Thursday, December 29, 2005

Root-excuses for gangs and guns

"If there was any silver lining in this it could be that maybe white middle-class people would care more about the risks that are out there for other members of our community." U of T criminologist, Mariana Valverde in today's Toronto Sun.
"Yesterday's shootings in Toronto serve as a painful reminder that we cannot take our peace or our understanding for granted. I think more than anything else, they demonstrate what are in fact the consequences of exclusion. I was in Toronto not long ago and met with a number of members of communities in the Jane and Finch area . . . and the young people talked to me about the void in their lives, and what hopelessness and exclusion can bring." Paul Martin, Liberal leader

First -- there is no silver lining. There can be no silver lining in the death of young girl at the hands of vicious, souless thugs. Sentencing reform could have come without her death . . . should have come without her death -- things never should have been allowed to get this far. The only deterrent to this kind of crime is to lock them up and throw away the key. Maybe if criminals knew they'd never get out, EVER again -- maybe they'd think twice. Prison time must be punitive. We know all that without the death of an innocent child.

Unlike Ms Valverde and our Prime Minister, I thought the violence downtown on boxing day was the act of criminals who realised that because of their age, or who through experience with a lack of serious penalties (should they ever be caught), had no compunction about choosing murder as the answer to their grievances. It never occurred to me that it was our fault because we don't care and we have created a dark void into which excluded people fall, helpless to prevent themselves from pulling guns on crowded streets and killing innocent people.

Forgive me if I don't care when young men with guns, shoot other young men with guns. My only concern has ever been the innocents who might be caught in the cross-fire.

Ms Valverde suggests we (white, middle-class suburbanites) will 'care more' now that this has come to one of our own. Like this is something new.

Remember these names? In 1983 Barbara Turnbull was shot and paralysed in a convenience store robbery in Mississauga; 23 year old Vivi Leimonis was murdered 1994 in a botched robbery at Just Desserts in Toronto; in 2004, Louise Russo was paralysed in a drive-by shooting at a sandwich shop in North York, and now Jane Creba. There are others, but I remember these few names because they are women whose ages were similar to mine at the times of the events, and now with the last one, I have a fifteen year old daughter.

People already care -- but don't expect us to shed tears for the thugs who become 'victims' of a street life they have a part in shaping and maintaining.

Unlike the elites, it didn't take this murder for us to know things are out of hand. We see the violence as already affecting us -- even when they aren't killing our kids. It's just that unlike those who comment from ivory towers, we have no warm and fuzzy illusions about after school programmes being more than just another place for a drug deal. We have no grand visions of violent criminals flushing their drugs, handing over their guns and getting jobs at the Zellers or Canadian Tire.

I don't believe in warm and snuggly social programs -- I believe in punitive justice as a deterrent to violent crime.
I don't believe a kid who knows he can make $3,000 a week selling crack or meth, is going to become a model citizen because of a work co-op programme.

I don't believe that 'children' who are 15, 16 or 17 should be shielded by their age, from the real consequences for the violent crimes they commit because of a law designed to protect kids who swipe a pack of gum.
I don't believe violent criminals will grow a soul if they go to anger management or other useless therapy programs.
I don't believe in rehabilitation -- I believe in retribution.
I don't believe in collective guilt -- I believe in personal responsibility.

Ms Valverde and Mr. Martin are laying the blame for violent crime at the feet of the average person. I'm not biting.

People who behave in a violent, anti-social manner should be excluded from society. But they should be excluded through incarceration in jail where they belong. Maybe then they wouldn't have a chance to influence the little ones in their communities for whom there is still hope. Maybe if they were kept in jail where they belong, those who come up behind them might realise that crime doesn't pay, that there are consequences for every action. And even if locking them up and throwing away the key does nothing to deter even one other criminal -- at least the criminal who is locked up will be out of our midst and unable to cause harm to society again.

Mr. Martin can blame poverty, hopelessness etc. He can give all the root-causes he wants -- but that is a major insult to all those who live in low-income, high-crime areas and who manage to instill values in their children. It is an insult to all the poor people who realise that poverty is just the state of your bank account, and that the measure of your character is where you create your riches. These people need the government to back them up. They need to be able to say to their kids 'no excuses'. Instead we have staged sympathy, wrong-headed solutions (hand-gun ban), collective guilt and governmental inertia when it comes to violent crime.

