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?