With Ryan’s attack anniversary coming up this weekend (November 7), I battle with sadness and anger at a higher intensity. Hell, often at the same time. For me, I cope and respond better with anger. Hence, the theme of today’s post: Pissed-Off.
“Justice delayed is… justice denied”. True, yes, in some regards. It’s a catchy saying, but I don’t believe it to be universally accurate. So, I’d like to add to it by proffering the line, “Justice Denied is… Injustice“.
Damn, that can stand on it’s own! It’s so good that you might as well just forget that “delayed” part!
If it were about any other sub-population — be it race, religion, sex, age, and so on — society would be outraged that people who fit a certain profile would be segregated as those with cognitive disabilities endure. Yet, those with brain injury and mental retardation (or, in Ryan’s case, both) are undoubtably separated and classified. Can anyone blame me when I get outraged by people/groups who demand copyright protection for monkey selfies?
Maybe… just maybe… our society’s compass is out-of-whack?
I’ll tell you what I witnessed by a Federal Judge. It didn’t involve a monkey. It involved my son… a person. My observation was that she flatly denied Ryan his rights as an individual and citizen, then imposed her beliefs upon him! She did this, despite compelling testimony and evidence that Ryan would not agree with her definition of “fairness” or “justice”.
I can tell you this from my perspective: She, like others, no longer honored — or even considered — my son’s pre-establish and communicated wishes, beliefs, values, and desires. In turn, she did not impose justice as I truly believe my son would have wanted… or expected.
What’s sad and frustrating is that she easily could have and avoided scrutiny.
Through all the injustice, I’ve learned these two things…
- monkeys and monsters are better protected than the mentally incapacitated.
- society is more willing to give the worst among us a second chance, then to prevent a second chance.
I recognized what was happening (early on) and played it to Ryan’s advantage in the end. Don’t get me wrong, by no means am I’m saying what that Judge did was right. To me, it was blatantly immoral. I’m saying that the door is wide-open for future action.
As Ryan’s advocate, I forced issues despite what felt like intimidation tactics. My goal, unlike others, was not to “settle”, unless it were fair. There was more at stake and I wouldn’t cower. I was there to teach a lesson to this nation, since the venue was available to me! I was actually warned by the Judge to stop “narrating” to her. I didn’t realize I was… and I don’t know if I continued afterwards. “Narrating” — at least to my knowledge — is legal.
At least two landmark decisions were made and I have little doubt that they are being used by others as precedence. Here’s the thing, though, what we did in the court on Ryan’s behalf won’t be admired until long after all of us are long gone.
For me in the present day, well, nothing has changed from what I’ve said for years now:
“If those who harmed Ryan will not accept justice, I will impose justice upon them”.
It’s just a matter of time and now is not it. Ryan needs me here for him and circumstances will dictate when action is appropriate. I recognize and accept my role with Ryan… be it now or if circumstances change.
It seems I’m a patient man.
Ryan is still, by dammit, a citizen of the United States. He is offered the same protections in the written law as any able-bodied American. Fact is, he is offered even more protection under the Disability Act. It is clear that be being ENTITLED to it and being GRANTED it are hugely unconnected.
So, how can I possibly be angry at society when my government and court system behave this way?
I know that change of perception will take time. Ryan was merely one of the first to challenge our court’s attitude. Just like those slaves that were not considered human, he is the pioneer. Just like those women who were refused the right to vote, he made a stand (as me as his voice) despite personal consequences. Let’s not be soon to forget about all the other classes of people who fought the good fight without recognition. Those who were ridiculed and persecuted.
No matter Ryan’s injury, by law, he is a person. Just like homosexuals, non-white, non-property, and women… just to name a few. He’s not 3/5 of a person (see three-fifths rule)! He’s not sub-human.
He’s a person. A person with a severe injury. A person who had suffered irreversible harm through no fault of his own (caused by violent offenders, Austin Vantrease and Jonathan May).
It’s crazy how society is growing-up, but has only brushed the surface. It’s decades — and perhaps, centuries — away from resolution. At that time, society will look back at this time with disgusted bewilderment that such vunerable individuals were treated this way. If not harshly, then with such indifference.
Notice: As always, this post, in its entirety, is my opinion and belief. A few items worth noting:
- I would urge you to learn more about what happened in the Federal Civil Court and ask for the transcripts via the Freedom of Information Act (I already have this, but cannot disclose until it becomes public since I was a party to the case… as I understand this). It should only cost the price of a postage stamp! Why not get that Court Sealed judgement removed and let the public see exactly why they sealed it and read exactly what happened?!?
- Here is the Complaint that was filed (and publicly available).
- Here is an independently written excerpt from “The Story” on this website:
Ken Diviney filed civil suit on Ryan’s behalf; Diviney and McLhinney v. Vantrease, May, et al. Judge Irene Keeley, maneuvered to settle the suit in what was suggested as misuse of judicial authority. It was not only absent the Diviney’s consent, but they strongly opposed to it. The judgement was for an undisclosed (court sealed) amount that was described by Ryan’s father as “pennies on the dollar… that fell pennies short to be exchanged for a single nickel.”
The civil case, in United States Federal Court, did result in two landmark rulings:
- The Constitutional right to freedom of expression. A Vantrease’s motion was defeated to place a restraining order the website, ryansrally.org. Website and blog owners hailed this as a major victory.
- That tangible, non-tangible, and financial donations made to a victim may not be used to offset or reduce a defendant’s financial liability awarded to the plaintiff.