Friday, April 14, 2006

No, this is not a post about religion!

Passover. Good Friday. Naturally, in some parts of the world people’s thoughts turn to religion.

Some believe today marks a day of self-sacrifice, the ultimate gift given to spare sinful man.

Which has me thinking about something. Free will and predestination. I’ve heard over and over how Jesus was born for a purpose, to fulfill God’s will, to die on the cross and atone for our sins.

Which is not the point of my post. Whatever you believe, whatever I think, religion is not the point - not even remotely.

It’s just that certain times of year, I’m more likely to think about certain things. Like at Christmas, I think of family, of giving, of warm fireplaces and gingerbread cookies. That’s all. Thought by association.

But there’s a bit more to it today, for me.

Some of you may be aware that last weekend, the bodies of 8 people were found in a field in southern Ontario. It is considered Ontario’s worst mass murder in history. The media are ecstatic to have something so sensational to write about.

Unlike some murder enquiries, justice has come swiftly. Arrests have been made. A theory of the crime is known. Organized crime. Why, yes, Canada does have crime. Even shocking crime.

Reading this article was what actually clinched if for me that I would have a little rant about this today, because it made me angry. A profile of one of the accused, the people who knew her saying:

"She was a good girl. She had a lot of cats. She had a heart of gold…. Customers requested her. Everyone thought she was a very nice girl, up to this."
"When you looked at him, you knew he had been into some kind of trouble in the past…"
"I think Kerry(the accused murderer) just kind of got caught up in what was going on. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong guy."

Boy, I want such understanding people to be on my jury.

It gets better. Then this astute commentary covers the ridiculous statements of a judge that gave a 27-year-old mother who smothered her baby a conditional sentence with no jail time.

(The Judge) said she saw no need to send Selena Odette Stevenson to jail, even though the woman knowingly killed her own baby.
Putting her behind bars would only harm the woman's chances at rehabilitation, the judge said.
"All seem to agree incarceration would serve no purpose at all ... I share that view," said McCawley (the judge).
No purpose at all? How about the long-standing sentencing principles of general deterrence and denunciation?
How about the Criminal Code's requirement that sentences be proportionate to the seriousness of the crime? Did McCawley rip those pages out of her copy of the Criminal Code?

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

No matter what anyone believes in the great religious debate about free will vs predestination, in the world we live in, we operate on free choice. People make decisions. They take action.

And they’re supposed to face the consequences of their actions.

Instead, we’ve got judges and friends dismissing their crimes. “She just fell in with the wrong crowd.”

Hello! She participated in the murders of 8 people! I don’t care if they were drug dealers, pimps or lawyers, that’s still wrong. We still have laws.

And a mother, a 27-year-old mother, gets off for killing her child.

A defenseless newborn baby.

Does that child’s life not count because they didn’t know what they were going to miss? Or what are we saying? Any 16-year-old will get hugs and Kleenex for doing likewise, because certainly if a 27-year-old woman isn’t responsible, what can we expect of teenagers?

This is completely fucked up.

Sure, there are mitigating circumstances that do change our interpretations of crime. There are times you can feel sorry for someone driven to murder.

But we’re sending a message to our society that nothing you do is your fault anymore. Have a good excuse, a bad influence, a bit of fear, and you can literally get away with murder.


Let's see if I understand how the world works lately...

If a man cuts his finger off while slicing salami at work, he blames the restaurant.

If you smoke three packs a day for 40 years and die of lung cancer, your family blames the tobacco company.

If your neighbor crashes into a tree while driving home drunk, he blames the bartender.

If your grandchildren are brats without manners, you blame television.

If your friend is shot by a deranged madman, you blame the gun manufacturer.

I must have lived too long to understand the world as it is anymore.

So, if I die while my old, wrinkled butt is parked in front of this computer, I want you to blame Bill Gates...okay? (And Steve Jobs too, because I use a Mac.)

Maybe, just maybe, if we all started taking more responsibility to hold people to account for their actions, we wouldn’t have kids taking guns to schools. We’d have a few less murderers on the street.

How am I making such a jump, you ask?

You get these kids going to school, scared of being beaten on every single day, the teachers doing nothing, the parents of the aggressive children refusing to even acknowledge their child has a problem.

It’s something I saw in my work. A few years back, when I was working with teenagers that were abuse victims, and had to deal with a sexual assault. And all anybody wants to hear is that the kids are getting better. Not that there’s still a problem.

What really burns me? Thousands of anti-abortion activists will be out there ‘fighting the good fight’ against doctors and people seeking abortions, and who’s standing up for this infant that was suffocated and dropped into a dumpster?

Clearly, not the judge.

And it’s time for someone to stand up and say the guilty should be punished.

Or all we’re doing is endorsing a lawless society where anything can be dismissed because of unfortunate circumstances.


