Saturday, 5 July 2008

Thirty strikes and you're out - shouldn't that be three?

Welcome to Canada! Land of beavers and moose, polar bears and ice. We all live in igloos and go to work on dog sleds - no worry about carbon taxes and greenhouse gases here! The country is populated by "nice" people. Canadians are "friendly"
"peaceful" "polite" and "modest". We don't like conflict, we don't like laying blame or punishing people. We like to encourage people and enable them to better their lives. We want to see the positives, not the negatives. OK, so Jimmy murdered three people horribly, but he is very sorry and he is now taking Grade 12 Biology, so that's good, isn't it? Now, I can't really agree with this viewpoint, but then I am not really Canadian, am I? Oh yes, I have all the official paperwork that says that I am. I can vote for whatever wishy-washy, can't-be-trusted, generally useless politician that I want for at the next election. I have a passport, I pay my taxes, I fill in my national census forms. To all intents and purposes, I am Canadian. But, I don't drink Molson beer, I don't paint maple leaves on my face on Canada Day, I couldn't really give a toss who wins the Stanley Cup and I don't think that the greatest Canadian is Wayne Gretzky or Don Cherry. I am also not wishy-washy or nice and I am not particularly friendly, peaceful, polite or modest. To be honest, I don't think many Canadians actually are, except for their politicians, who have a lot to answer for.

So, to the title of this post. I am sure that most of you have heard about the U.S's policy on crime - three strikes and you are out. What that means is, if you commit three felony offences, you are put away for a long, long time. Now, I don't know if they actually throw away the key, but let's just say that you are in deep do-do at this point. You have had your chances, and you blew them. You now have to suck it up and accept the consequences of your actions. Now that, apparently, is a foreign concept north of the 49th parallel. Consequences? What are those? Why should I take the consequences, it wasn't my fault. And all the bleeding heart liberals seem to agree with the criminals. So, they are not given three chances, not five, not even ten. Oh no, the latest suggested figure is 30! Yep, thirty. Just in case you didn't learn from you previous twenty eight mistakes, we will let you make one more before cracking down on you.

This all comes from Chief Jim Chu of the Vancouver Police Department and it is his way of getting "tough" on crime.

"We say, 30 strikes and you're out, which means we are asking our judges to
protect the public by giving these criminals significant prison time, and we are
asking for Parliament and our appellate courts to give the judges the tools they
need to better respond to this problem."
Significant prison time amounts to a recommended two years. All those big mafia bosses out there must be shaking in their boots and all those drug addled petty crime offenders that plague the city and its inhabitants probably couldn't give a toss, since they probably don't read the newspapers or watch TV and so are blissfully unaware of the whole issue. If they are not high or in a drug-induced stupor, all they are worried about is where their next fix is coming from. Now, I will never have any sympathy with the mafia bosses or any kind of gangs or organised crime. However, I am willing to admit that people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol need to be helped. Let's not wait until they commit thirty crimes, however petty, before we actually do something to help them. Yes, I know it won't be easy, that it will cost money and that most of them will be back on the streets before too long, but surely if we can even get some off the streets and back to a productive, meaningful existence, that has to be better than none. Of course, Vancouver does have the 2010 Winter Olympic Games coming up, so that will at least provide some impetus to, if not solve the problem, at least hide it or move it on so that the world doesn't get to see Vancouver's not-so-pretty side.

So why thirty strikes? I suspect it comes down to "Canadian-ness". The fact that Canadians don't like to lay blame or accept responsibility. The two come hand-in-hand. It is never anyone's fault, the blame always lies elsewhere and therefore you don't have to accept responsibility for your actions."My mother was a drunk and my father beat me." "I came from a broken home." "My wife kept on nagging me. It was her fault that I stabbed her 38 times, she pushed me to it." That last one is from a recent case and that was the reason he gave for trying to get the charge reduced to manslaughter and not murder. Another recent case was the one where a gas attendant was run over and then dragged under his car for 7.5km, all for $12.30 worth of gas. The young offender only got 9 years for this brutal killing, which was then reduced to seven, since it wasn't really his fault, he came from an aboriginal family and had a terrible childhood.

I am not saying that people don't have hard lives, that they don't face difficulties and trials that never came near me when I was growing up or throughout my adult life. I cannot even begin to comprehend or understand what it must have been like to grow up abused or neglected. However, I do think that people do have an innate sense of what is right and what is wrong. You don't need to have grown up in a religious family, being dragged along to church every Sunday to know what is right and wrong. I don't believe in God (although I was dragged to church every Sunday when growing up), I don't follow the Ten Commandments. I don't need to. I generally know what is right and wrong. I know if I wouldn't like something done to me or my friends and family, then it is probably wrong. I know I wouldn't want an ice pick stuck in my eye, I wouldn't want a man to rape me or someone to steal my car, TV, cat, camera etc etc. These things would be wrong and I don't need to be told that. I also know that my actions have consequences. If I beat someone around the head with a baseball bat, they are likely to be hurt badly and perhaps die. If I have personally observed this, then I will know what to expect the second time I do it. So, to say that two teenage boys didn't know that they could kill a man by beating him around the head with a baseball bat the first time is stretching it a bit. To claim that they still didn't know the possible consequences of their actions the second time that they did it is ludicrous. But, after their arrests, the pair were charged with second-degree murder in connection with the deaths, but this was reduced to manslaughter after the judge said they didn't have the experience or foresight to show murderous intent.

