Pubdate: Wed, 22 Jan 2003
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003 The Toronto Star
Author: Betsy Powell


Students Fashion Bongs, Pipes In Ceramics Class

Teacher Rejects 'Artistic Freedom' Argument

Students at a mid-town Toronto high school say they see nothing wrong with 
making drug-smoking paraphernalia in ceramics class and are upset a teacher 
has destroyed their work.

Several Grade 12 students at Northern Secondary School say their teacher, 
Louise Moran, told them they are not supposed to be using the school's 
potter's wheels to fashion clay into pipes, water bongs or items decorated 
with a marijuana leaf. The issue blew up this week after she refused to 
fire a piece in the kiln depicting a man with a joint in his mouth and the 
word "pot" on his shirt, they say.

"I had 'pot' written across the shirt and she didn't like that and wouldn't 
accept it to be fired," Emily McIntyre, 17, said yesterday.

McIntyre and other students argue making cannabis accessories in art class 
is a matter of creative freedom and personal choice, especially in light of 
the uncertainty about the current law and the government's possible move to 
decriminalize possession of pot for personal use.

"She (Moran) said she could lose her job because of it, but we've 
decriminalized pot so I don't see how it could be a problem."

McIntyre has since changed the figure's T-shirt from "pot" to "chron," 
short for chronic, slang for potent weed.

While pot hasn't been decriminalized, two Ontario judges recently threw out 
charges of possession after finding there are no laws in Canada prohibiting 
possession of 30 grams or less. The decisions stem from a July, 2000 Court 
of Appeal ruling giving Parliament a year to amend the law, or it would be 
erased from the Criminal Code. Parliament has yet to change the law, but a 
special committee of MPs recommends decriminalizing pot.

Moran couldn't be reached for comment yesterday. But Steve MacNaughton, 
head of Northern's art department, said the issue is not about creative 
freedom. "It's not about censorship at all. It's about drugs and drug use; 
it's not about art at all." He declined to comment further. The principal, 
Bob Milne, could not be reached for comment.

Zoe Solomon, 17, said she's unhappy her clay vase, which also functioned as 
a bong, has disappeared. "I made this piece, I went to have it fired and it 
was gone," she said yesterday outside the school, located on Mt. Pleasant 
Rd. south of Eglinton. "I'm like: 'Ms. Moran, what happened?' And she was 
like, 'Oh, I think you know.'" Annie Freeman-Herbert, who has also made 
pot-smoking accessories in class, stressed that Solomon's piece was 
"incredibly well-crafted."

"My focus is artistic liberties," she continued. "It's a great class. You 
get to express yourself artistically, so when this girl makes something 
that is purely decorative, not for any criminal intent, she's expressing 
herself. That should be allowed."

Freeman-Herbert, who has participated in pro-pot demonstrations, said she 
understands the teacher's position but argues she should be more in step 
with the times.

Evan Bongaerts, also 17, said when he took ceramics last year there were no 
restrictions on what you could make.

"Of course, me and many other kids made bongs and stuff like that. We told 
the teacher, 'It's just a vase.' ... I think she knew but didn't care," he said.
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