The Toronto Sun is the local right wing newspaper. They are big on Christianity, gun ownership, punitive punishments for crimes and lowering taxes. A familiar tune to be sure and it is no surprise that I find their reporting to be a joke at best, a travesty at worst. Sometimes, however, the Sun is right. A little. Recently in nearby Waterloo a four year old child drew a picture of a person holding a gun. She identified it as a drawing of her father who uses the gun to fight bad guys and monsters. Based on this evidence her father was arrested when he came to pick her up at school, strip searched, charged with illegal possession of a firearm and tossed in jail. Children's services came in and took his children away for questioning. Surprise, surprise, the police found no gun at his house. He had done nothing wrong and there wasn't a tiny shred of credible evidence at any point that might have pointed to his guilt. The Sun has a report on it here.
I must say I agree with the reporter in his reaction to the story initially. The police searched the home without a warrant and arrested a man with no evidence whatsoever. This is a complete overreaction by the authorities and reflects a fundamental lack of understanding of children's behaviour. If a child says "My daddy hits me" and has bruises, you obviously call the police! When a child draws a picture of a gun and says "My daddy uses this to kill bad guys and monsters" you smile and nod and move on with your day. People who take care of children have an obligation to look out for the child's best interests and be aware of parental abuse but they must also avoid taking everything that small children say at face value. They make things up constantly and often have a poor ability to distinguish fantasy from reality.
The next step is a doozie. After noting how ridiculous this situation is the reporter goes on to ask "Are we living in a Communist Dictatorship? I never ask those things lightly..." and from that point on pretty much went pants-on-head crazy. Just a heads up for anyone out there who uses Communist as a catch all to mean "bad", Communism is a government type that doesn't work. Much like Democracy it has been stamped onto various nations while retaining no shred of the original intent of the system. Communism isn't evil, it is just a government type that works for small communities and not for countries; just like Democracy. Criticizing the systems that lead to this arrest is certainly reasonable but chucking around the word Communist as a catch all slur just makes you look like a uninformed rabble rouser. Which, to be fair, is usually what the Sun is all about.
Normally I would be suspicious of this if it had only been reported in the Sun but the Star (the local left wing rag which commands little more of my respect than the Sun does) reported in a similar fashion, managing to leave out the Communist comments and the rant about responsible gun ownership. The question I ponder is whether or not this was a failure at the micro or macro level. Is the school actually required to alert the police with such shaky evidence of wrongdoing and are the police required to react the way they did? Are we looking at a failure of judgement on the part of minor bureaucrats or a disaster of lawmaking and liability? Given my encounters in the past with rules and laws aimed at preventing exposure to liability under the guise of 'safety' I guess it is a mixture of both. Probably the laws surrounding this issue are foolish and the people implementing them are too desperate to cover their asses at the same time.