'What did you think would happen?'

Brian Jones
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Judging from readers’ responses on The Telegram website, there is apparently an epidemic in St. John’s of young hooligans throwing snowballs at moving vehicles, raising the prospect of shocked motorists losing control and instigating mayhem and destruction on the roads.

Despite what some people seem to think, a flying ball of snow cannot be equated to a rock or cinder block dropped from an overpass, a far more stupid and violent act that has indeed caused death in other places.

Snowballs thwacking against car windows are less of a threat to road safety than, say, drivers who talk on cellphones, and the many motorists who deem posted speed limits to be minimums rather than maximums.

As for the 15-year-old who allegedly threw a snowball at a taxi and allegedly received a punch or two in return, we can only wonder how he worded his complaint to the police.

“Some guy punched me.”

“Why did he punch you?”

“I dunno. He was mad, I guess.”

“Why was he mad at you?”

“Maybe ’cause I threw a snowball at his car.”


At that point, hopefully, the attending officer replied, “And what did you think would happen?”


Bad behaviour

If it is true the cab driver punched the kid, he went too far, of course. If he is found guilty of assault, a judge will undoubtedly give him a stern lecture to that effect, and something else besides.

If the teen is charged, his name will be banned from publication, since he is a minor. The public won’t know his name, but they’ll know his characteristics. He’s a bully. He’s a whiner. He’s probably a Daddy’s Boy, which is to say, an obnoxious, rude, cowardly crybaby.

How do we know this? Because he called the cops. He thinks he has the right to do whatever he wants to other people, but they can’t do anything to him.

If the cab driver is convicted of assault, let’s hope the judge also

has a stern warning for the complainant: “Look, kid, if you act like a bastard toward people, they will act like bastards right back.”


Zero sense

It’s overly popular to blame the school system for too many of society’s ills, but in instances such as this, it’s valid. This kind of behaviour can be traced directly to the so-called “zero-tolerance” policy that has been in vogue for years.

Educators have long boasted zero-tolerance makes schools safer and creates a learning environment that is polite, respectful, kind, etc.

It hasn’t, actually. What it has done is empower bullies. The rhetoric of zero-tolerance sounds comforting, but its essential drawback is that it — by definition — treats bullies and victims equally, rather than daring to point a finger of blame at the instigator.

A short sample, taken from a real situation: Bully A has been bullying Victim B for weeks. One day in the schoolyard, the bullying escalates. Bully A tries to beat up Victim B, who fights back. Both are called into the principal’s office. Both are suspended for three days.

The message zero-tolerance sends to bullies is that they will not be singled out for blame.

The message sent to victims is that they can’t stick up for themselves, and adults won’t stick up for them.


Police powerless

The RNC was roundly mocked for stating motorists, if struck by a snowball, should call the police.

Some months ago, an elderly man told of being harassed by a group of young hoods who were throwing rocks at his house and breaking windows. The police admitted they were powerless to stop it.

But if a snowball hits your vehicle, a squad car will come, siren wailing. Sure.

Cops, schools, parents — none have the answer.

Maybe a judge will.


Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by email at bjones@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: The Telegram

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Recent comments

    March 11, 2011 - 19:42

    Growing up in center city in the 60ties, we always threw snowballs at the buses, always!! Some big trucks, but mainly buses!!! Never , Never, at cars - unwritten rule!! Did we have more sense? No, but probably more common sense and respect!! Kodos to the taxi driver who stood up for himself. Little Johnny shoud be made an exampe of , by the courts! Only then will those teen agers think twice about flingling a hard snowball at a car. Another thing that is different about todays teenagers - when you let them cross the road , they move like molasses creeping down over stale bread!! Tiimes have certainly changed!! I hope this gets mega media coverage, so parents can point to the dangers of such childish and dangerous actions.

  • t
    March 11, 2011 - 14:55


  • Dave
    March 11, 2011 - 13:05

    Well said, Brian (clap, clap)! The zero-tolerance policy in the school system is absolutely rediculous. As a parent of four with two in the school system and two forthcoming, I have experienced this first-hand. We have always stressed to our kids to ell a teacher if they are being harassed or bullied and nothing gets done and most times it is because there was no teacher present to witness the altercation in the first place, and the bullies know this. However, once a child stands up to the bully and fights back, they face the same discipline as the bully. Makes "zero-sense", agreed. That being said, I have strongly advised my children to stand up for themselves to bullies. Regardless of what the school does, I will stand up for my children!

  • leah
    March 11, 2011 - 12:29

    The schools should yes judge each case individually and disappline the bully not the person who defends himself- not just a quick solution and punish both-take the time.Most parents do not get involved -but this should be a must-have the parents come to the school and get the issue resolved- deal with their bully kid,see that it dosnt happen again-and I agree that this kid who threw the snowball is a bully.

  • Jen
    March 11, 2011 - 08:29

    Finally. Someone willng to call it like it is. Hooligan numbers are on the rise. I blame the parents. I'm sure it was them who decided to get the police involved.

    • frances
      March 11, 2011 - 13:39

      i agree with jen and i totaly agree with what the cab driver did.Kids get away with way to much these days and thats the problem. The parents ain't much better.When i was growing up you knew what was right and wrong and got punished if you ever did something like that.What happened to old fasioned values eh?

  • Doug Smith
    March 11, 2011 - 08:29

    Mr. Jones: You like so many in the school system don’t understand what zero tolerance means. It sounds good, when you say a school has zero tolerance but it actually means a licence to bully. The cost of this licence is a three day suspension. Now is that going to frighten a bully? Get real. Zero tolerance should mean the bully would be expelled from the school and would have to further his education at another school. Doug Smith