Marc Lepine

For any non-Canadians who may stumble across these pages, on 06 December 1989, Marc Lepine walked into L'Ecole Polytechnique, an engineering school in Montréal, Canada, and shot a number of women, killing fourteen of them. The Violence Against Women industry immediately claimed that Marc Lepine's actions were typical of male aggression and adopted what is now called the Montréal Massacre as an annual remembrance of all female victims of male violence.

It's that time of year again. Every newspaper, every radio station, and every television station in Canada is pumping out the charged rhetoric about how awful Canadian men are and how horribly abused Canadian women are. They show the marches of angry women and the other marches of apologetic-looking men. People hand out white ribbons in commemoration not of the fourteen victims of one man who decided to go on a shooting rampage, but of the horrible day when one man acted out what all men secretly want to do, or so claim the Violence Against Women crowd.

What a load of god-damned rot.

Donna Laframboise said it better than I could in a 06 December 1999 article on the Marc Lepine shootings. The vast majority of men are just normal people. They go to work; they support their families or help support their families; they help raise their children to be normal people, too; and they support and work together with their wives, whom they don't beat. If you believed the Violence Against Women folks, there is hardly a wife in Canada who isn't regularly slapped around by her spouse, and the rest of us men are on the sidelines cheering. The truth is very different.

If you'd like a different perspective on what men are like, try deviating from the usual question that the Violence Against Women lobby ask about men. I hear the same question over and over, and particularly at this time of year: if you're going to be attacked, who is more likely to be attacking you? A woman or a man? I have a different question: if you're going to be rescued from an attacker, who is more likely to rescue you? A woman or a man? In both questions the answer is "a man." My point, and I hope I can make it emphatically enough, is that the second man who is rescuing you has no relationship with the first man who is attacking you.

It's easy to gloss over that point, so I'll make it again: the man who is rescuing you has no relationship with the man who is attacking you. Why does the fact that they are both men, that they both have penises, somehow make them part of the same group? Why is their maleness the most important quality in defining who they are, and why does that common maleness somehow make your rescuer partly responsible for your being attacked? If you want to think of this another way, is Jesse Jackson somehow responsible, in some indirect way, for the fact that most crime in the United States is committed by blacks? Should he be apologizing to the nation because lots of black men are out robbing, raping, and murdering other people? I don't think so, do you? What if Marc Lepine had been black? Would we look kindly on legions of white people holding a parade every 6th of December lamenting the fact that some black person shot fourteen white people? Would all of the blacks in Canada hang their heads in shame each year? Of course not: such a thing would be a scandal. So why, then, are all men supposed to carry some kind of blame because a very few men decide to be violent? Why are all men supposed to hang their heads in shame because of what one Marc Lepine did?

If you think that nobody actually thinks this way; if you think that I'm setting up a "straw man" here just to knock it down, give this a try: go to a search engine and search for "Marc Lepine". Go and read anything that also contains the words "Montreal" or "Polytechnique". I can't do it any more. It's too depressing. Almost every entry is an unbridled hate-fest against men. Not just Marc Lepine. Not just the individual men who have chosen to injure or kill women, but all men. There is only one other thing I can think of to which to compare this. I know it's hackneyed, but it resembles nothing else so much as the neo-Nazi and White Power web sites, where the writers pick one or two incidents and wrap their hate around them in a neat ball. They spew vitriol and violence toward Jews, blacks, and Hispanics because sometime, somewhere, a few Jews, a few blacks, or a few Hispanics did something absolutely despicable. The more restrained ones use scholarly tones to discuss why Jews, blacks, or Hispanics are causing the ruin of society, but it's still hatred. I must apologize because I, too, am tired of hearing the term "Feminazis," but in this case I can't help but think that it fits.

And what of all of those men handing out white ribbons? I'm afraid that white ribbons make me see red. If you want to wear one, that's fine, but I never will. Apart from prejudice and hatred toward men, there are two things that the white ribbon stands for, and I like neither of them.

First and least controversial is the simple remembrance of an event that happened on 06 December 1989. I think that it's a horrible tragedy that fourteen young women were murdered by a gun-toting nutbar. I think that if someone could have known what Marc Lepine was about to do, and blown his brains out before he made it inside L'Ecole Polytechnique, the world would be that much better off. However, nobody knew, and thus nobody could have stopped him, and I'm much the sadder for that. As much as I pity the families of these young women, families that lost daughters and sisters who probably would have grown up to have fine, flourishing careers and create fine families, I wonder about something else: why this tragedy in particular?

Why don't we remember other tragedies this way? Why don't we remember other victims of violence? Why don't we remember the (almost exclusively male) police who die each year protecting us from the violent, the deranged, and those filled with hatred? Why does the fact that the fourteen people murdered were women and the person with the gun was a man somehow imbue this event with additional tragedy? One might argue that the L'Ecole Polytechnique murders were exceptional because the number of victims, fourteen, was the highest ever in Canada. That is true, but if you read the Web sites and talk to the people organizing the marches, that's not what all the fuss is about.

One reason I won't wear a white ribbon is that I refuse to acknowledge Marc Lepine's shooting rampage as being somehow more terrible than other, similar crimes simply because women were the victims.

The second thing that the white ribbon stands for is the culpability of all men: our supposed complicity in the Montréal Massacre. The idea is that in some way, the attitudes of all men contributed to the actions of one man, that even though almost all men are peaceful and even protective, we should all be ashamed because some of us choose to be violent or murderous. In some small way, we're supposedly all responsible for what Marc Lepine did because we all have penises, and he had one too.

Donna Laframboise said it best when she asked if this means that all women somehow contributed to Karla Homolka's torturing, raping, and murdering several young women. Above I asked if Jesse Jackson is then in some small way responsible for the high crime rate among blacks in the United States. Apart from the fact that the latter is extremely politically incorrect, it's also fallacious. Good black people are the rule, not the exception, just as good men are the rule, not the exception. Furthermore, good men have no influence over those men who choose not to be good. We are not all members of some secret Club of The Penis that holds meetings on alternate Thursdays in strip bars all over the country at which the kind-hearted business-suited dads get together with the bad-ass motorcycle gang members and discuss strategy in oppressing women.

As well, who says that dividing the world into "women" and "men" somehow illuminates the world of crime and makes things clearer? Perhaps in some ways it does, but those would be the same ways in which dividing the world into "blacks" and "whites" might illuminate the world of crime, and we refuse to do that because it might foment hatred against blacks. Apparently, we have no such qualms when it comes to fomenting hatred against men.

I despise men who wear a white ribbon on December 6th in the spirit of publicly apologizing to everyone for their maleness. I also despise their concern for only one kind of crime and only one kind of victim. I don't see these men as progressive; rather I see them carrying on the fine tradition of chivalry in which men make a big show of concern for women's interests, assuming that women will find such men more interesting that those with a more even-handed outlook. It's all a competition to see who wears the more appropriately wretched sack cloth and ashes, and who can wail their apologies more loudly and convincingly. The whole spectacle makes me queasy.

I care about crime and the victims of crime, including men, women, police officers, office workers, housewives, social workers, prostitutes, and the sad looking men who push shopping carts around my neighbourhood, dipping into the garbage containers. I care about all of them and I try to care equally. December 6th, however, is having a bad effect upon me. The incessant chest beating that goes on about female victims of crime, a wail that reaches a crescendo every 6th of December, is causing me to close my heart to these victims. Whenever I see another professional Violence Against Women advocate talking on the TV about how women are the victims of society, whenever I hear another newscast about the tragedy of the Montréal Massacre, I turn them off. I've heard enough. These people have been pushing my buttons—our buttons—for so long now that I'm numb to the whole issue. I think that's sad, and I wish it weren't so.

I would rather that we all worked together to reduce all violent crime and leave the political screamers out of it. Maybe then we would get something done.

Here's another article from the National Post on the Marc Lepine phenomenon. I like the National Post because although it can be sensational, at least it's trying to raise some of these issues from a man's point of view. It's refreshing after three decades of hearing only women's opinions on social issues either written directly by women or parroted by sycophantic men. For our American friends, the Judy Rebick who is mentioned in the piece used to be head of N.A.C.S.W., which is Canada's answer to N.O.W. She's now a television host and newspaper columnist, and I don't have to tell you what kind of opinions she puts out; her former affiliation says it all.

On the other hand, here's the Vancouver Sun. Well, at least the Sun is taking a more subdued tone in this piece rather than their usual kissing up to all things feminist. I didn't bother reading their December 6th coverage; it probably would have ruined my day even further.

In MenWeb magazine you can find another opinion about Marc Lepine and his motivations. I don't entirely agree with this piece; some of the statements ring true for me, while other parts of it sound to me too much like timid manhood appealing to strong, righteous women for help. As well, although I agree with this man's arguments about the pressure that indiscriminate shaming puts on men and the possibility that this will push some men over the edge, I think that there was a lot more going on inside Marc Lepine's head than this. Perhaps this universal shaming was a focal point for him, but it must have been a focus for a pre-existing madness. All of us men are shamed about equally, but it takes a real nut case to turn this shame and pressure into a hail of bullets at a technical school. I find the idea that it can all be explained by the word "shame" to be overly simplistic.