The right to demonstrate is the sign of a healthy democracy – And yet it sends many kids to years in detention

By Roland Michel Tremblay
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
The Marginal
21 November, 2010

Roland Michel Tremblay

As a Court Clerk in a criminal court, most cases just leave me totally
indifferent. You could easily think I have lost my heart about such things a
few years ago, incapable to feel anything now either for the defendants or
their victims. True, I admit it. When you see it every day, the same sort of
cases one after the other, you quickly become insensitive to it all. But not
this time.

Even when they all cry their soul out, whether they are faking it or not.
Beware of the crocodile tears, and then it seems, it is always just that,
crocodile tears. If I can’t feel the need to cry most of the time, then it
must be fake all the time, I’m usually so emotional.

Might not be the case, but I am an overworked and underpaid civil servant.
Don’t ask me to feel anything when I just feel like shooting everyone around
me for a start, starting with my managers, and find myself in the dock. The
frontier between cleverness, passion, enthusiasm and committing a crime,
even sometimes without knowing, is so damn thin, we’re all criminals now.

And yet I must speak about a few cases lately that really got me to break
down. It does not happen often, but it happened in two particular cases
lately, and then a whole bunch of them. These cases all made headline news.
Then I wasn’t so proud of being a Court Clerk, even though I can easily hide
behind the fact that I never convict anyone, I never sentence anyone, I’m
just a tool of the justice system, the administrator of it all. I am
nothing, and yet sometimes it seems I participate in some crimes,
miscarriages of justice of some sort.

I remain professional at all times, never would I influence a Judge’s
decision, but yeah, sometimes I truly feel like telling them exactly what
sort of sentence I have in mind. Many ushers and clerks can’t control
themselves, they tell the Judges right out what the sentences should be.
Unfortunately they are the brainless ones who can’t control themselves, I
always disagree with the sentences they have in mind. For them it is always
very simple, all defendants, guilty or not, deserve prison for life.

The more stupid people are, the more ruthless they are, the more dangerous
they are. They would not even learn if they were to find themselves in the
dock one day for similar offences, and did not get away with it with a
lighter sentence. Such people cannot see the parallels, if such things were
to happen to them or their children. If the death penalty still existed in
some countries, many defendants would be hanged, without us ever being
certain if they were guilty or not. Because let’s face it, a Jury often
convicts defendants on opinion alone, no matter how hard we could stress to
them that real and tangible evidence is necessary. Unfortunately, for
example, in cases of rapes, it is always the word of one against the other,
and most often the accused goes to prison for over a decade without proof.
It all depends on how convincing the witnesses are and bad character
applications.

And sometimes the victims just try too hard. They’ve been coached too much
and they easily get caught lying in all their schemes to reach a successful
conviction. It is all the fault of the prosecution, they certainly do try
hard, truth at this point does not matter much to them. And then, no matter
if you are truly a victim or not, you can rest assure, being caught lying in
Court will make you lose your case every single time.

Much better to be completely unprepared and lost, but not too lost. If you
state in Court that you don’t know what a penis is, well, you’ve just lost
your case. I think everyone knows by now what a penis is. Unless you can
prove somehow that you regressed so much into a deep personal bubble and
forgot the world after such a traumatic event, that you don’t even remember
your own name. You better have a few doctors and psychiatric reports to back
you up then. I’m being the devil’s advocate here, and the more I go on the
more I realise how important a role this is.

The first case that truly affected me was an air hostess on some flight to
somewhere in the world. The man was gay, in the gallery there were his long
time partner, his sister, his father. All of them cried for the whole
duration of the trial. The defendant was accused to have somehow grabbed the
dick of a passenger in first class whilst buckling a security belt.

Me and the ushers used to laugh at the victim, that if one was to be so fat,
ugly and old, and still able to find anyone interested enough in grabbing
his dick, he should be flattered, not go to Court. It soon became apparent
that the victim was an unstable monster with deep psychological problems,
easy then to reach the conclusion that he imagined it all in such perverse
ways that now he enjoys the attention of going to Court, because perhaps he
had to wait five minutes to get his peanuts and that was unacceptable to
him.

And it was a sensational case, it went all around the country in every
newspaper, the defendant lost not only his reputation, his job and
everything else, but at least I’m sure now he’ll never lose the support of
his family and his partner. Because they know the truth, that nothing
happened. And the Jury saw through it all, not guilty in the end.

I just feel so awful, because in this case a not guilty verdict meant
nothing, the damage was already done, many lives destroyed. Deep
psychological trauma that will now last a lifetime. I would not be surprised
if it ends with a suicide or two.

