9.23.2008

harper anti-family values

Stephen Harper would sentence a 14-year-old to life in prison. But at the same time, Mr Morals would lower that bar in order to win a few votes.
Teenagers as young as 14 who are convicted of serious crimes such as murder would face stiffer sentences - including the possibility of life in prison - under Conservative Party proposals that would bypass a Supreme Court of Canada decision that made it more difficult to sentence youths as adults.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said yesterday a re-elected Tory government would overhaul the Youth Criminal Justice Act; in effect, imposing adult sentences on some young offenders and no longer shielding their identity. He said his government would raise maximum sentences for young killers - currently 10 years for first-degree murder and seven years for second-degree - and hand down 14-year sentences for other violent crimes now subject to two- or three-year terms.

The new sentences would affect youths 14 and older in most of the country. But in a nod to Quebec, where the Tories need to win seats to form a majority government, Conservative aides said the law would apply only to those 16 and older in that province, where the justice system and public sentiment favour rehabilitation.

This is the worst kind of pandering all around. First, Harper plays on voters' fears of crime, using people who can't vote, who are in need of protection - children - as the bait. Few voters imagine it might be their children subject to this injustice; for too many people, it's easy to vote to lock up other people's kids.

But at the same time, Harper kisses more Quebec ass. This reminds me of the anti-choice crowd who cries "Abortion is murder!" then whispers "except in cases of this, this or that". If it's murder, it should never be OK, right? But they don't care about this so-called murder; they care about punishing women for living modern lives.

If we're all in danger of 14-year-olds who are running amok committing violent crimes, aren't Quebeckers also in danger? Shouldn't Quebec 14-year-olds be subject to the same treatment? But we're not in this danger, none of us are. And if we were, does punishing teenagers more harshly prevent more crime? All evidence shows it does not.

One of the hallmarks of an enlightened society is the understanding that children are not miniature adults. Children need special help and special protection if they are to become healthy, productive members of society. It's everyone's responsibility to try to make that happen - one we fail far too often.

When a 14-year-old commits a violent crime, he or she needs help. Locking a child up - for life? - will only produce more violent children, who, if they live long enough (which too often, they will not), will become violent adults.

But then, the point of a "tough on crime" plan like this isn't to prevent crime. It's to scare people who are afraid of the modern world and pine for a return to some mythical good-old-days, when people who couldn't behave or wouldn't conform were swept locked up, or swept away and ignored. To scare them into voting Conservative.

A party that purports to stand for family values but favours locking up 14-year-olds for life - but not some other 14-year-olds whose parents might not vote for them - is not to be trusted.

Of course, we know that Mr Harper's Conservatives don't care about other people's children. Two words: Omar Khadr.

And I'm tagging this post with "biogtry" and "poverty and class", because whose children do you think would get locked up? Rich, white kids?

I'll also add that the day after the Liberals unrolled their platform - for a Richer, Fairer, Greener Canada - the Globe and Mail splashes this tough-on-crime bullshit across their front page. Last week they used a Harper anti-Dion quote - without quotation marks or attribution - as a headline.

Don't forget: the game thread is still open.

7 comments:

impudent strumpet said...

whose children do you think would get locked up? Rich, white kids?

It's not even that - parental ego is going to kick in and everyone's going to think "Well MY kid would NEVER do anything like that!"

Although, even if your kid actually would never do anything like that, what was the name of that one guy who was wrongfully accused of murder or something at the age of like 12, sometimes in the 1950s or something? He was just recently acquitted or compensated or something. I can't seem to google him since apparently I don't remember any of the numbers or verbs involved.

L-girl said...

I can't seem to google him since apparently I don't remember any of the numbers or verbs involved.

You are so funny. :)

You don't mean this guy, do you? You're saying 1950s, so I guess not. I just happened to see this headline on CBC.

But this

parental ego is going to kick in and everyone's going to think "Well MY kid would NEVER do anything like that!"

is very true. Just like parental ignorance/stupidity about the need for sex education, free birth control and such for teens.

impudent strumpet said...

The guy I'm thinking of was definitely a kid when he was convicted, preteens or early teens I think. And I'm not sure if it was the 50s or the part of the 60s that looked like the 50s in pictures. Which is so off point. I was going to name the guy and make a sensible point of some sort and now I'm lost.

Lisa said...

I really really really despise this sort of unthinking black and white law and order crap. It lacks compassion...and most importantly, it doesn't work.

And now Harper is playing the
"lefties are elitists" card.

http://tinyurl.com/4fa4sc

Now, where have I heard that sentiment before?

Arrgh! I HATE this election.

L-girl said...

It lacks compassion...and most importantly, it doesn't work.

Right.

But I LOVE this election because we finally have a chance to get rid of this man, something for which we've been waiting far too long.

impudent strumpet said...

Steven Truscott is the guy I was trying to think of.

L-girl said...

Steven Truscott is the guy I was trying to think of.

Oh yes! I got caught up on that when his conviction was overturned.

Glad you thought of it. :)