D’oh, Canada

Apartheid torturer allowed to settle and practice medicine in Canada…finally is brought to book for sex crimes, it reminds me of the joke (I think by Mark Steel) about all those white South Africans fleeing democracy.

Topically it is reminiscent of the Vatican’s practices, I think one of the key aspects of the Vatican’s rationale to covering up and enabling abuse was to privilege priests rights above laity, this is not uncommon, occupying troops lives are privileged above the occupied people’s lives etc. This lack of equality and subsequent lack of accountability & justice enables abuses,rapes, murders and torture wherever it exists. Medicine, especially in the area of mental health, also privileges practitioners above patients, various systems try to mitigate this and provide accountability and are of varying degrees of success (and failure). Clearly in this case there was not just an atrocious failure but a very clear tolerance and support of a vicious bigot, made all the worse because he was a psychiatrist with his own diseased views of the world who had immense power over others who would have been very vulnerable. This is not new to psychiatry and Canadian psychiatry, the funding of human vivisection by the CIA is a matter of record. Levin’s career does make one wonder if a a very arrogant and right wing element that was artificially bolstered by Cold War funding, persists in the Canadian psychiatric establishment (for another example see Keneth Zucker) who view the rights of their patients to be little greater than lab rats when it comes to forcing their conservative vision upon the bodies and minds of patients.

A leading Canadian psychiatrist who kept accusations of gross human rights abuses in apartheid-era South Africa hidden has been charged in Calgary with sexually abusing a male patient and is being investigated over dozens of other allegations.

Dr Aubrey Levin, who in South Africa was known as Dr Shock for his use of electricity to “cure” gay military conscripts, was arrested after a patient secretly filmed the psychiatrist allegedly making sexual advances. Levin, who worked at the University of Calgary’s medical school, has been suspended from practising and is free on bail of C$50,000 (£32,000) on charges of repeatedly indecently assaulting a 36-year-old man.

The police say they are investigating similar claims by nearly 30 other patients. The Alberta justice department is reviewing scores of criminal convictions in which Levin was a prosecution witness.

Levin has worked in Canada for 15 years since leaving South Africa, where he was chief psychiatrist in the apartheid-era military and became notorious for using electric shocks to “cure” gay white conscripts. He also held conscientious objectors against their will at a military hospital because they were “disturbed” and subjected them to powerful drug regimens.

South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard that Levin was guilty of “gross human rights abuses” including chemical castration of gay men. But after arriving in Canada in 1995 he managed to suppress public discussion of his past by threatening lawsuits against news organisations that attempted to explore it.

Following the arrest, other male patients have contacted the authorities. One, who was not identified, told CTV in Canada that he had gone to Levin for help with a gambling addiction and alleged he had been questioned about his sex life and subject to sexual advances.

The arrest has raised questions about how Levin was allowed to settle in Canada. Canada admitted other South African medical practitioners accused of human rights abuses, including two who worked with Wouter Basson, known as Dr Death for his oversight of chemical and biological warfare experiments that included the murder of captured Namibian guerrillas.

Levin, who made no secret of his hard rightwing views and was a member of the ruling National party during apartheid, has a long history of homophobia.

In the 1960s, he wrote to a parliamentary committee considering the abolition of laws criminalising homosexuality saying that they should be left in place because he could “cure” gay people.

His efforts to do just that in the army began in 1969 at the infamous ward 22 at the Voortrekkerhoogte military hospital near Pretoria, which ostensibly catered for service personnel with psychological problems. Commanding officers and chaplains were encouraged to refer “deviants” for electroconvulsive aversion therapy.

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One Response to “D’oh, Canada”

  1. wyamarus Says:

    “Utilitarian bioethics… is unfortunately not a figment of my imagination, but a real threat to you and to everyone you love. This philosophy embodies the antihuman essence of fascism, expresses the contempt for individual freedom and for the disabled and the frail that has in the past marked every form of totalitarianism.”

    from an afterword by Dean Koontz on one of his Gothic thrillers dealing with a ‘Dr. Death’ type who was lionized by academia for his views.

    He gives a reference to a book by Wesley J. Smith – Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America, which is somewhat of a polemic against any consideration of “quality of life” issues, or the allocation of scarce medical resources to futile procedures. The thinking that homosexuality (or pacifism) is a ‘sickness’ and can be ‘cured’, I think is derived from both the religious and cultural bigotry embedded in the intolerant, monotheistic “Sky-Daddy” philosophical history of the West, as well as some twisted variation of utilitarianism. The failure of the logic involved, in the application of so-called ‘objective’, quantitative measures to what is essentially a subjective and personal choice (or in the case of being gay, a basic, intrinsic state of being) is in the application of what are essentially financial criteria to moral and ethical decisions. When you add the additional weight of a strong political bias to view “damaged”or”aberrant” people as expendable or ‘harvestable resources’, this is just the tip of the iceberg.


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