The Western Socialist
Vol. 37 - No. 276
No. 4, 1970
His name is Anthony Aparkark Thrasher. He was born 190 miles northeast of Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. He is an Eskimo. After completing grade six, he came south to take a diesel mechanic's course in 1957 at Leduc, Alberta. He planned to return north to work on the Distant Early Warning radar line.
"The first day I came down to Edmonton, they put us right where everybody drinks . . .. on 96th street.
"I tried it. I didn't enjoy it too much, but I thought that's the way they lived down here."
There is no shortage of social drags to drive anybody to drink. And Thrasher never stopped drinking, except for one year he spent in an alcoholic treatment centre, which is par for the course in a class divided society where effects are cursorily treated and causes must be ignored. He got into trouble with the law, went to jail an estimated 150 times and was in a hospital four times after he had been assaulted by other people.
"For the last 2½ years down here it's been bad, real bad. Never have a place to sleep except river banks and eat from garbage cans.
"Only one Swiss family was kind enough to give me a job for awhile. I will never forget them. That was the only bit of kindness I ever got out of this civilized country.
"I've gone to employment offices in Edmonton and Calgary and Lethbridge but their response is 'no' or else you are not registered in our files."
"I've got nothing against this country but I just can't adjust to it. It's a jungle to me.
"Polar bears hunt and share a meal. They even leave some for the foxes. The foxes share together what they have. I come down here and watch human beings prey on one another.
"Down here they keep people in reserves, Indian reserves. Up north we keep animals in reindeer reserves and the government protects them and watches them the year round.
"I still haven't seen the pictures of the beautiful cities - saw in my childhood. The outside world."
Anthony Thrasher made these observations in the Alberta Supreme Court on April Fool's Day, 1970. But he was not fooling. Neither was the judge who had just sentenced him to 15 years following conviction on a reduced charge of manslaughter. The original charge was non-capital murder. A 70-year-old Calgary pensioner had died as a result of what the judge called, "a particularly savage and brutal attack" last Nov. 6. And he was most likely accurate on this surface manifestation of what must have been something traumatic deeper down.
Psychologists reveal a facet of the human psychology that reacts in blind, destructive urges, the more stultified the personality has been. The destructive reaction is greatest where the alienation has been greatest — where the individual has experienced very little or, what they call "no life experience at all."
But judges are busy people. Like other members of the working class, they are trained to perform in specified and narrow channels. While they deal with humans, they are naturally more concerned and knowledgeable with the law. And contemporary law is designed to protect property — things — owned by some people, and denied access to by all others. Normally they could not be expected to understand why an individual from an open, free and humanitarian culture can fail to surrender his individuality enough to fit into the regimentation of wage-slavery.
Perhaps that is why the judge commented, in his understandable political ignorance, that the Eskimos are a great race and have added a lot to Canadian culture but the values for self-defense and respect for the old, which Thrasher advocated, were not present in the beating. Thrasher testified he got drunk on wine Nov. 6 and could not remember meeting the old man.
So a sound, natural human being is subjected to the rat-race of capitalism for 12 years. After failing to become a successful rat and, in a moment of insanity, he infringes upon the interests of the ruling minority, and he is punished for being sick with another 15 years of the supreme alienation, prison, rather than being treated for his ailment. We are not that far away from burning witches at the stake. This, is capitalism!