As a student, Tutor, educational assistant, and as someone who, in general, has to deal with other student’s shitty work I must say I am sick and tired of the K-12 system. As an educational assistant, tutor, and peer I often end up editing the crap these students hand in. If they are coming out of high schools that never give them 0′s or only base their marks on whatever they decided to hand in, why would they have any understanding of academia, math, science, or the English language? For years now I have been struggling to help students who come out of high school with little to no understanding of such basic skills as grammar. High school English programs have a heavy focus on Shakespear instead of teaching students how to use a comma, or what a semi colon is for. They push students through from one grade to the next without thinking about the consequences this could have later. The justification for these actions is that they (whomever ‘they’ are) do not want children to be impacted negatively. So the solution is to have a society of people who have no concept of language.
But it gets better then this. Today this story broke. Lynden Dorval, a teacher with 35 years of experience, was suspended for insubordination. Dorval explains to global news just why he was suspended:
My principal has been giving me directive for almost a year-and-a-half to not give students zeros if they don’t hand in work or show up to write an exam,Instead we have a comment policy where we’re supposed to put in comments indicating what they haven’t done. The problem with that is the marks program doesn’t count that for anything, so if a student had only done half the work then their average mark would be based only on that half the work. The average is calculated by whatever marks are in there.
So basically children are learning nothing from K-12. It’s time we overhaul the system. Student’s should get zeros if they don’t do their work, or don’t show up for exams; sometimes students should get left behind; and more importantly they should be held accountable for their actions. It’s no wonder one of my peers at school last term said to me “I don’t understand why I got an F, why didn’t this prof just let me hand it in at the end of the term.” Indeed, what a jerk.
Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything else to title this blog post. The public safety minister, Vic Toews, might actually be a moron. Today the minister announced that Kingston prison will be closing. As someone who is familiar with the justice system, the announcement to close Kingston comes as no surprise to me. Towes was quotes as telling the media:
Institutions built in the 19th century are not appropriate for managing a 21st century inmate population,The time has come to recognize its crumbling infrastructure, costly upkeep and severe limitations in effectively managing a population of maximum security male offenders, and in the case of Leclerc Institution, medium-security offenders.
This should be of no surprise to Canadians either as Kingston was constructed in 1833-1834. I could get into the back and forth about whether or not the open prison concept is good or bad for corrections. The crumbling infrastructure in Kingston, the dangerous area’s that exist, or the potential for violence etc. This is an on going debate in criminology, as well as between correctional workers. What I want to talk about is the next arguement Toews made for closing this facility:
Despite tough new law-and-order legislation many thought would result in a spike in the prison population, Toews argued the projected increase never materialized.
Toews is not referring to the Safer Streets and Communities Act (AKA- Bill C-10, Omnibus Crime Bill) he is refering to the increase that was expected with the “The Truth In Sentencing Act”. If you are unfamilar with this one, it passed last year and took away the two days for every day served in remand. Meaning that those people who could not get bail would no longer
receive time off their potential sentence for awaiting trial in a remand centre. Basically what Toews is arguing here is that everyone was wrong about the prison population increasing because it hasn’t happened yet due to legislation that was passed less then one year ago? In addition to this Tows took to Twitter to discuss it some more tweeting:
Opposition claims $19 billion price tags for new prisons. In reality we are saving $120 millions by closing needless prisons” and “we aren’t creating new prisoners- just closing revolving door of the legal system
I have several problems with these claims. First, you can’t say that new legislation is not increasing your prison population one year after you introduce it. Why you ask? The answer really is a simple one. Because the justice system doesn’t work that way. Justice is slow and there is no way we have prosecuted enough people under the Truth in Sentencing Act to truly measure the effects it will have on our prison population. Second, it is not just one policy that the problem lays with. It is the combination of new policy that is the problem. In particular is the minimum mandatory sentencing legislation. That only passed the senate on March 12 of this year. There is no way that we will see the effects of all this new legislation for at least 5 years.
