Revanchist Review

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Uncommon Wisdom From the Bench

It seems to be less and less frequently that I find occasion to praise the pronouncements of a judge. An exception arose this week. BC Provincial Court Judge Judy Gedye, while sentencing a West Vancouver male teacher to prison for his sexual abuse of a 15 year old student, made passing reference to the "possibly provocative dress and behaviour" of the female victim. Judge Gedye did not say these characteristics of the victim in any way excused the offender or mitigated the seriousness of the offence. Rather it appears she was raising an issue which she thought important for our community, our society and our culture to ponder - there are terrible consequences for a culture that refuses to let its children be children.

An analogy that comes to mind is a comment a judge might make while giving a damage award against the manufacturer of faulty sun tanning beds in favour of the customers who developed skin cancer as a result. It would be understandable and important for a judge in those circumstances to question what it says about our society that so many people are willing to expose themselves to harmful and potentially dangerous radiation, in order to look good. This provides no excuse for the faulty manufacturer, but surely it would be ignorant for society to ignore the causal connection between the harmful rays and the desire to look good.

Sexual predators like the teacher Timothy Foley are a dangerous reality in our society. Sadly, the published responses to Judge Gedye’s comments seem to miss the point. Rather than thoughtfully consider the issue Judge Gedye raised, some readers focused instead on the supposed victimhood of young girls desperate to avoid the peer pressure to dress like streetwalkers. Rejection or ridicule seem to be the inevitable consequences of having a mind of your own if you are a teenage girl according to one letter writer.

If the letters to the Vancouver Sun editor are an accurate measure of the reaction to Judge Gedye's comments, it seems we live in a community where parents are more concerned with ensuring their children “fit in” than they are to help them gain the self confidence and positive self image necessary to resist popular MTV culture.

One letter writer said "concerned parents of teens these days are assured by parenting experts that their daughter's clothing choices are worn as a form of fitting in with their female friends, not as an act of seeking sexual attention from men". I would love to meet some of those so called "parenting experts". To be consistent the same experts no doubt advise the parents of teenage boys that "their sons' choices to drive their cars at high speeds, often while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are forms of fitting in with their male friends, not as an act of endangering their lives and those of others".

What better measure of the depths into which our society has sunk, that parents of teenagers lack the common sense to see the foolishness of the advice of such self-proclaimed parenting experts.

But then I read that in Disraeli's 1847 novel Tancred he delivered the message that the modern world was sunk in materialism and moral relativism, and that it lacked soul as well as faith

The French, always better at saying it well than doing it well, capture the malaise of our human condition with the saying - La plus ca change, la plus c'est la meme chose