Monthly Archives: December 2003

“To Serve and Protect?” Save me from my police.

(or, way to go Saskatoon PD)

Not only do they drop off an Aboriginal teenager in the freezing cold to freeze to death, but now this:

Twelve people falsely accused of ritualistically abusing foster children

Except: SASKATOON – Twelve people who were falsely accused of ritualistically abusing three foster children more than a decade ago were themselves the victims of a malicious prosecution , a judge has ruled.

Richard Klassen and 11 others were charged in 1991 with abusing the children in bizarre and demonic ways – forcing them to eat eyeballs, drink blood, participate in orgies and watch newborn babies get skinned and buried.

Saskatoon police called it the “scandal of the century” at the time, but most of the cases never made it to trial. Charges were stayed and the children recanted their accusations. Klassen and the others sued the investigators and, today, Queen’s Bench Justice George Baynton ruled in the plaintiffs’ favour.

“The case was labelled by the media as the ‘scandal of the century’,” Baynton said in his ruling. “The real scandal, however, is the travesty of justice that was visited upon 12 of those individuals, the plaintiffs in the civil action, by branding them as pedophiles, even though each of them was innocent of the horrendous allegations and criminal offences charged against them.”

The ruling applies to three of the four defendants in the civil lawsuit: The lead investigator – Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Dueck, who was a corporal when the case broke; a therapist, Carol Bunko-Ruys; and Crown prosecutor Matthew Miazga.

Baynton cited several reasons why the prosecution was malicious, including a lack of reasonable cause. “In my view, proceeding with charges in such an extraordinary case in the absence of reasonable and probable cause constitutes a strong presumption of malice,” Baynton wrote.

He said evidence suggested Dueck was “blinded by his zeal to turn the wild allegations of the Ross children into a high-profile case that would portray him as a diligent and unrelenting protector of abused children.” “It is almost beyond belief that none of those involved in the prosecution of the plaintiffs stood back, so to speak, and asked themselves if any of this made any sense and whether it could reasonably be true,” Baynton wrote.

Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) allegations have been around since the 1980′s. Growing up in the Christian church, I can remember hearing stories of these atrocities. I was fed the “real life” information concerning the evils of Satanism, Paganism, anything other than Christianity. I heard testimonies from people who were former Satanists, who told me the fascinating tales of their rituals and other activities they participated in — as well as their conversion story.

One guy I saw in concert, Mike Warnke, turned out to be a complete (and proven) fraud.

Much of the paranoia caused by SRA fears have been proven false. The book that started most of this — Michelle Remembers — is full of lies, yet often accepted as the truth.

I can remember being both fascinated and horrified by stories I heard concerning Satanists, etc. growing up. It was almost addicting, hearing these scary stories — while it also confirmed for me my own Christian faith, at that time.

Now that I’ve chosen a different spiritual path, I get angry when I think about how deceived I was. I’m angry that people still choose to believe these lies, even when evidence points them in a different direction.

I’m sure people in Saskatoon and Canada will remember the “scandal of the century”, along with other people elsewhere who have heard similiar stories of SRA — but will they remember the eventual vindication of the real victims, who were accused falsely? Somehow I don’t think so.

A friend of mine is doing a rhetorical analysis of a book on cults, entitled Cults in our Midst. She made a really good point in her seminar presentation of it, last term. She talked about how the book purports to allievate and educate people about the dangers of cults — yet at the same time, it engenders more of this same fear in its reader.

It all comes down to a process of identification. The more you can fear something and pin evils upon it (whether these evils are deserved or not), the more you can identify with your group — falling into the ultimate “us versus them” mentality.

It’s something that’s applicable to areas other than fundamentalist religions. I think about how so many people here have demonized the Muslim faith, just because of the actions of some extremists. Or how so many belief structures have fallen prey to stereotyping.

It’s something that frustrates me to no end, and fuels my desire to educate people otherwise.

But when I stop to take in the different forms of injustice in our world — I’m overwhelmed and see how futile my weak attempts are.

Happy New Year.

New Year’s.

So I don’t have any “real” plans for New Years this year, besides my annual standing date with Dick Clark. My little sister and her hubby are out in NYC, I’ll watch tomorrow night to see if I see her.

Come to think of it, I’ve never really done any big New Years type grown-up party before. I do, however, have good memories of past New Years celebrations.

I remember being little and having the privilege of staying up until midnight to see the official New Years. Usually I’d fall asleep before the ball officially fell, but having the parent-sanctioned opportunity to stay up past 9pm was well worth it.

Sometimes we’d go to my parents’ church to see the New Year come in. I remember one year we watched a movie (from a projector, even) and then had a pancake breakfast right after midnight. I remember thinking how cool it was to eat breakfast at 1am, and then going to bed later that morning, only to wake up already full from eating hours before. I know, it didn’t take much to amuse me.

Other New Years memories revolve around parties at my friend Doug’s house. From the ages of 11 to high school, we’d have these great parties. I can remember drinking sparkling grape juice and running outside with pots and pans to make noise at the stroke of midnight. That, or chasing each other around the backyard with Roman Candles.

It makes me a little sad, remembering these moments. I’m glad I have those memories though.

Tell me your grand plans, so I can be appropriately jealous!

