Category Archives: General Rant

Do individuals or groups have a right to not be offended?

This is a topic, very hot in the news today, but I rather doubt a new issue for some. The radicalization of certain Muslims has been, (in part) brought about by just that premise, of being offended. Some may disagree, for sure, but the whole notion of understanding those being offended is that it is not for the offender to decide what is offensive or not. I would suggest that they, (offenders) might do well to listen to what those feeling offended are saying and act accordingly.

In the West, we tend to be more tolerant of ridicule heaped on our heads, for our ethnic origins or religious leanings. We may not like what is being said, but for the most part we don’t  take out a hit on those perpetrating the offence. That notion of our (somewhat misguided tolerance) clearly does not give us the right to, in effect attempt to sway or change the thoughts of (in this case) those of the Muslim faith to our feeling on these topics. There is not a one size fits all, when it comes to feelings of offence regarding faith or ethnicity. The same standards of expression do not apply to all.

I agree, that those of Islam that have become radicalized and seeking jihad to those in the West have gone beyond what normal civilization would or should accept. Even the more moderate Muslims are condemning the current actions of those radicals. But they don’t feel any less offended and  in many cases they feel completely marginalized.

We owe it to them to show some empathy with those feelings and adjust our rhetoric accordingly.  It does beg for a solution for the future and though I’m not sure where or what that might entail,  a good start might be to stop doing the obvious.

Freedom of Expression (or speech) is not carte blanche without responsibility, (and unfortunately as of recent, severe consequences). I have even heard some prominent journalists remark that it’s fun to characterize others, and if it offends, tough! I don’t really get the point of that, but with the freedom we have, I hope I don’t sound too hypocritical , but I do defend that right. However, when it no longer seems like  true satire, or is totally offensive to others, where is the accountability and responsibility? What is it then?  It is becoming at minimum hate speech and at maximum racist when we continually poke our finger in the eye of the offended and refuse to let up. The point that the (in this case) satirist was trying to invoke upon the public becomes totally offensive without principle and actually becomes lost to the majority.  In my view.

Robert Latimer Free on Day Parole

It was bound to happen, Latimer out on day parole. There isn’t too much more to be said about this sad situation, but it does warrant just a few comments about what has occurred here.

Robert Latimer did murder his 12 year old daughter Tracy, who suffered from a severe form of cerebral palsy. He did plan it for several weeks in advance and did carry it out when his wife and other children were at church, by asphyxiation. His wife did not know about it or that it was about to happen. He denied his crime originally and later confessed, when he miscalculated that an autopsy would likely indicate that something other then what he said happened may be discovered. He was originally charged with first degree murder, that was later reduced to second degree and sentenced to life in prison.

Since the confession, he has been consistent in his belief that he did it because of the pain and suffering she was going through. Latimer feels absolutely no remorse and does not acknowledge that he has done anything wrong.

Now for the great irony of this, which epitomises the great freedom and liberty we all enjoy….Latimer has requested, (and it has been granted) to be placed in a half-way house in the Ottawa region, so he can lobby for the rights of others such as himself to be able to do what he did with impunity.

This is best summed up with a quote from an Editorial of the Winnipeg Free Press, February 29, 2008: A Line Crossed, (last paragraph),

Giving Mr. Latimer parole trivializes the enormity of his crime. It is a disservice not just to the disabled, but to all Canadians and an ugly redefinition of the nature of our society, raising the prospect that the line that separates sympathy and empathy has been crossed“.

Robert W. Latimer

I hesitate on many fronts to weigh in on this case, but there is such a diversity of opinion across the country, I’m hoping I can find a common ground.

Briefly for those not aware of this case, Robert Latimer was charged with 1st degree murder of his 12 year old severely handicapped daughter Tracy Latimer. He was eventually convicted of 2nd degree murder after two trials and two appeals. The manditory minimum time to be served before eligibility for parole is ten years. Tracy had cerebral palsy and a severe mental disability and functioned at the level of about a 3-4 month old. There was little doubt of the pain and suffering she was enduring, but for reasons not that clear, she could not be treated with pain medication stronger then Tylenol.