The criminal sucks the hope and potential from children in tough neighbourhoods -- and the government ensures the hope remains extinguished by doing nothing to remove the criminal element from their midst. What good will it do to get tough on handguns, if they don't get tough on the people who use them? Good people in poor communities want the criminal element locked away. Only when these gangster role models are gone, can the kids within these communities see past the gang culture to a positive future. At-risk youth are most at risk from the influence and the crimes of the criminals in their own neighbourhoods.


Update: I was thinking about other people -- innocent people -- who've been victims of gun crime and gang violence recently -- 11 year old Tamara Carter, riding a TTC bus with her mother in November 2004 -- shot in the face. In October of this year a TTC bus driver was shot and critically injured.
There are still more. How quickly we forget -- and that's the problem. They go out of the newspapers, out of our thoughts until the next time. And that's why it's so easy for the government to ramp up the rhetoric when something like this happens and to drop it down and ignore it when the current tempest has passed.
People are suggesting that the reaction to this was because this was a young white girl. We didn't know who she was until last night. What we did know, was that she was shopping with her family, not carrying a gun, not a part of the gang culture -- not a part of the problem. That's what caused the reaction. It isn't racism that makes us sit up and take notice now -- we've taken notice every time -- but this time, there is an election campaign on and maybe our outrage will be heard.



Bryce said...

Easy for you to say when you don't have to live in a hostile environment. When you are poor your options are limited. No program is going to save your ass. You need to become stronger and rise above!

bks said...

Great post!

Mark said...

I maintain the greatest reason thugs were willing to open fire on Young Street is that they knew nobody would fire back.

Let the citizenry arm themselves and give them permission to shoot armed assailants and you can be guaranteed that the rate of gun crime will go down dramatically.

When thugs begin to understand that opening fire will result in a hail of bullets through their windows they'll think twice about driving by.

Would that ten or twelve armed citizens could have riddled the getaway car with bullets and cut down one or two of the bastards.

Candace said...

Excellent post, as usual. I'm in an okay neighborhood but my daughter's school is not. One of her classmates was mugged 1/2 a block from the school because he decided to cut through an alley instead of walking on the street. Until the young thugs realize that there will be real consequences for their actions, they will continue.

This isn't about a white girl getting killed, just as it wasn't about a black man getting killed at a funeral, for God's sake. It's about people, going about their business, getting killed in broad daylight. And it has to stop.

valiantmauz said...

Agreed, there can be no silver lining in any of this. A fifteen year old girl is dead - senselessly, shamefully shot down in the street along with seven other people.

How hard is it to realize that the illegal guns need to be found, the border tightened to prevent more guns from coming into the city, the drug dealers to be rounded up and convicted, the gang members to be incarcerated.

No bail. No plea bargains. Certainly, we shouldn't be seeing news reports like the one I saw today that the two men currently being held on "weapons offences" in this shooting were "known to police".

How much do you want to bet these men "known to police", carrying illegal guns, and apprehended at a subway station will be out on bail in a matter of weeks?


Myrddin Wyllt said...

WEll Said.

Les Mackenzie said...

"Easy for you to say when you don't have to live in a hostile environment."

How do you know where anyone on this blog lives? I grew up in a hostile environment. Drugs, crime the whole 9 yards. I've never killed anybody.

I rose above without violence.

Observer said...


Beliefs are all well and good but what are yours based on?

You can say you believe in "punitive justice", whatever that means, but how do you explain the murder rate in the US where the gun-control states have less murders than non-gun control states.
*this isn't an argument for gun control at all, but real world data appears to contradict your "beliefs" about citizens being able to "fire back"*

Which state in your opinion has the most "punitive justice". Is it Texas? How would you explain the high murder rate in Texas which is usually more than double Ontario's, sometimes triple?

Can you otherwise name a state or province that has enough of your "punitive justice" from which we can all study and learn from?

What say you?

Canadi-anna said...

