Imagine a justice system that functioned as follows. While awaiting sentencing after conviction, the vilest criminals would be put in the public dock, surrounded by angry spectators. At the behest of the presiding judge, victims, along with their friends and relatives, would then unleash all of their verbal anger on the perpetrator. The victims could describe how the cretin’s vile actions ruined their lives, stole their innocence, and destroyed their futures. Angry males speaking in support of loved ones could go so far as to make their neck veins rise in a meretricious show of anger. The raging alphas might even issue a few feeble threats along the lines of “If we weren’t in this courtroom, I would teach you a lesson!” The contemptible criminal in the dock would shiver with fear at the harsh tirades. Medical personnel would stand by on call lest the convicted succumb to the unrelenting psychological pressure or suffer a heart attack. Other perverts out in public simultaneously molesting children would watch the proceedings in abject fear. The deterrent effect of the judicial reprimands, angry victims’ diatribes, and the near-certain potential for death would stop future attacks cold. Child molestation, historically one of society’s most despicable crimes, would be eradicated immediately.
If any aspect of that proposed scenario strikes you as a viable solution to exterminating sexual predation, then you have no grasp of the depths of depravity to which human nature all too often sinks. Worse, this legalistic travesty exemplifies one of the most reprehensible aspects of our current justice system. Recently, Michigan doctor Larry Nassar pled guilty to a slew of child-pornography and sexual-assault charges related to his work with the United States women’s gymnastics teams. The judge in his case permitted more than 150 of his victims and their supporters to denounce Nassar as part of the pre-sentencing circus. While victim-impact statements provide cathartic relief, they come at a large cost. Worst of all, these feeble reprimands have dulled society’s sense of justice, more specifically the need for retribution and the harshest of punishments for society’s most loathsome savages.
Nassar’s victims and their supporters excoriated him one by one over the course of several days. And while we should never deny a victim the right to face his convicted attacker, the Michigan courtroom in which Nassar faced his quarry contained all the tension of a scene straight out of the 2004 teen comedy Mean Girls, where, as you might have guessed, the girls were mean. Kyle Stephens, a family friend of one victim, warned Nassar that “little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women to destroy your world.” Quick question, Kyle: Nassar will be in prison for the rest of his life. How exactly will these “strong women” destroy his world, which for the next 50 or so years will include three meals per day, library privileges, and access to a gym? Michigan State softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez also ripped into Nassar. She warned him that the “army you chose to silence me, to dismiss me and my attempt at speaking the truth, will not prevail over the army you created when violating us.” You mean an army like the one in the Laurel and Hardy classic March of the Wooden Soldiers? The odds of Lopez’s imaginary army storming Nassar’s penitentiary and returning victoriously with his head on a pike are less than zero. Olympic medalist Jordyn Wieber feared “the hardest thing I would have to do is process that I am a victim of Larry Nassar.” Sorry, Jordan, but you will quickly learn that for all the adjectives you and your fellow testifiers hurled at him, the hardest part for you to process will more likely be watching Nassar file appeal after appeal, tutor fellow inmates, and otherwise spend his days watching TV while you deal with PTSD for the rest of your life.
Olympic medalist Aly Raisman got really tough, warning the perverted doctor, “Let this sentence strike fear in anyone who thinks it is O.K. to hurt another person. Abusers, your time is up. The survivors are here, standing tall, and we are not going anywhere.” Raisman added, “I have both power and a voice, and I am only just beginning to use them.” Ms. Raisman, I am impressed with your strength and passion, but please understand that other girls were likely being abused just as you were speaking in that courtroom. And those same children will continue to be abused, despite your warning to Nassar that his and every other pervert’s “time is up.” Nassar’s time is far from up. He’s probably got another half century of natural life to reminisce about all the disgusting acts he perpetrated on you and his hundreds of other victims. That which makes you feel strong and empowered only serves further to enrage those of us who understand there is but one way to deal with these deplorable fiends: death.
It is easy to understand this endless outpouring of victims’ pain and stinging rebukes; that is all the American judicial system affords them in terms of revenge. The actions of presiding Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, however, deserve special contempt. Judge Aquilina praised the victim who spearheaded the lawsuits against Nassar, Rachael Denhollander, as “the bravest person I have ever had in my courtroom.” Sorry, judge: The bravest person in your courtroom during this weeks-long farce was Randall Margraves, a father of three victims, who stormed Nassar’s table in order to harm him physically. Unfortunately, several obese bailiffs thought it more important to protect one of America’s most despicable sexual predators than allow Margraves to land a single blow for justice. But Judge Aquilina saved her greatest insult to society during her sentencing speech when she informed Nassar, “I’ve just signed your death warrant.” No, judge, that is exactly what you didn’t do. Death warrants empower posses to track down criminal scum and kill them on the spot. Sending someone to prison for decades has no similarity to a death warrant. And for those who think Nassar deserves nothing but death, your blowhard nonsense insults those of us who believe in justice, just as its lack of force empowers legions of other Larry Nassars—out there, right now—to molest innocent children.
Any society that doesn’t execute murderers, rapists, and child molesters is rotten to the core. But with the exaltation of Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner, our divorce rate of upwards of 50 percent, and the renaming of those who laugh at our immigration laws as “Dreamers,” you already knew that. If the American judicial system were serious about victim impact statements making an actual impact, such tirades would be delivered roughly one inch from the convicted’s face—and preferably screamed into his ear—while court officials went on coffee breaks and victims whaled on the accused. Instead, we must wait for our only fellow Americans who understand the horrors of sexual predation—hard-core prison inmates who despise sexual predators—to dole out the justice our “legal” system willfully neglects.
Godspeed to the hardened Michigan inmates who target Larry Nassar for what he has long deserved. They are our only hope that justice might one day prevail.