A parent who’s a little too sensitive asked a teacher who’s a little too accommodating to stop dissecting “Les 100 000 façons de tuer un homme,” a well-known Quebecois song, with elementary students at a school in Montreal’s Mile End district. Yet the song by singer-songwriter Félix Leclerc is a fable, not an instruction manual on 100,000 ways to kill someone.
It instead points out, through the use of irony, that it is easy to kill one’s spirit, to strip away one’s dignity, by sitting around doing nothing—by being inactive, and paid to remain so.
It’s not as though 8-year-olds had never seen anything. Television and the internet, if not life itself, already expose them to human cruelty on a daily basis. Also, irony is a form of expression that deserves to be taught. Are we supposed to wait until they’ve reached the age of majority to introduce them to this facet of literature?
Lastly, the lesson about dignity and work deserves to be instilled in our youths as early as possible in their civic lives. Not out of fear that they will become idle when they are adults, but so that they learn early on that nothing is gained by saving others from having to make the effort needed for them to deserve their lot. And that by acting in this way, all we do is rob them of the opportunity to show that they can contribute to society, thus succeeding only in depriving them of their dignity.
This act of censorship by helicopter parents in the Mile End should be a warning. It should remind us that there are 100,000 ways to kill freedom, and one of these is to rob free individuals of their dignity. Even sensitive souls should not refrain from learning this lesson in primary school.