I say that if you'd read my post you'd see I don't equate punitive justice with capital punishment (as in Texas) nor do I suggest that gun ownership should be less regulated.

You seem to have read-into my post something you think you should see because there is a Conservative avatar on my page.

Punitive justice = life in prison. It's pretty clear throughout my post.
What don't you get?

Letting violent gang members in and out of jail sends a terrible message to the children in their midst. These gun-toting thugs are the only male role models some kids have.
Get the criminals out of the neighbourhoods and even if they're 15 --if they're using guns, it's too late for them already.
What don't you get about that?

You address a comment about 'citizens firing back' to me. One of my commenters suggests that (some) people be allowed to carry--I don't happen to agree-- and yet you imply by addressing me and using a quote that I am the author of what you have quoted. I'm not. I never say anthing about 'citzens firing back'. Please be more careful with your attribution of quotes.

As for a jurisdiction that uses punitive jail time to deter criminals. You likely won't find one but I don't see how it's hard to understand that if someone is in jail, they can't commit crime.

And while you're writing asking me to support my beliefs with examples -- you come here with unsupported statements but how do you explain the murder rate in the US where the gun-control states have less murders than non-gun control states. Says who?

You end your comment with a challenge for me to back up my beliefs with something you can study.

If the people who did this were in jail where they belong, where wouldn't they have been? That's right. On Yonge Street shooting a girl.
She was in the right place at the right time -- it's those bastards who weren't.

If you have any better solutions Observer, maybe you should put up -- or just shut up.
Nattering on about who has higher/lower crime rates based on gun control does nothing but change the focus of the issue. We stop concentrating on criminals and start concentrating on statistics and weapons. A cabbie was murdered in Nove Scotia on Christmas day. The weapon was a knife. He's no less dead. Violence without a gun? Apparently it happens. Given that it does, violent offenders -- whatever their choice of weapon -- should be locked away for the safety of society.

The people did this shooting would possess firearms even if all guns were illegal to everyone -- but they wouldn't have the opportunity to use them if they were in jail.

The best indicator of a person's future behaviour is his past behaviour.
Get it now?

Tim said...

Gun Laws do Not Reduce Criminal Violence According to New Study

Bill said...

Congrats - your post is featured on page 27 of the Toronto Sun today (Sunday, December 30th).

Great post by the way.

Bill said...

Oops... today is Friday, not Sunday.

Observer said...


Okay, apparently too many points of engagement.

Well, let me rephrase and re-challenge then.

There is no need to argue theory with you. IF your belief in "punitive justice" is sound then there should exist some sort of actual real world crime data for this, shouldn't there?

So, can you name *the* jurisdiction in Canada or the US that *you think* is the one that is most representative (closest to) of "punitive justice", however you define it? Note, I'm only asking for one state or province. I'm also stating that it doesn't have to be "exact" but just name the one that is closer *than all the others* to what you mean by "punitive justice".

If there exists no state or province that you are willing to name, is there any other jurisdiction in the *Western* world that you would be willing to name?

If there is none in the Western world (i.e. reasonably similar society structure to Ontario) then please go ahead and name a non-Western jurisdiction, but I'd have to ask you to also explain why there is no Western example.

Your beliefs, your definitions, your "example" jurisdiction.

What say you now?

Canadi-anna said...

I think what we have here is a failure to communicate.
Apparently you think it is incumbent upon me to enlighten you with proof of my belief system on crime prevention. To do this, I am to name a jurisdiction where they've tried it and it has worked.

Why you would want to challenge me when you obviously have no ideas of your own is beyond me, but I'll play.

Look around -- is what we in Canada, are doing, working?

Well, for the most part I'd say no.
Proof -- the first guy charged in this shooting was out on parole.
The best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour, but our legislators have failed us and not realised this.

Oh, yes, there are your Clifford Olsens and Paul Bernardos who are put away for 'life' - but even they benefit from the Liberal's faint hope clause, which allows them to apply to seek parole at 15 years. And when they apply for parole, which they likely will, the victims families get to go and have the whole thing rehashed and rehashed and rehashed every two to three years. Who's being punished?

And while we're on people like these two, how many people have Clifford Olsen and Paul Bernardo murdered since they've been in jail?

