Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's Not the Fall. It's the Impact...

Okay, I've just spent the better part of an hour scanning and rescanning Canadian news sites for the story I saw on CBC around 10 PM tonight. I haven't found it yet. If anyone out there has better information than mine on the situation, by all means please let me know.

Now, pay close attention to the wording.

A TTC driver has been accused...

You know, I remember learning about law and the Canamerican justice systems in school. I clearly recall thinking about the differences between Canadian law and French law. At least when I was a lad - somewhere around the twilight years of the Cold War - the primary differences lay in the definitions of guilty and innocent. For us, it's innocent until proven guilty. The burden of evidence is on the prosecution. For the French, it is the opposite.

Being Canadian and believing deeply in my nation, an exercise in passion and frustration, I was struck by the French definitions. Imagine being accused of something and unless you can prove otherwise, it's the guillotine for you. (Yes-yes, 1977. But it's more exciting this way.) I've always found the idea that my accusers must provide evidence that I'm not being improperly judged a comfort. And that's the Canadian way, right?

Ah, but then again French influences run deep within our provinces and their waterways. Certainly this was demonstrated tonight when I saw a current picture, along with his full name and age, of a TTC driver accused of sexually assaulting a nine year old girl last Friday.

And what a horrible thing to do. I mean, seriously. An utterly despicable act which will leave a lifetime mark on another human being. It's the sort of thing which brings me to say that I believe in capital punishment, in spite of the controversy. But I am also saddened by the fact. Such unnecessary pain should not be a part of any life, yet here it is. I grieve first for the little girl and her family, and secondly for the man who has fallen so far from grace.

And likely stemming from a reaction to the anger and pain of such actions, our French traces rise to the fore, and a man who has yet to be proven guilty stands unofficially guilty until proven innocent, at least in the public mind. Why don't we just grab some rope? Really. Which ideals of law are we following?

Sadly, there are many instances of individuals being wrongly painted with this colour, only to be discovered innocent. But it's too late. We cannot take back what has been portrayed, and the primitive witch-hunting mindset has already been set in motion.

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