To know that these policies will have dire unintended consequences all we have to do is look at the sorry state of the American justice system. California has been ordered by the US supreme court to release 30,000 prisoners, they are on the verge of bankruptsy, and they are currently trying to pass legislation that will ease up on certain drug laws (such as possession of cannabis). Meanwhile in Texas they are closing down prisons, and introducing new rehabilitative approaches to crime in order to curb their own problems that emerged as a result of the same types of legislation. Texas has also come out to warn Canada against Bills such as C-10 warning that it will only cost billions, and won’t do a thing to deter, or reduce crime.
With the introduction of all the minimum mandatory sentences in Bill C-10 that will bring Canada from 29 MMS’s to over 60. You can’t introduce such legislation and not expect a spike in your prison population, and a back log of court cases in your justice system.
Guest Post by: Jan Stanners
In January of 2011 a Toronto police constable speaking on public safely at York University’s Osgood Law School stated that if women wanted to avoid being sexually assaulted they should stop dressing like ‘sluts’. While the Slutwalk movement has tackled the offensiveness of this statement and the concept of victim blaming I was more stunned by the fact that a police officer felt it was acceptable to stand up on a campus in 2011 and make such a statement. Does he really believe that? Is he the exception or the rule?
My incredulity is a function of my experience in life. First, I find it terribly difficult to be critical of the police for I value the service they provide us with poor pay and risk to personal safety. I also had the privilege of teaching a number of amazing students about diversity and the justice system. Most of the students intended to have careers in the area of criminal justice, and their motivation was very similar to that of students in Social Work, Education, and Nursing: they wanted to make the world a better place for all people. (Of course they also informed me that once in a while there’s a student who “just wants a gun”).I remember how thoughtful they were about the way the relationships between men and women could be messed up by socialization into the ‘real man’ role. Having this exposure to future police officers makes it hard to accept that all police officers think the way the aforementioned constable does.
So…I am left with the question of where the Toronto police constable got the idea that how a woman dresses or behaves is a causal factor in whether she is sexually harassed or assaulted.
When I took logic in university I learned that a bad conclusion is often the result of a bad premise. The constable’s statement seems to indicate a premise that ‘once a male is sexually aroused he cannot control himself’. I had heard this same idea expressed more crudely as (pardon the language) “A stiff prick has no conscience”. This made me wonder how prevalent such a belief is in our society.
About a year ago I was introduced to the concept of the WTF? Moment. So I’ll start by asking my female readers a question I used to ask my students “Why is it that when a man is unfaithful his woman blames the other woman?” Feeling that WTF? When you blame another woman for ‘stealing’ your man you have just said your man can’t help himself given her ‘slut’ temptation. So you agree with that premise.
Dr. Phil often insinuates that we as women need to not to ‘let ourselves go’ as our beloved may be tempted by other younger, more attractive women. So an authority (?) like him also believes that if a man is unfaithful it is because he couldn’t help himself…she was too tempting. So he agrees with that premise.WTF?
When basketballer Tony Parker’s marriage fell apart amid speculations of infidelity the public was incredulous: why would he cheat on a hot woman like Eva Longoria? WTF? In reality society in general understands when a man cheats with an attractive woman but doesn’t get it when the other woman is less attractive than his former partner (Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles). So society believes the premise.
When teaching about vicitmization I used Cohen and Felson’s Routine Activities theory which looked at the requirements for a criminal victimization to take place: an attractive target, a motivated offender, and a lack of guardianship. When I asked for an example of target my students, who were often mostly female, would say it was a woman who gets raped because she is dressed like a slut. WTF? So young females believe the premise.
Other examples of this belief have lead to honour killings even here in Canada…women are held responsible for not doing anything to arouse the beast. Rapists are either not convicted or given reduced sentences because the woman was dressed a certain way or drunk or flirting.
Given these examples I can only consider that the constable’s response reflects general societal beliefs about men. And men should be pissed about being viewed that way.
