Joe Hatred Strikes Again!
"I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind."
- John Diefenbaker
Canadian Bill of Rights, July 1, 1960
On the BME newsfeed: Order to remove piercings sparks student outrage
Last Monday at Denis Morris High School, in St. Catharines (Ontario, Canada, not far from where BME is published), an announcement came over the PA system. Students were informed that if they did not by February 4th remove their body piercings they would face expulsion and would not be graduating with their class. The school insists they are justified in this action as a small group of parents and politicians quietly wrote these rules almost a year ago (“and rules are rules!”). The school’s Principal, Maurice Charboneau, illustrating himself as a hateful man with little respect for education or civil rights in general, stands by the arbitrary rule, holding that students that don’t look the way that he wants have no right to an education at his school.
I’d considered that maybe I should write a letter trying to talk to him on his level, but after reading it again I decided that it probably wouldn’t help anyone:
Principal Maurice Charbonneau,
I recently read that your school plans on enforcing a ban on body piercings. I can't thank you enough. It just disgusts me to see those people, and to think that our school system allows it to flourish is simply revolting. I look forward to the day when all students graduating Canadian schools aspire to the principles of the modern world: conformity, team spirit, blonde hair, blue eyes, and a sincere love for our savior the Lord Jesus Christ.
I read an interview with a student at your school, Matthew McKay, a demon-possessed 17 year old with the misguided notion that he's anything but a perverted sinner that deserves the eternal flames of hell as long as that iron bar penetrates his flesh. It just makes me sick to my stomach to think that young people think they have a right to express themselves like that. This is Canada, not some dark-skinned nation of tribal people waiting to get wiped out by alcohol and missionaries. What's next, cannibalism?
In any case, good going on your school's rules. Let's hope that your brave stance on this matter sends a strong message to these people: Canada has no patience for these deviants and individualists. We need to be clear: take out your sick freaky piercings (of course they can keep the ear piercings that God intended) or suffer the consequences. These kids need to realize that civil rights are only for people who behave in a civilized manner.
Of course, I’m not known for my blind hatred and I would never attempt to twist a religion preaching love into words of hate. I can’t pretend to be Joseph Haitryd with a straight face — I’m just not that messed up. Below is the actual letter that I’ve sent both to Mr. Charbonneau and his colleges, as well as to the media. Anyone wishing to quote it, plagiarise it, or use parts of it for their own purposes is more than welcome to. Revolution!
Principal Maurice Charbonneau,
I recently read that your school had chosen to pass, and now enforce, a ban on body piercings. As a person with piercings and tattoos who graduated from an Ontario school (PECI in Picton) with an average in the 90s and went on to university on a scholarship and then became a successful entrepreneur, I am very disturbed to find out that if I was a student now rather than then, I would not even have the right to graduate.
As an expert on the subject, let me begin by touching on some of the more common misguided reasons that schools choose to ban body piercings:
"Those are the rules. We decided on them last year."
A small panel of individuals has no right dictate rules that run contrary to the laws of the land, simply because of their own closed-minded prejudices. Schools are there to educate, not to dictate by force the misguided and old-fashioned social notions of special interest groups. What if they'd chosen to ban any Christians that chose to wear crosses? Would we even be having this debate? Of course not, because we understand that publicly funded schools have a duty to adhere to the laws of the land, and when they choose to violate those laws in the interests of the students, they must provide exceptional justification.
Canadian law says that at age sixteen, a person's ownership of their body transfers from the parent to the individual. Perhaps before the age of sixteen a school could make the argument that it is acting in loco parentis (although this seems a hard argument to make in the absence of clear parental consent), but it is absolutely clear that at age sixteen or higher, a school enforcing these rules is acting contrary to Canadian law.
The simple fact is that the health risks of piercings are virtually non-existent. Going simply by statistics, taking part in a high school gym program is quite literally hundreds of thousands of times more dangerous than body piercing, and taking the bus to school is perhaps millions of times as dangerous.
That's just silly. It's not hard to keep clean. As long as a student practices the basic hygiene that all non-stinking humans practice, cleanliness is not an issue. This line of reasoning makes no more sense than old testament laws which restricted access to menstruating women.
This usually boils down to some variation on "if God wanted us to have piercings, we'd have been born with them." Ignoring the fact that piercings are in fact quite common in the Bible, and that there are no Biblical laws against them, the basic reasoning doesn't make sense. After all, how often have you heard people say, "if God wanted us to eat cooked food, he'd have installed a furnace in our throats"?
