Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Hard words

According to news reports, the New York Jewish community to which Nachman and Raizy Glauber belonged want the state to prosecute their deaths in a car crash, along with the death of their newborn, as "homicide" or "murder". Bereaved parents in Grande Prairie Alberta give the justice system's performance a failing grade after a judge gives a driver three years for four counts of dangerous driving causing death; nine months for each of the four teenagers who died in the crash.

Perhaps, centimeter by painful centimeter, the public has begun to understand that the law has no business treating death by car differently from death by bullet, death by lead pipe, death by poison. While tragic accidents happen, we appear to excuse motorists from responsibility for traffic deaths in a way we would never excuse accidental shootings. Our definition of murder does not require a specific intent to make one person dead. If an offender chooses to gratify an appetite, for the contents of convenience store till, for "respect" on the street, for revenge, and if to gratify that appetite they behave in a way that endangers someone else's life, and by doing so cause a death, then that offender will suffer the penalty for murder. Canada's Parliament has seen fit to treat deaths caused by motorists indulging an appetite for excessive speed differently. The courts have responded with an even more lenient standard. Recent news suggests the public has grown increasingly impatient with this disparity.

To make this clear: I do not ask to have homicide perpetrators treated without mercy. I ask to have them treated without favour. I ask to have the law deal with death by car bumper the way it deals with death by bullet.

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