In Winnipeg, a white nationalist mother thought it was fun to draw a swastika on the arm of her seven-year-old daughter. When a teacher rubbed off the mark, the mother drew it back on. The second time, the school reported the incident and child welfare officials took both the daughter and a two-year-old boy away from the mother. It is a case that raises very serious questions of free speech balanced against child welfare.
Recently, there have been some alarming attacks on free speech by Canadian agencies, click here. This story, however, is the first involving the removal of children.
Schools are given a great deal of leeway in prohibiting hateful or inappropriate clothing. Presumably, this would also include body messages. However, the penalty is generally suspension or expulsion — not removal from the home. Moreover, so long as it is lawful for a child to receive a tattoo, a family is allowed to put a cross, star or other religious or political symbol on their children. The school may require that it be covered up, but it cannot prohibit a family from exhibiting their political beliefs.
The mother in this case is obviously pretty creepy with a house full of Nazi symbols. She now admits that it was a mistake: “It was one of the stupidest things I’ve done in my life but it’s no reason to take my kids.” Yet, Child and Family Services has removed the children because it considers such views to be potentially harmful for the children.
There is no greater form of government punishment for speech than taking away one’s children. This mother has a right to raise her children in a Nazi home. The school has the right to regulate some demonstrations of speech that are clearly inimical to the educational mission — though such limitations have to be narrowly tailored.
Canadians need to take a serious look at these attacks on free speech and the future of free expression in the country.
For the full story, click here.