I started this post Saturday, but there were several competing things in the news that I wanted to talk about, and so many of them are depressing, that I decided to put on cold weather gear to go out and free up the snow-covered bird feeder to give myself a mental break. Then I realized that I needed to make coffee. And that made me decide to clean the kitchen counters, unload the dishwasher, and go talk to my husband about dinner plans (since whatever we made would likely require defrosting something from the freezer)… and by the time I had done all that and got back to my computer, I decided to work on my novel instead of doing a Weekend Update post.
Having slept on it, I figured out which news items I definitely wanted to focus on. To follow up on topics that I’ve included in previous Friday Five or Weekend Update posts. And since one of these involves the sentencing of a serial killer, I’m going to put it behind a cut tag. If you aren’t in the mood for discussion of gruesome murders, please don’t click. Otherwise…
I’ve linked to stories before about a disturbing string of unsolved missing persons cases in Toronto. Gay men, mostly men of color, were vanishing without a trace, and there was a general feeling that the police weren’t taking the cases seriously. Things heated up a bit in 2016 as a couple of men reported being assaulted by a man they had met somewhere and agreed to have sex with, and the number of missing men was climbing. In 2018 police who had a suspect under surveillance interrupted the suspect while he was in the middle of another attempted murder: Toronto Serial Killer Staged Victims’ Bodies to Photograph Them, Was in the Process of Killing a Man When Police Knocked. Eventually eight bodies that could be identified as a subset of the missing men were found (all of them hidden in various landscaping projects the suspect had worked on), and he was charged.
Friday, he was sentenced: Gruesome Gay Serial Killer Bruce McArthur Gets Life Sentence. So he gets a life sentence for the 8 murders, but will be eligible for parole in 25 years. Because of another serial killer case some years ago, the Canadian Parliament passed a new law giving judges the option to decide, in the case of multiple murders, whether the sentences run concurrently or consecutively. Because a life sentence is standard for murder in Canada, the importance of the consecutive vs concurrent has to do with parole eligibility. If the judge had ordered the 8 life sentences to be consecutively served, that would mean the man would never be eligible to apply for parole. The judge went with concurrent, so if the murderer lives to be 91 years old, he could apply for parole.
On the one had it seems unlikely he’ll live that long. But another, unrelated, mass murderer was also sentence yesterday, and he’s a much younger man, and his sentence was also concurrent: COMMENTARY: Justice was not fully served with McArthur and Bissonnette sentences.
But to circle back to McArthur. I mentioned that concerns were raised several times over the years about how seriously the police were taking the disappearance of gay men. Well, it looks as if there is evidence that at least on cop may indeed have been less than thorough: Toronto police officer to be charged in connection to Bruce McArthur investigation. The charges are insubordination and dereliction of duty. We don’t currently have any other details, except that they are in relation to his investigation into McArthur and other suspects in the disappearance cases in 2016.
The police continue to insist that they didn’t shirk their duties in the cases: Toronto police chief defends handling of Bruce McArthur investigation after sentencing. In 2012 they were investigating the disappearance of three men who bore a lot of similarities. People were asking about a serial killer then, and the Toronto police’s internal investigation was considering the probability that the cases were related. So a lot of the community was upset five years later, when disappearances continued (remember, the 8 are the bodies that were found; there are still a number of similar missing persons cases that McArthur claimed to know nothing about, so who knows how many there were), that the chief of police insisted they had no evidence that it was a serial killer.
He’s now waffling by saying that at the time he made that statement, McArthur was a suspect, but only in one disappearance. Given the victim in question was one of the three that back in 2012 they thought was likely related to the other two, that statement is a bit hard to swallow.
Honestly, I’d find it a bit easier to swallow if he claimed that that they were trying to avoid a panic. As it is, when you have so many very similar missing persons cases in a small region of a city, it is difficult to see the refusal to connect the dots as anything other than an underlying belief that the victims aren’t worth spending a lot of time on. Sort of how certain other notorious serial killers got away with it for so long because their victims were overwhelmingly homeless prostitutes…
I guess we should just be glad that this bad guy is behind bars, now.
There are other kinds of bad guys. I’ve written so many times about ex-gay chicanery and how it contributes to the abuse and deaths of queer people, especially queer teens. So when this news crossed my news feed: Prominent US ‘gay conversion therapist’ David Matheson divorces wife and comes out as gay.
And I wasn’t any happier when about a week later it was followed with: Former “ex-gay” advocate David Matheson finally admits conversion therapy doesn’t work. The subhead tells why I’m not exactly cheering the news: “Matheson came out as gay last month, but at the time refused to apologize for the harm his work had caused to LGBTQ people.”
It’s the same story: guy spends years promoting ex-gay therapy, marries a woman, writes several books about his own triumph over the evils of homosexuality, takes speaking fees to talk about his cure (where copies of the book are for sale) and so on for years. Then one day he finally stops being quite so self-loathing, divorces, and eventually admits that it is impossible to change one’s sexual orientation.
And as often happens, the closest he gets to apologizing is to say that he’s had conversations with people who suffered “a lot of sorrow” because the ex-gay therapy doesn’t work. Never mind the queer kids who were literally beaten by their fathers who were screaming about how this guy and his books prove that their own queerness is a choice. Never mind the ones that kill themselves rather than face their parents after going to the therapy and trying for months of years to pretend they are cured.
It isn’t just sorrow that Matheson caused. There is blood on his hands.
He also insists that he doesn’t regret his marriage and pretending to be straight. Yeah, not only did the fake marriage shore up his therapy business, and help promote the abuse I just mentioned, but he wasted years of someone else’s life. And he doesn’t regret that?
The guy has a lot to regret and apologize for.
I find it particularly hard not to get exercised about this when one of the few places where they have attempted to ban the practice of subjecting children to this debunked practice are being attacked by the forces of hate: ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy Ban Halted as Right Wing Sues to Reinstate Practice. An anti-gay hate group, to so-called Liberty Counsel, convinced a judge to suspend the ban and allow children to be forced into this therapy on the grounds of religious freedom.
Because of course someone’s sincerely held religious beliefs should allow them to abuse their children with impunity.
It just makes me sick.