Thursday, March 17, 2016

That's All I Can Remember

GOD! It took me a long time to find this. It's a song I remember from childhood, when we owned every album Burl Ives ever made. I kind of underestimated him, I think - I thought he was just this bulky, dorky folk singer who sang kiddie songs and once in a while showed up in a movie. But this song, which I hadn't heard in - God! I hate to say, perhaps 50 years - stuck in my head. It was about a man who had been executed for a double murder and thus was singing to us, not from Heaven Above, but that other place.

YouTube just burgeons constantly, a never-ending joy and source of fascination for me, but I sure had to wait a long time for this. Ives was a unique singer with an extremely subtle and expressive tenor voice. He "undersang" rather than belted, didn't even project very much at all because he had a sort of silvery quality, like moonlight.  Even though we get to experience the horror of the electric chair directly ("they turned on the juice. . . "), he sings almost tenderly, and without a trace of anger or self-pity.

It's a damn good arrangement, and I love the smokily subtle chorus, though there are other versions such as this one (which I posted a couple of years ago) that take a slightly different approach. I don't know who Cowboy Copas is, or was, because I loathe country music more than anything. But some artists transcend genre, and this version is compelling in its own way.

Or is it the fact that I'm just bloody morbid? I've always had a fascination with death and the macabre. Death-in-life. I have seen friends of mine drop off the planet one by one, and I wonder where they go. People younger than me, I mean, and some of them even healthy, seemingly destined to live another 30 years. And then -

For many years, I was adamantly against the death penalty. We don't have it in Canada, and I am just as glad, but there are cases, particularly child murder - let's just say my views have changed, at least under particularly horrendous circumstances. People are more likely to murder their families, the people they "love" the most, than anyone else. It stretches our capacity to believe that human nature can really be that dark.

Stay gay!

Man imprisoned for being gay to get posthumous pardon from Trudeau

'It’s great that the young Trudeau is finishing the work that his father started,' lawyer says.

CBC News Posted: Feb 28, 2016 4:06 PM ET Last Updated: Feb 28, 2016 8:25 PM ET

The Klippert case stoked considerable media and political interest in Canada and prompted the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau to introduce a bill in 1967 that, among other things, called for the decriminalization of private, consensual homosexual acts between people over the age of 21.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau intends to posthumously pardon Everett George Klippert who, because he admitted to police in the 1960s that he was gay, was deemed a dangerous sexual offender and sent to prison.

"The prime minister intends to recommend that a pardon under the authority of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy be granted posthumously to Mr. Klippert," Trudeau's office said in a media release.

The move was cheered Sunday by gay-rights advocates.

"It's fantastic that he'll get a posthumous pardon," lawyer Doug Elliott told CBC News.

As well, the statement said the Liberal government will also look to see whether pardons are "warranted" after reviewing the cases of other individuals who in the past were convicted on charges such as gross indecency and buggery.

"As Canadians, we know that protecting and promoting fundamental human rights must be an imperative for governments and individuals alike, and this includes gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation," the weekend statement said.

Trudeau's office credited Klippert's case for being "instrumental" in Canada's decision to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults.

Indefinite prison sentence

Klippert was questioned by the RCMP in 1965 during an arson investigation in Pine Point, N.W.T. He wasn't involved in the fire, but voluntarily said he'd had sexual relations with four men. He was charged with four counts of gross indecency, all for consensual, private, non-violent acts.

In 1966, Klippert was visited in prison by a Crown-appointed psychiatrist who concluded that Klippert's homosexuality was "incurable," and that he therefore met the criteria regarding dangerous sexual offenders.

A judge agreed and sentenced Klippert to preventive detention, meaning an indefinite term in prison.

The sentence was backed up by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1967, although Chief Justice John Cartwright suggested the laws regarding homosexuality be clarified, and that incarceration of harmless homosexuals was not their intention.

The Klippert case stoked considerable media and political interest. Just six weeks later, Pierre Trudeau, the Liberal government's justice minister (who would later become prime minister) introduced a bill that, among other things, called for the decriminalization of private, consensual homosexual acts between people over the age of 21.

"It's great that the young Trudeau is finishing the work that his father started," Elliott said.

Before homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969, people were routinely charged with gross indecency — a charge almost always applied to homosexuals — but rarely for private, consensual acts.

Klippert was released from prison on July 21, 1971. He was 69 when he died in in 1996.

