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The selective sympathies of Christie Blatchford

Christie Blatchford’s selective sympathies and predilection for men in uniform is fodder for much water cooler criticism both in and out of the scribbling trades. But in all my time observing the Globe scribe’s commentary—and particularly in view of my interest in her on-again, off-again empathy/sympathy for Conrad Black—I’ve never seen anything quite as brazen as her recent columns on Robert Baltovich (April 24) and Paul Croutch (May 1).

The first cleverly suggests that the real lesson of the Baltovich case is the essential wisdom and decency of prosecutors and cops, who in backing away from seeking a second trial reinforced their commitment to maintaining the standard of reasonable doubt.

“It’s a wonderfully high standard. Mr. Baltovich is lucky, as are we all, to live in a country where probably is not good enough, and where honourable people still make honourable decisions.”

Blatchford’s conclusion is that we’re to applaud the people who put a man in prison for nearly a decade due to a wrongful conviction.

As for the Croutch case—wherein two drunken reservists from the Queen’s Own Rifles (an infantry regiment of the Canadian Forces Reserves) stomped Paul Croutch, a homeless man, to death—Blatchford tells us that since their arrest the two have joined Alcoholics Anonymous and that in publicly apologizing to the victims:

“It was evident that both young men are nearly broken with shame and regret. They wept throughout their brief statements. Their heads were bowed. As Pte. Deganis said, directing these remarks to the family of Mr. Croutch, ‘I will never fully comprehend or understand what I did, but I’ll be sorry.’… The kid still breaks my heart.”

Remember, the guy who breaks her heart is the same guy who stomped the homeless man to death. Blatchford opened this column with a question: “Where to begin, when the whole thing is so unspeakably sad?”

Where indeed.

At the end it is a question of for whom do we weep? [Globe and Mail] • When probably or likely guilty is not good enough [Globe and Mail]

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