Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Population Foregoes Better Angels, Creates Special Place In Hell For Rafferty

Woodstock, Ontario

The gavel came down and the smell of sulfur could almost be tasted outside the courtroom in London, Ontario. Michael Rafferty, the child killer who always maintained innocence, was convicted of first degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault of 8 year old Woodstock native Tori Stafford, a heinous crime indeed. Rafferty was subsequently sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years, the maximum under Canadian law for the 2009 crime.

The verdict set off muted celebration in Woodstock, with the mayor announcing that peace and healing could finally begin, with almost everyone saying that "he had it coming to him."

The Waterloo Region Record Editorial Board went so far as to publish a letter to The Parole Board of Canada, May 2037, the year of Rafferty's first eligibility of parole. Among other things, the Record wrote:

"We cannot say how successful Canada’s penal system will be in rehabilitating him. We hope that after the passage of a quarter of a century he will have admitted his crimes, apologized to the family of his victim as well as the general community which he frightened and scandalized. Perhaps prison psychologists and counsellors will instill in him a basic sense of morality while treating his unquestionably depraved state of mind. We doubt this will be possible. To gaze into his blank, remorseless eyes after his arrest was to recognize a force both sinister and incorrigible. Yet whatever progress the system and its professionals can achieve in this regard, we would submit that Mr. Rafferty can never be rehabilitated to the point at which he can safely and justly be released into open society."

I applaud (yes, that's sarcasm) The Waterloo Region Record for being able to fortune-tell that Rafferty will not be able to be rehabilitated to the point that he can safely be released. While I definitely agree that Michael Rafferty deserved the sentence he was given and must be punished, I submit that no-one can mind-read 25 years into the future.

Instead of letting go, or even attempting to let go of hate for Mr. Rafferty and implementing virtues of loving thy neighbour and The Golden Rule (doing unto others as you would have them do unto you), there is no shortage of people in small-town Ontario today who are undoubtedly praying for a special spot in Hell for Michael Rafferty, as well as his accomplice Terri-Lynne McClintic. Visions of the two being cast into the lake of fire dance in their heads.

But when the rawness of the weeks of testimony end, we hope that people will again listen to their better angels and remember what we each truly crave for: love. "But where was the love for Tori Stafford, the always-smiling victim of these heinous crimes?" There was no love there. But we would do well to listen to the words of two wise men from our planet's history. Jesus said to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, and Mahatma Ghandi said that if the world practised the often quoted "eye for an eye" passage, the world would end up completely blind and toothless.

Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic must pay for their crimes, but to make them objects of hate and hell-hyperbole will only fill our own hearts full of hate, which will do nothing to bring Tori Stafford home.

~ Mark Andrew Alward