"I never understood: Why didn't Pierre Trudeau let him out in 1969 when they decriminalized gay sex?" Elliott said. "They kept the poor guy who was responsible for shining a light on this issue in jail for another couple of years."

Last week, the prime minister confirmed he will march in Toronto's Pride parade on July 3, a move that would make history with Trudeau being the first sitting PM in Canada to take part in the event.

BLOGGER'S COMMENTS. So why this? Why now? When I saw this article, I groaned - groaned that anyone was ever imprisoned for consensual sex of any kind. Consenting adults in private - isn't that the deal? Shouldn't that have been the deal even then? I guess not.

I also groaned at the word "pardon". It means "forgiveness of wrongdoing", which isn't exactly what we're after here, is it? It's like saying "I forgive you" to someone who hasn't done anything. It doesn't go down too well with me. I've been "forgiven" for shit THEY did to ME.

But the worst were the comments: 84 of them, and nearly all of them extremely negative, vilifying Justin Trudeau for wasting taxpayers'dollars/our precious time. Of those who commented, practically no one showed any sensitivity at all for the plight of this man and the countless others who did serious time because of their sexual orientation. The vast majority believed it was an irrelevant issue that belonged in the musty vaults of the past.

I think it's time i stopped reading , watching and listening to the news . the lunacy of our current and recent governments is just getting too much for me .

This Guy wont stop anywhere to scrape out an extra vote. .What has happened happened you cant turn back time but the Liberals think all you have to do is throw taxpayer money at any situation..

Nothing more important to d than pardoning dead people? This is like the ministry of truth in 1984 rewriting history.

Oh for God's sake please don't ! . Do we not have enough problems here in Canada to deal with now as it is ?? with out having to go digging up old dead skeletons ?? next thing you'll hear is how some folks are going to be demanding "compensation" for being wrongly convicted decades ago. This will only lead to further strain on our already collapsing economy .

This is what our Prime Minister is focusing on?

The insanity continues... How about dealing with what is happening in Canada now?

I cannot believe he has to delve into the past when seniors are close to eating dog food and they are throwing $1700 a month to each member of a Syrian family stuffed into a hotel room in Toronto. JT please .....

Why do the important business of the nation when you can do stuff like this.

That figures. No surprises there.

My dismay at this story just grows: as was usually done back then, this guy was "examined" and deemed "incurable" by a psychiatrist. So what is that supposed to mean? It shook loose some pretty disturbing memories: all sorts of shit came pouring back into my mind. I used to read a great deal of crap - now I have no idea why, though most of it fell under the guise of "self-help". I guess I thought these "experts" knew better than I did about how to live my life.

One of my favorite psycho-babblers was one Dr. Theodore Isaac Rubin, one of those New York psychoanalytic types who got into writing simplistic bestsellers like The Angry Book and The Thin Book by a Formerly Fat Psychiatrist. Everything was pathologized in his books, including anything sexual that didn't fit within the bounds of holy matrimony, in the missionary position, not more than once or twice a month.

Here is one of his pronouncements on homosexuality:

“Homosexuality is a symptom of emotional disturbance. Emotional disturbance can be remedied and the homosexual can become heterosexual, but the psychotherapeutic process is long and quite often painful… This means in effect, changing the relating habits of a lifetime—no easy matter. Few homosexual people have the extraordinary motivation required to take on this great effort—but some do and are successful.” (Dr. Theodore Isaac Rubin, The Winner’s Notebook, New York: Pocket Books, 1969, p. 53)

Just the fact that this is in a book called The Winner's Notebook (and I - gasp, gulp - remember reading it and in fact might still have a copy floating around) takes a distancing, poking-with-a-sharp-stick approach to "homosexuality", as if to say, "We know none of this applies to us, because we're Winners. But not everyone is in that category. Some of these people are so emotionally fucked-up that they can't even make themselves straight, the way they could and would if they were motivated and really tried."

This book came out in that pivotal year, 1969, when Pierre Trudeau, father of our current Prime Minister, decriminalized gay sex with the famous statement, "The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation." But it took another two years for Everett Klippert to be set free, and no doubt he carried a criminal record, not to mention deep emotional scars, for the rest of his life.

Anthony Perkins, best-known for the Hitchcock thriller Psycho, was a fine and sensitive actor/human being who was forever questing for truth. He also strove personfully to give up his own natural orientation in order to get married and have kids: in other words, to make himself straight. But in this impossible goal he was influenced hugely by his analyst, Mildred Newman, the author of the famous/ infamous 1970s bestseller, How to Be Your Own Best Friend.

