Freedom of expression is an important question that has been continuously popping up in the media. What's within our rights to say, create and post online? There is a huge controversy about this issue, and it seems as though no one can decide how to properly deal with it. Instead, more irrational measures have been put in place as a means to contend with this.
Such measures were taken yesterday when Montreal student and activist, Jennifer Pawluck, was arrested. Pawluck had been heavily involved in the Montreal student protests of 2012 and had been arrested on three other occasions for protesting. Two years ago, Pawluck posted a picture of anti-police street art to her Instagram.
The picture depicts Ian Lafrenière, a spokesman for the Montreal police with a bullet hole through his head. Pawluck hashtagged the photo with #OneCopOneBullet and #AllCopsAreBastards. It's important to note that Pawluck did not create the street art, however the fact that she posted the photo earned her a one way ticket to the Montreal courthouse.
While I don't really buy Pawluck's statement that "I do not even know who he is, Ian Lafreniere" I still don't think the punishment was warranted. If you go on Instagram and look up #AllCopsAreBastards you get over 11, 000 posts that are equally as angry as Pawluck's. People are allowed to express their discontent with the police, period.
I'm not saying that Pawluck went about this in the best way she could've, but in no means was she threatening Lafreniere, she was merely perpetuating her discontent. If anything, the artist was attacking him, but they also have the right to create what they please. Do they not?
Pawluck is being made an example of and honestly it is not okay. She is not alone in her anger with the police. The austerity protests have made it clear that the Montreal police are not afraid to use excessive force on the people of the city. So it just baffles me that Lafrenière reacted so harshly to a piece of art depicting violence, when he advocates the rights of the police to use actual violence on peaceful protesters.
Practice what you preach.