By Jason Menard
They say an animal is most dangerous when cornered. With that in mind, if we continue to chase after Karla Homolka, at this rate, the public as a whole will bear part of the responsibility if she lashes out again.
Canadians, who believe that the plea bargain that Homolka, who now goes by the name Teale, signed was a deal with the devil that should be rescinded, have zealously attempted to ensure that she can never return to a normal life. Instead of placing our faith in the justice system and hoping that the demons that drove Homolka to commit such horrible crimes have been exorcised during her incarceration, Canadians are taking out their fury against Homolka and resorting to vigilante tactics.
But to what end? What does the constant chasing down of Homolka do in the long run? What does forcing her from one home in Montreal to another do? How does chasing her out of one job to another benefit us? Most importantly, if we don’t let Homolka live her life in the light of day, why should we be surprised if she finds solace and comfort in the dark underground?
What Homolka did to the French and Mahaffey families, and her own kin was and is horrific, unforgivable, and sub-human. However, what we’re doing with our frenzied hunt for Homolka is driving her to exactly the element that she should not be associated with. If she cannot find acceptance, as limited as it may deserve to be, in regular society, why would we be surprised if she finds comfort in the darker segments of our society? We’ve seen what happens when Karla is influenced by dark, so why are we working so hard to drive her back there?
We want her in the light of day, trying to remake her life, and subject to the strict terms of her release. Our anger against a judicial system that, in retrospect, made a significant error in judgment clouds the fact that that very same system has tried to make amends for its earlier error by enforcing strict restrictions against Homolka’s freedom.
Forced to notify the authorities of every move she makes, down to changes of her appearance, Homolka’s freedom is not as absolute as the angered masses believe it to be. Yes, she’s no longer behind bars, but her emotional and social prison extends wherever she goes. In this brief period of time since Homolka’s incarceration has ended, we’ve seen what type of life that she’s going to be subject to. Whether it’s co-workers, employers, or casual contacts who are ready to run to the media for their 15 minutes, or a media eager to continue publishing photos and stories on a grizzly topic that’s captured the Canadian interest, Homolka will never truly be free.
That may be small comfort to the families who were irreparably damaged by Homolka’s actions, but, as hard as it may be for those in our society who feel cheated by Homolka’s plea bargain and light sentence for such horrific crimes, we have to let go of the anger and trust in our authorities. What we have to remember is that we have the animal caged, albeit not behind bars. However, if we keep poking the animal with a stick, why should we not expect it to lash back out of anger and frustration?
When we resort to vigilantism, we become no less of a monster than Homolka and Paul Bernardo are or were. This escalation of anger can have no positive resolution. And, if someone decides to go to the extreme and chooses to perform a violent in retribution for the loss of life, then we truly have lost our humanity. There is no greater good that would ever justify an evil act.
We, as a society, do not have to forgive or forget what Karla Homolka did. But what we have to do is live with the situation as it presents itself. Whether or not we agree with the actions of the police, the judicial system, or the penal system during the time of the trial or since, what was done is in the past, and we have to deal with the present. We don’t have to turn a blind eye to Homolka, but we have to make sure that we don’t poison the situation with a jaundiced one. While we can’t rewrite history and atone for the mistakes of the past, we will have to live with the consequences of our actions for the future.
No amount of harassment, hounding, or vigilante justice towards Karla Homolka can bring back Leslie Mahaffey, Kristen French, or Tammy Homolka. But if we continue to use these tactics, why should we be surprised if the animal strikes again? And who would we have to blame, other than ourselves?
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