By: Alina Butt
About a week ago, news broke that Luka Magnotta had just posted a listing on Canadian Inmates Connect, Inc. Luka Magnotta is the porn star-cum-cannibal who dismembered a man and mailed parts of his body to various schools across Canada as well as Stephen Harper in 2012. Canadian Inmates Connect is an online service allowing prisoners to reach out beyond the prison walls for companionship.
Back in 2012, I was a sophomore in high school and I was absolutely obsessed with Luka Magnotta, probably as much as he was obsessed with himself. As soon as the lunch bell rang, I would race to the library—which was back then the only place with wifi in the school—to check for news updates on his whereabouts, his escape and if he was caught yet.
I wasn’t alone in this, and nor was I the most committed. There were scores of girls dedicating Tumblr blogs to him and trying to justify what he did, and when he was finally in custody a few days later, sharpening their pencils to write him a letter or ten. For about three minutes I considered writing to him as well, but I wasn’t inspired enough to go searching for an address.
Canadian Inmates Connect plastered that address right next to a couple of years-old pictures of him, smiling and looking away faux-bashfully.
Magnotta is “seeking a single white male… white and in shape. One who is loyal, preferably educated, financially and emotionally stable for a long term committed relationship.” Sounds pretty cut and dry. He goes on to add, “If you think you could be my prince charming, send me a detailed letter with at least 2 photos. Only those I deem compatible will receive a response.” Only the best for Magnotta, it seems, and he’s tired of all the fan mail, because “all unsolicited mail will be discarded.”
But this is definitely still a call for attention from a notorious attention-seeker, and the media, including myself, are giving him exactly what he wants. Well, at this point, what he expects. Giving him, along with many others, the satisfaction of being sensationalized and have their thoughts broadcasted for the world to hear is a crucial flaw in how we currently report the news.
We don’t do that great of a job honoring the victims of such crimes. In this case, there was Lin Jun. He came from China to study engineering and computer science. He had parents who had to come to Canada to find answers and closure. They also had to deal with the scrutiny of the media. Luka Magnotta was a media darling for what he did to Lin Jun, and that’s horrible. We glorify the heinous, which, in turn, teaches the next generation to do the same. I did, for sure. It’s a shame, but one bit of solace that I see is that it’s all temporary. The news cycle is a 24-hour one, and Luka Magnotta only gets a few minutes of fame in any person’s consciousness. Plus, if he incites any obsessions, it’s mostly in young girls, and none of them can really be his Prince Charming now, can they?
There are perhaps better inmates to look to to validate the point of Canadian Inmates Connect. Yes, there are both violent and nonviolent offenders listed, with a majority of the former. Magnotta and a spate of others are definitely seedy, seeking attention, power and sex. However, after clicking through seven pages of personals, I found myself pretty impressed by the sensitivity and the intelligence in the, dare I say, fairly rehabilitated inmates.
Magnotta is looking for a reflection of himself from an alternate universe. Some are looking for people to help them exonerate themselves. But there are also some who are seeking honest conversation, friendship and love. Dwayne Ford, who is in jail for three counts of aggravated assault, wrote in a testimonial, “I’m up on the website and I started to get letters almost right away… I now think about things I never thought about before. Thoughts about being free, changing my life. I want so many things in my life now that I never wanted before or even thought possible in having. I have goals.” We should be focusing on people like that instead.
This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/the-opinion/when-prisoners-make-dating-profiles/.