Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sex Offenders, Guns, and Jimmy Buffett, Oh My!

Update on a news story I blogged about in October, in which an American teacher, convicted of a sex offense for fondling an underage student, was allowed by US authorities to serve his sentence as a parolee, living in his home with his wife and child in Canada:

The good news is, Canada has deported Malcolm Watson.

The bad news is, he remains here nevertheless, pending an appeal which could take as long as a year.

Part of the issue is what kind of *rights* Watson has, as a permanent resident. That is for the lawyers to figure out. What continues to irk me is how an American judge can unilaterally decide that a person convicted of a sex offense may return to live in another country. I’m sure the US is only too glad to be rid of him on a day to day basis, and if he were a Canadian I’d understand if he were to be deported back home, but he is not a Canadian, merely a resident married to a Canadian.

While Watson may or may not pose a realistic hazard to the Canadian population, it is not acceptable for this decision to be made by a foreign court, and if there is a loophole in Canadian law that permits this to occur, it needs to be closed. Immediately.

Somewhat better news, for those living near the Great Lakes on either side of the border:

The US Coast Guard has abandoned its plan to carry out live-fire machine gun training exercises from ships on the lakes. This was a bad idea for many reasons, one of the least obvious perhaps being that the accumulation in the lakes of ammunition containing lead is a serious environmental hazard. Unfortunately, some such training was carried out last summer but was then suspended pending public hearings.

According to this article,

the exercises were justified by the Coast Guard as essential if officers were to be properly prepared to defend the United States against terrorists who could attack by boat from Canada.

Essential? There is no other way to train people to fire guns from boats? A wave pool comes to mind...

Finally, singer Jimmy Buffett has decided that he cares more for seals than for working people and their families. He has joined the chorus of rich and famous celebrities who protest the annual seal hunt in Canada but apparently has it in not only for the sealers, but also for those in the fishing industry. How else to explain his restaurant chain’s boycott of Canadian seafood?

I just love how these privileged celebrities parachute themselves into an issue with the result that real harm may be done to hard-working families that barely manage to eke a living out of the land and sea. In contrast, those who carry around guns and shoot forest creatures for sport get a free pass to the point that in Texas, a law is pending that will permit the blind to hunt with special, laser-pointing-equipped guns. According to the bill’s sponsor:

This opens up the fun of hunting to additional people, and I think that's great.

In a world in which the blind in Texas must not be denied the fun of hunting, but sealers and fishermen are to be denied the means to make a living, something is clearly wrong.