June 25, 2009

In the News

So it was a big day for celebrity news. Farrah Fawecett lost to cancer, Michael Jackson’s heart gave out. Very sad indeed, and the latter is quite shocking – and despite what your opinion is of the character of the man, he was a pop music genius. But some other news concerns me much more closely and deeply, and that’s the update on the Pickton trial appeal.

A very brief summary of the matter, Pickton is a pig farmer in BC who murdered women from the streets of Vancouver and hid their dismantled bodies on his farm, and also fed the pieces to his pigs. He’s charged with 26 murders, but there were more that couldn’t be conclusively pinned on him.

He lost an appeal today (by a split ruling) that claimed the judge responsible for the trial mis-instructed the jury. But what this also means is that he gets another appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada.

When I lived in BC in 2002-03, every week I went with a group of students from my school to the downtown eastside of Vancouver, which is notorious for the drugs and sextrade. We walked around with big things of hot chocolate in oversized blue jackets giving away hot drinks, as well as candy and various other useful items (gave away the mittens I was wearing once, who could say no to that request?). I was part of the group (comprised only of women) who spoke to the women on the street. We gave hot chocolate to those who wanted it, left alone those who had no interest in us, and talked to those who would. Despite what you think about this kind of outreach, it has made a huge difference in my life, mainly because it allowed me to simply interact with these people. They are me, they are exactly the same – what is different is that I was born into a stable, loving middle class family and they were exposed to situations either of poverty, abuse, or other unfortunate circumstances. Talking to these women I learned of their hopes and dreams, which are like yours and mine. One woman wanted to be a marine biologist, others just wanted to care for their children and make sure they were ok. It seems to me that the drugs and prostitution are effects of the crap they’ve been given in their lives, but the hope and the smiles show the wonder of their human hearts and triggered compassion in me. They are the same.

Many of the women we interacted with knew other women who had gone missing from East Hastings. They knew those women who were brutally murdered by Pickton. Some were afraid, because it could have easily been them.

So I read the story about the appeal on CBC news and it really brought me to frustrated tears. Leaving Pickton himself aside, I’m astonished that there are people who are willing to be his lawyers and defend him so vehemently. I know that everyone deserves defense, and all that stuff, but the scale of evil we’re dealing with makes me forget what the logic behind these laws is. He is an unbelievably evil man, and should be in prison for the rest of his earthly days. Those women deserve whatever tiny shred of justice we can muster up for them. They deserve infinitely more. Remember that they are you and me, they did not deserve to die, they deserved to be loved. Remember that when you think about people on the streets, when you think about prostitutes. Please don’t condemn them in your mind, because we don’t know what they’ve had to deal with in their lives. Remember that they have children, they have friends, and they have dreams. Think of the dream to be a marine biologist.

No comments: