I once heard it said (and I can’t find the quote) that a society’s level of freedom isn’t determined by how it treats its normal citizens – it’s determined by how it treats those who dissent and don’t adhere to society’s norms.
Nowhere do I find this more evident than in the Byron case.
Look, let’s be blunt: from everything we know about what Byron was doing, it was kind of stupid. He was acting as an agitator to the G20 security establishment. He wasn’t being particularly subtle. He was trying to stir up a response, and he did.
I think it’s clear that he’s guilty of mischief. He’s certainly an agent provocateur (def: “a person or group that seeks to discredit or harm another by provoking them to commit a wrong or rash action.”)
Joshua Errett over at NOW Toronto described it best:
“What Sonne was actually trying to do is expose security inadequacies of the G20, as is the role of the hacker. His intent was never to harm, and any crimes he allegedly committed were entirely victimless.
That the justice system can’t see the deep shades of difference between Sonne detailing security lapses and petty vandalism is an outright shame. And, in some ways, discrimination. If Sonne had been a cowardly Blac Blocker, bail would have already been set. There certainly seems a different set of rules for hacking.”
With the ruling yesterday that Byron will remain in jail until his trial and be unable to have any contact with his wife during that time (unless in the presence of lawyers), there’s little question that he got the “rash action”.
And it’s clear that Canadian society has made its statement on how it intends to deal with dissent – zero tolerance.
In contrast to Byron’s crimes, those who steal $30-$50 million, dangerous offenders, those who kill while drinking and driving and crack dealers all go free on bail.
This is one of the more disturbing issues with the case – not that Byron wasn’t guilty of being annoying, but that the treatment he is receiving at the hands of the justice system in Canada is far more harsh than those who commit far more significant crimes that leave people hurt, dead or destitute.