I’m still not sure if this air hostess did something or not, but just buckle
a belt, or perhaps more. But at that point in the proceedings, seeing the
consequences, I did not care much. This trial should have been abandoned
somehow, but it was not because of an overzealous prosecution that will
never let go once it has its teeth in some case, no matter what it is and
the circumstances. It leads to the destruction of a whole society, as it
often does, where defendants are punished and suffer a great deal before
even reaching trial. Guilty before being proven innocent, is all you could
ever expect, and it will never leave you alone for the rest of your life.

Again today, a bunch of neighbours who have been fighting for some stupid
thing, decided to no longer be witnesses in a case, just to ensure a
peaceful relationship with their neighbours in years to come. In other words
it was all spite and revenge for stupid little things, and they finally came
to their senses on the day of the trial, understanding that none of this was
necessary.

The prosecution went overboard to continue the case, issued four witness
summons that will now become contempt of court, and those witnesses are
likely now to experience prison for a few days. They will have a taste of
how serious it all is. When the victims find themselves in prison. The
prosecution never gives up, you can easily become a defendant yourself, if
you pursue in your irrationality and spite.

The second case recently that disturbed me a lot more, wasn’t that easy,
because the defendant was definitely guilty, he admitted as much after the
trial. We all knew he was, and yet, something was very wrong here. It was
another one of these cases where the defendant is not really a criminal, he
just did something stupid to gather the attention of his family and friends,
like he did many times before in a long list of antecedents, all theft.

And yet this poor little kid, 18 year old, so gay and effeminate, with his
young partner in the gallery who suddenly developed quite a close
relationship with the father of the accused. you just know he could never
survive more than a day in prison. He would either commit suicide or be
killed. Bullies in prison are no joke, they do kill you if you’re
effeminate, and very likely the guilty party will walk free. They’re already
in prison for a start, what worst fate could await them, they’re not
worried.

He did find himself in detention for a few days before, he was quickly hit
really bad and spent all his time in the hospital ward afraid for his life.
What a nice sentence, traumatised for the rest of his life, and yet, it did
not stop him from stealing again. He got a suspended sentence in the end, he
knows next time it is prison for sure. I’m not sure if it will deter him. I
felt that ultimately this is death that he truly wishes for, because he is
gay and this is where society pushed him, over the edge, but he could never
gather the courage to commit suicide.

Despite all that he failed to get a psychiatrist’s report stating that he
was not all there, because he is a very clever kid, he saw through it all
and tried to manipulate it all, but failed miserably. It was devastating for
me to see the state his father was in, and the boyfriend. Well, if it was
his goal to get attention, he certainly got it, even from me, as I found
myself fraternising with him hoping he would avoid detention, but I was
powerless.

In the end perhaps it would have been better for me to tell him that he
deserved prison, that he will get just what he deserves, and be gone with
him. Next case please! I still have 15 sentences to go through before the
end of this very day. Sometimes it does not work that way though.

However, these cases are nothing compared with something like over 100
sentences I had to suffer recently, a few Fridays in a row, with one Judge
who truly likes me, and yet I’m not sure if I could like him now, after he
sent so many kids between the age of 16 and 22 either in detention or prison
for 3 to 6 years each. And yet, I fully understand that it was not his
decision, those sentencing guidelines came from above, the government feels
that deterrent sentences are necessary when it comes to demonstrations that
go a bit wild. So he is still my favourite judge to this day, for many
reasons that I will not explain here. In the end he truly was a human being,
he could see it all just like I do. It killed him just as much as it killed
me.

It was over the Gaza unprovoked attack by Israel, it got Muslims in every
country completely out of their mind. They went for a peaceful
demonstration, but somehow I blame the organisers for not making it clearer
that it should have been peaceful. So before you knew it fences were flying
around, a few policemen received plastic bottles of water over their
shields, and a Starbucks was raided. Dear me, what would we be as a society
if we were to ever let a Starbucks being raided like this at such a critical
time when innocent people are dying on the other side of the planet.

The police was filming everything of course, with 26 cameras, and it is with
face recognition software in the end that they got most of those kids in the
dock. Pretty amazing, I must clearly state here. That alone got me worried
more than anything else. I just could not believe my eyes, so sophisticated
it has all become, that you could never possibly hope to get away with
anything anymore. Might as well lock yourself up in your own apartment and
never get out of it ever again to denounce anything. There is no such right
anymore to demonstrate, even peacefully, as you will quickly understand
below.

