2 min

Baird family passes around joints; Catholic students pass around judgment

BY ROB SALERNO – Let’s get the silly out of the way first.

BlackBerry continues to have problems with its email systems overseas, and now the problem is spreading to Canada. So now it’s not just Grindr that doesn’t work on the Canadian iPhones? Why does anyone still use these things?

Meanwhile, a fun clip from an old episode of Family Feud is making the rounds today. Here we see the Baird family (presumably no relation to our foreign minister, who’s off in Libya shilling to the rebels for our oil-pipeline and prison-building corporations), win a tossup by answering the question “Name something that gets passed around.” Stick with the video all the way to the end for the real punchline.

I’m going to guess that at least one of the other four answers is an STD.

The Star breaks the story that the excuse “I wasn’t using it, I just like holding it” doesn’t work when police stop you for using your cellphone while driving. Unreported: that also doesn’t work when you’re busted by the vice squad. 

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, time for some actual news. A Winnipeg-area Catholic school, which receives some public education funding, has come under fire for giving students credit for attending anti-abortion vigils.

The participating students receive time credit toward the school’s mandatory community service requirement. The vigils involve the students praying in large groups outside the city’s Health Sciences Centre as a form of protest against abortions that are performed there.

While the school’s principal stresses that the vigil is not mandatory, he tells The Gazette that he’s considering making the vigils an official school activity starting next year (which would not necessarily make the vigils mandatory).

One of the directors of the health centre is calling the vigils political lobbying that should be prohibited as a school activity. That seems to stretch the definition of “political lobbying” as far as I can tell.

I’m not sure what the controversy is here. Certainly if we’re going to allow students free speech, we can’t expect to agree with all of them. And if a school’s going to require students to complete community service hours, there’s good reason to include lobbying for politically or socially unpopular opinions in their work. After all, we’d expect a student volunteering at an environmental, human rights or gay rights organization to receive their community service credits. I’d even argue that volunteering in an official political party is a very worthwhile community service and educational experience. As long as the children aren’t committing any crimes in their activities (trespassing, vandalism, etc) they should very much have the right to perform whatever community service activities they want and receive credit for them.

(Let’s leave aside the argument that credit for service no longer makes it voluntary.)

Now, if the activities ever become mandatory or if students can’t receive credit for volunteering at Planned Parenthood or a similar organization, that’s another story. But until then, let’s let the anti-abortion students have their free speech, and let’s encourage constructive dialogue on the issue.

Before I go, some video awesomeness: The new Avengers teaser trailer was released yesterday.

I know, having seen that trailer can make it hard to do anything else for the rest of the day. Don’t worry. Xtra contributor Scott Dagostino has created a 12-step program for Avengers trailer addicts.

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