What's that? None.
Well, there you go. When people are in jail they are not committing crimes against society. What a coincidence.

And, if all the gangstas were in jail, not only would they not be committing crime, they would also not be in a position to influence the children in their midst to commit crimes. They wouldn't be able to warp innocent minds into thinking that 'the life' is cool and glamourous.
I have no proof for that one, but it just makes sense.

I have no idea what you are looking for here Observer, but if it's crime stats and data you aren't going to find it. There is no empirical evidence for my beliefs, I have relied on observation and reasoning. Despite what you seem to be implying, that doesn't invalidate my arguments, nor my beliefs.
Your challenge, without a counter argument is irresolute. Are you by any chance a liberal?

Canadi-anna said...

Hi Bill, thanks for that -- I'll look it out!

bob said...

Observer, the strictest gun-control laws in the U.S. are in Washington, D.C. -- a perennial candidate for the homicide capital of the U.S. Gun control laws do not work unless there is a judiciary willing to support the enforcement of those laws with sufficient incarceration time for those convicted of gun-involved crimes. That does not happen in Washington, Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, and most other major U.S. cities.
C, hope your Christmas was merry and pray your New Year is happy.

Observer said...


it's *unobvious* that I have "no ideas of my own". I've only been talking about you and your ideas. Such a conversation, normally, would therefore cast no light *one way or the other* on whether I have any ideas.

I think that you, like many conservative bloggers, need to look to attack your critics rather than defend your own ideas. You shouldn'd need to know my own ideas in order to have a conversation about yours.

What I was looking for, however, is what you finally did provide.

That is, you admitted that you have no data, proof or any real world backup to your theory.

So your belief without any data is really thus a "hypothesis" which would therefore make you an idealogue.

There's little point in arguing with an idealogue.

It's important to understand the type of person you're dealing with before engaging in any interaction of substance.

You are at least to be commended on admitting the dogmatic nature of your beliefs. Many other conservative types simply try to pretend otherwise.

Tone and nature of this interchange notwithstanding, I sincerely wish you a happy new year and all the best in 2006.

Canadi-anna said...

Ah, the anonymous, elitist Observer, put on this earth to set us all straight.
I almost didn't bother defending my stance with you because, despite what you say, a conversation amongst grown ups is an exchange of ideas, not a challenge of another person's ideas without offering any hint as to one's own position.

Like many liberal commenters, you come to a conservative blog, open your mouth and contribute nothing to the dialogue but condescending disavowal--- not of my arguements, not of my beliefs-- because you offer nothing to counter those -- no, your condemnation is for me because you have dismissed me as an 'idealogue'.

You suggest you have ideas, but you won't share them with me because I am unworthy of an engagement of substance. You've just engaged in an adhominem argument -- my ideas you don't challenge, it's me you take issue with. You use the weakest of all debating points -- questioning the credibility of the debater -- then you dismiss my points without answer.

Despite your accusation otherwise, I defended my ideas. You want evidence. You want proof and I've offered proof that lenience doesn't work and I've given examples of residents of prison not committing crimes against society --your failure to understand the simple correlation is your failure, it is not an admission of erroneous thinking on my part.

You suggest that rather than defend my beliefs, I have resorted to 'attacking' you -- forgive me for suggesting you might be a liberal. I know such a slur can be hurtful -- but please consider --

* you visited my blog without identifying yourself in any manner that might allow me to discover more about you and your ideas and opinions.

* your tone has been haughty without any substantive statements to merit such demeanour

* You misquoted me and didn't even apologize when it was pointed out to you,

* You've talked down to me as though -- instead of just a fellow blogger -- you are someone of vast importance.

* You challenge the validity of my ideas – not with ideas of your own, but by attributing to me what you believe to be a character flaw – and saying that someone like me is unworthy of intellectual debate

* and then you act as though I have somehow offended you.

Of course I figured you were liberal – you fit the profile.

And good luck to you in the new year – may you learn to contribute of yourself before you start detracting from others.

Anonymous said...

Oh, don't bother arguing with Observer. We just have to accept the fact that he's more enlightened than the rest of us common mortals.

Emilia Liz (