Now let’s go back to that premise about arousal and lack of control. Men should be offended by that because it portrays them as morally inferior and driven only by ‘the little head’. When I look back at my students and the men I have known in my life I just cannot believe they would think or act that way.
Is there any evidence that men really lose control and become automatons when they glimpse an enticing female? The descriptions often describe the men as unable to reason or stop themselves…temporarily insane?? WTF?
It the premise were true, we would see men, inflamed with lust, throw down attractive women on the ground, strip them and rape them, no matter where or when. WTF? I spent a lot of years on a post-secondary campus where there were many beautiful young women walking around in clothing that bared cleavage and pierced navels…never saw anybody get attacked. WTF? So is there something wrong with those men…or is there something wrong about the premise?
There are many situations where healthy males are exposed to temptation but they just don’t act according to the premise. Haven’t read a lot of reports of men rushing the stage at a strip club and assaulting the near-naked performers, or grabbing bikini clad women at the beach. Many performers appear on the Red Carpet in dresses that expose a lot of smooth skin….no assaults. WTF? Problem with the premise?
There is a need to question that premise. Is it ‘temporary insanity’ when the supposedly ‘insane’ man has the presence of mind to assault only women who are walking alone at night or are in their apartments WHERE NO ONE CAN SEE THEM? WTF? Weapons such as knives and immobilizing drugs are often used: THEY JUST HAPPENED TO HAVE THEM ALONG WHEN THEY WENT CRAZY? WTF? The nonsense just goes on and on.
I throw down the gauntlet to the police and other officials of the criminal justice system to start treating sexual assault survivors as victims of a violent crime. Stop acting as if you really believe that premise. Because if you do then we have to worry about you acting that way: after all the majority of you are males. I wish someone had shouted out “Is that what you would do?” when the Toronto constable make that statement.
Is it wrong to think that way about men? YES!! There is too much evidence that the vast majority of men would NEVER assault a woman. There is evidence that sexual assault is planned and executed to avoid detection…that particular male is not insane, he’s a violent offender. It doesn’t matter if he is her date, her teacher, her customer or her husband: he’s a violent offender! Treat him like a criminal, not her. Make us believe that you are performing your stated function: To Protect and Serve.
LAWRENCE E. COHEN AND MARCUS FELSON. University of Illinois, Urbana. American Sociological Review 1979, Vol. 44 (August):588-608
This afternoon the DA’s office in NY filed a motion to have the charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn dismissed, the motion is expected to be approved on Tuesday when he appears in court. The dismissal is said to be based on the many inconsistencies in his accuser’s story. According to prosecutors Diallo had lied in a political asylum application that she had been persecuted in her native Guinea and was “untruthful” with prosecutors about her history, background and personal relationships. She maintains that Dominique did sexually assault her and he forced her to have oral sex with him. The medical documents showed that the wounds that she suffered were in fact caused by rape.
Soon after meeting with Ms. Diallo, who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her, and the DA, her attorney-Kenneth Thompson- announced that the charges were to be dropped. “The Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance has denied the right of a woman to get justice in a rape case, If the Manhattan district attorney, who is elected to protect our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our wives, and our loves ones, is not going to stand up for them when they are raped or sexually assaulted, who will?”
“There were many reasons to believe that Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s accuser was not credible,” his attorneys said in a statement.”Mr. Strauss-Kahn and his family are grateful that the District Attorney’s office took our concerns seriously and concluded on its own that this case cannot proceed further,” the statement said.
Strauss-Kahn has proclaimed his innocence since this case came to light. However, the case isn’t over yet. Ms. Daillo filed a civil suit and has requested a special prosecutor for the case. The suit that was filed states that a naked Strauss-Kahn came out of his bathroom and forced Diallo to perform oral sex on him while she was cleaning his hotel room. This is also not his only legal problem. Back in France yet another accusation has emerged by a journalist who claims that in 2003 Strauss-Kahn attacked her in her apartment and forced her to have sex with him. Unfortunately the statutes of limitations on ‘sexual aggression’ in France has expired and authorities say that it will be very hard to prove rape so many years later.
