On legalized killing

October 22 1984

On legalized killing

October 22 1984

On legalized killing


My blood boils at the thought that we are about to return to the Dark Ages (“Hanging,” Cover, Oct. 8). Why should we bring back a debate on capital punishment just because some policemen were shot and killed? Why don’t we also ask for the death penalty for the policemen who killed an innocent man in Rock Forest? They are now on trial but have not been fired, and they continue receiving full salary. How about capital punishment for incest and rape? If we are going to play God, we might as well go all the way. The death penalty is the most barbarous punishment that can exist. It is proven that it does not stop crime and it does not cure people who are mentally troubled. The solution is in our judicial and penitentiary system. But we are all responsible for every prisoner behind bars. Instead of crying over spilled milk, we should start using some preventive medicine.



If society admits for a moment that any of us can be excused for injuring or destroying human life by whim or reason, individually or by collusion (except in self-defence), we are betraying our rights and responsibilities and those of all others. Whether a killing is by premeditation or impulse, it is antisocial. Society is solemnly obliged to protect every one of its members from violence and the threat of violence—to punish all who defy it, acting through its legally chosen (not self-chosen) instruments.

— HAROLD A. WILLS, Toronto


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Execution should be an option when sentencing convicted murderers and should be used only when there is no possible doubt about who the murderer is, and then only when the murder is premeditated. In cases where there is the slightest doubt, the sentence should be life imprisonment, which would allow for the release and compensation of the prisoner if an error is later found to have been committed in convicting, as in the case of Donald Marshall Jr. In cases in which execution is to be carried out, it should be quick and painless. The idea is to eliminate a threat to society, not to torture a murderer for his crimes, however hideous they may be. As for those murderers who are serving life sentences in prison, I think they would think twice about killing a guard in order to escape if they knew of the threat of execution. A second life sentence does not mean much when you have only one life to live. — W.E. BEALES, Agincourt, Ont.

Meeting fire with fire

The fact that the sinking of the General Belgrano (“Thatcher’s simmering scandal,” World, Oct. 1) is now causing a controversy in Britain is surprising to me. Why are people shocked that the Thatcher government decided to destroy a legitimate enemy naval target during a war? The attack was both the correct military and political move. Upon invading the Falklands the Argentine junta gambled on the hope that Britain, like the other great powers, was held back from using force for fear of initiating a third world war. The sinking of the Belgrano told the junta that Britain would meet fire with fire. The world would be a safer place if other Western powers would follow Britain’s example in dealing with such terrorist nations.

— MICHAEL A. MYATT, Mississauga, Ont.

Amiel and feminism

Barbara Amiel’s shrill opinions are no longer merely offensive—they are becoming dangerous (“How the feminists hurt women,” Column, Oct. 1). It seems that to oppose environmental destruction, sexual discrimination or the exploitation of the native peoples is to upset the “stability and economy of our society” and thus to become “useful tools of the enemies of the free West.” What a dangerous assumption of guilt by association. On top of that, her linking of feminism with Hitler and the Nazis is the most disgraceful insult I have ever come across to the millions of women (and men) who believe that women must have an equal voice in the running of this country. At the very least, Amiel owes a public apology to us all. —DR. TREVOR HANCOCK,


I agree with Barbara Amiel’s argument that the militant segment of the feminist movement is often less than complimentary to women. Referring, however, to the “Marxist fog”: surely she is not suggesting that there is not a “capitalist fog” where the “little person” becomes lost and/or unsupported. While agreeing with her contention that the feminists, at times, have lost perspective, possibly strength in numbers brings forward issues that need to be addressed. Therefore, is it right that there are no such action groups in the Soviet Union? —VERONICA ROWE,


Barbara Amiel, a pillar of logical consistency and thorough research, is worried about the use of non sequiturs by feminists who challenge the federal government’s treatment of women’s issues. Amiel argues that it does not follow that budget allocation to rape crisis centres should be increased in light of rape statistics and federal spending on the Canadian military. This may be a non sequitur but it is a reflection of what one journalist feels is an imbalance in government priorities to the detriment of Canadian women. What is ironic is the use of a repugnant non sequitur by Amiel in suggesting that the amelioration of the plight of women in the workplace is equivalent to the Nazi prohibitions on Jewish representation in business, academia and the professions. Affirmative action is constitutionally protected by Section 15(2) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. My interpretation of this principle is that our society is prepared to take steps to redress the real inequities of opportunity and remuneration for women that exist in Canada.


Marxist-feminism is not sympathetic to the oppressive policies of the Soviet Union, as Barbara Amiel insinuates. A Marxist-feminist analysis addresses relations among such factors as the collapse of the family wage system, the feminization of poverty, the impact on the female labor force of technological change and the high divorce rate. The

economic future of women looks ominous and will result in a degree of welfare statism more painful to Amiel than affirmative action. We cannot return to the division of labor of the caveperson era for which Amiel is nostalgic, since the “survival of society” no longer depends on a high birth rate. Why does a woman with a good income and a good job tell other women to behave themselves and stop pushing? Her position is antifemale, since such views ultimately contribute to economic hardship for women. —LOUISE ROCKMAN,

Department of Sociology, Glendon College, York University, Toronto

Regarding Barbara Amiel’s column: I have but this to say to her. Without us feminists fighting for women’s rights, Amiel would not even have the right to express her views as a journalist.

