A simplistic answer to a tough problem

It seems that the idea was born during Antenna’s television program «Apodeixeis» (Evidence), which broadcast footage of a soft-porn video recorded on a schoolchild’s mobile phone just a few days ago. But banning mobiles in schools is the easy answer to the challenge of solving all those ills broadcast by the private channel in lurid detail. Nevertheless many sought to embrace this idea, including the candidate prefect for Athens and Piraeus, Argyris Dinopoulos, who was one of the guests on host Nikos Evangelatos’s panel that night. The next morning, Dinopoulos wrote an inspired article propounding a ban on mobile phones in schools. Like all bans, the one mentioned sounds like a good idea at first. Actually it is lucky that there was no referendum conducted about the issue as the likelihood is that the government too would have embraced the proposal and progressed with an irrelevant, useless and impractical ban. But the problem was not born because of the irritation mobile phones engender by their constant ringing. It was created because the cameras in mobile phones have been used to film the sexual shenanigans of schoolchildren. This is certainly a problem, but is the best solution imposing a ban on mobiles? Even if such a ban was ordered, how would it be enforced? Would one have to subject all pupils to body searches before they enter the school grounds? And if such a ban could be enforced in schools, what would one do about mobile use by youngsters in cafeterias? And if it really is the means that is the problem here, shouldn’t we do something about Internet use in schools? After all, the Internet can also be used to distribute pornography, as we well know. Issuing a ban would be just another piece of meaningless legislation. Such a ban could not, and would not, be enforced; it would simply be invoked each time a case arises resembling that of the alleged rape of the Evia schoolgirl. Such a law would only be of use for moralizers to refer to during their rants on television debates: «There is a law against this! Why isn’t legislation being enforced?» But what should trouble us more than all the above is the warm reception given to this idea. Every time a problem arises, will we simply impose a ban? First of all, bans are only convenient for politicians – they make for good press releases and news conferences. By sweeping the problem under the carpet via a ban, politicians can pretend that they are solving a chronic problem. But history shows that bans do not help solve such problems but rather exacerbate them. Apart from this, Greek citizens are addicted to bans. They want to feel that someone is watching over them – a very dangerous stance in these populist times.