Qu'est-ce Que J D?
The police are very kind when I’m a young white woman just doing my job, contributing to society. But when I’m at a protest they will follow orders to hit, kick, and pepper spray me. If I had been one of the queer women arrested and detained during the G20 protests in Toronto, as I easily could have been, I would have been subject to threats of rape, vaginal-digital “searches,” and homophobic threats and insults by officers. Police blame rape victims for “dressing like sluts.” Police give black Muslim cyclists fines of $1,316 for eight bicycle violations in the course of two minutes. Police beat native youth unconscious and leave them to die in the snow. As a woman, a queer person, and an anti-racist person, I do not trust the police. I do not trust them not to harass and abuse me, and I did not trust them not to harass and abuse the man who was making me so nervous in the store last week.

- Mary Burnet, quoted in “Trying to understand a tragedy” at the Halifax Media Co-op (April 23, 2012) (via garconniere)

This expresses very well many things that are important about how it is hard to act to preserve the safety of vulnerable people when you know state security to be essentially corrupt in theory and practise.

My one issue with the generally excellent article is that I balk at the seemingly patronizing description of Andre Denny (the killer of Raymond Taavel; Denny is schizophrenic), as “a person … who has the ability to harm and kill people from my queer community, and from his own community, without a real understanding of the harm he is doing or why it is wrong.”

As much as I don’t want anyone maltreated by our misguided punitive justice system the way Denny has been and no doubt will be, and I think his mental illness is part of why he’s vulnerable to that, I think it takes a lot away from people with schizophrenia to say that when one beats a man to death outside of a gay club, screaming slurs, he doesn’t understand the harm he’s doing or why it is wrong.

This isn’t me being a hardliner, I’m not saying this to advocate for throwing the book at him or locking him up and losing the key or any of the usual things you’re trying to say when you take issue with the equation of a mental illness with total mental incompetence.  I think I share with the author and many many people the intense wish for SOMETHING to be done and we don’t know exactly how it can go, all things considered.  I just object to the minor rhetorical issue of attributing that lack of understanding.

Okay go read the whole article it’s important.

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