“Analysts once thought that they had little chance of changing homosexuals’ preferences and had little success in that direction. But some refused to accept that and kept working with them, and we’ve found that a homosexual who really wants to change has a very good chance of doing so. Now we’re hearing all kinds of success stories. The nature of homosexuality hasn’t changed, but the way of looking at it has.”

Though Tony was widely viewed as one of Newman's "success stories", mainly because he had a long-suffering wife and managed to stay married, he died of AIDS in 1992, weighed down with guilt and shame that he had not been able to live up to the pressure to "go straight".

If a man had consensual sex with a man (for women didn't seem to be included in the equation), it was a criminal act, and it stayed that way for a very long time. People went to jail for it the same way they would for child sexual abuse. But thanks to "experts" like Rubin and Newman, homosexuality was converted from a crime into a serious mental illness, a pathology. For this, these therapists were viewed as compassionate humanitarians deserving of praise, if not awards. The underlying agenda was that you had to act straight, no matter how you really felt. Stay married. Keep it hidden. This is where the expression "in the closet" originated.

There might have been a time in my life that I didn't "get" all this. And I will never get it the way someone who has lived through it would. But things are different, there has been a shift. I had very mixed feelings about this pardon, because as far as I am concerned the man did nothing wrong. How do you pardon something that isn't a crime? The reasoning is, it was a crime THEN and so it needs to be pardoned retroactively. This is sad, but not as sad as all those ranty ugly comments, the dozens and scores and even hundreds of them, from people who seemed to feel we were wasting our time on all this stuff and should just forget about it. Because the guy is dead, or because it's a "gay issue", it isn't worth the public's concern.

It's the same attitude that says, those aboriginal people should just get on with it! This is 2016, they can't have a pow-wow and try to get all that land back, because it belongs to US now. It's just a waste of taxpayers' dollars. As a relative of mine likes to say, "Awww, why not just shoot 'em."

Our culture does not understand reparation. It doesn't. It barely understands any sort of attitudinal shift and why it needs to happen. There are a great many people keeping their mouths shut because they don't have the courage to come out with what they really believe. Instead, they slap ugliness all over the newspaper comments section UNDER ALIASES, saving themselves any sort of repercussion. It's the most cowardly act I can think of for a writer not to sign a piece of their work.

Back in the Stone Age when I wrote for newspapers (and I spent 25 or 30 years doing so and wrote literally thousands of columns and reviews), the paper phoned me if I wrote a letter to the editor to verify my identity. I had to provide my phone number and full address if my letter was even to be considered for publication. Now the most toxic spews appear under full protection of anonymity, so that people can savage the article, the editor, the paper itself, and all the other people submitting comments, not to mention all those politically-correct types who keep wasting our time and money. So long as the comment isn't "defamatory" (and by whose standards, I do not know), it gets posted. This is considered a "valuable public forum" and a place for people to air their grievances and express their disagreements. That's the worst pile of shit I have heard of in my life.

So hatred has a new place to hide. This crap never gets solved or healed, never goes away - just goes underground. This makes reading/watching the news so depressing that I am increasingly avoiding it. It's grim, oppressive and does not do anyone any good, and it does not improve my increasingly low opinion of the human race.

I like to think that being happy is an act of resistance - one I must work on daily to avoid a tidal wave of soul-destroying depression. And I don't always make it. But I will be damned if I will let these bastards take from me the things and the people I hold most dear. I won't let them have my compassion, or my intelligence, or my joy. But my God, I wish sometimes that it wasn't such an interminable and exhausting battle.

The Ballad of Reading Gaol (Excerpt)

He did not wear his scarlet coat,
For blood and wine are red,
And blood and wine were on his hands
When they found him with the dead,
The poor dead woman whom he loved,
And murdered in her bed.

He walked amongst the Trial Men
In a suit of shabby gray;
A cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay;
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.

I walked, with other souls in pain,
Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,
"That fellow's got to swing."

Dear Christ! the very prison walls
Suddenly seemed to reel,
And the sky above my head became
Like a casque of scorching steel;
And, though I was a soul in pain,
My pain I could not feel.

I only knew what hunted thought
Quickened his step, and why
He looked upon the garish day
With such a wistful eye;
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

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