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Jun 01 2012

The Latest On David Mabus / Dennis Markuze

Hemant has the latest at The Friendly Atheist. I don’t have much to add… I was in Montreal just a few days ago, and did think of DM; he is not a trivial concern. more after the jump:

I truly wish him the best…I hope I never hear from him again. It bothers me a bit that his threats against me were part of the evidence that eventually led to his arrest, but if my sources are correct, arrest was the best possible thing to happen to DM at the time.

The Montreal Gazette has a detailed story, well worth reading.

According to documents filed in the case, Markuze resided at Freedom House, a rehabilitation centre, to deal with problems he had with drugs and alcohol, before he entered his guilty plea. According to the documents, he began consuming marijuana at age 15 and cocaine at age 23. At 25, he started drinking heavily, according to an assessment filed in his case in March. He attributed the drug problem to feeling alienated after his family moved to Montreal, from England, when he was 11.

The same assessment described Markuze as being motivated to deal with his substance abuse problems and mentions he completed a therapy program in March.

“He doesn’t want to return to prison nor have more problems with the law,” Clement Proulx, a counsellor at Freedom House, wrote in the assessment prepared in March. “He takes responsibility for what he is charged with and takes his sobriety seriously.”

There is more worth reading at the link; DM is not a simple individual.

According to court records, in March, a judge ordered that Markuze take any medication prescribed to him and that he see “a physician.” On Friday, Waxman said he could not recall if that meant Markuze was required to see a psychiatrist.

Markuze was arrested in August after complaints were filed against him by people whose opinions, posted online, were constantly attacked. He disagreed with traditional scientific beliefs on issues like evolution, and threatened people for their views. According to a statement of facts read to Quebec Court Judge Louise Bourdeau before she rendered her sentence, Markuze specifically targeted people he believed were atheists.

In one threat Markuze posted he wrote: “Die f–cking atheists. I will cut your heads off.”

I don’t think that’s one of mine, but it might be. I guarantee, I have heard worse from him.

He says, now, that he only uses a computer for work. Again, I wish him the best, for his sake and for all our sake. I do not want to meet him; I do not want him to want to meet me, or anyone else. I want him better, for all of us.

22 comments

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  1. 1
    'Tis Himself

    I’m disturbed by one part of the newspaper story:

    Raillant-Clark and Tim Farley, a resident of Atlanta who was threatened by Markuze “for three or four years” said they believe Markuze resumed his anti-atheist postings even before he was sentenced. Waxman said on Friday that he asked Markuze about the allegation and said his client denied it.

    If he’s playing silly games again, his sentence could become unsuspended.

  2. 2
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    According to court records, in March, a judge ordered that Markuze take any medication prescribed to him and that he see “a physician.” On Friday, Waxman said he could not recall if that meant Markuze was required to see a psychiatrist.

    That’s extraordinarily disturbing – a violation of his human rights.

  3. 3
    HP

    I’m an atheist who struggles with mental illness and drugs. And yet, I’ve managed to refrain from going on theist websites and posting threats. (I’m somewhat less successful at going on atheist websites and not posting drivel.)

    I really like Digital Cuttlefish for making me think in terms of scansion and poesy. It slows me down, forces me to think, and leads me to counterintuitive discoveries. But posts like this make that lesson less than obligatory.

    [Deep breath] Okay, here goes:

    Dead am I to his entreaties;
    Ever waiting for the flame.
    Never knowing when he’ll mail me,
    Nor if I am in the game.
    Is he mad, and is he yet a danger?
    Seems to me to him I’m still a stranger.

    Maybe he will find the answer,
    And psychiatrists will lead the way.
    Rending judgments based on prior
    Kindred spirits likewise led astray.
    Until then I’ll let the fire
    Settle into darkening embers
    Even so, the ‘Net remembers.

  4. 4
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    This feels so much like my thoughts on my ex. O.O

  5. 5
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)
    According to court records, in March, a judge ordered that Markuze take any medication prescribed to him and that he see “a physician.” On Friday, Waxman said he could not recall if that meant Markuze was required to see a psychiatrist.

    That’s extraordinarily disturbing – a violation of his human rights.

    You’ve got to be kidding me.

  6. 6
    Kylie Sturgess

    Is it wrong of me to have hoped that news of this would just pass on unnoticed? I kind of hoped people would just move on…

  7. 7
    John Morales

    Thanks for passing on the update; I don’t read that other place.

  8. 8
    Walton

    That’s extraordinarily disturbing – a violation of his human rights.

    Agreed. Bodily autonomy is important.

  9. 9
    Trebuchet

    @ Walton & SC re his civil rights:

    He got a suspended sentence, presumably as part of a plea deal, to avoid going to jail. Part of the deal was undoubtedly his AGREEMENT to take his meds or go to prison. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. It protects both society and DM himself.

  10. 10
    peicurmudgeon

    The question of enforcing medication is not simply a matter of bodily autonomy. It is a queston of relative restrictions. If a person poses a very real danger to others, we restrict their rights through incarceration. If, rather than enforced incarceration, we use medication, is that more or less of a restriction of that person’s human rights?

  11. 11
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    This kind of ruling is not used lightly.

    I know people who have had to deal with a mentally ill, violent and suicidal son who refused to be medicated. The police had to intervene there multiple times and they feared for their and their daughter’s safety, and well as their son’s.

