Crimes and torts…
|Rapunzel and her mother|
Yesterday, because I felt much better and because it was a beautiful day, Anya and I had an excellent Saturday. This one was much better than the previous. Without going too much into detail, we got to meet with friends. My friend Lyosha and his daughter Nastia joined us at Town Park, where they have a small amusement park. We rode on the rides. I myself even rode on the flying dish. This is a large bowl that swings on a pendulum and rotates. I rode on that four times. Probably, if I had tried to ride a fifth time I would have seen my breakfast again. But the children liked it and so it was fun. They went on all of the other attractions as well, Lyosha and I fought over who would pay for the kids. Probably, as Lyosha is driving a late model Mercedes, I didn’t need to fight all that hard. Anyway, Anya was the one racing Lyosha to the ticket booth and Lyosha is pretty fast. And a little later, Paullina, one of Anya’s comrades from our days at the old office came to join us with her grandmother. All of the children jumped on the inflatable castle and had some ice cream and stuff. It was a grand and beautiful day. We came home by bicycle and the kids played some more around the house with a dog who had followed us home. We finished the day with an animated English language Barbie, kung fu movie which I guess to Anya is the equivalent of Citizen Cain. But like I said, it was a wonderful day until 8:00 when such times always come to an end.
While the kids were playing, I was talking to Paullina’s grandmother about my situation with Tanya. Her daughter, Vika, Paullina’s mother, is going to come and be a witness at the court date. I went on about my situation with Anya and why we needed to meet yet again in court. Paullina’s grandma was there with us at that time. They lived in the next building from where I kept my office and saw all that happened after Tanya started her war. It was all such a shame. I liked that place and Anya was doing just fine over there. She had a lot of friends and an interesting, intelligent and active life. All the kids traveled from house to house and around the yard there next to the university. On Saturdays I would take them as a group to the movies or to the beach. We even had an English class for four-year-olds which met on Wednesday nights and Anya herself helped her friends learn some new words and explained the books we were reading.
But Tanya needed to do something to show that she was unhappy. She came looking to make problems. Five times she sent the police to my office when there were students there. She came knocking on doors demanding her child and trying to poison me in the eyes of my neighbors. None of it was necessary and no one would talk to her except one woman, a prostitute according to Paullina's grandmother, who lived there with her malnourished daughter. The girl, Vika, was one of Anya’s friends. I never complained but Marina didn’t like Paullina’s parents and tried to divide the children after a day where they had played together all day. Anya was a welcome guest in her smoky house, but she didn’t want Paullina. I disagreed and asked that we not fight, let the kids play and not put politics where they don’t belong. I guess that woman didn’t like being disagreed with for a second time- the first was when I refused to pay personal attention to her on a night when the kids had come to hear children’s books- and Tanya had her foothold. After our court case, little anemic Vika was the only friend Anya was allowed to see on Tanya’s time. And as far as I could tell, Marina was her only friend and confidant. I guess Marina was also looking for her foothold. But that situation only lasted until Marina assaulted me and Anya one evening when I had come to see my daughter at her gymnastics class. I tried to say a private good night to Anya but Marina held her arm and tried to pull her away from me. When I told her to stand down and went back to speaking with Anya, she hit me in the back of the head, a big no-no in Belarus and, a pretty good character display as far as things go. After this, being afraid of having me file a complaint against her, she canceled her relationship with Tanya and Anya no longer was allowed any friends. Currently, as the kindergarten has stopped working for the summer, Anya has not been allowed out of the house except to go to the market with her mother or to the library with her spinster Aunt. When I picked her up on Saturday morning, she had not been out of the house since the previous Tuesday. Her only free time to play it seems is when she is with me.
I think it is very difficult to explain well a situation especially if you have to try and explain it instance by instance. It is very difficult to frame out what a person sees in such a way that people can understand why that someone might think something is wrong. The Republic of Belarus, and I don’t know that this is true in any expert sense, but in my experience here I have come to understand that it is true that, they have a concrete set of rules and if what you want to say fits exactly into one of those rules, you have a point. The codex is not a guide for a judge’s decision, but an absolute mathematic criteria for making those decisions. I guess this simplifies things because it precludes any advocate from seeking the wisdom of previous judges. The codex says something is and therefore it is. And, at least for the working classes (the state itself deals with large scale business) the law is dictated in this concrete manner.
