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THOMPSON: Canada is ahead of the U.S. in privacy protection

December 14, 2020 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


The weather was pool-perfect in the Okanagan this past July 19...four months into life in the times of COVID-19 and it looked and felt like most other summer days. We stayed away from friends and family...and much like surgeons...washed our hands and wore masks if we ventured from home. The new normal was lounging poolside alone...and we were making the best of it.

In New Jersey, three time zones away, Esther Salas, a U.S. District Court judge...and a wife and mother...was enjoying this day, as well...until the doorbell rang about 5 p.m. She, her husband, Mark - a prominent defense attorney - and her son, Daniel, home from university, had spent the afternoon celebrating her only son’s 20th birthday.

When the doorbell rang, Daniel sprinted to the door from the basement, according to his mother’s account to police. As soon as Daniel opened the door, an elderly man in a FedEx uniform levelled a Walther PPK semi-automatic gun point-blank and fired a single shot through Daniel’s heart.

Daniel’s father, Mark, moments behind him in reaching the door saw his son fall to the floor...and was then shot three times. Even so, he kept the assailant from entering...and even crawled out the door and onto the porch to get the license plate number of the murderer’s car as he escaped. The father - after three surgeries and months of recuperation - survived.

Neither Mark, the father, nor Daniel, the son, were targets. The bullets were meant for Esther Salas, 51 years old, and the state’s first Hispanic judge. The next day, Roy Den Hollander, 72, a lawyer from George Washington University in Washington, DC, who had worked at prestigious law firms and held an MBA Degree from New York’s Columbia University, was found dead in his car the next day...a suicide with the same gun.

Eight days earlier, on July 11, lawyer Marc Angelucci, head of the National Coalition for Men, was fatally shot at his front door in Cedarpines, CA. Again, an elderly man in a FedEx uniform appeared at the door telling a guest that Mark Angelucci would have to sign for a package...when Mark came to the door...Hollander shot him in the chest and left the scene.

Back in New York, crime scene investigators found a list in Hollander’s rental car...a dozen names, including Angelucci and Salas, along with three other judges and attorneys.
Hollander was clearly disturbed, and dying from cancer...but still wrote countless rants online - some more than 1,700 pages - about women, minorities and those who crossed him.

In one of his last screeds, he lamented: "The only problem with a life lived too long under Feminazi rule is that a man ends up with so many enemies he can’t even the score with all of them.”

For more than a dozen years, Hollander had filed countless lawsuits accusing women and minorities of persecuting men...or them having it better than white men. He railed on Donahue, Dr. Phil, CNN and Fox News...even the old Stephen Colbert satire show. He threatened using a gun on more than one occasion.

Hollander was able to track down those he despised easily. Any American - deranged or sane - can find someone’s home...even judges who might have ruled in a case where they disagreed.

Judge Esther Salas wasn’t physically harmed...but she lost her only son...and nearly lost her husband. Salas said she will return to the bench in January...but her life is forever changed.

There’s a lot wrong with America...it lacks universal healthcare, racism is so ingrained it’s widely accepted...even by the current U.S president, a justice system that’s more just for some than others, more people in prisons than any other nation...and on and on.

But not keeping judges safe is yet another problem...and Americans aren’t doing much to prevent angry folks with easy access to guns from attacking judges and their families. New Jersey’s Governor signed a bill last month that keeps the personal information of all judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials - including addresses and phone numbers - out of public domain and penalizes anyone who makes that information public. Alas, a bill proposed in the U.S. Congress sits un-acted upon as only Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell controls bills that reach the floor for votes.

As human beings, we should all hope that the U.S. returns to a more sound foundation next Jan. 20. And that attacks on judges, district attorneys and law enforcement officials become a thing of the past. But I have my doubts as long as some Americans can’t discern fact from fiction...truths from lies.

In Canada, privacy is considered a right of all citizens. Canada does a better job than the U.S. in protecting its citizens...and its law enforcement officers and elected officials. The United States could learn a thing or two from Canada...but it has to get over a uniquely American attitude that “if it’s not our idea it’s a bad idea.”

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines.


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