LEBO: The criminals you see on TV or in comics, the ones with names like Lefty and Johnny Two-Thumbs who hide out in their lairs planning crimes – they don’t exist, not in any number anyway. And yet it seems our entire justice system is built for them, fictional cartoons. Real criminals, our criminals at the local courthouse, are sad-sack alcoholics caught driving drunk. They’re post-injury labourers who got addicted to their prescription painkillers and now steal for more; they’re moms who have meltdowns at the local coffee shop, and lonely kids who pull pranks for attention.

TERRANCE GAVAN – Sad Sack Alcoholic File

Highlander publisher Bram Lebo is at it again. This time he’s on about courts… I think. Although as usual it’s hard to tell if he’s just turned on a spout from his hippocampus to mouth or if he’s actually trying to make a point.

Another morning, another parking lot. It’s Wednesday, and county council chambers are being used for criminal court. The entrance is a portal into a completely different world. And it’s packed.

All ages, all types and sizes, a lot of bad hair days. At 9:30 a.m. some already reek of alcohol; others duck out when the liquor store opens at 10. All line up to meet with duty counsel to have their charges explained. She can’t possibly offer legal representation to so many, and she doesn’t; those without lawyers are on their own. Outside, someone is selling contraband cigarettes for $10 a carton. That calliope music is just your mind playing tricks.

Inside, a judge with kind eyes and a warm smile sits above three stone-faced clerks. You get the sense she’s the nicest person many of these people have met in a long time. She seems a bit of a softy but you soon realize it’s because she’s not really there to judge. Judgement is not what these people – or the law-abiding citizens they’ve wronged – need. Today, this judge is a social worker. (Bram Lebo on social justice in Canada from Highlander May 15)

I am going to go out on a limb here and offer that the publisher of the Highlander has never reported on court. That he has no experience in a court room. A criminal court room. My foray into court reporting began a long time ago, covering court in Stonewall, MB. Clients appearing there came from down the road. In Stony Mountain. The inmates from the max security prison at Stony Mountain came in wearing shackles on hands and feet. They had done some serious shit.

So I remain a tad confused about Lebo’s latest limp dish served up with ample heaping spoonfuls of batshit crazed libertine equivocations on what’s wrong with justice in the courts today. “Today this judge is a social worker,” says Lebo. Well, not so much statement as proclamation. Prompting us to wonder exactly what Mr. Lebo is getting at.

Every single person appearing that day – without exception – is there because of one of three things: drugs, alcohol or mental health problems. Because the first two are usually related to the latter, there’s actually only one root cause, so obvious you could pick it out of a line up. (Lebo doing his best Fox News impersonation!)

And that’s the type of bullshit that leads me to believe that Mr. Lebo has his head three meters up his own arse. Let’s remember that Lebo does not do news. he can’t write news. Never has. This is not news. This is an opinion piece. It’s a bad opinion piece but it’s covered under the aegis of comment in the fourth estate. It’s spouting. There’s productive spouting and there’s nuanced spouting and then there’s spouting for the sake of spouting and Mr. Lebo as ever is firmly entrenched in the latter category.

LEBO: The criminals you see on TV or in comics, the ones with names like Lefty and Johnny Two-Thumbs who hide out in their lairs planning crimes – they don’t exist, not in any number anyway. And yet it seems our entire justice system is built for them, fictional cartoons. Real criminals, our criminals at the local courthouse, are sad-sack alcoholics caught driving drunk. They’re post-injury labourers who got addicted to their prescription painkillers and now steal for more; they’re moms who have meltdowns at the local coffee shop, and lonely kids who pull pranks for attention. 

Jesus. No wonder the world hates a lawyer. That’s what Bram Lebo is. A lawyer. I know some great lawyers. Of course they have actually worked as lawyers. They have a craft. Lebo has never really worked as a lawyer. I think I know why. He’s a charlatan. A sort of hyperbolic mash up of Matlock and Barney Fife. Look, just so you know where I’m coming from.

I’m one of those sad sack alcoholics. I am a recovered sad sack alcoholic and I think it’s important to note that I have been recovered since March 20, 1998. Mr. Lebo has made some categorical pronouncements in this latest batch of thin gruel concocted from the deeper recesses of his low affect mind. I’m reading a book right now. It’s called “The Psychopath Whisperer: The science of those without conscience” written by Kent A Kiehl, PhD. You see unlike Mr. Lebo, MBA, LLB, MBI. Mr. Kiehl actual put his PhD to work studying (in depth and not from the cheap seats of a municipal court room) psychopaths in BC. One thing all of his guys have in common? Low empath. That’s just a fancy term given to people who have problem developing real empathy. They don’t feel. That makes it easy for them to do really bad things. Because they have no conscience. No regrets. They can indulge in all kinds of hanky panky! They do one thing particularly well: lie.

In fifteen plus years of sobriety I have come to be wary of these people. People who say things like: “All ages, all types and sizes, a lot of bad hair days. At 9:30 a.m. some already reek of alcohol; others duck out when the liquor store opens at 10.” (Lebo) If you read the book by Mr. Kiehl you will find a lot of things like that coming from the spouting mouths of some of his study subjects. They say stuff like: “He was a drunk…” or, “she was a whore.” Suffice to say that low empathic people… are pronouncers. They know what to say to help them fit in. They are charming. They are sometimes intelligent. Mostly they are insincere. What they do is what they do. They mostly treat people like shit.

I know many sad sack alcoholics. They come in all shapes and sizes. Just like people, Mr. Lebo. I get along well with sad sack alcoholics. Even them that are still drinking. Most of them have feelings. They don’t like when people call them sad sack alcoholics.

We’ll forgive Mr. Lebo this latest transgression. He’s not naive. Or stupid. He just doesn’t get it. Mr. Kiehl could probably explain it better than I.

Some people just think they are above the fray. They pronounce. They think they are… hmmm? Better. It gives them a liberal swath of leeway.

And…

They’re a lot more dangerous than 10,000 sad-sack alcoholics.