But I think this situation, to me, is more a matter of philosophy. Years ago, when I lived in Minnesota, I studied a little law. I remember my first text book on torts. That text book explained that the difference between a crime and a tort is very simple. A crime is committed when you have an action which creates some damage and the person who committed this action did so with the intent to do harm. There was “mens rea”, which is Latin for guilty mind; the actor wanted to commit the criminal act.
In criminal law, it is viewed as one of the necessary elements of a crime. The standard common law test of criminal liability is usually expressed in the Latin phrase, actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, which means "the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind be also guilty".
A tort on the other hand has and action and damage, but the person who did this action did not knowingly or wittingly do it. It is said that a reasonable and prudent person could have avoided the negligence but this person’s mistake cost someone some problems. Perhaps our insanity clause, when someone is too stupid or too crazy to even understand that what they have done is hurting someone works here as well. And when speaking about Poland’s public prosecutor, I always thought that he was either insane or a criminal or both. But then again, he did actually explain that the reason his clock never moved was that Poland did not allow a budget for two new AA batteries (hint, hint) and so maybe he qualified as a criminal under all definitions. But also unfortunately, in Belarus, this has also been the most popular justification for immorality at least as long as I have been here. The theory here goes: We are here. But here, one cannot live morally. So therefore, we all must live immorally.
But then there is my other definition of criminal, and this is a person who not only commits the crime knowingly, but also receives pleasure from doing it. This criminal hurts people because they enjoy it. This to me is the worse kind of criminal.
As concerns my situation, I always say that what is between Anya’s mother and I is not the problem. I am an adult and a responsible person. All that has happened in the last few years is also partly my fault. Maybe a more reasonable and prudent man never would have gone with her. Maybe an even more reasonable and prudent man would never have tried to live in Belarus. But we met and one time made a child and I have never for even a single second disregarded this responsibility nor have I ever been one gram less than the best father I can possibly be for Anya. And there is a lot of evidence that shows this to be true. And so if Anya’s mother wants to be angry that I no longer want to live with her, this is my fate for having made the initial mistake.
But I cannot ever understand why she needs to hurt the child. And if she isn’t getting enough out of hurting me by other means, and really, giving me pain is her hobby (I don’t think she actually ever does anything else) why does she need to use the child? Why destroy an innocent girl’s only childhood? Why put pain and lies in a place where g-d saw fit to put beauty, love and truth? Why destroy other people's happiness just because you don't like your life? I mean, is it here? Is it really this county? And really, who took from her the normal compassion which people need, which a mother certainly needs? And was she really so hurt? Or was she simply jealous of other women and their alcoholic husband stories and thought she could get good attention from playing the role? I ask these questions because even if you use the “hell hath no fury as a woman scorned” argument to justify her actions, she has still done all of these actions. Justified or not, she has been knowingly and willingly giving pain to everyone, including and especially her own child. Why?
As I picked up Annie on Saturday morning, her mother was following her out the door to go shopping or whatever she was doing. And as she passed me, she smiled at me the most evil smile in the world. It was an “I will win this game and I don’t care how much I have to continue hurting you or anyone else because I enjoy it.” smile. It was an evil smile. And I know I am right in my supposition of her mind in these matters because of what I said earlier about accepting responsibility for my own actions, but also because my neighbors, after talking to Tanya a year ago, tried to let me know that to Tanya, I was to blame for all of her actions. To her, that I made her angry was all the justification she needed, true or not, real or not, reasonable or not, to do whatever she does. I don't know, maybe giving pain is her hobby. Maybe she likes it and the power she feels from it. Maybe she is just drunk off this game and the attention she has gotten from it. Or maybe she simply doesn’t care who gets hurt or dies or over whose body these wars are fought. Maybe she never did.
I feel that the evidence that what I say is true, like corpses lying dead after a battle, is all over her world. I generally think that this situation around who gets to guide the life of my daughter here in Pinsk, Belarus is my only real problem in life. Court is in eight days.