By Sandra Ruttan
Over the weekend, emotions were running high. I must admit, I got a little agitated with some comments I saw in the wake of Friday's events.
And I made it clear that talk of a certain nature wouldn't be acceptable in my Facebook feed.
I don't disagree with that action. The statements that were starting to pop up - from Trump to Rob Lowe to others - were insensitive. They also don't prove a damn thing about gun control legislation.
By the end of the weekend, I was challenged with other information that had me thinking about free speech from the other side of the equation.
After pressure from victims' families, Amazon pulled Paul Bernardo's fiction book and it's no longer for sale on their site.
Now, I remember the events that led to Bernardo's arrest very well. I was a young adult, living in Ontario, at the height of the manhunt. I remember seeing the news of the missing girls on TV, and then learning of their murders. The trials played out in a way that trials are hard pressed to play out now. In Canada, there was a media ban of certain information, while US journalists were having a feeding frenzy.
Bernardo is a name that people know. It elicits a strong emotional response if you lived in Canada at that time.
But should Amazon have pulled his work? The story wasn't about his crimes. It was a work of fiction.
If others can write from behind bars, and even reform themselves through writing, is there a legal basis to deny Bernardo that option?
I don't know the specifics of Canadian law with regards to inmates publishing books online. And I can't say that I want to rub shoulders with Bernardo at the next crime fiction convention.
However, I have to consider whether this action moves towards control of individual rights in a way that extends beyond the scope of control businesses should have. What's next? How far will it go? As the descendant of a Huguenot, could I oppose books by French Catholics who support the persecution of Protestants?
I know it isn't the same thing. I'm not trying to pretend it is. I can't imagine the pain that the French and Mahaffy families feel, to this day. I don't question their actions at all.
But I wonder, assuming he was within his rights to publish a book while imprisoned (others have done this with traditional contracts), if this sets a dangerous precedent.
Food for thought.
Meanwhile, at least two episodes of two different shows have been pulled in the wake of the attacks in France.
Is this proof that censorship is alive and well, or is it a display of consideration and good taste? And would be conclude the latter if we disagreed with what was being censored? Anyone remember the backlash over Satanic Verses?
I admit that my first thought when I saw that bernardo had published a book on Amazon was sadness that he and I do the same thing all day. Sure, he's in prison so he isn't making dinner for his family at the end of the day like I am, he isn't seeing his kids off to school in the morning and he can't pop out for lunch, but I guess I really wanted his punishment to extend to not being able to do something that so many of us see as a privilege.
I know, we don't want to go to cruel and unusual punishment and I guess he should be allowed to have a hobby.
I guess I'm not worried about his freedom of speech, if it hadn't shown up in the media I think he was selling even fewer books than I am, so no one was really listening to what he had to say (and it's a generic spy thriller, it's not like he has anything to say) I guess I'm wondering about the limits on punishment in prison. Could he have any hobby he wants?
I'm sure it couldn't be any hobby he wanted. If he'd used a pseudonym nobody would have known.
Sure. Maybe he even has other books out under different names.
So, maybe that's where we draw the line, he can't use his criminal name, I don't know.
Geeze, I didn't know Bernardo had written a book. I'm with John, it both saddens me and creeps me out. What he and Karla Homolka did was about as horrific a series of crimes as I've ever heard of. Out of the three books I have about the two of them, I've only been able to read one. I don't think I could choke down the novel no matter how hard I tried.
Censorship angle aside, I'm not sure how *anyone* who is aware of his past could actually enjoy his book. How could anyone with a beating heart appreciate something, anything, that could come from the mind of a human (?) like that?
And I still have waking nightmares about what Karla Homolka might be up to (under her new name). Maybe she's toothless without a Paul Bernardo in her life, but-- argh. I have to stop and take a shower in some Clorox now.
This would be a good conversation to have by someone with stronger emotional thresholds than I seem to have.
It makes me sick to think of Homolka living in the Caribbean, married with childre. I find that far more offensive than a book.
That's just another thing I can't bear to think about. If they'd found those videotapes prior to her plea deal she'd be living like Bernardo now.
After I posted the comment about his book, I remembered Bernardo's pre-prison attempts to become a rap star. He was a much better cigarette smuggler.
Anyway, again, it's a reminder of ugliness in a world where we don't need to look far to find more.
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