A high school teacher in Montreal has been suspended after he showed his Grade 10 class a video of an actual murder. Students claim the teacher screened a copy of the now notorious video showing Jun Lin being (allegedly) stabbed and dismembered by Luka Magnotta in May before sending his body parts across Canada in the mail.
The History and Citizenship teacher, a mid-year substitute on a temporary contract, told the students on June 4 that he had a copy of the video which had been posted on a gore site by Magnotta after the murder and was available for several days before police requested its removal. He asked the students whether they wanted to watch the video, and all voted anonymously to do so. The class then spent the rest of the 75 minute period discussing it.
The school board suspended the teacher with pay the same afternoon pending investigation. A 16 year old student who was in the class spoke to the CBC, saying that the video was “troubling” but wouldn’t have a lasting effect on him. The school board has taken no chances and have dispatched a “crisis cell” of psychiatrists and counselors to talk with the students.
The case has gripped Canada, not in the least because of the gory, grisly details of the murder but also because of the enormous social media footprint of the suspect and the case.
Showing an actual murder video in a school is highly inappropriate, obviously – but this incident does spark some interesting questions. The teacher showed the video, but also hosted a discussion among the teens afterwards, allowing them to discuss their own reactions and feelings about what they saw. We allow teenagers to watch fictional gore in movies or on television – do we talk to them about violence appropriately after watching fiction? Would it be worse if the teens were to seek out the video themselves (which they could easily do) and watch it without the benefit of adult guidance? In short, was the teacher simply misguided, or completely wrong?