Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Opposing Revelatory Identification

"I was fielding phone calls and having meetings with business people complaining about the activity going on downtown. There were tourists from cruise ships who were being accosted ... as well as people in banks and businesses."
"I feared that we were going to have someone go missing or even worse."
"We're not in the business of publicly shaming anybody. We're in the business of public safety. The media were calling the courthouse even before we [laid charges] ... and were looking for the names. We don't make the decision to print the names ... If it acted as a deterrent, so be it."
Cape Breton Regional Police Chief Peter McIsaac

"Public shaming is not something that our justice system should promote ... [and] when you release names to try to deter others, that sounds like public shaming to me."
"Deterrence is a feature of our criminal justice system, but we usually leave that to the sentencing process."
Abby Deshman, spokeswoman, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

"As soon as that information is the subject of a press conference ... that's something that will take on a life of its own and will have a level of permanence online -- and that wouldn't be the case with something just sitting in a court file."
"That information, which would have been buried in the paper age, all of a sudden is immediately accessible. It becomes part of your unofficial, permanent record that could follow you around for quite some time."
David Fraser, Internet, technology and privacy lawyer, Halifax

Cape Breton Regional Police stand by their decision to identify 27 men caught in a prostitution sting, a move that some say amounted to public shaming.
Cape Breton Regional Police stand by their decision to identify 27 men caught in a prostitution sting, a move that some say amounted to public shaming. (Reuters) 

A 73-year-old man was among 27 men who were brought to public attention as a result of a Cape Breton prostitution sting by local police in Halifax. He has retained a lawyer to argue in court that a news conference held almost a year ago could be compared to the kind of primitive justice that 18th and 19th Century society indulged in: "locking someone in the stocks", a very public and miserable humiliation that he believes violated his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

So, John Russell Mercer, who attained the respectable old age of 73, feels he has not been treated with the level of respect that an aged citizen in Canada merits. He may not be aware that age in and of itself is no merit, and respect must be earned. If and when a feted professional like an internationally renowned groundbreaking cardiac surgeon is caught in a similar sting, his name too creeps out of the shadows of public anonymity, released by the news media, eroding the respect in which he has been held.

These are personal choices that people make, to treat sex and the women who are engaged in the trade, whether willingly or through the growing misfortune of sex bondage and slavery, as mere commodities to be procured without staining their own personal male reputations. While, in fact, that choice represents their utter lack of respect for other human beings, their flouting of the law, their sense of entitlement to behave in a manner that belittles the dignity of others.

But this is a matter that privacy and civil rights experts feel otherwise about, that it is no one's business other than the principal who has decided to avail himself of a sex provider in his own time with his own money. However, when the lawyer for Mr. Mercer launched a legal challenge on his behalf, provincial court Justice Brian Williston rejected it, on the basis that police have the discretion to release such information to the media as long as there is no chance it will jeopardize a trial.

"Absent some risk to public safety, just putting people's names out there who haven't been convicted of any crime yet really has an enormous impact on these individuals' lives and livelihood", protested Ms. Deshman of the Civil Liberties Association. These personal social and illicit transgressions are committed by people who clearly feel they are entitled to do so to satisfy their personal cravings. At the same time when their names are made public they feel judged and disgraced, but it is they who committed to that course of action, made public.

Chief McIsaac explained the issue that was compounding the problem of prostitution, that sex trade workers suffering from substance addictions and coping with mental health problems were being subjected to violence. Moreover, police attempted to contact sex trade workers in an effort to deal with the problems they face, extended to greater society by their presence in the public arena. These are girls and women with fragile future prospects.

Freedom House has highlighted among other declines in human relations positives, a trend leading to a rise in human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Girls and women fall victim to the sex trade often at the hands of people who have gained their trust who then exploit them, abuse them, cause them mental anguish and commit violence against them. Their forced lifestyle sets them up to a lifetime of sexual violence and depression.

So the decision of' 'respectable' men in the greater society coming from all walks of life, representing a multitude of professions and lifestyles, cultural backgrounds and values, to venture out to defy the natural law of respect for other people, let alone the laws committed to ensuring justice for all  citizens, does add to the harms that these sex trade workers face in their lives, even as the buyers of sex would prefer to be oblivious to any need other than their own.

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