It seems like a lifetime ago that I invoked the dreaded name of schoolgirl murderer Paul Bernardo in one of these commentaries. I found it ironic that he was eligible to vote on October 19th, while celebrated actor Donald Sutherland was not because he had spent too much time outside the country in recent years.
I’m not sure if Bernardo did cast a ballot, nor do I care, but it seems he has been busy inside the walls of Kingston Pen. He’s been cranking out a novel. It’s apparently a thriller of some sort, with a plot that involves al-Qaida and the Russian mafia. Global TV says it’s 631 pages, and the folks at Amazon have agreed to sell it as an e-book. They are now the world’s biggest marketplace for just about everything, including groceries.
One may well argue that Paul Bernardo is one of the more compelling arguments for bringing back capital punishment in Canada, but that book is closed so let’s not even go there. Should he be allowed to make money telling any kind of story, if Jeff Bezos and friends are prepared to give him an outlet ? This is a rather thorny dilemma for the civil libertarians. There are laws in place that are supposed to prevent such a criminal from profiting from his evil deeds. Hopefully they work.
It’s far from the first such case in the publishing world. One of the most notorious examples happened 60 years ago. Convicted killer Caryl Chessman sat on death row in California for more than a decade before he finally went to the gas chamber. He wrote four books, including his bestselling memoir Cell 2455 Death Row. Hollywood even turned it into a cheesy movie the same year.
What should we do about Paul Bernardo ? One way or another, he will be published, even if it’s only on social media. Why don’t we just ignore whatever happens, and hope it just goes away ? If only life were that simple.
I’m Roger Currie