Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Robert Latimer, Canadian Murderer of Daughter, Denied Parole


Robert Latimer murdered his 12-year-old-daughter Tracy in 1993 because she was disabled by cerebral palsy. (The picture is of Tracy and her father.) While many Canadians supported Latimer as a loving father who put his daughter out of misery, he was convicted in of second degree murder. His first conviction was overturned on a technicality, and he was convicted again. In 2000 he began a life sentence with no possibility of parole for ten years.

Throughout this time Latimer has remained unrepentant. His defiant attitude seems to have been key in the decision of the Parole Board to deny day parole. From the story:
Robert Latimer, the Saskatchewan farmer who killed his disabled daughter in 1993, was denied day parole from the minimum-security William Heat Institution outside Victoria on Wednesday afternoon.

The three-member parole board told Latimer that they were "struck" that he had failed to develop any insight into his crime during his seven years in prison. "Folks were left the feeling you have not developed the kind of sufficient understanding of your actions," said Kelly-Ann Speck, one of the three members of the National Parole Board panel.

The decision means Latimer will not be able to spend time in the community. According to Evelyn Blair of the National Parole Board, Latimer likely will not have another opportunity at parole for two years.

I am not against mercy, but denying day parole to Latimer is a very good decision. The Latimer case exposed a noxious core of anti-disabled attitudes in Canada, in which many who would have normally considered any parent who killed his child a monster, instead branded him a hero. (If you doubt it, contrast the public attitude toward Susan Smith who murdered her sons around the time of Tracy's murder, with the sympathy extended by many Canadians to Latimer.) Murder is murder. The fact of Tracy's disability did not make her life less worth living--or punishing for its criminal taking. If Robert Latimer had been released it would have sent precisely the wrong message.


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