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Opinion: Bill Walton, Weeds

The poppy was a weed until we domesticated it

Is there a place in our society for the young woman who intentionally, with malice aforethought, discharged a Roman Candle firework inside a Toronto transit bus? And for that matter, include her accomplice who videoed the entire event.

This was a criminal act.

She may or may not have already been chastised by her parent(s), the arresting officers, the bailiff, and even the night court or family court judge. Heaven knows the passengers and driver of the bus must have had unkind words for her (them). She was perhaps lucky there was no vigilante justice folk nearby.

The young woman may have even passed a couple of hours in a holding cell, but one must suspect that anyone with the familiarity with our social justice system, knows that will only add to her creds. As one sociologist mused, what will she do next to trump her standing among her friends (no pun intended) and social media followers? Now already on the path of social misbehaviour, the next step will possibly move to more serious criminal activity, minor in nature, of course, until she matures. Don’t stand near her (if you know her name) in a subway station.

We could put her into the system of psychiatric rehabilitation and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps with some success, or not, using those much-needed funds designated to help, and assist, others who have not yet wreaked havoc on our civil society. Of course, judging by her age, she must have already passed through kindergarten where she learned to share and play nice, then onto the junior grades where she displayed exemplary behaviour only once being reprimanded for biting. Biting the teacher. Sparing no expense, we provided her with some higher education where she learned about igniting gunpowder and discovered her hero, Guy Fawkes.

What are we to do with these sociopaths? It is simply too expensive to house them in detention centres – and besides, all the rooms are taken. We need our tax dollars for health, education, defense, and housing. If we had a gulag in Siberia, we could send them to work in a salt mine but we are a too kind and gentle people to do that.

What is it about our present society that is obviously upsetting these people? Are there too many rules, too many restrictions on what one can or cannot do? Perhaps we have become too much of a ‘Nanny’ state – too used to telling everyone what they can or cannot do. Maybe the Covid masking and vaccines, supposedly for our own well-being, were too much. Added to that is the drug issue, no longer just tobacco and alcohol, but opioids, marijuana, ecstasy, and other mind-altering substances.

And just this morning, news that a gang of boys (all under 15 years of age) swarmed and stabbed a person; and before the news had time to sink into our concerned heads, they had been released with promises to appear weeks from now. Had it been a mad dog biting people, the authorities would have put it down. But I suppose we cannot do that to those mad teenagers, can we?

Watching my neighbour pulling weeds from her flower bed (the iris and poppies are out) I tried an analogy of weeds growing in our society and how we should address the problem before they crowd out the flowers. What to do about this generation of barbarian weeds at the gate? If they were old and unruly at the Home, we could simply sedate them, but that might be part of the problem, not the solution: self-medication.

I suppose there have always been and always will be young people pushing the limits of social behaviour but when they cross the line and harm others, something needs to be done to get them back on track. Letting them grow like unattended weeds will only produce more weeds.

Perhaps that is what has happened: these are the children of the weeds of a previous generation. We need to find a use for these weeds – sort of like calling a dandelion a flower and trying for a bouquet. After all, we did find a use for kale, although it still tastes like a weed to me.

Back to our fireworks-on-the-bus girl, if I were a betting person, I would wager my $8 against your $5 that she only gets 20 hours of community service and a severe scolding. Just saying.

Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

Retired from City of North Bay in 2000. Writer, poet, columnist
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