Bernita said...

Absolute agreement.

Erik Ivan James said...

Absolute agreement.

And, I do believe in predestination. All I've gotta do now is find mine.

James Goodman said...

I give a thired on the absolute agreement. Criminals should be punished. There should be no other way if we expect to maintain civility.

David Terrenoire said...

As you know, I'm a Godless heathen with no moral compass, destined to careen from one immoral crime to the next, without remorse.

And I'm with you 100%.

Surprising, I know.

anne frasier said...

great post, sandra.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Well, I'm glad people agree. Erik, LOL! Bernita, hope you're having a nice long weekend.

James, maybe people don't want civility anymore. I don't know what other kind of message that judge is sending. Crazy.

"As you know, I'm a Godless heathen with no moral compass, destined to careen from one immoral crime to the next, without remorse."
Lose Konrath as the mentor, David. And I've heard you can get a moral compass at WalMart for $2.99.

Anne, thanks! Nice to have you drop by.

UNSURE said...

Just poking around for other writerly like sites.

Trace said...

Another excellent post, Sandra. I agree with you completely. Enough assigning blame. Take responsiblity for your own actions.

Sandra Ruttan said...

a.l. welcome - drop by any time!

Trace, thanks. And from reading your work, I know you believe in justice, but also rehabilitation. It would be nice if our society still believed there was a point to that as well.

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

"Why, yes, Canada does have crime. Even shocking crime."

Well, there goes my impression of Canadians being the most gentle, neighborly, friendly folks around.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Dana, come on over for dinner any time. Buy a one-way ticket.

JamesO said...

Another one of my rants nipped in the bud. Damn! But you're spot on Sandra. Like all good ideas, I think it started in the States - this idea that someone, somewhere is always to blame for whatever misfortune befalls you. And, of course, it's never you.

Now I know not all lawyers are thieving shysters - some of them are genuine good guys trying their hardest to see justice served - but there's a sizeable majority of the legal profession who seem only interested in chasing the money. They feed into this idea that you can get compensation for almost anything that happens to you, and the insurance companies rarely put up a fight, choosing instead just to spread the cost over our raised premiums. Employee liability insurance has got so expensive in the UK in recent years that many small companies have been forced out of business - I know that for my brother's small Environmental Consultancy firm it is his single largest expense.

I see the creeping influence of government in it (especially over here.) So much of our lives are either provided centrally (health, education etc) or controlled by ever-tightening regulations, that we have forgotten how to look after ourselves.

And I must stop now, since this is your blog;}#

Sandra Ruttan said...

James, NEVER feel the need to curtain your opinion here. You want to rant, you have at 'er.

I've never had trouble here, so I've never had to say that the only stuff I don't tolerate is advertisers and people who blatantly attack other commenters.

And as one of my favourite fellow bloggers, I love seeing your comments.

David Terrenoire said...

Konrath as a mentor?

Sandra, Joe can only imagine my depravity.

My book, except for the time frame and a few details involving monkeys, is a memoir.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Oh, I can't wait to read it!

Damn the curse of the frickin' editing phase - I get so little reading done!

But I am really looking forward to working on my stash of great books that I've got to look forward to.

Although I have to say the comment JA Konrath left near the end of the thread on Eisler's blog about 'mistakes don't matter' is perhaps the funniest, sickest thing I've read in a long time.

Sure to be rectified next week when Rickards gets back from holidays, though!

Kate said...

I agree, Sandra. There are women who are totally unhinged by childbirth, but most women who kill their babies know exactly what they're doing.

The most bizarre case of so-called infanticide here was a woman who abducted and stabbed to death the 15-month-old toddler she'd given up for adoption a year earlier. She wasn't sent to jail - she just got a suspended sentence.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Wow Kate, that is bizarre! I can't believe she got off so lightly.

Boy Kim said...

I blame my folks. For having me in the first place.

For The Trees said...

And then this comes flopping over the transom into my email box:

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You're on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...

Dr. Seuss"

I believe we're watching the fall of the American Empire. Just as Rome fell, Athens fell, etc. etc. ad nauseum, I get the feeling it's all sliding downhill. When lawyers manipulate the court for profit or personal gain (like notoriety) then the whole system's gone south.

Oh, well, I'm too apathetic to go beat up a lawyer. Or a judge.

It's all about money. All of it. The corporations have gotten the entire society under their thumbs. Ursh.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Boy Kim, I thank them. You're a gem.

Great quote Forrest.

I can't comment on the fall of the American Empire, since one (or both? didn't look) of those stories I cited happened in Canada.

But western civilization as a whole is in trouble, methinks...

Jeff said...

100% agree! Great post, Sandra :)

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I agree, I'd have had to change a little of the language though...LOL...But I can get away with it by saying, "Yeah! What Sandra said!" LOL

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