This week, it seemed the entire country was focused on the suicide of Nova Scotia teen Rehtaeh Parsons. A heart-wrenching post from Rehtaeh's father, Glen Canning, captured the difficulty of knowing how best to move forward now -- after the profoundly sad end to a year-and-a-half ordeal for the seventeen-year-old following her alleged gang-rape at a party.
On the one hand, Mr. Canning explained that he doesn't want his daughter's "life to [be] defined by a Google search about suicide or death or rape. I want it to be about the giving heart she had." Yet the post also contained a desperate plea to the Justice Minister of Nova Scotia (and perhaps to all of us) to treat allegations of rape more seriously, and find a way to address them without further wounding the victim.
Is it too much to expect us to separate, in our minds, the young woman we failed from the failures that helped cut her life short? It may well be. But a small consolation: The alleged conscienceless cruelties that now seem inextricably linked to Rehtaeh Parsons' death have disgusted and sickened so many that Rehtaeh may one day also be remembered as the young woman who made us confront our shameful moral and legal deficits -- and do better.
Blogger Anne Therriault wrote that when she read Rehtaeh Parsons' story, she couldn't help but wonder, "Where the f**k were all the grownups?" It's a very good question. One that we should keep asking loudly and often.