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Cat torture was not art: judges

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Cat torture was not art: judges

Old 06-16-03, 01:32 PM
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Cat torture was not art: judges

Warning: The following news article contains graphic language that may offend or upset.

The following appears courtesy of the National Post.
=======================
Cat torture was not art: judges

Christie Blatchford
National Post

Saturday, June 14, 2003

TORONTO - 'Torture for torture's sake": That's how the Ontario Court of Appeal has baldly characterized the conduct of Jesse Power, the former student who videotaped the horrific death of a lovely, pink-nosed house cat, purportedly in the name of art.

In a brief but stinging decision released yesterday, Mr. Justice David Doherty, writing for colleagues Robert Armstrong and Marc Rosenberg, upheld the controversial 90-day jail sentence earlier imposed on Power by Ontario Court Judge Ted Ormston, suggesting the real problem "may well be" that the present six-month maximum penalty for cruelty to animals "is wholly inadequate" and that Judge Ormston, if bound by an inadequate law, had properly applied it.

But Judge Doherty also rejected as "patently unreasonable" Judge Ormston's finding that Power "did not intend that the cat should suffer ... there is nothing in the videotape or in his subsequent conduct to suggest that he did not fully appreciate and, indeed, to some extent relish in the cruelty being inflicted upon this cat," he wrote.

Judge Doherty was also scornful of the view -- offered by Power's lawyer, supported by a defence psychiatric report and relied upon by Judge Ormston -- that Power conceived the cat project as an artistic venture.

"While it may help those who cannot reconcile this act with [Power's] character," he wrote, "to rationalize his actions as some form of artistic endeavour or artistic commentary gone amok, that interpretation is inconsistent with the contents of the videotape."

Whatever Power's intentions at the outset, Judge Doherty said, "this became torture for torture's sake."

It was in the spring of 2001 that Power, then a student at the Ontario College of Art and Design, enlisted two other young men -- Anthony (Ryan) Wennekers, who like Power pleaded guilty to one count each of animal cruelty and mischief, and Matt Kaczorowski, who was only recently tracked down in Vancouver and is now charged with mischief -- in the plan to capture a cat and film its death.

At trial, Power's lawyer portrayed him as a vegan with a mature social conscience who conceived the cat-killing as an "artistic protest" against meat-eating, and offered in support a 26-page report from psychiatrist Dr. Philip Klassen which concluded that Power was neither dangerous nor mentally ill, but rather suffering from an "oceanic sense of self-importance" typical of his age group and unresolved feelings of anger. Add in Power's "need to challenge conventions of morality that is seen as an imperative in some artistic circles," the psychiatrist said, and one has the factors at play.

To call this report confusing is an understatement.

Dr. Klassen detailed how Power and two friends had once purchased a pig carcass and videotaped him in a variety of poses with it; how he once killed a chicken and presented the video at school; how one of his sketchbooks was filled with detailed drawings of bowels and internal organs; how he purposely sought work at an abattoir; how his self-portrayal as a vegetarian was fraudulent; that he has "an abiding interest in the skeletons of animals and in handling dead animals"; and that, in Power's own words, though he had tried to "pass off" or "spin" the cat's torture as purely artistic, he had never been sure if he would have completed it as an "art" project.

Not until this week had I read Dr. Klassen's report, and discovered how at odds his conclusions about Power appear to be with the information he was given.

It is quite accurate, as Judge Doherty noted, that Power's conduct with the cat "was completely out of character."

He was then 21 years old, with no criminal record, and was described in various glowing letters as an intelligent, gifted and principled young man. That is in fact what saves him from being characterized as what, in law, is called "the worst offender" -- "far from the worst offender," Judge Doherty said.

But he found that the offence was, contrary to Judge Ormston's description, "the worst offence," made so by its cruelty.

With a key principle of sentencing that maximum penalties are reserved for the worst offence and the worst offender, Judge Doherty said, Judge Ormston "was faced with the difficult task of crafting a fit sentence for a young first offender who, but for this terrible act, is a good person with considerable potential."

