A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Justice for Victims-- a new paradigm whose time has come?

Okay, after struggling with Blogger for a week now, it seems that perhaps I will be able to get a post up in slightly less time than it would take to enscribe the Rosetta Stone using a piece of vermicelli. So let's give this a go.

It is time for us to realize that we do not value children in this society. It's a lovely little political catchphrase designed to earn the votes of soccer moms and soccer dads who can't slow down their minivans or SUVs long enough to truly evaluate these claims dripping from the lips of our elected officials.

Cases in point: this and THIS and THIS.

First, let's attack the use of the term "sexual assault" for rape. I believe this is a euphemism designed to lessen the impact of the crime upon the minds of the public. Do we call murder an "assault?" To me, molestation is assault. Rape is rape.

Next, let's start off with this, in which a judge gave a 60 day sentence to a creature who repeatedly raped a seven year old girl over a four year period. After a huge public outcry, the judge was later "forced" to increase the sentence to three to ten years.

Then there's this: a Nebraska judge sentenced this monster to probation because she thought he was "too short for jail" and was afraid he would be unable to defend himself in prison. This sentence, too, was appealed in an effort to increase it. How nice that the judge's concern for the criminal's rights took such precedence over protecting the victim-- not to mention society at large.

At church, we often include in the Prayers of the People a prayer for those in jail. I have, for years, asked that we also include at that time a prayer for the victims of the people in jail. I have met resistance on this front, to say the least.

I have been toying with an idea which has been niggling around in my mind for a while: what if justice for victims of sexual crime was actually a consideration in our society? We all know that victims have no legal standing in court. What if sentences were actually designed to protect society and the victims of crime? Someone who has raped a child has damaged them for life, in a vast majority of cases.

In the 1990s, the latest legal trend was to attempt to involuntarily commit sexual predators in an effort to protect society after they had served their sentences. This type of desperate (and Constitutionally questionable) gambit would not be necessary if the punishment fit the crime in the first place. If child rapists would receive sentences longer than what Martha Stewart received for lying about a stock trade, we would not have to entertain such extreme measures. Why does anyone consider it justice when a child rapist or even a child molester is given three years-- or even NO years-- behind bars?

Do we consider this type of sentence justice because of the economic nature of justice in ancient law? Is harming a child less worthy of punishment because a child is less productive economically, kind of like the sliding scale for compensation for victims after the Twin Towers attacks?

If we truly take seriously the protection of our children from being used for the gratification of others-- whether that be the need for sex or the need for power or the need to hurt someone or for money or whatever-- then we have to start by reimagining what the true consequences for such deeds should be. Our lack of commitment to protecting society's smallest members is obviously apparent.


At 10/4/06, 6:49 AM, Anonymous Lady S said...

As you noted the 60 day sentence here in Vermont has led to an appeal and an increase. It has also led to legislation and an investigation.

But would you believe (I heard today on the radio) the Judge is standing by his ruling and says there was nothing illegal about it. He is still missing the point that all the brou-haha isn't about legality, it is about punishment.

I hope to see the rules change and there be maditory sentences in Vermont.

Great post today.

At 10/5/06, 9:14 AM, Blogger nebraska girl said...

The Nebraska case is still playing out, and the citizens of Cheyenne County are trying to get the judge removed. If that fails and they have to wait until the next election you can bet that judge will no longer have a job. Nebraskans (especially out here in the western part of the state where it happened) are plenty mad that some of our judges seem to care more about the criminals than the victims.

At 10/7/06, 7:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Foley thing is amazing. It's incredible how furiously they're trying to spin this as a plot by the dems. One day Hastert does so, the next it's "The buck stops here," and he's accepting responsibility.

As long as, of course, the responsibility doesn't entail any consequences.

It's amazing what these hucksters and crooks have gotten away with, and we can only hope that Diebold doesn't continue to enable them come November.


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