McLean's memory transformed into political football
When news broke that 22-year-old Tim McLean was stabbed to death and beheaded on a Greyhound Bus near Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, Canadians -- and people the world over -- reacted with shock.
As the grisly details slowly emerged over a period of days, that shock fomented into digust, outrage and distress. Such reactions are predictable. No one likes to believe that such an atrocity can happen so close to home, and people tend to like it even less when reality intercedes.
Sadly, there are organizations that are certainly banking on such reactions when they chose to use McLean's brutal murder as a political football to try and score some points for their particular political and social agendas.
Never ones to turn down an opportunity to milk a controversy, the zealots at PETA courted some well-justified outrage by producting an ad attempting to use the McLean tragedy to garner some support for their extremist cause. They had planned to run the ad in the Portage Daily Graphic.
In the ad, PETA made the bizarre claim that Vincent Weiguang Li was some sort of cannibal, as opposed to merely an intensely psychologically disturbed individual, and that eating meat is akin to participating in Tim McLean's murder.
(They would later decry the criticism they recieved as hate mail, just going to show that, once again, PETA can't take the heat but can't bring itself to stay out of the kitchen.)
But this pales in comparison to the intentions of the Westboro Baptist Church, who recently announced plans to come to Canada and picket McLean's funeral as a method of promoting their message of hate.
"God is punishing Canada," the church declared in a statement on its website.
"We're trying to get you to see that your rebellion against the standards of God, your disobedience to the commandments - your idols, your false gods, your filthy ways have brought wrath upon your head," insisted the Church's now-leading spokesperson, Shirley Phelps-Roper.
"When it comes to the (Westboro) Baptist Church, they don't even deserve to be on the same page as Tim McLean. He was too great a guy," said Doug Mitchell, a longtime friend of McLean's.
In response to the Church's promise to protest at McLean's funeral, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day instructed the Canadian Border Security Agency to turn any known members of the WSB away at the border.
But when Shirley Phelps-Roper announced that a group of WBC members carrying no leaflets or any other form of hate propaganda were able to evade the order to refuse them entry to Canada, the impetuously unscrupulous Martin Rayner decided to try and run the issue -- and with it, the memory of Tim McLean -- into the endzone for a cheap touchdown, suggesting that all the current government's efforts toward strengthening border security has clearly all been for naught.
Rayner chose to parlay the WCB slipping into Canada into a forecast of an imminent infiltration by terrorist groups. This despite the fact that, the recent order to bar them from the country aside, the largely non-violent WCB necessarily remains a far lower priority for the RCMP, CSIS and CBSA than violent terrorist organizations.
The murder of Tim McLean was shocking to Canadians for obvious reasons. Its teen-slasher-flick gratuity has upset the equilibrium of many Canadians who continue to pretend that such things simply don't happen here.
The choice made by PETA, the WCB and Martin Rayner to indulge themselves in slasher-flick-cum-politics is shocking as well, and for not-so-different reasons.
The memory of Tim McLean should not be desecrated for petty politics.