And Judge Ormston, he found, performed that balancing act in a thorough and thoughtful manner by imposing, in addition to the 90-day jail sentence, which Power served on weekends, 18 months of a conditional sentence, nine months of which was spent in virtual house arrest, 240 hours of community service, and three years probation.

It is clear that the appeal judges found the 17-minute-long videotape, which was an exhibit at Power's trial, the best evidence.

I watched it yesterday, and for the record, here is in part what it contains:

With the three young men whispering in the background, the camera suddenly comes into focus.

The cat, a pretty creature with a white belly and a striped tail, is alone in a white-walled barren room of a "squat" with Power and friends. It appears nervous from the get-go.

"Killing a raccoon would be a helluva lot more exciting," whispers one unidentified voice.

"Pillowcase," whispers another.

"No, we won't be needing that," someone says.

A white mouse, atop an empty margarine container, is put before the cat, who barely looks at it.

"Pacifist kitty," one man says.

"Here they come on the run with their fingers up their bum ... on the Tom and Jerry Show," sings another voice.

The mouse is held by the tail before the cat, who moves away.

"Should I mutilate it now?" someone asks.

A little later, Power asks, "How do you guys feel about being filmed?", and one of the others asks him, "What are you going to use it for?"

"I don't even know yet," says Power.

Wennekers then fashions a noose in the wire that has been affixed to the ceiling.

"Let's get to work," he says.

"I want to cut open its belly while it's still alive and watch everything move around," someone says.

"Yeah, me too," someone else replies.

Power suggests they just "slit its throat and let it bleed," but one of his cohorts says, "We can do both. Gut it and slit its throat."

They hang the cat, which immediately begins to struggle frantically.

Power says, "Why don't we just kill it?", but takes a black glove and a straight razor when Wennekers hands them to him.

Power saws at the cat's throat, while Wennekers stabs at it with a buck knife, and over the next terrible minutes, with the cat howling in agony and twitching, the trio attack it in various ways.

Once, Power is seen bending close to the animal, staring at it while it cries; another time, he whispers, "Beautiful, man"; once, he wipes the blade of his knife on the cat's head.

In the final scene, Power slits open the cat's chest, and appears to inhale deeply.

Torture for torture's sake: There is no other way to describe it. Perhaps that Senate committee, where a proposed new law that would significantly toughen the penalties for animal cruelty is now stalled, should have a look at the videotape.

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© Copyright 2003 National Post
Old 06-16-03, 01:40 PM
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I would have given Jesse the key to the city.
Old 06-16-03, 01:42 PM
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This article just shows that Canada has the most idiotic system of law in the world.

And Judge Ormston, he found, performed that balancing act in a thorough and thoughtful manner by imposing, in addition to the 90-day jail sentence, which Power served on weekends, 18 months of a conditional sentence, nine months of which was spent in virtual house arrest, 240 hours of community service, and three years probation.
Old 06-16-03, 01:43 PM
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Among the inmates in America's prisons today, I'm sure more than a few are cat lovers.

1. Find those of them who are in for life or on death row, particularly violent offenders.
2. Show them the video.
3. Next, provide them with the same tools used by the perps on the cat.
4. Lock the perps in the room with the inmates.
Old 06-16-03, 01:49 PM
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Future serial killers. [presidingjudge] Bailiff, you are hereby instructed to escort the prisoners to the alley and introduce one bullet each into the backs of their skulls. Next case! [/presidingjudge]
Old 06-16-03, 02:17 PM
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Originally posted by AGuyNamedMike
Future serial killers.
Exactly what I thought.
Old 06-16-03, 02:37 PM
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those sick bastards, I'd kill them myself if they did that to my cat
Old 06-16-03, 03:03 PM
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I'll third what k v r d a v e said. Future serial killers indeed. I say kill the MFers.
Old 06-16-03, 03:09 PM
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thats so disgusting. sick bastards.
Old 06-16-03, 11:59 PM
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Now, now, I filmed the torture of housepets lots of times when I was a child and I turned out alright. If there is anything really wrong with Powers, it's that he is Canadian.
Old 06-17-03, 12:55 AM
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Old 06-17-03, 12:58 AM
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Originally posted by JustinS
Now, now, I filmed the torture of housepets lots of times when I was a child and I turned out alright. If there is anything really wrong with Powers, it's that he is Canadian.
Oh my, I know I don't spend a lot of time around here. But if I wanna steal something for my sig, can I just take it and put who it's by or do I hafta get a release form.....???
Old 06-17-03, 02:01 AM
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Did any authorities think of testing this murderers for drug use? Not that being under the influence would in any way excuse their crimes, but the description of their actions on the tape makes me wonder if they were sober during their pre-meditated attack of that animal.

