Justice is blind, but is society?
I’m 29. White. Male. Healthy. Relatively financially comfortable and have plans to move to Canada soon through choice and not due to unemployment. So, all in all, it would be pretty stupid of me to get myself a criminal conviction before then.
Now, say I felt particularly strongly about a singular matter (and Lord knows I do about many) and, during my protesting of this matter, I trespassed onto a runway and I was arrested. Then, say, I received a suspended sentence – I’d consider myself pretty lucky, sign my bond and be done with it and avoid that airport and any breaking of the law for the two years as stated in my bail conditions.
Well, this option was open to one such citizen this week; Margaretta D’Arcy. In the end, however, she chose not to sign her bond and was promptly arrested and sent to prison as a result.
Now, you may ask, “What’s the big deal here?”. Well, Ms. D’Arcy is 79 years old and suffers from Parkinson’s Disease. The case has caused uproar this week, mostly because of her age and her illness.
But where does one draw the line?
If Ms. D’Arcy was a healthy, 29 year old, white male this story would barely have made a ripple. So what’s so special about Ms. D’Arcy?
She is a citizen who broke the law and is being duly punished. We must not differentiate the citizen who has rights and responsibilities from the person who has an illness or who is old.
Too often in this State people who are old or are ill are treated with kid gloves when it comes to issues surrounding their convictions for crimes that they have committed. And, while this particular crime is relatively minor, it does not excuse the responsibilities that apply to Ms. D’Arcy.