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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Calling all ethicists!

Hello darlings.

I read an article today I want your genuine opinions on. I expect the comments section to be overflowing with intelligent and respectful arguments.

The article was entitled: "Bligh's backflip sees rapist go from zero to hero to zero."

We'll address the "reporters" choice of headline later.

Basically, a man who was convicted of rape and armed robbery 12 years ago was to be honored for his outstanding contribution to the volunteer clean up efforts in the flood effected areas of Queensland. This man went above and beyond driving thousands of kms over the past few months cleaning up houses and helping when needed. When the government sent out his invitation to an awards ceremony where he was to be honored, they were not aware of his criminal past.

Upon learning of his crimes the Premier's department director wrote to him and said: "It has now come to my attention that you have a serious criminal history. After discussing the matter with the Premier, I have decided that it would be inappropriate for you to accept this award and to attend the ceremony. I trust you can appreciate the reasons for this decision."

Well it seems he could not. This man went to the local press such was his distress at being snubbed by Anna Bligh.

After reading this article I was genuinely in two minds over what the "right" thing to do here was?
On one hand this man is a convicted rapist and I'm pretty sure his victim/s wouldn't feel he deserved to be honored in any kind of fashion. On the other hand he served 12 years in jail and claims to have turned his life around. He feels he deserves a second change and has paid for his mistakes. By all accounts his contribution during the floods and after was huge and selfless.

Then I go back to his victim/s and think they will never get a second chance. Being raped is something that I imagine would leave a permanent mark on your life forever.

I will now turn the discussion over to you lot. I'll moderate so try to keep it nice.

Does this man deserve a second chance? Should he be honored for the volunteer work he did? Did Anna Bligh do the right thing in rescinding the award and ceremony invitation?

Go forth and debate.

Em.



17 comments:

Brando said...

It's hard, really hard. But I think that was 12 years ago & if he was going to be awarded before they knew, then he probably should still be awarded.
What he did was obviously horrific but if no one got a second chance at life after crime, what would be the incentive to change their behaviour? Plus he did do a really good thing (not that that cancels out the rape) but surely it must be acknowledged

sinyo said...

I completely agree with Anna Bligh because despite the good deeds i don't think they can override the crimes that he committed especially rape. If he has really changed then he should understand how the situation would affect his victims because am sure as he was helping out he did not expect an award

James said...

He should still recieve the award but privately. He has been "rehabilitated" by his majesty however crimes like that are never forgotten.

Seb said...

The only incorrect action (with the exception of the initial crime of course, which is horrific) was the man's choice to argue the decision made to cancel the award.

Knowing his past, and knowing that the family of the person he attacked would recognise him he must have known accepting the initial invitation would cause some upset. Maybe the victim and their family wouldn't have made the connection, but that is a risk he obviously decided to take.

Then, when the invitation is withdrawn and he by his own choice publicises this he is purposefully drawing attention to his past and can't therefore complain about people's reactions.

Someone who has genuine regret over hurting another will always put the thoughts and feelings of those they harmed first. This man has not.

In my opinion, a truly reformed man would realise this and decline any invitation for recognition. The reward of doing a good deed should be enough.

When you make the choice to rape another human being, one of the most heinous, life effecting crimes there is, you can never just 'switch off' people's knowledge and reactions to this fact, regardless of rehabilitation or time served. Just as time, therapy and taking the very best care of themselves can ever allow the innocent victim to have a chance to erase that part of their life.

Rehabilitation and heroism, as wonderful as they are don't allow someone to be 'un-raped'.

Rubii Slippers said...

Once a rapist.. always a rapist... same as cheaters... regardless of what he did he will always be a criminal... you would think they would do their research before they 'honor' people.. i think recently there was a criminal working for the goverment in some state but they were unaware of his convictions... he was fired when it was bought to their attention... we live in a too trusting world... where people get away with murder and the penalties are not harsh enough to teach the public a lesson.. this guy for all we know could have reoffended or reoffend... but its crap they never did their research and now look like indiangiving dickheads...

Anonymous said...

He's paid for his crime - and if he truly is reformed then it is very sad that his past has overshadowed the good work he has done. Absolutely his victim all those years ago should not be forgotten - but if the prison system has done it's job with him shouldn't that be enough?

Alex said...

I agree with Anna Bligh's decision.

He has been given a second chance anyway. He is out of gaol, free to do as he wishes within the bounds of the law, to work, own property, etc etc.

