Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - biker murder

By now, the entire world knows that eight men were shot to death in what is now the province of Ontario's worst mass murder in its history. Their bodies were discovered in four vehicles abandoned on a farm side road near the town of Shedden. They're calling it the Bandidos Massacre, since all the victims - and the four men and one woman who have been arrested - had ties to the motorcycle gang of the same name.

Some folks are calling it the Stafford Line killings because that's the name of the road in Elgin County where the bodies were found. Whatever they call it, it's an immensely sad chapter in a story that never seems to run out of victims.

Or newsprint: this story has essentially pushed all others out of the front section since it broke on Saturday. Since this is a writing week for my column in the London Free Press, I felt this topic would resonate with readers. I deviated somewhat away from the somewhat standard "how awful" responses that one typically sees following this kind of thing. Here's what I wrote:
Biker ties shouldn't devalue victims
Published Tuesday, April 11, 2006
The London Free Press

You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief when it became apparent that Saturday’s mass murder near Shedden had been linked to biker gangs.

Fellow shoppers at my neighbourhood grocery store agreed that all murders are tragic, but it’s somewhat easier to accept when the victims may not have led lily-white lives.

If this logic holds true – and I hope it doesn’t – then we seem to accept that some lives are worth more than others. By extension, some of us merit justice, while some of us do not.

This justice-for-some mentality sets a dangerous precedent. If anything, it ensures justice will be meted out only on behalf of victims we deem worthy.

Whatever these eight murder victims did in the days and years leading up to their violent deaths should do nothing to diminish the value of their existence.

Murder is still murder regardless of who the victim may be. We harm society by writing victims off simply because we looked down on how they led their lives.

Your turn: Biker gangs...what's the solution?


Paste said...

Firstly I think that 'the entire world' might be better listed as 'Canada'. I knew about it as we had a stopover at Toronto Airport yesterday, but it's not news here and wasn't in the part of the US that we were staying in. Secondly has it been shown to be bikers yet or is everyone jumping to conclusions?

Photominer said...

I have a lot less concern about these murders than I do about say, the cops that were killed in Alberta. If crimials want to kill themselves off, I'm glad they went someplace where innocent people weren't as likely to get hurt in the crossfire. Sure, punish the bad guys, get a few more off the streets. But I won't be wasting any sympathy on these guys.

Devalue their lives? Why not? They put themselves intentionally into a lifestyle that directly contributed to their deaths. I don't think its much different than someone with a chronic health issue not giving up the one thing that will likely kill them if they continue.

Investigate, absolutely, put more of them behind bars. But I doubt justice will play any part at all.

Amused Observer said...

it's a disturbing reaction, when people devalue the lives of other human beings because they don't live the lifestyle of our approval. i deplore violent gangs, but i feel sorry for those people who think it is their only sense of acceptance. speaks volumes about the rest of us, really.

Linda said...

It has been in the news in the States as well as in the Stars and Stripes (though not headline) here in Germany.

I have to agree with you - ALL lives have value, and when one is lost, someone is suffering. Whether it's a biker from a gang, a druggie on the street, or the man next door...these people all have someone SOMEWHERE who will miss them when they are gone.

If someone can come up with a solution to the biker gang issue, maybe it can be revamped and applied to all the other gang issues around the world...sigh

Carl V. Anderson said...

Great thoughts Carmi, I really like and agree with your article. It is all too easy to devalue the lives of those we don't like, don't agree with, don't know, etc. Considering what each one of those lives could have been, and the intrinsic worth of each of those people even witht the lives they led, makes their deaths very tragic.

Jennifer said...

It is sad and I guess all we can do is pray that things will get better not only here in Ontario, but on the planet!

Plumkrazzee said...

That was a great article, and you are absolutely right. That's all I have to say.

rob said...

I was pretty impressed with how respectful the Seattle press over the past few weeks after the massacre that occured last month a little less than a mile from my house. If you're not familiar with the details, here's the REader's Digest version: Eight kids were gunned down (six killed) at a rave after party before the gunman ate his own shotgun.

What impressed me was that nobody pointed a finger at the victims or their lifestyle, positing, "Well, that's what you get when you go to raves." I kept waiting for someone to drop that bomb...no one did. Bully to that.

And bully to you for your insight on the similar situation up there. Who figgin' cares that they were in a biker gang? It doesn't change the fact that they're dead and that their lives ended in a senseless fashion.

Besides...biker gangs, nowadays, are about as innocuous as chess clubs. You never hear of a bunch of chess nerds getting wasted and the media following up with, "well...if they had just gotten laid more, this wouldn't have happened."

Karen said...

I heard about this and wondered how you would feel and what you would write. Thanks for answering that silent question. Isn't it funny how we as people revert to the "it happened to someone else and won't happen to me" philosophy in cases such as this. You're right to question the reactions. It's still senseless, no matter what the reason.

Anonymous said...

Well written, Carmi! It reminds me in an odd way of people who say motorcyclists have it coming when they make a mistake and get killed while doing something stupid on the road.

Dead is dead. No one deserves to die, no matter how thoughtless their actions were leading up to their demise. People make mistakes, sometimes for years, but that doesn't mean they deserve to lose their life because of it.

I have no answers about what to do with biker gangs -- I just don't know enough about the problem.

Anonymous said...

The first thought that went through my mind was "what did these people do to find themselves on the receiving end of a gun? Sadly as news is disseminated here, we find it was an internal battle, a great "Pissing Contest" gone bad.

While death on any front is cause to pause and consider their lives, we must also remember that they who were in those positions "Chose" to BE IN those positions. Humans have free will and a choice, and we must remember that, above all else.

Nobody put a gun to their heads and said join a gang and be macho and become "One of those people your mother warned you about!"

People are people and death is death.

Sad as it is, this could have been avoided HAD they just walked away from the conflict. Alas, there will be numerous funerals in the coming days and why? Because men will be men and Ego's will be Ego's and as long as men and women CHOOSE to act the way they do, they face the consequences of their choices and actions.

We all have a choice. They made theirs and ended up dead! We pray for their souls for forgiveness, for peace and for their families who have to bury them in these times of High Holy Days and Easter. We Pray God's mercy and light upon these human beings.

Eternal Rest Grant them and may perpetual light shine upon them.

The wannabe preacher

barbie2be said...

murder is murder. it is horrifying to read about and even worse to have it touch your life. my best friend's "baby daddy" was murdered almost five years ago and we still have no closure as there hasn't been an arrest.

i don't care that the men in shedden had biker ties. they were also possible fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, nephews. and their familys are hurting. it's just sad.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I agree Carmi...It does seem that in some people's minds certain lives seem to have more value than others. A terrible comment on the values we as human beings 'hold'.
I find it dispicable...but I recognize that it was ever thus...Sad Sad Sad. Where is our REAL humanity, if this is the way some people think and feel about some other people?

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this take on this news. Not all bikers are criminals. We're Dads, Moms, Siblings, etc. We go to work we go to school wo go to church. The only thing we have in common is that we like to ride. You even work with one ;)

Steph said...

This is a very thought-provoking post. It scares me to think that we as a society place more value on some lives than others. When taken to an extreme, this mentality has been responsible for some of history's greatest tragedies.