How Riel was Pardoned, sort of
I’m now looking more at this figure of Louis Riel. He had terrible luck with the women. I think he forced a spiritual awakening which is what landed him in an asylum in Montreal. His trial was bogged down in a lot of debate about the state of his mental health, various people said he was mentally unstable, and still others wanted him hanged anyway (not hung, alas).
Frank W. Anderson reviewed his case in 1949 and this is what he came up with:
Louis Riel’s Insanity Reconsidered
Notes: Anderson examined some of the evidence to determine whether or not Riel was sane when he was tried in 1885. He concluded that Riel was sane because his major decisions “reflected both his sense of right and of humanity.”
Riel died in Regina Saskatchewan. Personally I never liked Regina, even though I was born there. It’s a very blocky city and it’s got a bazillion oogly woogly feelings walking down the street. I don’t know how else to describe them. But wouldn’t it be funny if I could prove I was Louis Riel in a past life and overturn my diagnosis? Oh that’s silly, people don’t reincarnate. Oh my god, better yet, I could just prove I was thinking about things which reflected my sense of “right and humanity.” Actually, this is a very interesting piece of legislation which could be used to markedly reduce the control of the government on “insane” persons. Used properly it would be a precedent setting law that would radically alter the mental health act community orders here in Canada. However Riel at the last minute realized he could use the insanity defense to his advantage, basically he remember his tort law he learned in his early years working in a law firm. I think it’s still a legal tussle over him being pardoned, although essentially people seem to agree he was mistreated.
In fact, here is an outline of the exact argument used to overturn the conviction of Riel. The irony is that while this was by and large a symbolic gesture, ANYONE could apply this law to their own forced commitment order, at least here in Canada. They never proved he was a messiah, because you can’t prove something like that. His sanity was debated forever, but in the end he did something for Canada that was above and beyond the call of duty, even while he was having a nervous breakdown. I know they do a reenactment of his trial The Queen vs. Louis Riel down in Regina once a year, but I’ve never gone. It seemed stuffy. But maybe I will, just because I do think a revolution can happen in an entirely legal and peaceful way, it’s just figuring that way out that’s tricky. Inciting hate is a crime, but I don’t hate anyone in particular except people committing gross injustices, and I know they are doing things outside of the law. It’s exposing them that is tricky, and also figuring out how to properly wield law. But I remember when I worked in Mandell Pinder I had great fun reading law and watching lawyers run down the halls saying “There is no justice!” It was like absorbing legal chatter via osmosis. I know there’s one law which is what the government wrote, but another law that is just decency and justice. I was always told “It’s a legal system, not a justice system.” But I think it has enough laws on the books now that it can become a real justice system. I was working at Mandell Pinder when Louise Mandell got promoted to Q.C. (Queen’s Council) and it was such a giddy environment at the time. God that office was full of sexy women, it was somewhat distracting. I was tempted for a while to go to law school, but seven years or whatever to become a recognized lawyer, oh that is so slow!! So I decided to just learn law on my own when I felt like it was important.
Did you know Judge Judy makes more money that any Supreme Court judge? That is hilarious.
Riel wrote one last thing before he died, which only recently came to light.
Terrorism is bad, m’kay. But a non-violent, legal and sane revolution does have a lot of legitimacy at the moment. It’s just figuring out how to bring people together in this scary place, because everyone seems so terrified.
I think I am liking looking at these particular figures in history because I’m learning from their mistakes. The only real law being used against possible revolutionaries is the Mental Health Act, but the fact that the evidence shows Riel was in the middle of a major manic episode while at the same time leading his people. I don’t think he was ready to lead in a manic episode, which is why the Rebellion failed. But I do think if it was spiritual emergence and someone had told him what to expect he could have slowed down and taken it easy. So all of this is really interesting.
My mom’s stressing me out, I’m trying to calm her down because really I’m just learning, and I think all of these figures in all tribes have created certain legal precedents in government law and in religious law and just in the law of being a decent human being.
here are some of the things he said:
“. . I have yet and still that mission,
and with the help of God, who is in this box with me —
and he is on the side of my lawyers,
even with the Honourable Court, the Crown and the jury —
to help me and to prove by the extraordinary help
that there is a Providence today in my trial
as there was a Providence in the battles of the Saskatchewan.”
“I have acted reasonably and in self-defence,
while the Government, my accuser,
being irresponsible and consequently insane,
cannot but have acted wrong,
and if high treason there is,
it must be on its side
and not on my part.”
“My thoughts are for peace.
But such a great revolution will bring immense disasters
and I don’t want to bring disasters during my life
except those that I am bound to bring to defend my own life
and to avoid, to take away from my country, disasters
which threaten me and my friends and those who have confidence
in me. Of course they gave a chance to Riel to come out,
a rebel had a chance to be loyal then.
But with the immense influence that my acts are gathering
for the last fifteen years and which,
as the power of steam contained in an engine
will have its way, then what will I do?
I may be declared insane
because I seek such an idea,
which drives me to something right.”
There are three laws at work here, the Mental Health Act, Treason, and just an unspoken agreement that people don’t call themselves prophets. Oh yes, and that you don’t shoot people. So what if you don’t call yourself a prophet? What if you just say you’re intelligent and working on one particular legal puzzle for your whole life? And a lot of insanity can also be overturned by people recognizing the characteristics of Giftedness too. It’s just making this safe house for people to go through that experience, that’s the only thing we really need for everyone to be a stable Riel. And then there are also specific spiritual laws at play too. It’s a funny little puzzle, but I’m starting to see what kind of order these things go in instead of jumping to the very end.
I think he felt like his hand was forced, he was on a gradual path to enlightenment but his people needed him so badly that he felt compelled to force his own awakening, and also he went through a period of extreme poverty which diminished his capabilities. I think a lot of people felt their hand was forced when the attack happened in New York, because it was a real time event that was broadcast around the world, and then that image was replayed over and over. And people wanted spiritual leaders to return, including people who had been on an awakening for a while already. And so a lot of people forced it and got diagnosis and medication and ended up feeling frozen but not sure why. But I think we know why, because some of us did identify various people in our lives as fledgling spiritual beings and when they went crazy we lost hope, because then they were just dumb broken people after all.
But we’re not broken, no one is, although I know a lot of people are wanting to have a tussle over the DSM and it’s relevance to society today, because people believe in it way more than any Bible or Koran or Torah. The DSM has taken the place of the sacred, we have troubles and we turn to it in times of need and follow all these recipes for various mental health states. It has become a book of law in and of itself, and it transcends the other laws by virtue of being written by doctors. But who are these doctors anyway? We know most of them are paid by big Pharma, which has a capitalist investment in a particular ideology of mental health. And even then, the DSM is easily overturned altogether because it relies on clusters of symptoms without being able to adequately diagnosis a specific reason. They pretend they have a reason, they call it brain chemicals, but in fact they actually have been unable to prove it time and again. And the pills, they also have reams of evidence proving that they are detrimental to the functioning of the human brain. I’m kind of stressed because now I feel like I have to prove manic psychosis really can be a temporary blip in a life, and my mom keeps asking me about my mental health.
My health is fine. I even lost all of my resentment towards my family, which is really awesome. And I’ve realized I’m not willing to force myself towards any particular destination without carefully looking at all the facts.