|October 2nd - Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.|
In July 2005, Antoine De Souza caused contusions to the stomach, the legs, the back, caused a cranial traumatism, broke two teeth, one vertebra, and one rib, and burst the spleen of Alain Billaut, nicknamed "Linlin", with multiple non-identified objects (a crowbar at least is suspected). Firemen arrived just in time to save his life as he had lost a huge amount of blood. The victim now has all sorts of health impediments as a result of being beaten up. Well, that was then. How is this sordidly related to this week? Simple: on this day the prosecution issued the sentence it was asking the tribunal for: 16 months of probationary prison (not a single month of actual prison).
"Linlin" is the local village simpleton in Maillé (Vendée), with the estimated mental age of an 8 year old. He is recognized as 80% handicapped, mentally deficient, and under the State's supervision. He is the village's black sheep, a distinction which originated when he was a child. Playing with kids "his age", he had pushed another child into the water, a child who didn't know how to swim. Immediately the rumour that he had tried to kill that child spread around. As an adult (39 years old), "Linlin" doesn't do things like everyone else. He uses a horse to plow land, takes stuff from the recycling bins, ties his carriage to the War Memorial or to the church's door. And when someone scolds him, he persists, like a child. If one day he picks up a bicycle destined to the bin, people say he steals it. He is "responsible" for everything that happens in the village, is accused of everything.
On the night that "Linlin" was beaten, his neighbour, De Souza, tired of rags hanging too close to the hedge that seperates the two houses, tired of the noise of "Linlin's" goat's chain, tired of engine noises at night, went beserk because of a hay fire's smoke and a plow that bumped into his hedge. Today, a majority of the village's 750 inhabitants support De Souza and the mayor has even organised a support committee and launched a petition in town hall.
Libération article on this (in French)
Addendum: Shopping for groceries yesterday, I was standing in front of tuna cans, hesitating. This short woman comes up to my right, and starts going for shrimp cans that are high on the top shelf, out of her reach. And a catastrophe is imminent. So I offer to help, put my arm forward, and she bursts out, slapping her hand in mid-air like a kung-fu chop: "TAA! TAAAAA! TA TA!", looking very angry. I'm of course very surprised, but instead of gasping "oh dear", I decide to take it like a gentleman and say something ridiculous: "alright, well, do as you see fit then". Then I take a good look at her and unmistakably notice she has a chromosome missing. I then go on with my shopping, forget all about her, and when I arrive near the cashiers, I hear "TAAA! TAAAAAA! TAAA!", a lot louder than the first time. And here is that woman, slamming her basket of groceries on the floor and walking out of the shop without them, because a woman in front of her had started to put that little plastic gadget that "seperates" one shopper's items from another's on the cashier's rolling mattress. A lot of people seemed shocked, a lot of people were amused. I of course was mister supercool because I had been there, done that. Here was a woman doing her best to be autonomous and couldn't stand people helping her.