#MarinelandMom and the “Choice” No One is Talking About


6 days ago a Stoney Creek mother Jennifer Jamieson tweeted that she had successfully lobbied her school to cancel a potential trip to the captive animal facility Marineland Canada. She didn’t send a press release, she posted about it on her personal twitter informing friends and family and offering resources and encouragement for others to do the same.

Contacted by CBC Hamilton’s Adam Carter – who saw the tweet – a story was developed and released on March 24th detailing Jennifer’s efforts. Positioned and timed well and with a poll for people to vote on at the bottom of the story, the article went viral (and now has created its own hashtag #marinelandmom). That story spoke specifically about Jennifer’s opposition to this industry and why she took the stance she did.

As the story went viral many news outlets in the area tried to play “catch up” following up on a news story and attempting to direct and leech some of that traffic for themselves. The Hamilton Spectator being the first to chime in, followed by talk radio outlets, the Toronto Star,  the Huffington Post, the Dodo, and even a great piece titled “Hippies win, freedom dies and whale meat is delicious” in the local Niagara This Week. Almost all of the following news stories have tried to find a new angle either with contrarian positions or outright trolling commentary – and almost all have gotten basic facts wrong and skipped over the process of actually the concerned parent involved. “Opinion” articles reading more like an excuse for extremely lazy and shoddy “journalism.”

The “common sense” position that these media outlets are trying to construct is that is Jennifer took issue with the school trip she would have just kept her children home and not “robbed” other children of the experience. The water then gets muddied by comparing this cancellation to a host of other politically motivated school trip cancellations and the writer then throws up their arms asking “is nothing sacred?” All of these narratives are built around “choice” – we have to give children the space and ability to choose for themselves what is right or wrong, especially other peoples children. This line of thinking is important – but completely ignores the crux of the issue – this parent took a stand to cancel this school trip because the animals captive at Marineland Canada have no “choice.” They are in a facility that they cannot leave and in an atmosphere where they have to be present or perform. All of the comparisons made to other cancellations differ on this point – and all of these articles selectively refuse to acknowledge it as well.

The assumptions play out from there – i.e. she has made her children a “target.” On what basis? This is written by someone with no knowledge of this person, their children, their school, or even the thoughts and beliefs of children in that school who may or may not actually support this decision. Further, these same outlets have been aggressively contacting Jennifer’s child’s school and her home. Clearly a group of people concerned about making a child a “target.”

These opinion articles also stress the role of education – even if it places children in environments of animal use – but none have actually read up on or quote school board policies for school trips which captive animal facilities simply do not meet. Watching struggling journalists trying and gain a platform by shaming someone for actively being involved in their education has been a practice of the absurd. That so many attempt the – “is there not bigger fish to fry” angle makes it even more so. If you truly believe that then why the hell are you wasting ink and taking up space talking about a topic you know next to nothing about?

Marineland Canada cannot operate on walk up traffic. Corporate and school visit contracts are a large part of their business and this allows them to continue to operate without making any substantive changes to their facility. Their interest is not in providing children with an education of wild animals as doing so in captive settings is impossible. Their motivation is profit. It is a privately owned facility with a track record that is largely publicly available for anyone willing to pull their head out of the sand to learn about it. Jennifer knows this history, knows how and why they operate and knew that a visit to this park would not fit school board guidelines. She took initiative and that should be applauded.

The rest of the “choice” and “free speech” crowd can further choke on the hypocrisy of going to bat for a multi millionaire who: has numerous times been filmed making death threats (without penalty), allegedly shot and buried his neighbours dogs, frequently engages in civil litigation to silence critics and who also built an empire on a couple thousand dead animals buried in view of the SkyScreamer.

Me, I’ll stick with standing up for parents who give a damn about their children’s education.

In solidarity with all of the children, parents, teacher, principals and more pushing for a more just world and a better education for our future.

@dylanxpowell / dylanjamespowell@gmail.com


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