Tag Archives: ban

If Something Exists Only to Kill, Why Do We Protect It?

By Jason Menard

Tell me again how guns don’t kill people; people kill people.

Go ahead. Trot out that line again. Honestly, it would be absolutely hilarious, except for the fact that statement represents the first line defence after acts that produce nothing but tears.

Actually, don’t bother telling me. Why not tell the mother of Shyanne Charles? You know, the 14-year-old girl who, along with 23-year-old Joshua Yasay, who was gun downed Monday night at a block party in Toronto. Continue reading

Idea for Perfume Ban Stinks

By Jason Menard

Does the nose know best? Or have we lost all sense when it comes to scents. The proposal by a citizen’s group in our nation’s capital just shows that common sense is just not all that common anymore.

Ottawa city councilors will be debating the merits of a proposed action designed to minimize the use of perfumes and other scents in public places. This action is well-intentioned as it’s an attempt to diminish the discomfort for those with breathing challenges and allergies.

But you know what they say about how the road to hell is paved… Although at least Ottawa’s off-ramp will be sweet smelling.

Odiferous or odious? Well, that’s really a matter of personal choice now, isn’t it? And can you truly legislate against personal preferences? Is that a road that we really want to go down? Already certain businesses and health care institutions have implemented low-odour or no-odour policies due to health concerns, but should this really be in writing, punishable by a fine? Will people be sent to jail for fragrances?

Will we come to the day in Canada when Passion, Contradiction, Escape, and Truth will be crimes? The Calvin Klein versions, of course.

Personally, the idea of any government body spending more than a nanosecond debating this is frightening as it means we’re almost at the point where we’ve totally relinquished control over our own actions. We’re on the verge of abdicating the right to think for ourselves in an attempt to ensure that no one’s rights are trampled upon.

Like a number of you, I’m not a fan of that wall of scent that greets you as you walk into certain department stores. You hold your breath as you rush through the flowery – yet still fetid – air, eyes watering at the intrusion of the aromatic waves. In this case, these floral notes are all wrong – yet I’ve made a choice to enter that store, knowing full well what I’m going to be walking into. But if we’re willing to get tough on the purchasers, should not the vendors be subject to the same scrutiny?

And what about other issues? What about offensive body odour? If we’re willing to investigate legislation regarding sweet-smelling perfume, should we not also look into what can be done about people with personal hygiene issues?

Just as noxious as the over-sprayed is the under-washed. How many times have you been in a grocery or department store, minding your own business, when – as Vincent Price so eloquently put — the funk of 40,000 years wallops you in the face and sends you reeling? Male or female, fetid body odour knows no bounds. Yet where is the proposed legislation over that? Are allergies any more important than retching?

Maybe instead of spending time and money on potential legislation and/or information campaigns, we should be hoping that common sense and common courtesy will prevails.

If you work in an environment where someone has taken liberties with the spritzer, then you have the right to request a toning down of the scent. Similarly, if you work with other people – especially those with compromised respiratory issues, asthma, or allergies – then you have an obligation, as a human, to not be offensive.

That’s it, that’s all. Simple as that. No need to enact new laws, no need to criminalize people for wanting to smell better. All it takes is a little common courtesy and willingness to work in a group dynamic. Yet we seem to be incapable of taking this simple action. We’re so focused on ourselves that we refuse – or are unwilling – to take others’ needs into consideration.

The fact that this situation is being discussed in Ottawa isn’t the problem. The real joke is that it needs to be discussed at all. People say you can’t legislate common sense, but what does it say about us when our governments at least have to try.

Despite all the perfume in the air, something still smells foul – perhaps its our lack of respect for each other.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Graffiti Ban Targets Symptom, Not Disease

By Jason Menard

Verily, I say to thee that London truly is a safer place today! Yes, a committee has put forth a recommendation before our esteemed council to wrest from the hands of our city’s youth the very implement they wield to pierce into our city’s soul.

A marker.

Oh, but not just any marker. A marker specifically targeted by these hooligans to deface our fair streets and mark their territory. In celebration I felt like running to where my four-year-old daughter was colouring, seizing her Crayola’s, and waving them in front of her, shouting “Verily, thine fiendish future ways have been thwarted, daughter of mine.”

Yes, we have eradicated the opportunity for these youths to purchase their weapon of choice! And, although they’re smart enough to do intricate work in public places without getting caught by the police, we can only hope that they’re not smart enough to hop in a car and drive to a neighbouring community that’s more writing implement friendly.

Honestly, does this seem a little short-sighted to anyone else? Do we honestly think that preventing under-18s from buying markers will stop the tagging and other acts of graffiti that pop up in our city? Do we honestly believe that only under-18s are the ones perpetrating this activity?

And are we so stuck in this white-bread mentality that we can’t see the beauty of the work that some graffiti artists produce?

Of course, it may all come for naught. In true Keystone Kapers fashion, the council neglected that discriminating based upon age may not be the most legally sound foundation for a by-law. But beyond that, this is a clear case of sweeping the issue under the carpet by dealing with the symptom not the disease.

As with most youth activities, including the very gang affiliation that some councilors attribute, graffiti and tagging are simply a crime of opportunity – or, more specifically, lack of opportunities. Many kids get involved in tagging for the simple fact that they’re bored. Yes peer pressure can be a factor, but in large part these are kids who have fallen through the cracks.

Listen, I’m not advocating a bleeding-heart approach where these kids are considered the victims, not the victimizers. But what I know is that an approach that’s designed to restrict access to the tools of the trade is only going to embolden these perpetrators to be more outrageous and outlandish in displaying their craft. After all, we know what happens when you tell a teenager not to do something – you’ve suddenly made the act far more appealing than ever before. Instead of reducing the number of tags on public property, a ban may in fact increase the frequency and prevalence of this type of graffiti.

The first step in the process has to be education. Start the kids young in elementary school by instilling a sense of what’s right and wrong. There are anti-graffiti colouring books and other materials that other communities have used, and we should be on the bandwagon. Secondly, we need to continue to hammer home this message throughout their schooling. As kids enter high schools, we need to show them the economic effects of tagging and – more specifically – how it affects their wallet. If we can draw the correlation between increased clean-up costs that get rolled back into increased product and service prices, not to mention taxes, maybe that will help.

We also have to have stricter punishments in place for those that are caught. A hefty fine or stint in jail may serve as an effective deterrent for some of the more thrill-seeking members of this community.

As well, these youth need to be engaged in finding the solution. Obviously the programs and services that are already in place aren’t meeting their needs, so why not involve them in the process of defining and implementing social programs that work? If we accept that graffiti can be a crime of boredom, where is the harm in engaging these youth in developing solutions that are stimulating and effective? The top-down approach, despite all its good intentions, is obviously not working.

And the final piece is that there needs to be recognition that not all graffiti is bad. By setting up graffiti walls in various parks and areas of the city, we can encourage these artists to showcase their wares in a public and accepted forum. Some graffiti art is an expression of social conscience and that’s something we should be encouraging more of in our community’s youth.

In the end, London may soon be the first city to ban the sale of these implements to minors, but that’s certainly not a distinction of which I’m going to be proud. I’d much live in a city that’s know for putting a premium on the participation of its youth in more constructive activities than for residing in one that simply banishes them to the corner.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved