Insulting a police officer or municipal official on the internet has been made illegal in the town of Granby, Quebec after the council recently voted in favour of beefing up an already controversial bylaw. I guess the city is trying to attain new levels of absurdity or stir up some business for the upcoming summer tourist season. This bylaw is wrong on so many levels that I hardly know where to begin.
According to the deputy mayor of Robert Riel, the main reason for the introduction of the bylaw is the sense that we have lost all respect for authority and police officers. I can agree and sympathize with this statement to a certain degree. Unfortunately, police forces across the province aren’t exactly demonstrating behavior becoming of an officer of the law. For starters, if you want to be respected start dressing like police officers and not like clowns going off to entertain a kids party. You are embarrassing yourselves in the eyes of every citizen and I could imagine what tourists think of their attire. Dress the part and show respect to the level of responsibility of your job before you can demand any.
My other concern is what exactly constitutes an insult ? Are you trying to tell me that the city of Granby has the budget to hire “Insult Inspectors” ? If they do, I want to know which accountant is balancing the books and have them transferred to Montreal. I can just imagine a tribunal debating whether or not Jean-Pierre Pepin is guilty when he called Officer Peladeau a fat pig. This wouldn’t be a court of law but a circus. A circus deciding if he deserves a fine ranging from 100$ to as high as $1000. In a legitimate court of law this bylaw doesn’t have a leg to stand on and is an attack on freedom of speech.
Instead of passing such silly laws, perhaps the city of Granby should encourage their police force to get involved in more grass roots initiatives. They more present they are in the community the better the public perception would be. They should be asking themselves the question why has the city lost respect for authority. You have to look in the mirror and not automatically assume the solution lies on the other side.