From this week’s Harper’s Review:

Mad cow disease was discovered in the United States for the

first time, in a Holstein cow that was too sick to walk but

was nonetheless slaughtered and sold for meat. The mad

Holstein’s brain and spinal column were sent to a rendering

plant somewhere, possibly to be turned into dog or chicken

food; there was no word on whether the cow’s blood was

processed to be fed to young calves as a milk supplement.

Secretary of Agriculture Ann Venemen, a former lobbyist for

the beef industry, insisted that even meat from a mad cow is

safe to eat, and she promised to feed beef to her family for

Christmas. Government and other beef industry officials

claimed that there were “firewalls” in place to prevent

infectious prions from reaching American hamburgers; Dr.

Stanley Prusiner, the Nobel laureate who discovered prions,

contradicted those claims and explained that he believes the

disease is already widespread in the United States. “They

treat the disease as if it were an infection that you can

contain by quarantining animals on farms,” he said. “It’s as

though my work of the last 20 years did not exist.” Ten

thousand pounds of beef were recalled in eight states, and

about 100 people called hot lines to say they might have

eaten some of the meat. President Bush, a spokesman said,

“continued to eat beef,” and agriculture officials were

hoping to blame Canada. British health officials reported

the first possible transmission of mad cow disease to a

human via blood transfusion, and China reported a new SARS


The 10 Dumbest Quotes of 2003:

#10: “I think that gay marriage should be between a man and a woman.” —Arnold Schwarzenegger, during the California recall campaign

#9: When U.S. interrogators asked Saddam Hussein how he was, he responded: “I am sad because my people are in bondage.” When offered a glass of water, he replied: “If I drink water I will have to go to the bathroom and how can I use the bathroom when my people are in bondage?”

#8: “You think you are big enough to make me, you little wimp? Come on, come over here and make me, I dare you…You little fruitcake. You little fruitcake. I said you are a fruitcake.” —Rep. Peter Stark (D-Calif.) to Rep. Scott McInnis (R-Colo.), after McInnis told him to “shut up” during a legislative dispute

#7: “George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States. He was appointed by God.” —Lt. Gen. William Boykin, the defense undersecretary in charge of hunting down top terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan

#6: “My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state. We have the sons and daughters of every, of people from every planet, of every country on earth.” —Former California Gov. Gray Davis, during the recall campaign

#5: “I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.” —Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean

#4: “Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up like Newt Gingrich wants to do.” —Television evangelist and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson, on wiping out the State Department

#3: “My answer is bring ‘em on.” —President George W. Bush, challenging militants attacking U.S. forces in Iraq

#2: “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” —Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

And the award for the Dumbest Quote of 2003:

“I triple guarantee you. There are no American infidels in Baghdad.” —Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf (AKA “Baghdad Bob”)

Kitty WWF

Headed back to Savannah later this morning.

My parents’ backyard

Come with me and visit New Hope, Virginia (or at least pictures of it, anyway).

Usually I avoid discussing “the news” here, mainly due to how upsetting and the skewed coverage of some of the stories are. But there’s been some stories recently that just can’t be avoided.

First of all, there’s the latest earthquake in Iran. They’re estimating anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 people dead. Unbelievable. It’s hard for my mind to comprehend such devastation — my thoughts are over there, and I wish that there was something more tangible that I could do. One of the sad things about this tragedy is that I know it will be out of the news in a few days — while the Iranian people will be recovering from this for months, if not years.

In other tragic news, Attacks by Iraq Rebels Kill 13, Wound 172. So much for the “end of conflict” in Iraq. Today, while drinking overpriced/hyped coffee at a Starbucks, I shared my view of the Bush administration to my mom and a new friend. I cannot stress enough how much I place the blame of these soldiers’ deaths in the hands of my leaders. I also cannot stress enough that I will be fighting for someone else (anyone) to take the place of the next administration.

Here’s a story for all my Canadian friends: Investigators Trace Diseased Cow to Canada. Excerpt: Investigators tentatively traced the first U.S. cow with mad cow disease to Canada, which could help determine the scope of the outbreak and might even limit the economic damage to the American beef industry.

Hmmm, interesting. My ears perked up tonight, in hearing this PR gem from the US Beef Industry. Nothing like pushing the blame on someone else, quickly, in order to avoid scandal and save potentially lost money. I bet the beef farmers in Alberta are seething about now. It’s a good thing I already avoid eating red meat.

In other not-so-bleak news:

Top Ten Word Lists of 2003. Including such gems as the top 10 words, personal names, “youthspeak”, and phrases of 2003. Another great list is the top 5 mispronounced words by the Head Shrub himself. Here you’ll also find out the most frequently spoken word on the planet.

Oh, and someone else out there remembers an old tape I used to listen to as a kid: Ants Hillvania. Anyone else remember this? Or Music Machine or Bullfrogs and Butterflies? I had all these tapes as a kid. One of my favorite online distractions, Pop Culture Junk Mail, has a nice post on it. As a connoisseur of pop culture, PCJM is a site not to miss.

I’m finishing watching the Two Towers Special Edition with my mom. Seeing this again makes me want to go see Return again — maybe a Sunday afternoon matinee will be in order!