Friday, January 9, 2009

Canada's Disproportionalistic Shame: Speaking Out Against Section 279

As Canadians in these times of disproportionate war and asymmetrically successful international strife, we cannot let ourselves off the hook. Nor can we afford to blindly be on our own side. Now is the time to speak out against disproportionalism in all its forms.

Consider, just as one small pebble in the edifice of hate that is our legal system, the hideous, disproportionalistic aberration that is our kidnapping legislation. This shameful section, Section 279 of Canada's unfair, unbalanced penal code, reads as follows:

(2) Every one who, without lawful authority, confines, imprisons or forcibly seizes another person is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months.
In case your need to fit the world into “good guys” and “bad guys” has blinded you, and the hideous unfairness and lack of proportion here don’t jump out at you like a phone call warning you that your arsenal and its civilian minders are about to be bombed, just try to put yourself in the shoes of the people involved. Resist the naive temptation to pick one side or another. Stop and think about how you would feel if you were involved. Consider the implications of this single shameful law on your own life for one brief moment.

If you were to kidnap your neighbour for just one week, you could spend up to ten years in prison. Federal prison. On the one hand, there is you, a lone individual. On the other hand, there is the entire apparatus of the Canadian state. On the one hand, there is one week of the other person's life; on the other, ten lost years of your own.

Let's do the math on that one, and see if it makes any sense, or even measures up to the most elementary proportions of fairness when you start to break it down and look at what the two sides are doing to each other. We have seven days of imprisonment on the one side, and THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY on the other. That is a ratio of 521.5 to 1. Even the ancient Assyrians would never dream of exacting such a harsh price from a rebelling city.

Whatever the complexities, it goes without saying that no one approves of kidnapping. But no amount of spin can make this absurd gulf disappear, or diminish the pain on both sides. Navigating these complexities is a difficult task, one that requires humility, a big heart, and a willingness to compromise. I have faith that progressive Canadians are up to the task of reforming our legal system to bring it back in line with world opinion and elementary proportionalism. It is time to speak out for justice. It is time to repeal section 279.

3 comments:

PeterE said...

Is this a serious post? Is there some inside joke I'm missing? Is kidnapping disproportionality a hot topic in libertarian circles?

It's tough to begin to list all the problems with the argument made here. So I'm just hoping that it's a joke of some kind.

Mike said...

I'm no libertarian, just an everyday paleo-neo-progressivist trying to compromise with the rest of the world.

PeterE said...

Maybe those links could have been in the post. Because I looked (even your links in the comments are tough to see).