Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Betty Krawczyk Problem:: BC Attorney General Wants Civil Disobedience Considered a Form of Madness

image:: Betty Krawczyk, The Tyee

In the wake of the G20 débacle in Toronto, I've been following issues of free speech and civil liberties in Canada. I've stumbled across the interesting case of Berry Krawczyk, an 80+-year-old environmental activist who has gone to jail many times for her beliefs. In a Tyee article/interview last year, she freely admitted to being a fanatic. Here's a link to a MP3 of the interview, where she discusses her life, her philosophical stance on social change, and the consequences of her civil disobedience over the years. Using the term "fanatic" may turn out to be a mistake and if the BC Attorney General gets his way, there are grave implications for freedom of expression.

According to Murray Dobbin on rabble.ca, Michael Brundrett of the BC Ministry of the Attorney General {BC Liberal Party} is seeking in the Appeals court of BC to have Krawczyk declared a "chronic offender" and have her re-sentenced under the rules of accumulated convictions, citing cases involving repeat-offender pedophiles. On this blog post by Betty, she quotes the case that Brundrett allegedly is citing to increase her sentence, which may be as severe as life imprisonment::
"In appeal of the first case: (R. v. M. (C.A.) Jessup J.A. (appeal judge) expressed the sentencing principal in Hill, at p. 147: 'When an accused has been convicted of a serious crime in itself calling for a substantial sentence and when he suffers from some mental or personality disorder rendering him a danger to the community but not subjecting him to confinement in a mental institution and when it is uncertain when, if ever, the accused will be cured of his affliction, in my opinion the appropriate sentence is one of life.'"
Betty expressed outrage that BC Attorney General Ministry is equating civil disobedience with chronic pedophelia, invoking a moral panic and a foucauldian labelling her as a crazy person who needs to be isolated from society::
"But honestly, what annoys me the most is that the Attorney General of BC equates peaceful civil disobedience with the diseased minds of violent pedophiles who repeatedly rape their own children and in the second case, also sell the images. In other words, the Attorney General thinks I am a pervert who is rather the same as these two men and should be locked up for life."
The effects of this will be to institute tremendous normative pressure on behaviours and anything smacking of mental illness intersecting with the criminal justice system can be subject to severe sentencing. The Ministry is being short-sighted, in that the idea of proportionality should weigh in and not all crimes are created equal. Specifically, habitual civil disobedience should not be on par with violent sex crimes. Betty goes on to state::
"My mental or personality disorder that cries out for justice from the Attorney General, for protections of BC forest and streams is equated by the Attorney General with these two cases of men’s violence, incest, rape, and pedophilia. Could it be possible that the Attorney General doesn’t know the difference?"

Twitterversion:: [blog] Enviro activist Betty Krawczyk targeted by BC Atty General by equating habitual civil disobedience w/sex predators. @Prof_K

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