Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rethinking the Whole Castration Thing

Melanie requested to hear about my world view exploding, and I think I'm stable enough to write about a portion of the explosion now. If not, I can just erase the post. Unless I accidentally press publish instead then my psychotic rantings will promptly go to a few dozen blog readers. (Not that it has happened before or anything.)

"Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up."

I've got a problem with child molesters. It's a common problem. I hate them and would like them to die during an unmedicated castration. Child molesters are pure unmitigated evil and deserve pain. It's a nasty world view, but there it is.

A few years ago when my best friend's husband got caught red-handed with their mentally-challenged adopted daughter, I had a conflict. This was a man who I had known for years, a man who had offered my family shelter during a difficult homeless time. (Another long story involving the city and some building code violations.) The evidence was undeniable however. I took the girl in while my friend got her husband out. Then I watched in disbelief as law enforcement and CPS let the whole thing drop between counties.

The thing is... as much as I loved the child, I did not want her molester to die slowly. I wanted him to get treatment, I wanted him to stay away from other children, but I didn't want him dead.

Fast forward to early summer 2009. I do a Google search on a good friend from college to see what he's up to. Surprise! It's a molestation conviction. I cannot believe it. I don't mean that metaphorically—I really cannot believe it.

I email him and get the scoop. I believe the now-adult "victim" is lying, insane perhaps.

This man is one of my oldest and most spiritual friends, one of the chastest people I've ever known. (He has faults, but they mainly lie in his unwillingness to get a real job and support his family.) Now he's falsely convicted. The justice system sucks: a guilty molester wandering free and an innocent man bound for jail. I rant and rave. Rave and rant. What's it take to get a little justice in this world?

After I calm down a bit, I contact his ex-wife, who I love and respect. Such a sane woman, taken in by lies. Her pain must be immense.

It is. Two hours later, my heart is broken, my world upside down. I claim tragedy in a friend's life to explain my tears which for some unaccountable reason roll down my face anytime anyone says, "How are you?" (Awkward.) It's not a lie: My dear friend has lost his mind. My other dear friend has had her world and her faith shattered. All of their children have lost their father. That, my friends, is tragedy.

Should he be castrated, the life slowly ebbing from him while his soul is thrust down to hell? People who harm children are pure unmitigated evil, right? But he is my dear friend, not pure unmitigated evil. How can I process the unprocessable? He's innocent. Guilty. Innocent. My mind won't leave it alone.

I reread everything he's ever written. It's a lot: emails, letters, a book, a screenplay, his appeal paperwork. I read my college journals. And I decide he is telling the truth. This man could not have committed this crime. I'd buy losing his mind and committing a bank robbery, polygamy, even murder, but not this, not molesting a child. Not him.

Every instinct in me says she's right, that he's guilty. Every instinct in me says he's innocent. Clearly I cannot trust my instincts. I cannot trust my conclusions.

These things I do know. 1. Jami plays no part in this tragedy except as a weeping audience member. 2. I cannot know. Not in this life. 3. It's OK to believe they are both right even though it defies logic. 4. We probably ought to skip castration as a form of the death penalty. 5. I will feel this pain until God heals it.

I want to be able to wrap up this whole monstrosity in a nice little package of wisdom with a bow on top and a tag that reads, "Yes, it's heinous, but there's a moral to be learned here." Alas I have no wisdom; I'm still floundering. I'm praying wisdom comes along at some point. Praying hard.

21 comments:

Heidi Ashworth said...

Hoo, boy! I wish there was something I could say that would make this better for everyone (but naturally, I am powerless). I think one of the hard things for you must be the instincts thing. I rely very heavily on my instincts and whenever something happens that tells me they can't be trusted (cause your instincts have to be wrong about one of them, right?)it is devastating to me. I know that makes it sound like I am super self absorbed but my instincts are crucial to dealing with challenges in my life that could get dangerously out of hand if I were to read things wrong. Anyway, I guess I am trying to say that I feel bad for everyone in this and that the questioning of your instincts is the one that I have actual experience with--it's painful enough without all the rest of it. I'm so sorry! I truly believe that as time goes on, these kind of horrific and truly unable-to-wrap-your-mind-around-it circumstances are going to become more and more common. None of us will be able to get along on borrowed light. Love you! Big hugs!

Heidi Ashworth said...