What he did was great but there are some things (including rape) that are so horrific and unacceptable that a person who does them cannot be held up as a hero or someone to be honoured.

l_kelada said...

I think Anna Bligh did the right thing here. While I agree whole-heartedly that people can change, I just think that if you were raped by this man, to then watch him be paraded around as a hero would be quite devastating and frustrating. It's wonderful that he helped out so generously during the clean up, but honestly, as Sinyo said, he should understand why it would be insensitive to have him receive this award.

Jen said...

If we say "no your not worthy of recognition for contributing to society" then we are saying to all criminals "dont bother trying to right your wrongs we will never forgive you".
The best possible outcome for someone that is released from jail is that they become a contributing member of society. I am not saying that this person deserves to be made a hero, or that we should forget what he did, god know his victim wont have forgotten.
However, who am I say he does not deserve to ever be rewarded for doing some good in his life?

Marc said...

Wether we agree or not, the legal system is based around rehabilitation and reintegration with society in a positive, functional manner. This chap has achieved all this, and then some. He could be a poster boy for the prison system. The message we now see is that It is not worth making efforts to re-enter society, you will continue to be judged on past actions, rather than current.

I understand people who have been raped consider that they have to live with that forever, however I feel it is not good for any individual to carry around past wrongs like a ball and chain around their leg.

Can we move forward as a society if we are all carrying around our past? I don't think so.

Em Rusciano said...

Oh I do love you all.. I agree with everything you are saying.. A couple of you mentioned "canceling out the rape" I don't think he was looking to do this but I do sense he was looking to move on. I imagine his victim struggled to do that but if he has genuinely changed surely he deserves the right to function as one of us again? The old adage two wrongs don't make a right seems poignant here. Although, if it were me, my daughter or my friend he raped I'm not sure I'd be feeling so charitable. Such a tough call. I think Bligh did do the right thing here. I think he deserves the chance to rehabilitate and I think a part of this would be putting the feelings of his victims before his own. He deserves to feel proud and good about the fact he helped during the floods but he should be able to do so without public recognition.

The Chef said...

I think this is a catch 22 situation and looking at it all socratically, it brings a few issues to the forefront.

Personally I think that the backpeddling by Anna Bligh's office is disgusting. The man still should have recieved his award.

Someone's past is just that, their past. Now if that is his only crime and he has committed no crimes since, then he should be pardoned, he knows what he did.

You cannot change the past, but you can try and move on from it.
Humans make mistakes, sometimes the same mistake more than once, but how long should the punishment go on?

Ironically, there are women who forgive their rapists and the only person that anyone needs to ask in this instance is the victim.

Does she mind that he gets this award or not?

Not to mention, this is not a lifetime achievement award, it's ONLY for his actions during the floods.

Seriously, which one of us got up off our butts to drive thousands of kilometres to go and help?

Merrin said...

As a rape survivor I want to chop him up onto little pieces and bury him, but then I cannot help but feel he has paid for his crime. Not allowing this man to be honored for his gracious work will not make his victim heal any faster or hurt any less, believe me I know! If he has helped those in need, if he has changed, then let him be the hero he is. Imagine if we were all judged by our past! X

Kez said...

Wow - what a tough one. As someone who has never been sexually assaulted or raped, perhaps my answer won't be worth that much...but here's my unqualified opinion...

I think that his good deeds are a separate matter to his crimes. He was not going to be awarded for hurting someone. He was going to be awarded for doing something that helped a lot of people. Positive reinforcement for rehabilitation could be helpful.

In saying that, he should not have asked to be celebrated or honoured or whinged about it when it was backflipped on. He should have been glad he had helped others and not be in it to get awards or some kind of metaphorical gold medal. He should know that he's made big mistakes in the past and his "making good" should be a private satisfaction - not a publicly acknowledged one. Perhaps he's faced a lot of hardship (deservedly) since people have become aware of his past and selfishly wanted it to be publicly announced that he's a good guy now. Either way, it's not about him. It's about the people he helped in the present day and the people he hurt in the past.

(also - what Seb said).

Kez

Em Rusciano said...

Merrin what an extraordinary human you are. Thank you for commenting. Em x

Anonymous said...

Are there other recipients of this award with criminal records but perhaps with not so vile a charge? Have they also had their award revoked?

Anna Bligh has acted to avoid a potential embarrasing media situation.

I think the man should receive some kind of recognition for the good work that he has done.

Remkitch said...

Was going to say I think that by complaining about not receiving award this man has shown he is not the best recipient in spite of past(?) life. Totally agree with Seb! Well put!