Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Who was Tracy Latimer?

We all know who Robert Latimer is, the father who murdered his disabled daughter, but what about his daughter? Now that Latimer is being released from prison before completing his sentence, expect his crime to be discussed, glossed, and ultimately celebrated by our nation's media. Yet here's the telling thing - no one is discussing Tracy. Oh sure, there's a few paltry comments about her condition made whenever her murder is discussed, but we never ever learn anything about who she was. Why is that?

The problem with discussing Tracy, I think, is that by acknowledging her personhood we are forced to re-examine the traditional defence of Latimer. Latimer's defenders will say, and do frequently, that his crime was one of compassion, that his love for his daughter made him kill her. What this defence does is take the focus away from the victim and her inviolable human rights and move it to her father, the beleaguered farmer who just could not help but poison his own disabled daughter. When we look at Robert, we forget about Tracy, and we forget about the crime.

I shouldn't have to repeat this, but murder is murder all the time. Robert Latimer was not in 1993 an expert on cerebral palsy, nor is he now. He had no peculiar insight into the life of a person living with palsy anymore than I have insight into the life of a junky on the street. I wouldn't go suffocating herion-addicted junkies just because I thought they were suffering too much, and if I did I would end in jail for life. Latimer on the other hand decided he could suffocate his own daugther, and he's out of jail on parole. If Canadians think we can live in a peaceful and healthy society with such blatant contradictions, then they're going to be in for a very unpleasant surprise. Leben unwertes leben isn't just a 30's thing.

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