The Policy-Propping Nincompoops In The Ottawa Catholic School Board

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes [shall be] they of his own household.” – Jesus (Matthew 10, 34-36)

I need to preface this by pointing out I am an anti-theist, and my intent is to reduce teen drug use in my community through the use of truth and science. Anyone who thinks I am “promoting marijuana to kids” or that I am trying to “corrupt the youth” of the nation – the opposite is true: I am trying to repair what our corrupt society has already done.

As I said in a previous post, a teenager – ostensibly from St. Pius X High School in Nepean – came up to me at 10:45-ish in the morning at a bus stop and half-jokingly asked to procure marijuana from me. He and his friends thought it was pretty funny to make fun of a person with the word “MEDICINAL” across his chest. Clearly identifying as a medical user, it suggests an illness. Is this the decorum they teach kids at this school?

I contacted the school, and the Ottawa Catholic Public School Board, and suggested I could come in and talk to the kids. Getting the kid in trouble will do little to help, as will doing nothing. But continuing to do the same thing – or, indeed, more of it – will likely only result in even more of the same kind of problems.

The first person I spoke to about this, Keith Cooper, was the vice principal back in July. He liked the idea of me talking to the students, but assured me it would be next to impossible for me to speak to the kids because I was a pot user. The trustees would never allow it.

This is what I would have told the kids, had I the chance.

We left it for the holidays, and then in September, I contacted the school again and spoke the new vice principal whose name I didn’t get. That conversation went nowhere, so I contacted the school board again. Remember, I have to tell the same story over and over and over again to every new secretary and assistant on the phone, and that is upsetting for me.

In the second week of September, we were talking to a kid at a bus stop about his shirt-lint wardrobe issues, and got onto the subject of drug education. He rolled his eyes about how dumb it all was. I asked him if he went to St. Pius and he laughed. He did not, but – according to this kid – St. Pius was widely known as “the stoner school”.

So then on Thursday September 8th, I get a call from the Principal of St. Pius. She assures me there is absolutely no way they are going to allow me to come speak. The policy is – from the Provincial Ministry, and from the board – that pot is illegal, and kids cannot use it, period. Science, and her own opinions about the medical benefits of pot notwithstanding, she had to enforce policy. “I could lose my job!”

Of course, when I pointed out that her school – indeed, our whole society’s – ridiculously failed drug policy has resulted in her students literally bullying disabled people and asking them for drugs in front of a group of people at a bus stop in broad daylight, and that this was an opportunity to change these policies…. well of course she dug in her heels. The policy was the policy. She seems to have decided that evidence and history are irrelevant, and that the policy is sound. Or maybe she is just a coward who is more concerned about keeping her job than keeping her students safe…. I am not sure…

She informed me that the day I sent the first email, their in-house cop was notified. They would, she informed me, handle it their own way, and I was free to file a police report if I wanted to.

I tried to explain to her that I was in a unique position to explain the differences between medical pot and the street crap that kids usually come into contact with, and that with me talking to the students, we could actually reduce the drug use in her school quite significantly. She would hear none of it. Apparently, she would rather stick to the failed policy and let the chips fall where they may, rather than, say, try something that promises to be far more effective.

I told her that I felt like this policy was discriminating against me because I was a pot user. She didn’t have much to say about that. Pot is illegal, as far as she is concerned.

So I told her that I may have to lobby the kids directly to try and get the truth out. She told me I was free to do that… Got that? Make sure you have that part clear: When I said “I may have to lobby the kids directly.”, she said “You are free to do that”. Okay, then.

But all I really took away from her conversation is this (paraphrasing): “We’re going to keep doing more of the same thing. We know it doesn’t work. We know the kids get more information from the internet than they do from us. We know that they resent us for giving them information that is outdated, inaccurate, hyperbolic, and very easily debunked. And we already know that every study shows that our current drug education strategy is counterintuitive and counterproductive, and that it directly endangers kids. But I am sorry Mr. Barth, that is government and school board policy.”

That is how it looks to me, anyway.

So I figure I will go put up some stickers in the area directing people to this blog post. No vandalism – just kids’ glue on things that won’t be damaged like poles and stuff.

But, at a time when even local celebrities like Stuntman Stu are doing public campaigns against bullying, I am getting shunned! I am getting bullied by the feds, the province, the city, and even local teens – and no one comes to my defense.

So – is using truth and science in an effort to reduce teen drug use in my community a crime?

Publicly pointing out that a school, a school board’s, and a province’s drug policy is provably counterproductive – is that also illegal?

What about putting up little stickers with QR codes? Well, if the yoga, meditation, and raggedy garage sale signs profaning almost every pole and bus shelter in this city are any indication, then putting up little stickers in places where they won’t harm the surface they adhere to will likely not cause too much fuss. I assume the local police are far too busy with real crimes to go after little old me and my little old stickers.

But if the cops do come after me for putting up these stickers – trying to call it “vandalism” when no one lifts a finger to stop the long list of people who pollute every pole in town with their commercial posters – then that would be open, brazen bald-faced discrimination against me, and I would fight it to the Supreme Court Of Canada.

I have been bullied. I am trying to be pro-active in a constructive and educational way in keeping with the tennents of Educators For Sensible Drug Policy. Will I face charges for this attempt. We’ll see.

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About russellbarth

Trying to end marijuana prohibition, and educate people about marijuana, diet, prohibition, and sustainable living.
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3 Responses to The Policy-Propping Nincompoops In The Ottawa Catholic School Board

  1. Jay Bergstrom says:

    Fucking A Russel,
    Do it. But you will be crossing the line from bigmouth advocate to civil disobedient citizen.

    It may be possible to have the same result by posting into the net areas where the little dears hang out. Wherever that might be.

    An inspired antiwar activist in pre-internet Sacramento pasted signs to the traffic signal control boxes. He used a stencil of a peace sign for the adhesive. For years after the signs were gone, the peace signs grimily endured. I’d suggest a fan of leaves for the issue at hand.

    In Liberty,
    Jay

  2. russellbarth says:

    I don’t think so, Jay. Putting up those little stickers barely constitutes a bylaw violation. And since so many of the poles in town are covered with raggedy posters and packing tape and duct tape and shredded tats of paper…. i doubt my little stickers will cause much trouble for anyone.
    Yeah…. we have posters all over town, and spray paint damaging people’s actual property – let’s pick on this guy with his little washable bits of paper….

  3. Pingback: An Open letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty, Education Minister Laurel Broten, and my MPP- Bob Chiarelli | Russell Barth's Blog

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