Allan, Allan bo Ballan Bonana fanna fo Fallanl
Fee fy Mo Mallan. Allan!
[Apologies to Shirley Ellis for (mis)use of her 1964 pop hit, The Name Game.]
Sorry, 60s nostalgia fans. That’s not the game I mean.
I’m thinking of the name of this blog: 28 Questions.
The “questions” part is clear. I have questions about the way the Ontario justice system dealt with the 31 August 2009 death of my son, Darcy Allan.
Hundreds of questions. I started this blog to ask them.
Then why “28”? If you’ve followed the story of my son’s death and its judicial aftermaze, you already know.
“28” comes from 28 Seconds, the title of a self-serving memoir of the incident that, as he tells it in the book, changed Michael Bryant’s life; the incident that, coincidentally and marginally (again as Mr. Bryant tells it), led to my son’s death. Or, as Mr. Bryant recently put it, delicately, the incident that led to his being “charged with a serious criminal offence that involved the death of Darcy Sheppard.”
“Tone-deaf”? You be the judge.
The original notion of 28 seconds as a kind of secular mantra (a simple phrase that focuses thought and action), comes from Mr. Bryant’s lawyer, Marie Henein. After calculating that the hard heart of the encounter between her client and my son lasted but 28 seconds, Ms. Henein coaxed a defence “narrative” from that seed.
Narrative, in the sense Ms. Henein uses the word, does not mean story, or story line, or plot, or scenario. For her, as for many defence lawyers, narrative is simply a thought or action around which any number of stories can be constructed and told using the same plot and character elements, arranged according to inspiration or need. The goal is a plausible narrative-driven scenario for a defendant’s actions, for instance.
“Boy meets girl” is a classic example. There are variations: Girl meets boy; Boy meets boy; Girl meets or girl; or, for those who like their escapism a bit more complex, Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back again (or doesn’t); etc. The plots can vary endlessly, but the narrative(s) remain(s) the same.
I’ll have more to add on Marie Henein’s use of narrative as part of defence strategy in future posts. For now, I’ll just say the good ones have inherent dramatic tension that resonates with many people.
Ms. Henein found a great one for Mr. Bryant’s defence: Good man meets bad man.
She elaborated a bit: Upstanding citizen (with political successes and ambitions) on the way home with an adoring wife from a sentimental twelfth wedding-anniversary celebration, meets drunken, berserk, outlaw messenger.
Aside from the fact it’s substantially untrue (or unprovable), what’s not to like about a narrative like that? What not to love, if you are a desperate defendant or a creative lawyer?
Not much, if it works as well as Ms. Henein’s did for Mr. Bryant.
But if, like me, you see holes in that narrative; if you believe the former attorney general’s new suit of narrative clothes—though (or because) tailored by one of the best—is a deception, there is much not to like.
Think of my name for this blog as the cheeky gesture of an old man giving a finger (in the nicest possible way, to be sure) to the hero and heroine of their own self-serving narrative. (Game? Set? The match, of course, has just begun.)
And if you see (and appreciate) the name as a double finger to Special Prosecutor Richard Peck, who chose not to look closely at the former attorney general’s new clothes, please join me on my journey.
Hey! That could that be an excellent narrative: The Former Attorney General’s New Clothes…
It has the ring of a classic. (Even if I do say so myself.)