Update, Aug 23, 2011: the judge has rejected the request for a special prosecutor.
Update #2 Aug 23, 2011: New York State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus threw out the criminal sexual assault charges against Strauss-Kahn. DSK’s Lawyer had this to say: “gratitude to the district attorney’s office for taking what I think to be a commendable and courageous step”
According to the Winnipeg Free Press a 44 year old man has been charged in connection with his wife’s suicide. The man has been charged with criminal negligence causing death. According to several different news sources the police have said that the man’s wife had repeatedly threatened to kill herself. On the evening in question the man left the house and returned the next morning to find his wife had over dosed on pills. Allegedly he waited before calling 911 after discovering his wife’s body. Constable Jason Michalyshen was quoted in the Metro as saying ”actions or lack thereof allegedly contributed to her death ” but would not say exactly how long he had waited before calling police.
This is not the first case of men being charged in connection with their wife’s suicide. In June 2006, a man was charged after he stepped out of the way of his wife’s minivan and she drove it off the side of a cliff. And in 2001 a man was charged with his wife’s suicide after she killed himself with his gun that police said was too accessible to her after returning home from a psychiatric hospital.
This is certainly a case I am going to be watching closely. Not just because it’s taking place in my hometown but also because it has the potential to set a precedence on what seems to be a slippery slope. What happens if someone doesn’t take the person who threatens to harm themselves seriously because they do this on a daily basis? Will they face prosecution?
This has the potential to put an interesting spin on the bystander effect. Should those who stand by and watch someone get beat be prosecuted? Or what about the group that watches a drunk women leave with a man? Will they too be prosecuted for criminal negligence? I believe we all have moral obligations to report such incidents to police, and get others help when they are clearly crying out for it… but a legal responsibility? I am just not so sure on this one. I’ll have to do some thinking (and researching). In any case I’ll be watching to see what kind of details are released on this case.
Even with all the technology available to us now conviction is never 100% our technologies are never 100% so we still face the possibilities of innocent people being convicted. The Norfolk four are a possible example of this happening and I wanted to share the story with you. If you are not familiar with this case let me give you a bit of background.
The Norfolk four were four veteran Navy sailors who were falsely accused of sexually assaulting and murdering Michelle Moore-Bosko in 1997 in Norfolk, Virginia. The conviction itself was based on false confessions that were obtained after hours and hours of interrogation the four veterans went through. In 1999 Omar Ballard confessed to the crime saying he and he alone committed this horrendous act. When his DNA was tested it proved to be a match to the only DNA found at the crime scene.
On August the 6, 2009 three of the four were given conditional pardons from state governor Tim Kaine. Derk Tice, Danial Williams, and Joseph Dick Jr would be set free after spending 11 years in prison however this was conditional and they would still have to register as sex offenders. Wilson would serve his full sentence and be released in September of 2006.
On October 27, 2010 the detective responsible for obtaining the confessions, Robert Glenn Ford was convicted on two counts of extortion and one count of making false confessions. He is currently serving 12 ½ years for his crimes.
On August 4, 2011 Circuit Court Judge Charles E. Poston accepted a request from the same prosecutor that prosecuted Derek Tice to drop the two felony charges against him relating to the rape and murder of Mrs. Moore-Bosko. Tice is the first of the four who has won appeals the other three men have appeals pending with the court.
Ms Moore-Bosko’s parents did not attend this hearing and maintain that all 5 convicted were involved and stated that last Thursday’s hearing was “nothing but a joke”. Omar Ballard, who was already serving a double life sentence when he confessed maintains that he committed this crime alone and no one else was involved and currently still remains as the only of the 5 who can be linked to the crime scene.
