Like the old saying goes,” there’s no such thing as a dumb question, only a dumb answer,” and it rang oh so loudly last Wednesday when I was attending a Criminology seminar on youth crime in the Fraser Valley. This has been gnawing at me for the last three days, so I’m finally going to put it out in the open so I can analyse more closely, and perhaps let anyone else weigh in on it?
It happened when a young mother stopped a presenter in the middle of his presentation on community responsibilities and she started to ask a very basic question. The woman was polite and very straight forward and to the point. She asked why law enforcement authorities enforce different standards of enforcement on different people, and why the police seem to show no standard of treating everyone the same. The presenter told her that her question had no relevance to his presentation. This really shocked me, and I thought why a professional would allow such a question to go unanswered, especially in a public forum. Later, when I asked him why he said what he said, he replied saying that all the presenters were under time restraints. That being said, the Q & A period ran well over 45 minutes.
I did talk to the woman myself, and she seemed untouched by all of this. I tried to answer her question, but she seemed to draw a blank face and told me that she already knew the answers to her questions, but wanted the officials to say it. She herself is someone who has had run-ins with the law from her past and said that if places like the City of Surrey, BC want to clean up Gangs, then they really need to focus on giving kids something to do that they find interesting, like sports, mechanics and various other activities. She then laughed and said, “Do everything opposite that Gordon Campbell is doing… .”
I remember in grade school when I asked a question to my Grade five teacher, why we had to eat our lunches in the classroom instead of outside, she told me to go to the detention room for the rest of the day. Now that I look back, that person should of had her teaching certificate revoked and promptly fired for such a display of arrogance. Talking out of line, as she put it when talking to my parents was far from the truth of what really happened. But as justice would have it, back in 2001 I discovered that she did in fact lost her job as a teacher and is currently defending herself from litigation of an assault charge that took place in 1982 with one of her former students. In Canada we have a problem with corporal punishment in our schools – hitting someone is an assault no matter who you are. Again I say, “there is no such thing a dumb questions, but only a dumb answer.” And added to that, “what comes around, goes around.”
So remember that when someone asks you a question, no matter how absurd you think it is, you should at least take the moral high ground and answer it to the best of your ability. Even saying “I don’t know,” is a good thing to do if you can’t answer it.