Do I need to go on, because I could? This is a difficult topic, and I will admit that there are generally no easy answers. There is little in the way of black and white in such complex issues. But surely a little dose of common sense, reality and accepting the consequences of your actions would go a long way in addressing this issue. There, I have said my bit, for now...........


Anonymous said...

Oooh, good subject this one ....There are many thing I dislike about America, but the three strikes and you are out works for me in both baseball and Crime ... it really does. We are now in the world where "it's not my fault".. when it damn well is .... 'it's not fault I drove home after 27 beers, it's the bar server/Coors/Police who let me etc ... stinks.

I too do have sympathy for those addicted, but there are also plenty of places that will help ... some people don't want that help ......

No more excuse, send them to Alcatraz !!

(ps, yes you do care if the canooks win, and Gretzky is the most famous Canadian eh )

Anonymous said...

You know, I thought we had that syndrome bad here, but you Canadians obviously suffer more than we do. Thirty strikes? Are they kidding???

What they need to do is reduce it to three and then take steps to identify those few people who truly don't have a sense of responsibility or the nous to understand what they're doing, and deal with them separately.

I can understand that a teen might truly not understand that you can kill by smacking someone round the head with a baseball bat since the movies constantly tell us otherwise (think of all those movie fights where both parties just keep right on bouncing back up without so much as losing a tooth after the most appalling collisions with fists, metal beams, cars etc) but the second time? Nah. You have to be kidding me.

Anonymous said...

The entire criminal justice system in this country is well on it's way to Hell in hand basket. We seem to need to mollycoddle the criminals; we seem to have a need to expose ourselves to their whims and fancies, their cruelty and violence, time and again.

Wish I could be the Justice Minister for just a short while. I could agree with Moon, and take appropriate action.

We don't have a little Island in the Bay (Alcatraz), but we do have a big Island up north - Baffin Island. Three strikes - off you go! Six months on this deserted plot of freezing landscape, eating dried fruits and pemican, melting snow for water, and subsistiing in a little nylon tent, would go a long way to modifying behaviour.

And if it did not, there is a nice little hump of rock up there called Prince Charles Island. On the way back to civilization they could fly the miscreants over this little bit of paradise, just so they would know where they would be coming to next time!

After all, if that did not work, we really don't want them coming back again anyway, right?

Anonymous said...

Cortez .... we do think alike ..

Lets have a beer and discuss for hours, we could easily sort this problem out.. a couple of sturdy cattle prods would help !!!

Or, line them up anout 20 yrds in front of the 1st tee ... Boo Yah !,, well, maybe just to the left !!!!

I often try (Mrs M think too much) to find humour in most things, but this subject I can't.

I believe in living the right way, not hurting anyone, having opinions, but in general, live and let live, if Bobby down the road thinks it is right for him to hold hands with Stevie, good for him, but, as soon as these criminals (not Bobby and Stevie I might add ... in fact I don't know a Bobby and Stevie)... start to effect me, get away with what is morally wrong .. then send them off ...... in the army is a good start !!!!! bit I like the idea of a colony ... We did it well sending Crims to Oz, and the french did it well aslo, read Papillion .....

Anonymous said...

30 strikes and out would make baseball seem longer than cricket !

Anonymous said...

It already does!

Don't Bug Me! said...

Moon: I knew that you would like this topic - I have another one all lined up ready for you next week. I have to say that I think Cortes' idea of shipping them up to some godforsaken, ice covered hellhole somewhere in the great northern wilderness is a better idea than Alcatraz. That way you can keep that for all the tourists.

As for sending the criminals to an island, we should have thought that one through a bit more carefully and given them a crappy one, as Cortes suggests, rather than a rather nice one with lots of lovely beaches and kangaroos, wallabies and wombats.

Gretzky may be the most famous Canadian, but fame does not make you great - e.g Paris Hilton, Victoria Beckham,......I could go on, but I am sure you get the point.

Jay: Despite what the movies may show us, I am pretty sure that most 17 years olds know what a bat does when it is whacked against the side of someone's head. Repeat offenders really do need to be treated differently.

Cortes: I like the way you think. A diet of seal blubber would certainly show me the error of my ways! If we are going to mollycoddle anyone, I believe it should be the victims and their families. The innocent people who suffer because of these repeat offenders.

Anonymous said...


Yes, we need to look after the victims. The real ones. Somehow, In this country, the criminals have convinced the courts that they are victims too. We need to recognize (most) of them for what they are, which is predators.

Gretzky may not be the greatest Canadian, but the rest of the list couldn't play hockey like he could. At the very least - that makes him "special".

Anonymous said...

mmmmmmmm (simpsonesque) Seal Blubber ....