I can still very clearly remember crowding into a roomful of other students when it was announced that the verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial was coming down the tubes. The news came smack in the middle of what had begun as just another typical day at school, and because of all the attention the case had received, the faculty were hard-pressed to keep us focused on our lessons while there was so much sensationalism in the air.
The teachers seemed to feel that it was important for us to watch the news as it unfolded, in the presence of trusted authority figures that we could talk to if we felt in any way confused or bewildered by what we saw on the television screens. Fast-forwarding nearly 20 years since the Simpson verdict, mass media still has a profound impact upon the classroom environment; especially for the Montreal high school students who recently sat through an in-class viewing of a most gruesome murder.
The teacher (who has not been named) was suspended with pay after showing the video to students in his History and Civics class on June 4, 2012. The video has been the subject of international headlines, as police have stated that they believe it to be a genuine depiction of the brutal murder of 33 year old Concordia University student Jun Lin.
Authorities have been trying in vain to stop the sickening 10 minute video from continuing to circulate online; it captured not only a murder, but also acts of necrophilia and cannibalism -- all in shocking violation of obscenity laws.
Thirty seconds' worth of the Icepick video was enough to turn my stomach, and I've been delving into dark places for as long as I can remember. Almost immediately, I got the sense that I was seeing something that would change me forever. I quickly closed the media player window and forced myself to take a deep breath, and then another.
One of the students in the class, a sixteen year old boy, told a CBC reporter that an anonymous vote was held to determine whether or not the video would be shown in class. Reputedly, all 30 students voted in favour of watching it. The boy said that although he found the video troubling, he didn't believe it had a lasting effect on him.
The teacher has expressed regret for his actions, and is scheduled to appear before a labour relations committee to provide his version of events. What form of disciplinary action will be taken (if any) will be determined by the board.
The Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board released a statement today about the incident. The document was issued only in French, but in a nutshell, it says:
Sorry for terrorizing your children; hope the nightmares go away in a week or two. Please be assured that we are doing all we can to cut down on the amount of gory snuff videos shown in our classrooms. Thank you for your continued support.
Mascara & Murder is hosting a PDF copy of the school board's statement:
Update (June 14, 2012):
A teacher at Cavelier-De LaSalle high school in Montreal has been fired after showing a Grade 10 class the video believed to depict the death and dismemberment of Jun Lin.
The firing Thursday comes a day after the teacher was suspended.
Some of his students had rallied Thursday to protest the suspension, which they said was unfair since the class had voted to watch the video. [...] One student told CBC News that everyone in the class voted in favour of watching it. Another said three students voted against it, but the teacher went with the majority.
Source: CBC News
CBC News Article (June 13, 2012)