There is no doubt in my mind that Canada, like most other countries, at times has a racist institution. And recently The UN has called them on one of those. According to the United Nations Canada’s label of “visible minority” to people who are more likely to be victims of racial prejudice is, in and of it self, racist (no kidding). The UN argues that this term is racist because it is based on “race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin.” Ottawa is arguing that the phrase is one of four used for it’s employment Equity act and is used to protect individuals that fall within that group in order to protect them from discrimination in the workplace. The other groups are: aboriginal peoples, disabled people and women. This is a term that automatically others anyone who is considered ‘non-white’.
Language is extremely powerful and when used inappropriately has consequences. Just look at the term ‘race’. Race doesn’t even exist scientifically but because of labeling and language the word ‘race’ has a meaning that makes it real within its harsh consequences throughout history. When we say things like “They are a minority” again you are othering an entire group of people. When you hear people tell stories about groups of people you never hear “see that white girl in the corner..” or “I was talking to this white girl in the hallway”.. or “I was serving a group of white people”. No you hear “so I was talking to this black guy today”. I decided to do something like this with a group of friends one day and so I started a story “I was sitting with a bunch of white people talking about..” and I got the weirdest looks from people and yet just a few days later I decided to test this so I said ” I went shopping with my native friend the other day and we…” No one blinked an eye. The power of language.
Like the response to most other criticisms the government faces, it decided to turn to research and committees to try and justify the terms usage. The government released a report in July in which the conclusion was: ”While other terms were considered in the research, no other term fully encompassed the goals of addressing labour market disadvantage faced by groups designated by the (Equity Act).”
I started to pull reports and go to discussion boards to see what others thought and found a lot of people are missing the point. For example, a reporter from the Vancouver Sun wrote that “When I am travelling through Burnaby, Vancouver, New Westminster and Surrey on the Skytrain, I look around the train car and I do not see an obvious visible minority….When I am on the UBC and SFU campuses, I also don’t see a visible minority, except perhaps women and men who are “white in colour..”
Interesting, I completely agree with him that the term should be let go, though for different reasons. He says that he is the minority and therefore the term is not accurate. What he fails to realize why the term is being used in the first place. Although in pure numbers he may very well be the minority, he has white privileged on his side. Meaning, that you are not a minority.
There is no doubt that over the last 100 years things have gotten better for minorities and women but do you know why Canada (and other countries) will never let go of language like “visible minority”? Because it’s language like this that helps keep white males at the top of the pecking order. It’s language like this that allows white people to travel to any country in the world and be privledged even if they are the ‘minority’. It is language like this that has women scambling in China and India for skin lightening creams because lighter skin mean power, control, and beauty. If we did away with such language and labels it is possible that not only will white privileged no longer exist, those white males would no longer be entitled.
I could go on forever about this topic, so I will just say Canada should take a long hard look at some of the racist institutional policies, like the Indian Act, for example, which some see as legalized racism or simply a legacy of racism. As long as Canada has such policies their citizens will have racist believes, that they may not know they have, and there will always be an awkward hierarchy in society that everyone knows about, white men can’t let go of, some don’t want, and others who are aware of it and feel embarrassed and ashamed of it. How awesome would it be if we could all just be “human beings?”
I’ll leave you with what appeared on discussion forms from other people. Point in Case…(please note I did not correct them for spelling errors, all quotes are as they were found).
“For the life of me I can’t see what’s racist? :confused: Maybe I’m not looking hard enough for it…And maybe that’s a good thing…”
they ARE a minority, check!
they are NOT so small as to be, shall we say – less than 1% – CHECK!, which means they are “visible”
seems reasonable to call them a Visible Minority.”
“this is ABSOLUTELY the most LUDICROUS statement from this international body , I have EVER heard!!!! Has the UN nothing better to do than try to redefine TWO words in the English language? TWO words that have NO racial connotation at all! Which of these two words are the problem, the minority part?? or the Visible part? Either you are visible or invisible , there is NO greay area there. And the word minority is plainly a definitive numerical description. Either minority or majority???”
“Sorry to say with all the immigrants we are getting canada is far From #1 like we used to be. there should be no such thing as immigration. people should stay and live where they are born. I’m Not Racent but they all bring it on themselves in there own”