—RENÉE M. LEGAL, Winnipeg

If Barbara Amiel is trying to say that it is feminists who are raping and beating Canadian women every 20 minutes, then maybe there is a link between the two after all. And this would be consistent with her statement that she is a “real” feminist. However, if she is going to join the club of “real” feminists, who want a

society based on freedom, equality and justice, I suggest that she get her facts straight: while some women want parttime work to accommodate their family life, a report by the Advisory Council on the Status of Women indicates that about 60 per cent of women who are working part-time would prefer fulltime work; numerous studies demonstrate that women still earn much less than men, even when employment status and a handful of other relevant factors are simultaneously taken into consideration; and I have coincidently come across numerous studies that demonstrate a sound link between pornography and violence. If the “real” article was accidently thrown in the trash can, let her try again. -MARGARET ADSETT,

Room for change

What lovely, traditional homes were featured in “The cost of feeling at home” (Special Report, Sept. 17). Definitely something has to be arranged to place some limits on the costs of refurbishings, but, more important, these homes should be maintained with good taste and appropriate to the style and period of the residences. The living room at Stornoway, with its chaotic patterns, looked neither pleasant nor dignified. The tenants should not have been per-

mitted such a free hand, and consultation must become a requisite for changes in the future. — ELLIE CARR,


Unlimited errors

In From the Editor’s Desk (“A view from the top,” Sept. 17) you have repeated a minor error that Maclean’s has used on at least three occasions in the past two years. That great Canadian institution, Iron Ore Co. of Canada, ain’t a Limited, any more than the Hudson’s Bay Co. is. IOC is a Delaware incorporation of Nov. 18, 1949. Iron Ore Co. of Canada is okay but Iron Ore Co. of Canada Ltd. isn’t. By the way, the third item in Passages (Sept. 17) made me shudder. “ ... Pratt, who was the widow of the late Canadian poet Edwin John (E.J.) Pratt, wrote . . . .” Widows’ husbands have a habit of being late.


A Canadian’s identity

I was interested to read John Bemrose’s assessment of the relative successes and failures of Canadian films (“A celebration of Canadian film-making,” Films, Sept. 24). He characterized them as clinging to dogged realism at the expense of narrative interest and imaginative vision. Then, in the final paragraph he attributed this shortcoming in the Canadian cinema to a national uncertainty, an insufficient grasp by the country of its own identity. Isn’t this nebulous excuse becoming a little threadbare? It is one of the clichés of Canadian journalism and it makes a convenient scapegoat to avoid more

searching and possibly more painful analyses. I don’t know about Bemrose’s neighborhood, but few people around here seem to have much trouble with a sense of identity. Fifteen years ago the charge might have been true—and I realize that the films being discussed present a retrospective view—but surely, after the past 15 years of constitutional crises, Canada has emerged with a clear idea of the kind of country it wants to be. At least let us be honest and allot praise and blame where they are due. And if a work fails in some way, let us admit that a better effort is needed rather than looking for an excuse in some vague outside force that is beyond anyone’s control. -I.M. HEAMAN,


On the papal visit

As a Roman Catholic francophone who was born in Ontario 70 years ago, I fully agree with Morley Callaghan’s “Rivers of Change” commentary (Special Report, Oct. 1). There has indeed been a marked change in attitudes and the antagonisms that existed between cultural, linguistic and religious groups are

definitely softening. A few years ago I would have feared for the Pope’s safety if he visited Toronto. What actually happened was not so much an achievement for the Pope as it was for those who were able to overcome outdated prejudices and replace them with the kind of civility and tolerance that will help to make this country the great nation it is destined to become.

In “A papal message and the meaning” (Cover, Sept. 21), you state that Canadian Catholics “routinely ignore Rome’s ban on divorce and birth control.” This is an insult to the Canadian church. There are still a lot of Catholics in this country who accept the church’s teaching completely and without question, even in this day and age.

In reference to your article “A bold new endorsement of stronger interchurch links” (Special Report, Oct. 1): I find more than a little ridiculous the accusation by various church leaders that the Vatican is responsible for the lack of progress in Christian unity. Indeed, you quote Edward Scott, primate of the Anglican Church, as asking, “Will [the Pope] back [ecumenism] by action?” Why, if the fault lies so squarely upon the Roman Catholic Church, have the Protestant churches not so long since united? Certainly, such an act would have verified these churches’ interest in ecumenism instead of interest in scapegoating. — MARY DELICAET,

The invisible man

In “Reading the Kremlin’s signals” (World, Sept. 24), you report: “Chernenko’s limousine convoy was spotted in Moscow last week, but the Soviet leader himself was invisible.” My question: how could you tell? —J.C.L. JOHNSON,

Missing Foth

Was there a point to Larry Zolf’s column on Allan Fotheringham’s page (“In search of Allan and Brian,” Guest Column, Sept. 24)? It read as though Zolf had been smoking some of those funny home-made CBC cigarettes with no label when he wrote it. From now on, no more vacations for Fotheringham.

— ROBERT S. KEEFE, Toronto

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