Thursday, June 29, 2006

The poor bastards...

I've been thinking a bit lately about people being out in public for things they've been accused of, but haven't been found guilty of.

I appreciate this is nothing new, but there have been a few things happening lately that have brought my mind to the subject. It's something I had to deal with all the time when I was a journalist. You hear of a crime or something interesting (good or bad) happening and you want to know who was involved. Basic human nature.

However, and this is cynical on my part, I think basic human nature is to assume the worst. If somebody has been accused of something bad, then we assume they did it. Even if a correction happens soon afterwards, there's still this eye of suspicion on the person. And the thought going through most people's mind, I guarantee you, is "I wonder if they did it and just got away with it."

Yes, yes...maybe you don't do that. It's just me. I'm a cynical bastard. You're a saint. You're also probably lying because I guarantee you we've all done it at some point.

I imagine you're all thinking I'm talking about The Byrne Affair, SwagScam, BlingGate or however you want to phrase it (I'm partial to BlingGate myself). But what really got me thinking was this story. A teacher from Igloolik is being charged and accused of chatting with a minor online and with sexual interference and assault.

Aside from being a teacher in Nunavut, I imagine he's also a co-worker of some friends of ours in that community. They haven't said anything because they're out of the territory, plus they're getting married shortly. They have a few other things on their minds.

However, I did hear a story on CBC North and of course everyone in the community is talking about it. And all I could think is that if this turns out to have been a mistake or misunderstanding it doesn't matter. He can never teach in that community again. People won't trust him. They probably won't send their kids to school if he's supposed to teach them. His career as a teacher in Igloolik, and probably all of Nunavut, is effectively over.

Understand if he's guilty, then I have not much in the way of sympathy. He gets what he deserves. But if he's not, well, that's a hell of a price to pay for someone else's mistake

It's something these guys are all too familiar with.

Now as for Ed Byrne, Randy Collins, Wally Anderson, Jim Walsh and Billy Murray they're all in a world of trouble. It doesn't take much to convince the average person that a politician is up to something crooked. They might survive all of this if it's found to have been some kind of colossal error, but I doubt it. Ed Byrne career is effectively over, I don't care how well he has lawyered up. Again, if he's guilty then he deserves what he gets.

But understand it's going to be months, if not years, before this gets to courts or things become a lot clearer than they are now. And these poor bastards are just going to hang out there and be thought of as guilty. And I'm not entirely sure that's fair.

The timing of all of this is odd, but does make sense. The Auditor General doesn't normally issue a report until December - that way a government can bury bad news during Christmas, when everyone is too busy to pay attention. This comes out in the summer, again when everyone is hopefully too busy enjoying the nice weather people are apparently having back home. Also, it offers the benefit of distance. If this had come out at Christmas, it's entirely too close to the October 2007 general election. This buys the government an extra six months, no matter that the AG appears to be only in the beginning stages of his investigation.

So far all political parties are looking bad and Williams appears to be escaping criticism by being aggressive in his tactics. That might hold up, but I guess we'll see. I haven't commented much on this racket because this really is one of those stories where distance is an issue. I can't get the same feel for what's happening by reading the news online and bloggers. You really need to be there. It's vastly frustrating for me.

Then again, it could be worse...I could be roasted alive in the court of public opinion like the poor bastards above. They might all be guilty. They might deserve all of what they're going through and more. But until they're actually found guilty of something, well, it's hard not to feel a touch of sympathy for them.


Jason said...

Hmm, see the only numbers I've seen have all been attached to Byrne, so because of that I think he is toast. Wally I don't know, he is well respected on the coast, depends again on the numbers. Collins, numbers as well but lets face it, it makes a NDP presence in the house less likely in years time.
I like "Blinggate" mayself even though I hate gate added on to ever political scandal

Ed Hollett said...

You make a good point, Craig.

Years ago while in government, I dealt with a junior high school teacher accused of sexually molesting two young women.

This was shortly after Mount Cashel and any sexual allegations went to court. The police would exercise no judgment. Turns out the young women invented the story and admitted as much. Widely covered as the story was - including that he was completely innocent - he couldn't find a job picking up butts on the grass.

On top of that, we have just come through lamer which is a caution against rushing to judgment.

Through it all so far, the ones who have not been scrutinised are those whose decisions allowed it to happen and who, have some level of responsibility to answer for as well.

Anonymous said...

Myself, having been accused of a crime I didn't commit, and by a criminal who was aided in this persecution by some of the people involved in this fiasco, I have an insider's view of how this is going down. Believe me, they are NOT nearly as notoriously villified as some of us have been, and what's more, if they are innocent, they sure aren't acting like it. I know, because I was and am innocent. This system here nearly destroyed me and my sympathy is and always will be with those of us who are, how shall I put this, lower down on the economic and social scale than some of these pilfering buggers. I feel an unbiased outside justice needs to be brought in to replace Derek Green. I do admire your sense of fairplay though.