    It got so bad they finally had to throw him out of the house.

    Even this situation, including the credible death / suicide threats, was not enough to have the son forcibly medicated.

    This is not a clear-cut issue of rights violation.

  12. 12
    Trebuchet

    @#10: Precisely. It’s a potential win-win. Society avoids the cost of incarceration, is freed from DM’s internet thuggery, and avoids the potential of his putting his words into action. DM gets his demons under control and perhaps becomes a productive member of society.

    Unfortunately that’s only a potential. If he doesn’t take his meds and relapses onto the sauce and drugs, things could get much worse. Only time will tell. I find it a little troubling that the rehab center he’s been at is, by its own admission, unequipped to deal with his mental illness.

  13. 13
    ischemgeek

    @SC and Walton

    I’m not a lawyer, but: Rights in Canada are protected by our constitution but subject to a “notwithstanding” clause. Under our system, A’s rights can be trumped by rights the court judges more important of person B: In this case, Markuz’s right to autonomy is being trumped by the rights of religious freedom, personal freedom, and life of those he has made a habit of attacking.

    You guys in the States do this, too, when you trump a parent’s right to religious freedom in favor of a kid’s right to life when you mandate blood transfusions for a child of Jehova’s witnesses who has leukemia, or when you charge a Christian Science parent with neglect for letting their kid die of untreated diabetes.

    Yes, his rights are being violated, so that he can be prevented from violating the rights of others. No different than locking up a serial killer. I fail to see how this is a disturbing call on our legal system’s part.

  14. 14
    BecomingJulie

    @ SC: Sorry, but you don’t have a right to allow an illness from which you are suffering to have an adverse effect on others. Either suffer on your own, or get treated.

    What we call human rights have a flipside: Our rights only exist because others live up to certain responsibilities. And that means each of us has certain obligations. Failure to live up to your responsibilities may be grounds for those rights to be abridged for the protection of others.

  15. 15
    John Morales

    BecomingJulie:

    Failure to live up to your responsibilities may be grounds for those rights to be abridged for the protection of others.

    I think you’re confusing rights with privileges, here.

  16. 16
    DLC

    Markuze/Mabus whatever he calls himself had the right to contest the charges in court, the right to challenge witnesses against him, the right to counsel, and other rights. He surrendered those when he agreed to a guilty plea. Making “take your pills and see a doctor” a condition of release is not unusual nor is Markuze without recourse. If he sincerely does not wish to take the meds he can refuse, and serve out the balance of his sentence. Had the case still be sub juris it would have been indeed a violation of his rights to force him to take medications. Consider also the concept of abridged rights when you agree to fly on an airliner, you also implicitly agree to have your rights under the Fourth Amendment (unreasonable searches ) abridged. Not pleasant to think about, but the law deems it necessary. You can of course avoid this by not flying on a commercial airliner out of a major airport. Charter airlines out of private airfields are rather expensive, however.

  17. 17
    speedwell

    In the US we can’t legitimately mandate taking your medications unless we also make sure you can actually get the medications you’re required to take. In Canada, that’s not as much of a problem, is it.

  18. 18
    Joan

    In the U.S. people are admitted, hopefully gotten under control if the patient does not check himself out in the 3 days allotted, and if lucky enough to be on Medicaid, perhaps given meds. If not, he is given a prescription to be filled (by him?) and paid for (by him?) and let go. If an empathetic doctor is able to lengthen the 3 day thing by declaring the patient a danger to himself or others, he might get a longer stay, but in our system you have to fight the insurance companies’ “get em in and get em out” mandates as well as the laws made in the 60′s designed to protect the patient’s rights which somehow ended up with very sick patients, formerly housed in mental institution, now panhandling on the streets. This is if they even have the ability to do that. Our mental health system is a shambles and it’s on the bottom rung of priorities in the Medical situation.
    Our bipolar son was released after about 5 days, with meds. (that we had to see that he took) basically under home house arrest because he was declared a ‘flight risk’ by his doctor. (bless him). Even with insurance, the costs for his stay were daunting. So, yeah. If Canada is treating the mentally hill (and just ill) in a humane way, I wish I could move there.

  19. 19
    jenniferparadis-hagar

    Well, Mabus is back to our site now … in full force.

    We’ve removed hundreds of postings from him over the years.

    Isn’t he on parole or something? Isn’t bugging people again on message boards a violation of that parole?

    Is there anything we can do?

    Pretty sick of this guy from the first time, not happy to see him back.

    Any useful information on how to make this stop would be appreciated.

    TubaDiva, Administrator
    The Straight Dope/The Straight Dope Message Board
    http://www.straightdope.com/

  20. 20
    Cuttlefish

    Jennifer, as I understand it, the local prosecutors have been made aware of his activity, as of roughly a month ago (more, if memory serves). I am certainly not privy to all the information, but I am hopeful that he will be back under medical care soon.

  21. 21
    jenniferparadis-hagar

    How do I notify these prosecutors of what he’s up to on our site?

    We just want it to stop. If it takes him going to jail to make it stop … well, dammit, that’s what it takes. But. Just. Stop.

    TubaDiva, Administrator
    The Straight Dope/The Straight Dope Message Board
    http://www.straightdope.com/

  22. 22
    Kylie Sturgess

    *hug*

    Another episode in the story and hopefully the last we’ll hear of it all.

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