It’s been a month since Canadian senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu made his public proposal that convicted first-degree murderers be given a rope in their cell, so that they could “decide for themselves” the fastest way to an early release. One assumes that he was not advising a quick climb over the fence with it. But now that Senator Trump Card has been shuffled out of the camera’s eye and back into the quiet shadows of the Conservative think tank, it’s probably safe to talk amongst ourselves — without raising a national referendum on the death penalty. After all, I did recently promise to not raise the topic again.
What is fair topic though is fallout — and the whirlwind of incensed anger in here the day after the good senator stuffed his size ten halfway down his maw.
“Hey — you hear that idiot on the TV yesterday?” Nick the Greek asked me. He hadn’t been the first one that morning, so I just assumed that the subject was Boisvenu’s shot across the bow. But with Nick, it was his brow, not the bow that caught my attention — and specifically the furrows carved into it. His look that morning was the same one a nun might give if you asked her for a quick roll in the hay: unadulterated righteous indignation.
“You mean the trail-balloon for capital punishment?”
“Yeah. How ignorant is that? You believe this guy? He’s finished. The people are freaking. Now look.” Nick pointed at the T.V. in the corner of the gym. “Today he’s back-peddling like a mother-f**ker.”
And so he was. For the rest of the week, every newscast and tabloid in Canada carried quotes of the senator’s “regret” at being “misquoted” and having “his words taken out of context.” As for those who punch clock in the Prime Minister’s Office, they were equally quick-draw with a pre-cooked can of verbiage that distanced them — just a little bit — from the senator’s fiscally sensible proposal. It was, of course, all very predictable. If democracy is governance by high theatre, then the Canadian version could definitely use some new scriptwriters. What did surprise me though was the authentic taking-of-offence painted across the face of Nick the Greek who — according to the RCMP organized crime squad — has more missing bodies under him than an Italian cruise ship.
“I hate the way this guy paints all of us withy the same brush,” Nick said.
“I don’t think he did. The way I heard it, he just wants to dump first-degree murderers — and especially serial killers.” Then I sunk the hook. “Besides, you know as well as I do that if you had a dark alley and a bucket of bullets, you’d clip half the malakas in this place, even the drunk drivers. So what’s a few dead lifers?”
Nick drilled into me with a glare, the way he likes to with anyone who challenges his inalienable right to be right. Eventually the glare gave way to a grin. “Hey — that’s beside the point.”
Maybe. Or maybe it’s the biggest point in the room.
Back when Senator Boisvenu was plain old Monsieur Boisvenu, citizen of Quebec, his adult daughter was kidnapped, raped, and murdered by a guy with a previous record for violence. Makes me wonder what Nick the Greek would do if that happened to his little girl. Or what I would do if it was Raquel, my twenty-one year old step-daughter lying in the morgue? The Christian in me wants to say forgive and forget. But that same Christian says that lying is a sin. And the father in me says that lying is not the first commandant I’d be breaking — if I ever got my hands on anyone who hurt her.
But doesn’t feeling that way make me completely normal? That a civilized society might want some payback when someone robs their house, steals their car, or kidnaps, rapes and kills their kids doesn’t alarm me in the least. What’s alarming is when they so publicly claim that they don’t. Isn’t this the Canada that just invested ten years, eighteen billion dollars, and 158 Canadian lives on whacking Afghani tribesmen for the way they dress their women? How did we suddenly become so moralistic about killing those that hurt our families?
It reminds me of our southern neighbours — arguably the most religious superpower in history. Founded by folks who considered it a sin to say the word vagina, never mind use one, America is now one of the largest legal producers — and consumers — of hard-core pornography on the planet. Pornography that demeans. Pornography that victimizes. Pornography oiled in violence. Contrast that with countries like Thailand, Finland, and Switzerland. Is it just a coincidence that these countries — amongst the lowest consumers of on-line pornography on the globe — are also societies where sexuality is openly discussed in a way that allows people to express their true feelings; in the home, in the school system, and yes — even in government? It makes you wonder what kind of justice system Canada would have if we could talk about crime like normal humans instead of a bunch of Church Ladies.