KAMLOOPS — Sometimes, a column I write both saddens and disturbs me beyond all expectations and last week’s column was one of those. I wrote about the needle buy-back program and expected and got a diverse response with strong opinions on both sides of the story. However, I was not expecting a Kamloops resident to suggest we imitate President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and send out death squads to murder drug dealers and users.
My column was shared a number of times and generated numerous comments, on various platforms that were mostly supportive of the buy-back effort but not everyone was behind the idea. In response to one of the shared posts, a guy who I’ll call, Mike, wrote, “They [addicts] go from the welfare office to the dealer the more you give these two legged rats the worst it becomes you will never solve it unless a hard line is taken like in the Philippines.”
What Mike calls “hard line” is actually called murder by everyone else and according to Amnesty International, it also includes rape and torture. Mike doesn’t care though as he feels people using drugs are “two legged rats” and I assume this means that in his mind, it’s okay to kill them here in Kamloops as well.
Mike is probably aware that if the killers on these Philippine death squads need information on who else might be using or dealing, then torture is their go-to method for obtaining names. Of course information gained through torture is unreliable and will likely lead to the killing of more innocent people.
The rape of sisters, daughters and mothers of their victim is also common and often leads to the deaths of these innocent women. But hey, this guy sees them only as rats and in his mind what’s a few more deaths if it gets needles off the streets?
From what I can see, Mike is a family man and I’ve wondered this past week if his opinion would change if one of his children - as they are apt to do - experiments with drugs. In Mike’s world, would a daughter be considered a two-legged rat as well?
How can someone of such privilege, one who won the being born in the right country lottery, feel it would be perfectly acceptable to have death squads roaming the streets of Kamloops? No due process, no mercy, just kill people because they’re alleged behaviour is not something you like.
I was also puzzled by the fact Mike felt it was okay to use Facebook to promote murder, torture and rape. Personally, I find it sickening and beyond deplorable but it’s not the first time I’ve read comments about killing those you disagree with.
As recently as last week and in response to Greenpeace protesters suspending themselves from the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, former BC Liberal MLA and Minister of Public Safety, John Les, suggested on Facebook that police simply cut the cables. This is a solution that would obviously result in the death of the activists, yet comes from a man who was once sworn to protect all and was in charge of policing within the province.
Encouraged by the former cabinet minister’s off-handed remarks, others began commenting on social media as well. Under the cowardly cloak of anonymity, some wanted the protesters used for target practice while others suggested sending ships under the bridge to crush and knock them off their ropes.
Between people like Mike, John Les and others, deadly violence becomes normalized, an acceptable solution for dealing with those you disagree with. Many things frighten me about that but what really scares me is the deafening silence from so many others. It is a silence that people like Mike will take to mean you agree with his personal version of the ‘final solution’ and that emboldens them. They’ve already dehumanized their victims, in Mike’s case, by calling them two-legged rats and unless the rest of us speak out, it will get worse.
The gas chambers and ovens of another final solution were built on a foundation of public silence. So maybe the next time someone suggests Kamloops is ready for the “Philippine” solution on our streets, we should say something and say it loudly and clearly.