Saturday, December 08, 2007

Human Life Matters: A blogger's comments on Robert Latimer

Mark Pick up is an Edmonton activist for persons with disabilities and he speaks eloquently on the subject of Mr. Latimer recently being denied day parole.

After seven years in prison for murdering his disabled daughter, Robert Latimer applied for day-parole. On December 5th 2007, his application was denied. Parole Board panel member Kelly-Ann Speck told Latimer, "We were left with the feeling you have not developed the kind of sufficient insight and understanding of you actions,".

Robert Latimer remains defiant and unapologetic for gassing his 12 year old daughter Tracey to death in 1993. She had cerebral palsy. He told the panel, "I still don't feel guilty because I still feel it was the best thing to do." A majority of Canadians (70%) support Latimer. Many believe he should not have been charged with a crime in the first place and many other Canadians believe he did a favour for his daughter by killing her. He has become a Canadian folk hero.
Inaccuracies about Tracey's life
Since the beginning of this case, the media has misrepresented the humanity of Tracey Latimer.
On December 6th 2007, Victoria Times Colonist reporter, Rob Shaw, reported about the parole Board denial of the previous day. He wrote that Tracey was a "bed-bound quadrplegic who could not speak or feed herself ...". She was not bed-bound! Tracey Latimer went to to a developmental centre five days a week for a regular school day. There were discussions about integrating her into the regular school system. From Monday-Friday Tracey traveled to school on a regular school bus and returned home at the end of each school day on the same bus as her siblings and other children -- right up to the Friday before she was killed.
Tracey was not in constant pain as has been widely reported throughout the years. That assertion is simply not true. At Robert Latimer's trial it was clearly established that her pain was intermittent. Despite her cerebral palsy and the various trials she faced, Tracey Latimer was a happy child as the court transcripts clearly show. She loved music, sleigh rides, television, games, parties, the circus, sleepovers and pets. Tracey adored her family and her face would brighten at the very sight of them. She did not have the mental capacity of a four month old infant -- another inaccuracy widely reported. That was a grossly inaccurate speculation thrown out to the court by a family practitioner: Her life contradicted this assertion, her natural childhood joie be vivre proved him wrong and said something else.
Tracey Latimer had something to bring to the world. At one point during the court proceedings, her mother Laura acknowledged that Tracey brought beauty to their lives. She reminisced, "Tracey enriched our lives. Tracey made us better people, she --Tracey taught us how to love."
Apparently her father forgot what she taught. Tracey's parents were tired, Bob's patience had run out, there was a new baby in the family. It was time to move on with life. Robert Latimer put Tracey out of his misery.
Robert Latimer/Susan Smith
It's curious that with the media's help, Robert Latimer became a Canbadian folk hero. A year after Robert Latimer murdered his daughter, American Susan Smith put her car into a South Carolina lake, drowning her two little boys, Alex and Michael. Why is Susan Smith universally reviled to this day for killing her children while Robert Latimer became a folk hero after killing his child? The difference is this: Susan Smith killed two healthy children while Robert Latimer killed one disabled child. Tracey Latimer was not cute; Michael and Alex Smith were adorable. What should we make of the dramatic difference in public response and attitudes? Are disabled children worth less than healthy children? Would Robert Latimer be a folk hero and enjoy the support of a majority of Canadians if Tracey had been a healthy child? No, I don't think so.

Cold winds of public opinion

Robert Latimer was returned to his jail cell yesterday but his case served to set new public sympathy for so-called mercy-killers in Canada. Today, a public opinion survey was conducted by Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper about the Parole Board's decision to deny Robert Latimer day-parole. More than 80% of respondents disagree with the parole Board's decision. They think he should been given it. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association's Allan Borovoy said the government of Canada should step in and pardon Latimer. Lawyer Borovoy calls the imprisonment of Robert Latimer a "national disgrace."

It's a scary time to be disabled (as I am). Apparently it's a disgrace to imprison the killer of a person with a disability. We are held in low public opinion. The winds of public opinion blow colder than a Canadian winter for the disabled of Canada.
Mark Pickup

Posted by Mark Pickup at 1:06 PM

Jim Todd said...
Once again I find that I and many others have been given the big lie and have fallen for it hook, line and sinker. I believe that everyone is better alive then dead. I believe that we should all be loved and given the best treatment to keep us alive. I have had several discussions with people concerning Robert Latimer and I am always getting it thrown in my face that I am an unfeeling, sadist who wants people to suffer because I feel that Latimer was not justified in doing what he did to his daughter. I am also satisfied that the parole board did not release him.
Could you lead me in the direction of your sources of information? I too would like to dethrone this "pop- hero".
Most of all, Mark, do not get discouraged because of the mass media attitude and lies towards the disabled. Your life and attitude about life and Christ speak volumes of what it means to be human, to be Christian.
Remember you in my prays and thoughts.

Jim Todd

December 6, 2007 7:47 PM
T E Fine said...
You mention Susan Smith - the Andrea Yates case happened in my backyard in 2001. I remember the uproar at the U of Houston about how evil she was, how horrible she was - heck, I had an atheist professor talking about how she was morally reprehnsible and deserved the death penalty!

I am disgusted that 70% of Canadians support or pity Latimer. Where's the righteous anger and indignation? Where's the sympathetic pains for his baby girl? What kind of beasts are we growing these days, that they let a kin slayer slide under *any* circumstances?

They won't let him out - good. He doesn't deserve what he's got, let alone any kind of reward for his behavior.

He's the kind of guy that makes it a real trial to pray for your enemies.


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