Drugs and Dog Shit

This is kind of hilarious.

To teach kids the importance of the editing process.

To teach kids the importance of the editing process.

When I was in public school (North American style, not British), we had pencils that said, “Toronto Public Schools Make The Difference. Say No To Drugs” or something like that on them. People would cross out words so they said, “Toronto Public Schools Make The Drugs.”

But I actually don’t even like the intended message of the pencil. I feel like it adds to stigma against people who are addicted to drugs. I’m sure there are ways to encourage people not to do something without promoting disdain for the people who do that thing. Or maybe not. A few weeks ago I saw a dog take a crap right in front of me. The owner must have known that I’d seen it, but just walked away once the dog had finished. I think that, back in Toronto, someone in that situation would at least pretend to look for a bag and not find one on them. And I see a lot more dog shit on the streets in this city, sometimes right beside posts with signs talking about the fine you’ll have to pay if you don’t pick up your dog’s shit. So maybe we need public shame to learn stuff. That sucks.

(This post ended up being way more serious than I thought it would be. Really I just wanted to post the picture and tell my own pencil drug story, but then I had more thoughts.)

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2 Comments on “Drugs and Dog Shit”

  1. Q. Pheevr says:

    Well, one difference between the two situations is that as far as I know, there aren’t any people who are chemically dependent on leaving dog shit lying around. So I think it’s okay to use (moderate levels of) public shame to dissuade people from bad behaviour that’s fully within their control, but more problematic to shame people who suffer from drug addiction, which is effectively a disease. (If it actually worked, then it might be okay—if shame could cure a disease, then it might be worth putting up with the side effects. But it seems more likely that it would just make people more reluctant to talk about the problem.)

    As for the pencils, the NYT article says that the replacements “will have the message written in the opposite direction, so when they are sharpened, they will read ‘Too Cool To Do'”. So now the anti-drug message erodes into a pro-chastity message instead of a pro-drug one, I guess.

    • Copcher says:

      Yeah, there’s a huge difference between shaming people for not picking up their dog’s crap and shaming people for having an addiction. But I still don’t like shame as a way to motivate people, even if the thing it’s supposed to make them do (or not do) is completely within their control. I want people to pick up dog shit because they want sidewalks (roads, paths, whatever) to be dog shit free! But I don’t know if that’s a reasonable desire on my part.

      Also, I wonder how many people will over-sharpen those pencils until “Too Cool To Do” becomes “Too Cool”.


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