"It distracts other students and damages the educational process."
We're talking in part about teen boys. Are they distracted by a kid with a piercing? Sure, for about ten minutes. They're a lot more likely to be significantly distracted by pretty female classmates — and I have heard nothing about a plan to make the attractive wear bags over their heads. Realize that by punishing the pierced student rather than the student with the distraction problem we are not attacking the problem, but instead strengthening it. The end result would be a nation of victims that has zero ability to behave with any level of self control.
"School needs to prepare people for the tough real world."
I find it quite disturbing that schools would state that because discrimination based on personal expression goes on in the real world, it should be given a trial-run in order to teach kids a lesson. The fact is that body piercing is legal for young people. Any difficulties it causes are due to societal bigotry. Using this line of thinking, since minorities and women statistically earn less than white males, should we automatically dock their marks by 20% in order to "teach them about the real world"?
"Pierced kids are troubled kids."
This one I'd like to address in a little more depth since while the statement does have an element of truth, its application is misguided.
The simple truth is that you have two kinds of students with body piercings: good students, and troubled students. I hope we can agree that it is wrong to punish good students for the actions of "bad" students — to do so would not only adopt a "guilty until proven innocent" policy, but adopt it without the possibility of a trial. I would hope that good students with piercings aren't a concern, and I must point out a fundamental flaw in your logic on troubled students with piercings: Piercings, at their core, are a tool that young people use to communicate.
A piercing may simply say "hey, I'm me", or even just be an emulation of something they saw on TV. The vast majority of times it's a healthy part of growing up and being human. In a worst case scenario, it may be a form of rebellion or an indicator of a deeper problem (abusive parents, date rape, depression, and so on), just like some young people cut themselves in order to say "look at me — I'm feeling pain — please help me."
By treating the piercing as the problem, rather than the symptom, you punish good students who are using piercing to express themselves in healthy ways. In addition, you tell troubled students that if they attempt to communicate their problems, they will be punished for it, pushing them towards drugs, alcohol, sex, and other genuinely risky behavior.
That said, I would like to briefly touch on a larger issue associated with banning body piercing for students. We have to ask ourselves, what fundamental message are we sending to students when we tell them that asserting control over their own bodies (which they in theory do have the legal right to do) is a sin so heinous that it should result in being banned from the education system that their parents' taxes are paying for?
Simple: we tell them that they are the property of a government that has no respect for their opinions and personal rights. We tell them that expression and independence are negative traits, and that Canada does not believe in any rights of expression. Let me remind you that it is pioneers, entrepreneurs, and people with vision and the courage to go places and do things that hadn't been done before that made this country great (need I do the clichéd and remind you about a rebellious long-haired fellow named Jesus Christ?). It is very disheartening to see those people slapped in the face with such closed-minded rules.
I've only touched on the very tip of things, but I hope you understand what I'm telling you. As the preeminent researcher on the subject, having interviewed tens of thousands of individuals and documented their experiences and thoughts, I would be glad to offer any assistance in drafting a more sensible and fair set of rules. My end goal is the same as what I hope yours is: to make sure students leave the school system as productive, effective, and happy members of society.
Publisher, BME: Body Modification Ezine
Body modification is here to stay — it might have been a “fad” or a “trend” fifty thousand years ago, but history has shown it to be the longest lasting and most universal form of personal expression. Chase students away from body piercings by force, and you have two end results: unhappy students, and then, tattooed students. And, short of banning tattooed people from receiving an education at all, that’s not a “problem” that can be solved with such rules.
I know a nearly infinite stream of successful happy people with piercings and tattoos. I don’t know anyone who has been hurt by someone else’s body modification choices; it is a personal act. We are in theory a nation of free individuals, and in order to protect that freedom, we must protect people’s right to express themselves. Like it or not, that includes body piercing. Polls have consistently shown that graduating students in Western society value two things: individual rights and freedoms, and service to one’s community. These are good people. It is in Canada’s best interest to nurture them, not punish them, for being who they want to be.
Do you really want to live in Joseph Haitryd’s world?
Keep on truckin’,
Niagara Catholic District Schoolboard
427 Rice Road,
phone: (905) 735-0240 fax: (905) 734-8828
Denis Morris Catholic High School
40 Glen Morris Dr.