Our London - the Canadian one - has always been seen as a sleepy, mid-sized city that has managed to avoid the plagues that have besieged larger North American centers. Maybe it's just a perception thing, but we seem to have a lower crime rate, along with more relaxed neighborhoods. Some folks here still don't lock their doors at night.
It's the kind of atmosphere that first drew us here. Parents told us it was a great place to raise kids. We figured any town that managed to take the edge off of daily life couldn't be a half-bad place to lay down roots.
That was then.
A few years on, we're in the midst of a record-setting year for murders. Anecdotally, those easygoing Londoners who used to happily share stories of walking the streets at night seem to have become a quieter minority. Fear is slowly creeping into our formerly-cloistered little world.
So I wrote this piece in the hope that I could shake up readers' perceptions on crime and how a civilized society should address it. I realize I've opened something of a Pandora's Box by bringing up the dreaded death penalty - which means I'll likely have to batten down the hatches for a day or two - but I'd rather float it out there and see what happens than say nothing and wonder what would have been.
Otherwise, what's the point of writing?
Your turn: If the death penalty doesn't suit your fancy, what will, in your view, help society rein in violent crime? Can we ever truly be protected?
Note: Click on the image to view it in higher-resolution. Here's the text-form version:
Slayings may spur new look at noose
I find it difficult to believe that I could be the only one deeply disturbed that London has set a new record for homicides (13) in a year – and we're not even out of September yet.
I similarly find it tough to swallow that we’re supposed to assume that this is some sort of statistical anomaly.
It isn’t. And sitting on our haunches while the city’s leaders tells us everything will work out in the end isn’t exactly my cup of tea.
All that matters to me is keeping my little corner of the world safe. So you’ll forgive me if I don’t feel well-protected these days.
The same old approaches to deterring violent crime don’t seem to work anymore.
As we’ve watched ongoing gang wars turn Toronto into a mere copy of the typical American metropolis, we can no longer smugly claim it’ll never happen here. It already is.
Although we abolished the death penalty in 1976, perhaps we should consider reinstating it again to control this rampant acceleration in violent crime.
Nothing else seems to be working.