. Why not treat all drivers as responsible adults, rather than morons? The basic rule of driver responsibility is that the driver must be in full control of his vehicle at all times. Some people can talk on a cellphone and drive responsibly. A minority cannot. Why not deal with results? Police should charge absent minded cellphone chatterers with "dangerous driving," instead of restricting and punishing everyone.
CANADIAN ASSOCIATION FOR FREE EXPRESSION INC.