Orwellian Affair, Part I

In honour of Jessie Sansone, the man arrested in Kitchener a few weeks ago on firearms charges after his four-year-old daughter drew a picture of a gun at school, I've done up a little parody comic strip of what might have happened if one of my children was in that girl's class (see the original news story here: http://www.therecord.com/news/local/article/676150--man-shocked-by-arrest-after-daughter-draws-picture-of-gun-at-school). Just for added context, here's the key quote from the article concerning the reasons for arrest:
The detective told him that his four-year-old daughter had drawn a picture of a man holding a gun. When a teacher asked her who the man was, the girl replied, “That’s my daddy’s. He uses it to shoot bad guys and monsters.”
This will be a four-part comic. I've already pencilled all four parts, just need to ink the rest and I'll then post them each Friday.  Click on the image below to view the full-sized version:

Be sure to check again next Friday to see what happens next!

Part 2 is here:http://www.swordsandspace.com/2012/03/orwellian-affair-part-2.html
and Part 3:  http://www.swordsandspace.com/2012/03/orwellian-affair-part-3.html


Sophia's Favorite said...

Spelling Canada with a K, are they?

What's your Constitution like, vis-à-vis bearing arms and free speech? Or, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, rather?

Not, of course, that either right is actually in play here, since a child's drawing does not, in any school of jurisprudence in the Western world, constitute anything like grounds for an arrest, whatever his rights to weapons were.

Here in the US, the teacher might ask the parent in for a conference, and people would think even that was extreme.

Nicholas D.C. Wansbutter said...

In fairness to the rest of Canada, I think this whole episode really only reflects on the Waterloo Regional Police and Waterloo Family and Children's Services. The W.R.P.S. has a bit of a track record for acting as if citizens have no rights. Another lawyer who works in my building recently settled out-of-court for $5000 after the police illegally detained him for about 5 minutes when he refused to identify himself (http://www.therecord.com/news/local/article/673470--lawyer-who-says-he-was-wrongly-detained-settles-suit-with-police-gets-5-000)

I'm reasonably certain that in places like Toronto or Winnipeg (where I used to work as a prosecutor) none of this would have happened. And to the average Canadian's credit, this has generated a lot of public outrage.

Now, as to our constitution, there is NO right to bear arms for Canadians. One must bear a valid "Possession/Acquisition License" in order to possess firearms. Nowhere have I read whether the police even bother to check if Mr. Sansone had such a license.

But in any event, you are 100% correct that this child's drawing (which was conveniently erased off of the whiteboard by the teacher) doesn't come anywhere close to "reasonable and probably grounds" which is the requisite for an arrest here. I've heard that Mr. Sansone has hired a lawyer and I fully expect him to win a significant amount of damages from the police on this one.

I think for what would happen in the U.S., it would depend which state. Certainly down in Arizona or Texas even a conference might seem extreme. Up in Massachusetts it might be different.

Sophia's Favorite said...

Well, teachers in Arizona (which is where I live) and Texas would be less likely to ask for the conference—gun-ownership is so common that, until last year, the schools in my town closed for the first day of deer season (my father, a high-school math teacher, calls it the "21-gun salute to Bambi").

Nevertheless, in my high school art class, you weren't allowed to draw guns. You weren't allowed to draw skulls, either, but I think that may have had to do with how many Navajo Indians we have here (they aren't allowed to look at corpses, it's one of their religion's taboos). Even so, it would've been a minor classroom-discipline thing, not a sent-to-the-principle, parents-called thing, on its own.

But a teacher in Massachusetts, while much more likely to call parents, would get mocked in the rest of the country for doing it, and it would bolster Massachusetts' reputation for being a liberal loony-land.

PS. What Canada calls "reasonable and probably grounds" is, I think, called "probable cause" here in the US. Confusingly, the one-step-below that (which might justify investigating, but not an arrest) is called "reasonable suspicion", so I wouldn't envy anyone who has to arrange cooperation between US and Canadian law-enforcement.

Nicholas D.C. Wansbutter said...

Perhaps oddly, we have reasonable suspicion here as the step before grounds to arrest.

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