What purpose does a blackout serve?

Occasionally, it serves to protect a potentially innocent person’s identity; sometimes, the family of a perpetrator, especially when s/he is related to the victim of the crime.

However, in this instance, one really has to wonder…

Lawyers acting for a group of Canadian terror suspects have complained about a media blackout on court proceedings.

Speaking after 14 of the 17 suspects appeared at a bail hearing in Brampton, Ontario, they said it was indicative that the men cannot get a fair trial.

Details of the charges they face have not been published but their lawyers say they include an alleged plot to storm parliament and behead the PM.

The accusations against the men, most Canadians, has caused nationwide shock.

Rocco Galati, representing one of the suspects, who include five teenagers, complained that the men were being harshly treated.

“They have five minutes to eat their meals or they are taken away,” he said.

“The accused are not aliens from another planet. They are Canadians accused under the Criminal Code. No more, no less,” he added.

There were chaotic scenes outside the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton last week when charges were brought against the accused, as family members were jostled in the media scrum.

Detailed charges have not been released but a defence lawyer said they ranged from plots to blow up parliament buildings to attacks on media outlets to press demands that Canadian forces be withdrawn from Afghanistan.

One suspect was accused of wanting to behead the prime minister, an allegation defence lawyers said was “scare-mongering”.

I strongly suspect that that last word is the key here.

This whole affair has gone down with an inordinate (dare I say un-Canadian?) amount of drama. For all I know, this could be Stephen Harper’s shot at a Dubya-like trifecta; it sure smells like one. Scare the shit out of us peaceful huggers of jackpines, just to consolidate his shaky Conservative minority government, yeah–that’s the ticket!

Only, of course, it won’t work. We may look and sound a lot like US Americans (to the point where we routinely export our wonderfully accentless broadcasters to them!), but that’s where the similarity ends. The psyche is, if not 180 degrees removed, pretty damn close to it. We don’t see The Enemy behind every damn tree, so we’re not afraid to hug ’em. As Michael Moore found out when he made Bowling for Columbine, we don’t live in a culture of fear. We actually have more guns per capita than our neighbors to the south, but the risk of any of us using them to commit a crime is vanishingly small in comparison. (All right, most of us DO lock our doors at night as an ordinary safety precaution, but that’s the only thing he got wrong. The not-living-in-fear part is right on target!)

Now, this is something a lot of US Americans don’t get, including my own sweetie in Chicagoland. (Sorry, sweetums, I’m not picking on you–honest!) Why am I not shaking in my boots over this alleged terror plot? (Well, aside from the fact that it’s late spring and I no longer need to wear boots–except when I’m slogging through the swamps in search of wild asparagus?)

Simple: This alleged terror plot was foiled. By good ol’-fashioned police work, not by ripping up the Charter of Rights and using it for toilet paper. That’s why. I can still sleep at night because I know the RCMP is perfectly capable of doing its job of protecting the public, and without my losing a tittle or a jot of my civil liberties!

And in any event, the odds that I would have been harmed by a bunch of bungling would-be bomb-makers, like the odds of my being victimized by guncrime, are vanishingly small. Smaller, in fact. Two of my uncles are avid hunters with sizable gun collections; I stand a far greater chance of being shot by one of them when he’s drunk than I do of being blown up by some misguided young guy named Mohammed. Yet I’m not afraid of my uncles. Why, then, should I be afraid of that Mohammed-guy?

Well, dammit, I’m just NOT. And I’m not about to lose sleep wondering why I’m not losing sleep over this.

Which brings me back around to the blackout. If the accused’s own lawyers are against it, I have to wonder why it’s there in the first place. Who is trying to hide what from us–the Canadian public, who have every right to know–and WHY? Who’s so goddamn scared of open and transparent legal proceedings?

Again–not I!

And apparently, neither is Mohammed, nor his lawyer. So, by process of elimination, that leaves…

Stephen Harper.

Who has everything to lose–including his own head, if the accusations are true. Which, somehow, I doubt.

Maybe THAT’s why this blackout is being imposed.

BTW, for an amusing reality check, you really must read what my friend Reprehensor wrote about this on his own blog. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll shit yourself.

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