As His Honour Judge repeated many times, it does not matter in these cases
if the defendants are studying to become doctors, dentists or engineers. It
is clear now that their life is totally wrecked and they will never be any
of those things. In fact, they will never be able to find a job again. All
employers have gone completely crazy now, they all request full disclosure
of any offence and a full criminal background check. They’ll never hire any
of them.

It really broke my heart, sent me off the wall as I was writing the
paperwork to send them to prison for so many years, even for just throwing a
plastic bottle of water to a police officer or just participating in what
was happening. Because now, conveniently, you no longer need to commit a
crime to be convicted and sent to prison, you only need to be there when a
crowd goes crazy, and you are deemed as guilty as what the worst offender
does (the very one who is likely to get away with it).

The right to demonstrate in this country, as His Honour Judge said many
times, is the mark of a great democracy. But if it goes beyond the peaceful
demonstration, it leads straight to prison for a very long time. So you can
easily find yourself with a sentence higher than any real criminal will ever
get, because these are deterrent sentences, the sign of a great democracy.
So the message is clear, don’t demonstrate, because any demonstrator is as
guilty as the worst offender in the crowd, and the prosecutor will go to any
length to get all of them convicted. And this is how the war in Gaza
continues right here on our soil.

The worst case was a 16 year old Somali. What was he doing there in the
dock? As his mother rightly said so when she spoke to the Judge. After a
genocide in Somalia where he lost a few brothers and sisters, what need did
he have to go and defend the Palestinians? They are all Muslims, and it
appears sometimes that it is enough, religion has no frontier, that was a
very sad case. He went to detention and training for years. He’ll never be a
dentist now.

And yes, all those kids were truly clever, intelligent, educated, and most
important of all, they were not religious freaks, not the kind of Muslims we
picture in our head as suicide bombers. But after that, I’m sure they will
be ready to blow themselves up for whatever cause they might be influenced
or brainwashed into believing.

The riot continued in the Court room, would you believe. A young Palestinian
journalist was doing everything he could to get arrested, alienating the
usher to the point were they were shouting at each other in opened court
until I calmed them down. Apparently he photographed the main officer in the
case in order to get some sort of identification for others. It turned into
a circus, with the most packed court rooms I have ever seen in four years,
half of it journalists of all creeds.

It was an ordeal for me. Because I still had to defend the freedom of speech
that is deep in my heart. That young journalist only wanted to take notes in
Court, the usher refused because he could not provide a valid journalist ID.
In the end I said I would ask the Judge and he would grant his request, and
he did. So we avoided another riot in Court that would have led to more
imprisonment. Contempt of Court is not to be toyed with.

I was on their side all the way, but I could not appear to be. But I put my
foot down when the officer in the case asked me the name and address of that
Palestinian journalist. I said no, I would not play a part in more of those
sentences that I feel are outrageous. I told him to go and arrest him if he
felt he had enough evidence for an arrest. Which I knew he did not, and in
the end he had a chat with him and he did not arrest him. That day I was not
on the prosecution side, and I made it clear. It might have been a mistake,
for a minute there I thought I would lose my job, but I wouldn’t mind to
lose my job for doing what I feel is right.

Don’t push me, because you will find that I can push back with a much
stronger force.

Exactly what happens in these riots. The police are certainly not blameless,
they made it happen. And none of them will find their way into the dock or
go to prison for 3 to 6 years. From the evidence, from what I could gather,
none of them were seriously hurt or even needed a first aid kit or even a
plaster. What a riot that must have been. Something like 140 young Muslims
received many years in prison as a consequence. It just about finished me
off.

The right to demonstrate is the sign of a healthy democracy, and yet it
sends many kids to years in detention.

***

“Without irony, this life would hardly be worth living.” RM

All previous political articles by Roland Michel Tremblay:

http://www.themarginal.com/destructivism.htm

His email address: rm@themarginal.com

One thought on “The right to demonstrate is the sign of a healthy democracy – And yet it sends many kids to years in detention

  1. “law and order”, nothing else matters, not right, nor common sense, just “law and order”.
    Had civil dis-obedience occurred on 9-11-01, some of the planes would not of hit the targets. Passengers had to obey the flight crews orders, remain seated, obey the criminals, or face Federal Prosecution.
    Civil Disobedience on one plane disrupted the plans of the criminals. Had these people been able to act before the craft was commandeered by the criminals, perhaps the craft would of landed safely, but federal law in these cases aided the criminals. ?

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