My Photo
Location: British Columbia, Canada

Yeah. I got nothin.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Too Little Too Late

You know those previously promised posts? Well, here's one, twenty four hours after my self imposed deadline, and lacking in whatever style and flow the original (mental) version had contained.

Today in the life of me: classes were slept through, term tests were written, cigarettes were smoked, and next door to the Impulsive abode, the trial of the man accused of being Canada's most prolific serial killer (and the murderer of my childhood horse back riding instructor) began.
There's two problems I have with serial killers. First and foremost, they kill people. This bothers me because generally, people don't deserve to die. And the ones that do deserve it? They're never the ones that end up being killed.
Which brings us to the second problem I have with serial killers: They are the most compelling and oft used example in favour of capital punishment.
Do I think Pickton's life is of value? No. Do I think he deserves to live? No. Don't get me wrong, my distaste for capital punishment is purely technical.
See, sometimes people have to die. And that's okay, because that's the price you pay for being alive in the first place. Accidents happen, people get sick, people get old. But capital punishment is the state's decision to allocate whatever resources, be they time, money, or other, to killing off the people who kill others. This is not a situation where people have to die. And that amounts to a failure of society.
Pickton has been accused of the murders of twenty seven of the over sixty women who have gone missing from the downtown eastside. And therein lies the problem. Sixty women disappeared, and nobody noticed. This isn't about whether or not the police did their job, or how hard it is to trace the disappearances of people who are notorious for popping on and off of the radar on whim, it's about the fact that nobody gave a fuck. The police are a creation of society, and can only operate within the limits imposed on them by society.
Capital punishment is pitched as the last resort used on those who have failed to conform to society. But psychopaths aren't societal failures, they're anomalies. The existence of a subclass of people who are horribly vulnerable to twisted fucks? That's a societal failure.
To be a serial killer, one has to have the ability to kill multiple people. And a large part of that ability lies in not getting caught. When one person is murdered, it's a sad and terrible thing. But once twenty seven women have been murdered, it's the fault of society as a whole as much as it is that of the killer.
Remember those old movies where a child goes missing and the whole town rallies to search for them? How many kids do you think Clifford Olson could have killed had the police realized that these children really were missing? Or if funding cuts had not cause massive rearrangements in the force, and a breakdown of interdepartment communications?
How much did that save us in our taxes?

There was a case in the States when I was pregnant that really struck a nerve. A woman was taken in to custody because she'd neglected her children, who were living in abject poverty. The woman's husband had died a year earlier, and she was alone, jobless, raising however many children. At the time of her arrest, she had no electricity and no running water. When officers went to take the children from their home, they barricaded themselves inside, told officers they had guns, and released dogs to guard the property.
What amazed me was that neighbours watched this family's deterioration, and did nothing until the situation was bad enough to justify charging the mother. Someone went to the police to tell them about the situation. Neighbours knew the story. Yet none of them offered to give her rides into town for groceries. No one could be bothered to babysit so she could get some time to grieve over her husbands loss, or rejoin society. Not one person offered help. Instead, they gossiped about it until the situation deteriorated to the point it did, then used the children's reaction as justification for their actions.
"See, I told you they were all crazy. Good thing we got those kids out of there."
Guess what, fuckwads. No one knows how crazy they would have been had you acted to prevent it.

It's so much easier to punish then prevent. You can never prove that offering help to an abused child kept them from turning to shooting heroin and standing on street corners, but you can watch a man die. You can't prove that providing a job for an at risk teenager kept them from robbing liquor stores, but you can huck them in juvey ten or twenty times. You can't prove that keeping an eye out for your local prostitute and reporting her missing sooner will lead to an arrest sooner and prevent future deaths, but you can watch the creation of the shiniest newiest serial killer in Canadian history.

Capital punishment is sold as a last resort used by a society that has used any other means available to it. But as long as society facilitates absolute and total shit from happening continuously, we have no right to claim "last resort."

You know what I think? Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Vishnu, and that thing in Matt's microwave all agree, "Fuck you bitches. Grow up and get your shit together. You screwed up. Be a society, and admit it."