On or about October 12, 1993, Robert Latimer made plans to kill his daughter by placing her in his truck and piping carbon monoxide into the cab. On October 24, 1993 he carried out his plan. He later carried Tracy’s lifeless body into her bedroom and placed her in bed. His wife Laura and other children were at church during this time. When they came home, Laura found Tracy and realized something was wrong. They called the RCMP and Latimer told the RCMP that he had put her to bed about noon and she must have died shortly after that. When confronted with the possibility of an autopsy, Latimer said he wanted her cremated. Eventually both he and wife Laura indicated they wanted her cremated.

After the toxicology reports indicated a presence of carbon monoxide, Robert Latimer finally confessed to killing Tracy and then moving her to the bedroom.

Those are the brief facts. There is much more on the internet, you just have to google “Robert Latimer” and you can get it all. There are numerous opinions and views on the subject, as well as Latimer’s own web site. I urge you to read all you can tolerate, both pro and con.

This whole thing became news again December 5, 2007, when Latimer was refused day parole after serving 7 years of the minimum 10 years before he could be considered for any type of parole, (remember, this is a life sentence, 25 years).

Robert Latimer has always professed that he did the right thing in taking Tracy’s life and has never expressed any remorse or feelings of guilt what so ever. He has repeatedly stated that he did nothing wrong. I think in one sense it is commendable to be so adamant and steadfast in maintaining ones conviction. The part that keeps bothering me though is, when did he firm up these feelings, before he admitted to killing Tracy or after?

You see, if one kills another and then tries to cover it up and make it appear as natural cause or something else, it would indicate to any reasonable person that the accused does know right from wrong and does not want to get caught. Somewhere this fact of Latimer’s case is continually being left out. In reading the Supreme Court ruling on the appeals, the fact of Latimer’s attempt to cover this up is a major part of the continued denial of appeal.

Not with standing all of Robert Latimer’s misguided actions, I do believe that he was doing what he thought was best for Tracy. As a father he could not stand to see her suffer any longer. However there is a fine line between his own feelings and that which he thinks Tracy must have been going through. Unfortunately she could not speak for herself.

Keeping Latimer in prison will not cause him to reconsider his actions or change his view on what occurred. He poses no great threat to society, though there are varying views of this. I think what most fail to consider, is that this is not about the injustice to Robert Latimer or the suffering of his daughter Tracy. It is about the law and the greater implications of how a lessor sentence or exceptional consideration would affect future jurisprudence in the area of life sentences and in the area of other cases of severe disability that may arise.

If Robert Latimer had been charged and convicted of manslaughter, he would have been out of prison long ago and probably long forgotten. However, he could not be charged with manslaughter. His plan and the eventual carrying out of the deed indicated he had every intention of killing Tracy. In most civilized countries that is murder and if it is planned and premeditated, it is 1st degree murder, which Latimer was charged with. The fact that the conviction was reduced to 2nd degree murder gives rise to the view that he was given consideration and it was mitigated somewhat by the fact that he did not appear malicious in his actions. The aggravating factor was his attempt to cover up the whole thing in the beginning. He may have never confessed had an autopsy not reveled the presence of carbon monoxide in Tracy’s system.

Robert Latimer is in many ways a victim of his own folly. He appears to be trying to make a case for euthanasia and justifiable homicide in circumstances such as his. There are many that support that view, others that feel the law should provide differently then they did in this case. There may be some merit for that discussion. I don’t personally share that view, but it is great to live in a country where we can have different viewpoints and discuss them openly.

It would appear to me that Latimer does not have counsel at this time…noting from the many trees he has killed in his correspondence to just about every political and justice figure he can find. He has picked a fight with the Supreme Court of Canada, that I can assure him…he will not win. He fails to understand what the role of the court is.

There is an old proverb someplace, not sure if it’s origin, but the truth in it is, (with a slight twist…) : The man who choses to defend himself, has a fool for a lawyer.