Monday, April 22, 2013


The scenes were horrific, almost like a war zone, and the panic was real.   From multiple angles we have seen the horror that was caused by the Boston Marathon bombing.    Blood stained pavements, limbs blown off, tales of amputation and a vivid shot of a 78 year old marathoner knocked over by the sheer magnitude of the bomb.  Now we get the most awe-inspiring form of reality television as with the cameras still in Boston there was a tactical take down and one of the alleged masterminds of the bombing was killed while another one remains on the loose.  Perhaps the visual power of live television was only matched the surreal experience of watching football hero/pseudo actor OJ Simpson lead the LAPD on a slow speed chase when he failed to turn himself in to police after the double slaying of his ex-wife and her friend.

Friday's take down and capture of the second bombing suspect played out like a movie complete with plot lines, heroes and villains.   After the suspect was apprehended, emergency personnel made the slow journey down the main road to cheering crowds and jubilant citizens happy that their streets were safe again.  

Right now we Pray For Boston as even the Red Sox vaunted Rivals the Yankees stood in solidarity with their foe.   The emotion is real, and touches most everyone in some way, shape or form.  Three lives have been lost, 180 or more have been injured, at least 18 critically and families  literally torn apart.  have read at least two stories on family members, or husbands and wives who both lost limbs as a result of the bombing. 

Contrast that with cyber bullying and sexual assault, two themes that I explore in-depth with my Grade 12 Law Classes to the point of exhaustion.   These are two very serious societal problems with long-term consequences. Getting sexually assaulted, or raped is a life long sentences, and we have read far too many stories of those who cannot take the torment of cyber bullying and have taken their own lives.   Many of those stories include the double horror a sexual assault followed by cyber bullying.  Yet in many cases, we do not empathize with these victims even though the consequences are very real and very long term, not unlike those tragic victims of Boston.    The difference is for whatever reason emotional scarring does not resonate with the average person as much as physical scarring.  We can see the real horror of a blameless spectator getting injured by an improvised bomb because of the blood and in some cases the leg that is longer there.   In sexual assault and cyber bullying the physical scarring is not as obvious in many cases, and very likely in a personal and private place.  We are taught that "sticks and stones break bones, but names never hurt", an analogy now seen as anachronistic.  Names do hurt and in the case of Rehateah Parsons, eventually have dire consequences.   We also tend to shine the light on the victim and blame them for putting themselves in certain situations, even though those victims of sexual assault and cyber bullying are as blameless as the spectator at a marathon who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.   

In fact there is sympathy for the alleged perpetrators in the Rehateah Parsons case as now there are supportive posters for the boys circulating in the very neighbourhood Rehateah took her life.   I do not see an outpouring of support for the callous, and cowardly bombers that changed a landmark event forever. Yet "the truth must come out" for four young men who hatcheted a vicious life-changing assault on a defenseless person.  In theory this also sounds like the blue print for the Boston Marathon bombers. 

Powerful visuals resonate and we all feel the hurt, but the unseen remains something difficult to empathize with. Until the legal systems turns the unseen in a powerful empathetic visual that a judge or jury can appreciate, for many victims there will be no justice.

Steve Clark

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