Fourteen years ago a Saskatchewan farmer murdered his 12 year old daughter by placing her in his truck and piping exhaust into the cabin. His daughter was born with severe cerebral palsy, had undergone three major operations and was in constant pain, not to mention pretty much a vegetable. Doctors had just informed her parents that she needed another operation. The farmer decided to take his daughter’s life to spare her more pain.
The case sparked a huge controversy. Organizations representing disabled people cried out against this act, and feared that condoning the farmer’s actions would send out the message that the value of disabled peoples’ lives could be judged by others. Many people, however, sympathized with the farmer, who had immediately turned himself in to the police following his daughter’s death. He was sentenced to jail and today the man was up for a day parole. The parole board denied his request because he “showed no remorse”.
What struck me about this case was that the farmer was totally up front and honest about his feelings. To this day he claims he did it out of love for his daughter, that he would do it again if he could go back, and that he feels he did “what had to be done”. The only reason this guy didn’t pull a mea culpa act and bullshit the parole board into thinking he really was sorry is that he has scruples and ethics. An honest man says what he believes, even if it means he spends another two years in jail without the opportunity to venture out for the day. A lesser man (and perhaps myself in that situation) would likely have said whatever I thought the board wanted to hear to get my taste of freedom for a day.
This poor guy is no threat to anybody. He is a man of principle who found himself in a horrid situation, watching his severely disabled child live a life of pain. He made a decision that the rest of us can thank our lucky stars we’ve never had to contemplate. And as far as “punishment” goes, don’t you think he’s suffered enough? God forbid I give birth to a child so disabled they can barely interact with the world around them, and then watch as modern medicine goes to ridiculous extremes to prolong this sorry life. But no, in our society we want to see criminals (and children, for that matter) punished or we feel cheated out of something (revenge, but nobody seems to want to admit that; instead we use the euphimism “justice”).
So the reason he was denied parole is not because he represents a public safety threat. It’s not because he’s a lying thieving scumbag. No, it’s because he refused to say “I’m sorry”. Is this what our justice system is all about? Making people say sorry? AFAIC, those parole board officers are no worse than the playground mom who drags her little boy by the arm over to some kid he slapped out of frustration and forces him to mumble an obviously insincere apology.
On the radio they interviewed a representative of one of these mental health advocacy organizations, who was very pleased that this man’s parole was denied. When asked why he thought the farmer should not have received parole, given his model prisoner behaviour and his obvious lack of threat to the public, the man replied along these lines: “This man represents a threat because he refuses to admit that what he did was wrong. He insists on claiming that what he did was acceptable, and I think that is a dangerous idea to promote.”.
Uh….last time I checked this was a progressive, democratic country. Since when did we start buying into this “dangerous ideas” crap? And is this guy seriously saying that the farmer should be denied one day of parole because he isn’t afraid to stand up for what he believes in, rather than kiss the asses of the parole board by telling them what they want to hear?
This is what happens when children are taught that saying “sorry” is more important that meaning it, or standing up for your convictions.