08 February 2012

Perspective, and the lack thereof #nlpoli #cdnpoli

Take an elementary level classroom in small town school on the northern coast of Newfoundland.

Add a bunch of 10 year olds.

Toss in some smoked capelin one of them had for lunch.

A few taunts and a squirt or two of Febreze later and you had a fine batch of bullshit stew for the talk radio fanatics in Newfoundland to chew on all day Tuesday.

All this agitation because a teacher sprayed a little air freshener on a boy in her classroom who was suffering the taunts and jeers of his classmates over the fact he smelled of cooked fish.  She did it outside the classroom, discretely as it seems, but that was not to be the end of the tale.

The young fellow told his mother about the incident when he got home. And mom, not to be denied a scalp, called the teacher to berate her, then called the school the next day and wasted no time at all in getting herself on the local media. 

Her only goal?  To get the teacher fired from her job.

Mom was evidently not thinking much about her son.  After all, the louder that Mom screamed the more people knew about the story. By the time Mom got into full fury, little Christian’s few capelin became an incident known around the globe.

If he had been embarrassed by the jeers and the freshener, he must well be on the way for extensive psychiatric treatment after Mom got on the job.

Scarred for life.

Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Every time he looks at a plate of the little fish? 

Instantly paralysed with fear.

From now on trout may send him into a catatonic state from which he may never recover.

Let’s not even talk about what herring might do to him.

The majority of callers thought that firing the teacher was not good enough. Skinning alive might have satisfied some, such was their bloodlust.  The young teacher had insulted their nationalist honour, defiled the birthright of the nation, spat on her own heritage.

Fired, disgraced and never allowed into a classroom again would have been letting her off lightly.

Hysterical is one word for the comments. 

Absofriggin’lutely-nutso-out-of-all-proportion-to-the-incident would be much closer to reality.

Take the comments on this news story as typical. Note the number.  On Tuesday night, it was rapidly creeping up on 400.

Meanwhile, the government agency responsible for looking after injured workers revealed this week that one of its employees had been accessing confidential client records he wasn’t supposed to be looking at. They talked about a dozen files over the course of three years.

According to CBC, the chief executive at the agency said this was the first incident of its type at the agency. Take the numbers of comments on this story as typical of the public interest in a pretty significant privacy breach.

As for it being the first of its type, that seems to be true.  But it certainly isn’t the first privacy breach at the agency.  Four years ago, the same agency suffered a significant breach.  How the agency and its government masters handled the story was as amazing as the incident itself.

The Febreze teacher story is going viral on the Internet, the teacher is suspended and the school board is apologising left and right as they start a full-on investigation into the incident.  If the teacher keeps her job it will be a miracle at this point.

In the privacy story, the whole thing is just sliding quietly on by with very little notice.  Odds are very little of consequence will happen to anyone involved.

Take a look at these two stories and you get a very interesting perspective on Newfoundland and Labrador and what matters to people.

- srbp -