Should Award Have Been Revoked?

There is no excuse for domestic violence of any degree and especially not to the degree suffered by Jeannie Blackburn at the hands of her husband Paul McCuskey. Some might try and wriggle away from the issue and cite how some women seem to be unable to help themselves but go from one wife basher to another in the partner stakes. OK, so it might be true and some women are more likely to follow their mothers and choose bashers as mates… but that neither explains no excuses the behaviour of the basher. Even if the wife nagged incessantly, and I am not suggesting for a moment this was the case with this woman, it does not excuse such violence. Period. In the case of Ms Blackburn she was blinded in one eye and kicked in the stomach when pregnant, causing her to miscarriage. Nothing can excuse such savagery.

The issue here though is that separate to his deplorable and disgusting behaviour at home, he performed acts of merit sufficient for the Royal Humane Society to award him a ‘Certificate of Merit’ for his actions during bushfires some months before he caused the miscarriage and blinding. His former wife has campaigned to have his award revoked. I am not sure that this is right. The two issues are not related. The award recognises his actions in one incident, his prison sentence recognises (and punishes) his actions for other incidents. Should he be allowed to keep his award?

Technically I would say yes but I can see the point of the argument that he is not the sort of person we want to be looked up to as  a hero, but do we? Apart from using the word hero incorrectly and overmuch nowadays, he is in prison and his name is forever sullied by his actions. Nobody is looking up to him, I’m sure. Does taking the award off him change the actions that caused the award to be awarded? No. Does revoking the award lessen the evil of what he did to his wife? No. It doesn’t change a thing, or does it?

I bet there were many recipients of bravery awards over the years, in peace and war, who were not the sort of people you would want to be married to, but that wouldn’t change what they did to win the award. That’s my point. I’m still wrestling with Ms Blackburn’s position because I can only see it as revenge, not justice. But I can fully understand why that would be her motive. I don’t care a jot for McCuskey or his ilk, this is not about him, but about the separation of cause and affect, action and consequence. I guess it is like many things in this life, it doesn’t matter if it is just, just if it makes things a bit more even. I guess Ms Blackburn will never really get even. She could pluck out one of McCuskey’s eyes, but he can never be made to miscarriage. At least he can’t put ‘Certificate of Merit’ on his CV when he leaves gaol and goes for his next job.

25 July 2012: Because Comments aren’t always read I have included a comment I received today from Jeannie Blackburn. I feel it is only fair to ensure she has the chance to reply and be read.

Ms Jeannie Blackburn writes:

“I would like to correct some of your comments. I know i am blinded in one eye. Paul plead guilty of that charge. He wasnt found guilty. There is a difference. I asked the question as to how mr mccuskey was accepted without a police check(mandory) as a firefighter. I asked who accepted the award (a junior volunteer). I asked a lot of questions that were too hard to be answered because the cfa did not follow their rules. As for your suggestion of revenge…that is so untrue. I do not believe an eye for an eye is appropriate or accecptable. Perhaps for one week you live my life with one eye. Thats what i focus on.Not revenge.”

Thankyou for that Ms Blackburn and without meaning to trivialise your plight I have spent a week with just one eye (due to an infection) and I fully understand how difficult it is to adjust to monocular vision.

I did not say your motive was revenge, only that I could fully understand if it were and that I saw your position (or the argument that McCuskey lose his award) as one of revenge. I (try to) follow Sandy MacGregor’s example of handling such situations. I served under Sandy in the Army as a young digger and alongside men who had gone to war with him, his story is worth reading.

I am not surprised there were mistakes made (re McCuskey’s police check etc) and of course, hard questions asked and no doubt for the most part, ignored. I am also not surprised what passes for journalism these days failed to mention these matters, no doubt intentionally. I am sure someone knows someone or someone else advertises etc. Pardon my cynicism but after you see this year after year and never changing you tend to become a tad jaded.

As a self-appointed social commentator I do take issues that are in the news and comment on them. Along the way there is always the risk of causing hurt to the individuals the stories concern. If I ever do that intentionally it would be obvious to one and all that was my aim. Of course even when the issue is used to discuss a philosophical position, there is still the person and their feelings involved. I am glad Jeannie commented and added to the body of knowledge readers have of this matter. I hope she feels she has made a difference to how we think about this issue because she has helped me understand things better.

My point was never about the suffering endured by Jeannie. It was about the right or wrong of taking back something awarded for one thing because of something completely unrelated. But are they unrelated? This goes to the heart of a few matters, including why we have checks and balances int he first place. If McCuskey was ineligible to join the CFA had they followed their own procedures, then this award would never have been made. Moving on, why was it accepted by a ‘junior volunteer’ and not the named recipient unless they knew by then of his previous crimes and wished to distance themselves, yet not far enough to admit they shouldn’t have awarded him the certificate of merit in the first place? Perhaps if someone had shown the same courage and integrity Sandy MacGregor displayed (and no doubt Jeannie Blackburn) on the part of the authorities involved instead of I presume trying to shove it all under the carpet the situation might have been nipped in the bud and not gotten to where it did.

What do you think?

 

One Response to “Should Award Have Been Revoked?”

  • I would like to correct some of your comments. I know i am blinded in one eye. Paul plead guilty of that charge. He wasnt found guilty. There is a difference. I asked the question as to how mr mccuskey was accepted without a police check(mandory) as a firefighter. I asked who accepted the award (a junior volunteer). I asked a lot of questions that were too hard to be answered because the cfa did not follow their rules. As for your suggestion of revenge…that is so untrue. I do not believe an eye for an eye is appropriate or accecptable. Perhaps for one week you live my life with one eye. Thats what i focus on.Not revenge.

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