You sip your coffee
Taking a drag of your smoke
Turning the page
Taking a bite of your toast
Just another day
Just another death
Just one more thing you so easily forget
You and your soft, sheltered life
Just go on and on
For nobody special from your world is gone
Just another day
Just another death
Just another Hastings Street whore
Sentenced to death
The judge's gavel already fallen
Sentence already passed
But you
You just sip your coffee
Washing down your toast.
She was a broken down angel
A child lost with no place
A human being in disguise
She touched my life
She was somebody
She was no whore
She was somebody special
Who just lost her way
She was somebody fighting for life
Trying to survive
A lonely lost child who died
In the night, all alone, scared
Gasping for air.
- Sarah Devries, DNA found on Picton pig farm


Blogger shadow of a doubt said...

What does a critical mass leave behind when it uses its time to circumvent the status quo of society?

I ask myself this everyday. The individuals involved in changes, the ones that echo your sentiment and opt to evolve society; What are they giving up in order so the lost can find their way? The answer is obvious, but it is one that needs to be addressed if we are to translate rhetoric to action. There are going to be those who are going to have to compensate for the misdirection of others. However, those who truly want to help, do so because they know they could of been in the same position if someone wasn't to show them the compassion they used to find their way around. It instills a purpose, and pure empathy is their motivation. Value is emphasized in other ways in their lives, and time becomes more than money. It becomes a currency to save a life, a childs future, and a broken beautiful world. Busy we are in this world of convenience, but convenience for conveniece's sake has seemed to leak into every facet of our lives.

1/30/2006 10:34 PM  
Blogger Maine said...

This is actually a very important argument that I think gets glossed over too much by conservative thinkers.

A lot of the people who "do well" in life do well because they had the opportunity to. They didn't have to quit school to work two jobs. They didn't have to help their mother get through rehab, etc. The train of thought is that "I made it, so could anyone." The problem is that we don't all have the same ceiling. For some folks, the best they can do is "doing well." For others, the best they can do is "not fail."

I think it's important to remember that when we make decisions and judgements about others. If we take a moment to help those who at best can "not fail" and get them in a position where they can also "do well", you'd see a decrease in the amount of failure in society. If the worst someone can do is have to move back in with their parents, instead of having to prostitute or sell drugs, how much nicer would our world be?

So... fixing the problem before it's a problem is absolutely the way to go here. Nobody wins when some of us lose.

1/31/2006 7:14 AM  
Blogger Impulsivecompulsive said...

Shadow: as long as people can view those in need as entirely different from them, they can find excuses not to help, and in fact, hinder others.
Maine: The biggest difference between people with money and people without is the size of the pillow they'll land on if they fall.

2/01/2006 7:38 AM  
Blogger Boo! said...

I think it was noticed the women were missing but not many people really cared to do anything about it. When I was pregnant with R. I remember seeing posters with a couple of dozen or so tiny photos of women who went missing from the downtown eastside.

I only saw those posters in East Van. Until Pickton got busted. Then all those photos appeared in the newspapers.

2/01/2006 10:29 PM  
Blogger Impulsivecompulsive said...

Erica: Let's face it, dying is just a big old popularity contest, isn't it?

2/02/2006 11:27 PM  
Blogger Boo! said...

It's part of life. Most people don't change their colours until they reach the end of their own.

2/03/2006 9:42 PM  
Blogger Impulsivecompulsive said...

Which brings us back to the age old question (or two hour old question, in this case), who would jesus torture?
Yeah, maybe I'm getting a little off track here. Fucking troll am I.

2/03/2006 11:27 PM  
Blogger Boo! said...

Hmmm... Who would Jesus torture?

Probably me.

2/04/2006 1:28 AM  
Blogger Impulsivecompulsive said...

Erica: You say what now, Mary Magdalene? Jesus loves you! Your a perfect candidate for his little sociological experiment.

The Bushies and Godbags, on the other hand? Them's the ones that send Jesus packing on an extensive smokebreak; Fucking twats, I wasn't that unclear in my message, was I? Jesus, your a bunch of morons. I'm going for a smoke. I may be back. I may just hit Scruffy's and get shitfaced. Assholes.

2/05/2006 11:02 AM  
Blogger Impulsivecompulsive said...

What?!? I've got Jesus commenting on my blog?!?! And he uses his own name in vain?!? Who'd a thunk it!

2/05/2006 11:03 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home