To chime in with others above, there is ample evidence that serial killers frequently torture and kill animals before graduating to humans.

They're sick, and should be isolated from polite society...

and a good ass-kicking couldn't hurt, either.

Last edited by phraseturner; 06-17-03 at 02:18 AM.
Old 06-17-03, 02:10 AM
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Originally posted by Red Dog
I would have given Jesse the key to the city.
what the hell is wrong with you?
Old 06-17-03, 02:52 AM
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Originally posted by Trigger
what the hell is wrong with you?
Now there's the subject for a doctoral thesis if I ever heard one.
Old 06-17-03, 03:05 AM
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Originally posted by JustinS
Now there's the subject for a doctoral thesis if I ever heard one.
Whatever - he wants to give a key to the city to a guy cuz he filmed the brutal torture and killing of a cat... I wanted to know what the hell was wrong with him - no need for you to get *snippy*.
Old 06-17-03, 03:11 AM
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I love how people, in response to evidence of someone commiting a murder, often express the desire to "return the favor", so to speak. The duality of outrage and retribution really speak voulmes about civilization.
Old 06-17-03, 03:12 AM
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He had the thing going.

Mayhap he's just guilty of poor humor.
Old 06-17-03, 03:19 AM
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Originally posted by JustinS
Now, now, I filmed the torture of housepets lots of times when I was a child and I turned out alright. If there is anything really wrong with Powers, it's that he is Canadian.
Old 06-17-03, 03:21 AM
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Well, I'd be more than willing to string these scumbags up and film their last minutes on this earth as they twitch.... For the sake of 'art' of course.......
Old 06-17-03, 04:52 AM
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Originally posted by Trigger
Whatever - he wants to give a key to the city to a guy cuz he filmed the brutal torture and killing of a cat... I wanted to know what the hell was wrong with him - no need for you to get *snippy*.
Old 06-17-03, 06:20 AM
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Originally posted by JustinS
confused about the snippy comment? I wanted to say something rude back to you, but didn't want to get suspended so I had to bite my tongue. I took your comment to mean that you think I'm stupid or that my response to his comment was stupid... *snippy* probably wasn't the proper description, but I have no excuse beyond lack of sleep.
Old 06-17-03, 08:32 AM
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Trigger, I think maybe you need to get some sleep. JustinS was in complete agreement with you that Red Dog's post was 'out there'.

In his post "Now there's the subject for a doctoral thesis if I ever heard one." the subject refers to whatever is wrong with Red Dog, as in there must be so much wrong with him, or whatever it is that is wrong with him must be so profound and complex that it deserves to be the subject of a doctoral thesis.

Sleep well.
Old 06-17-03, 09:59 AM
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Man, what a sick couple of bastards. From the description of their conversation before and during the torture, it’s pretty clear that “art” was not on these guys’ minds. Although I don’t agree that a person should die for the death of an animal, No mater how horrific (that’s a bit to Vegan for me), I do agree they should be punished (3-5 years sounds good) and put on “watch”. Any future crimes they commit should be weighted with this circumstance in mind
Old 06-17-03, 10:22 AM
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These kids today just don't know what art is. Why, back in my day, if you had an art project, why you'd, string up three kittens, a dog, two sheep and a komodo dragon, and gut and eviscerate them all. And we didn't have vid-e-o cameras. Back in my day, you had to sketch everything by hand, using real blood! Then you had to make a flip-pad to animate your vision -- none of this new-fangled computerized mumbo jumbo...

Or here's an art project: we string up three yuppie white kids in Ontario from the ceiling...

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