That "sum up" quote is from Princess Bride, huh? Love it. Love you!

Heidi Ashworth said...

Just reread your post and my two comments--I come across as a jerk here--so sorry! This whole situation is just horrible, absolutely horrible and I guess the reason no one but dumb me has commented is b/c they know there is nothing they can say that will be of the least use.

Wendy said...

What a mess! I don't think that anything can be said that will fix any of it. You have no control over any of it. That's what I tell myself to help myself cope. Hang in there. Hug your kids.

Kristina P. said...

I have no idea what to say. Our hearts and heads are often at odds with each other, and while our hearts don't want to believe that someone we know and love could do something so horrible, our heads know better.

I found out that a coworker who recently got married, married a convicted sex offender. He got out of prison only 18 months ago, and was in prison for 3 years. I don't really know the circumstances, and apparently, he's returned to the church and repented, as they got married in the temple, but working in social work long enough, sex offenders have an extremely difficult time dealing with their problems.

Jami said...

Heidi, you're right about the instinct thing. Aside from just the sheer sorrow of the whole thing, not knowing who is the "good guy" is sort of a new thing for me. You are also right about the Princess Bride quote. Also I'm afraid that you are right about the increased incidence of horror as time goes on. You are, however, wrong about coming across as a jerk.

Thanks, Wendy. Hanging in there. Hugging my kids.

Oh Kristina, I know. I keep looking for that magic wand. I want to fix it, but it's pretty unfixable.

Thora said...

I'm sorry! For you, for them, for everybody. My husband's dad was (very wrongly) charged (and then acquitted, because of zero evidence, because it never happened) with molestation, and it was a horrible, tramatic, experience for their family - and there wasn't even the drama of disagreeing opinions! This is in a small way why I'm glad that I've been spared having close couple friends get divorced, because they tend to have the fundamental disagreement in facts that this situation has. And often you can never know who's right - at least not in this life.

This was all very unhelpful, but I guess I'm just expressing some sympathy. Life is so much more complicated than novels, where everything is explained or worked out in the end.

Oh, and Heidi, I didn't think you sounded like a jerk at all.

Jami said...

Thanks Thora. I feel strange accepting sympathy for other people's tragedy, but I still appreciate it.

SaraH said...

Such a tough and painful situation, but thanks for turning it in to a beautiful blog that everyone can relate to on some level.
HUGS!!!!!!!!

Jami said...

Thanks for the hug, Sarah. I appreciate your outlook so much.

mindyluwho said...

My sister was the victim of a sex offender. A very nice neighbor whom everyone really liked. I sat through the trial with her on my lap and felt her fear and trembling. He deserved to be castrated. He was not a dear friend however, and I cannot imagine the pain you must be feeling although you do a pretty good job here depicting that pain as my heart hurts very much for you right now.

Jami said...

Oh Mindy--your poor sister. I can't even imagine your family's pain. I wish evil people were immediately identifiable. As it is we get taken in by kind words and attractive faces, by intelligence and talent. I wish there was a more effective way to defend ourselves and those we love.

Heather of the EO said...

There's a whole lot of wisdom in this post. Even if you feel like everything within you is at odds. That's the very thing that makes us need God so much, and you said that so well. I'm sorry you're going through this. Yuck.

Jami said...

Heather, there is SO much that teaches us how much we need God. I don't know how I could live without Him.

Melanie J said...

Man, this is such a tough thing. I've never personally encountered this and yet still have felt sickened by how I would feel if I had to. I hope all will eventually be well for you and those you love.

Jami said...

Thanks, Melanie.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

awwww Jami, this is so beautifully articulated. The ultimate complexity!!!!!

HUG!

I know EXACTLY how you are feeling!

Alison Wonderland said...

Just like everyone else, I have no solution but this post is amazing.

Jami said...

Thanks, Crash and Allison. It's getting a little less tender. I rarely cry for no reason whatsoever now.

Hannah said...

Plenty of seemingly nice, close friends can do awful awful things. My best friend was raped by a guy that we all grew up with. He admitted it via a text message that I saw (basically telling her she was a p tease who deserved it) that she deleted after so many of our (supposed) friends said she was jealous and lying. She never reported it because our 'friends' decided he was too nice to do something like this.

Just a thought.

Jami said...

You're right, Hannah. It happens all the time. I'm sorry your friend had such a horrific experience.