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.
Sharon Lee says
Ken, I am so very sorry that this tragedy happened to your son and to your family. I wish so much for your sake that that night 6 years ago had not happened, just as you must wish constantly. One thing I do know – not too many people are as strong as you guys are and could do as much for your boy as you do, and you have my deep respect and admiration for that. Your absolute drive to do all that you can is so amazing and I am sure he knows that and that is what matters, what really deeply matters – how we love our children. Those boys will pay the ultimate price one day when they answer to their Maker – no amount of reduced jail time will get them out of that and that’s a price that WILL be paid forever. Don’t worry, just knowing that can provide solace, I am praying for you tonight, because the memories of how dramatically your lives changed tonight 6 years ago are so painful, but know that one day Ryan will be running and laughing and talking in Heaven one day with you and nowhere will those idiot boys be found – they will have a lifetime to spend in Hell thinking about their lives and the decisions they made and the people that they chose to be. And as difficult as your life on Earth has become, you chose differently and that is good. I will be praying for you all, as I know your friends and followers will be as well.
ann h tearle says
Prayers and love always…….Ken, with you 100%. ‘Justice’ system, better referred to as the ‘injustice’ system, in my opinion – takes consideration of the perpetrator’s rights way too far. It favors the guilty – which is unconscionable. The moment a ‘hand’ was laid on Ryan, the guilty lost any claim to their rights, IMHO. I’ve always felt this way and have no sympathy for those who commit crimes and expect to be respected in any way by our justice system. Where is Ryan’s 2nd chance? You are all family to me, Ken, and you are held dear in my heart now and forever (as long as there is breath in my body, and no dementia). My love, Annie
Thinking of Ryan and your family today. How hard it must be. Also thinking of Brian and all of Ryan’s friends and extended family who have been affected. Jonathan May, Austin Vantrease and their friends will hopefully never forget that night and forever be haunted by the memories for the rest of their lives.
Tom McLhinney says
Ken, Ryan and your family are always in our prayers. I will never forget that phone call from Brian and the thoughts that ran through my mind on the trip to WVU. After Brian was treated we immediately went to see Ryan. My heart was broken after seeing everyone that night at the hospital. You are a better man than I am. I would not and could not of handled myself in the manner that you and your family handled the situation. I wish it could be like the good old days with an eye for an eye.Especially since the Vantrese family will not accept their responsibility. I am just waiting for my friend KARMA to strike. Thinking of Ryan and your whole family today and everyday.
This judge’s idea of appropriate punishment is so off in my opinion that I cannot begin to fathom her decisions. So I won’t even try except to say I am extremely unimpressed and completely disgusted. Ryan’s life is worth so much more. Ryan is and always be cherished and loved by all those who know and look up to him. I’m sorry, but what happened in that court, in my opinion, is a complete travesty of justice.
Anna Welsh says
Think of you everyday, but this Saturday it will have more meaning. i will never forget the call about Ryan. Prayers your way this weekend to endure the pain of the memory of that call and weekend.
Kathy Shepley Hadwen via Facebook says
I will be thinking of you, your family and Ryan on November 7. xo
Nadine Blaschak-Brown via Facebook says
Out of whack? Our society has no moral compass.
Thanks for the solid suggestions and links.
The stark realization of the injustice served upon our beloved Ryan cuts to the bone every hour of every day! I have been told that I think about this too much–dwell on it, and there is nothing I can do about it. Well, yes there is! I can remember Ryan, the victim, in many ways and support him and his family in every way I can. We should never forget your statement, If we forget the victim, the perpetrator wins!
SH NGA for as long as I am alive!
JIM AND FAMILY says
Ken, always know we aare praying for you guys. We love you all!
Gail Doyle says
I agree Ken You’re right that monkeys and monsters are treated better than Ryan was .Such an injustice There is so much wrong with a system that made that decision. Ryan deserves much more and I pray that happens real soon Always here thinking of you all
Tom McClelland via Facebook says
One of the biggest myths out there is that Courts can exact Justice. They cannot. The best they can do is impose Judgments. Judgments made by fallible human beings with the arrogance of infallibility.
You sir, however, are a Superhero.
ann h tearle says
Linda Ludlow says
I’m so sorry, Ken. Ryan will remain in my prayers. Along with you as his loving caregiver. Prayers for peace and strength. So much injustice in this world. One day, God will make all things new and right.
Bryan P. Palko via Facebook says
While I’ve never met you guys, I pray for Ryan and family on a daily basis. GOD Bless Ryan and the Diviney family.
Jean Dolan via Facebook says
I will always be here to support you all! Ryan is one lucky man to have such a awesome family! Hang in there guys!
John Maletta via Facebook says
Powerful stuff, brother.
Paul Rapsawich via Facebook says
Continued support and prayers for Ryan and his amazing family.