Michael Boyd, 9, holds up a sign supporting SOGI123 in B.C. Schools. The Surrey boy came out as transgender to his family six years ago. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

SIMPSON: Powerful placards best left out of tiny hands

Parents, stop trotting children out in front of reporters and TV cameras at protests and rallies

“Simpson,” Peter grunted as he passed my cubicle in a huff.

He pointed to his office with a stubby brownish-yellow finger, stained from decades of chain smoking.

“Get in here. Now.”

The late Peter Godfrey was the managing editor of the Nanaimo Daily News, where I was developing my journalistic chops at the night desk.

A former hard-nosed cop, Peter was the kind of editor every young, sensitive journalist fears.

Chewing out his staff in no uncertain terms was his modus operandi. His indignant rants were the stuff of legend.

One day, we watched with sordid bemusement as a fellow editor sat sheepishly in Peter’s office for three straight hours, facing Peter’s red-faced wrath.

And now, it would seem, it was my turn.

“What’s this?” he asked as he flopped the latest Daily News on his desk in disgust.

“Well, um,” I remember stuttering. “I guess it’s a story about a protest.”

Peter stared me down, his face turning a deeper crimson by the second.

“And the photo?” he replied.

“Well, it’s a photo of people holding signs at the…”

“IT’S A G__DDAMN KID!” Peter erupted.

“Don’t ever put a photo of a kid at a protest in my paper again, got it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Now get out.”

I escaped relatively easily that day but the lesson stuck.

Today, more and more parents are getting their children involved in political activism.

In the U.S. thousands of students recently picked up their hand-made posters and walked out of class in a nationwide protest against gun violence after the killing of 17 people in a Florida high school.

Closer to home, hundreds of people showed up to counter-protest an anti-SOGI 123 rally in Vancouver. Front and centre was a nine-year-old from Surrey.

And on the opposite side of that debate, a group of about 30 people – including young children – gathered in Chilliwack on Monday to protest the SOGI 123 program.

Up there in the big newsroom in the sky, Peter must be losing it. I can hear him now.

“How many of these kids fully understand these complex issues? How many are just parroting their parents’ political views?” I imagine him bellowing.

“And why are you splashing these kids all over your newspapers and websites?”


Granted, prickly Peter Godfrey was without a doubt what some might call old fashioned (to put it politely).

But I have since come to agree with him on this.

Of course, each situation is different and sometimes youngsters are there simply due to things like a lack of child care.

But, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum – and whether you applaud young people for getting involved or shake your head at their parents for allowing it –

it does raise a valid question.

How young is too young for parents to involve their children at a protest or rally, much less trot them out in front of reporters and TV cameras?

As for me? I side with you on this one, Peter.

So please, don’t yell at me.

Beau Simpson is editor of the Now-Leader. Email beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com



beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Surrey First Education incumbents re-elected to Surrey school board

Veteran trustee Laurae McNally wins sole White Rock seat

White Rock Computer Club teaches the way of the future

From cat memes to security, the club has been teaching internet for the past 20 years

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

White Rock mayor-elect to focus on water, communication, OCP

Mayor-elect Darryl Walker says he doesn’t drink White Rock’s tap water

Who won and who didn’t in the Lower Mainland votes

A look at the region’s mayoral races, starting with Doug McCallum coming back to win in Surrey

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Fraser Valley man dead after head on crash in Okanagan

Accident occurred at about 7:35 a.m.

Kennedy Stewart challenged with building bridges as mayor of Vancouver: expert

The former NDP MP, who ran as an Independent, will lead 10 councillors divided across four parties

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

Vancouver drag queens receive royal treatment during Kootenay Pride

Vancouver drag queens discuss the importance of Pride and growing acceptance of LGBTQ community

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

Most Read