Let’s have the whole truth, please

Published on February 15, 2016

When, exactly, did we pass through the Looking Glass into Alice’s topsy-turvy world, where everything is backwards? By that, I mean: when did we start thinking of drug-abusing, switchblade-wielding, violent sex offenders as the heroes, and decorated police officers, who put their lives on the line to protect society, as the villains?

The recent conviction of Const. James Forcillo for “attempted murder” in the shooting of Sammy Yatim aboard a Toronto streetcar was little more than an electronic lynch mob, fuelled by an inflammatory and misleading video.

Martin Baron, who shot the video from a very safe distance — he appears to have been at least 50 feet away, and was never in any personal danger — justified his decision to release it on YouTube, saying, “I think it’s a little bit strange to say you didn’t get a fair trial because people saw what you did.”

He is wrong; a half-truth is often worse than an outright lie. This is why witnesses in court swear not just to tell the truth, but “the whole truth,” and Baron’s video showed anything but the whole truth. It did not show, for example, that Yatim was holding a 4.5 inch switchblade knife — an illegal weapon — which he brought on board the streetcar with him, thus proving his premeditation to commit violence.

The video did not show him slicing at the throat of passenger Bridgette McGregor, a complete stranger who had done nothing to provoke him; it did not show Yatim exposing his genitals to female passengers; it did not show the streetcar passengers stampeding for the exit in near panic. All it showed was a police officer shouting at, and then shooting to death, a young man, without any indication why it was necessary.

In this province, we encounter the same mindset when discussing the death of Don Dunphy (Brian Jones, “Justice denied for Don Dunphy,” Feb. 5).

Of course, Jones revealed his attitude to law enforcement last month when he appeared to argue that the police shouldn’t be allowed to lay charges against a pedophile until after the pedophile has actually harmed a child (“Sex doll case hard to figure,” Jan. 15).

His bias against the police in the February opinion piece is even more glaring. To start with, he refers to the shooting of Don Dunphy as “an incident that was highly suspect from the start,” an assertion for which he has absolutely no evidence. Of the Justice minister’s decision to have an independent third party investigate the RCMP investigation, Jones goes on to say, “I see it as bad news, because the highly likely implication is that the RCMP will lay no serious charges arising from the incident.”

Why is this bad news? Was Jones actually looking forward to a police officer being charged, regardless of whether the evidence justified it? Is Jones unable even to contemplate the possibility that the officer did nothing wrong?

But I forget — Jones isn’t concerned about whether any law was broken, he’s upset because an “injustice” was done.

“(A) huge injustice was done to Dunphy the moment the RNC officer set foot on his property,” he writes. “Any boot imprint may as well have also been stomped onto the Charter of Rights.”

Funny — I don’t remember where in the Charter of Rights it says that the police don’t have the right to knock on your door and ask you if you’d like to answer some questions.

“The tweets Dunphy had sent were clearly and obviously not a threat to anyone.” What does Jones mean by that? Does he mean that nobody has ever been killed by a tweet, or does he mean that the tweets did not contain anything that might be construed as a threat? Has he seen these tweets and what they contained? If so, would he mind sharing them with his readers? And if not, then how does he know they were “clearly and obviously not a threat”?

“Having a cop arrive at your door because of an expressed opinion is more in keeping with a police state than with a democratic society that respects freedom of speech.”

No, being thrown in prison, or summarily executed because of an expressed opinion is what typically happens in police states. There is nothing wrong, in a democratic society, with a police officer asking you questions in the course of an investigation, or warning you about the legal consequences of uttering threats. And if you don’t like it, that’s still not an excuse for threatening him with a loaded firearm.

 

William R. Lorimer

Bell Island