Thursday, June 26, 2008

Why politicians and lawyers are despised...

Rep. James Fagan of Taunton, Mass.

Of course, the obvious disclaimer is that there are honest politicians and honest lawyers. Okay, I know the punch line is in there somewhere, something about "hens' teeth" or the Land of Oz. But there really are people of integrity in these positions.

Back in the eighties, I worked as a corrections officer in the State of Ohio. My boss, the county sheriff, was an enigma in many ways: he was a soft-spoken county executive who, a few months before I started at the jail, had personally diffused a hostage situation by pointing a gun at an inmate's head and threatening to blow it off. He served the county as a Democrat, but was conservative, pro-life, and pro-gun. He was a politician (in the strictest sense of the term) who had to run for re-election, but who could not stand politics. He was a truly decent Christian gentleman who served (I believe) three terms, but lost that last bid for re-election.

After I changed careers, taking a software consulting job out of state, I lost touch with him. I understand that he retired, and moved back down South where he came from years before. I heard that at some point, he had to become a federal witness and change his identity (hence, I'm hesitant to identify him by name). I have no idea where he is now, or even if he's still alive.

But I remember he once said to me: "The only thing lower than a politician is a child molester."

The Sheriff always saw himself as a cop, and could not stand the political process, all the wheeling and dealing and watching out for blindside attacks from one's opponents.

In Massachusetts, they currently have a politician who is also a defense lawyer, who not only defends child molesters, but who vows to put their young victims on the stand and...

" them apart. I'm going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined, that when they're 8 years old, they throw up; when they're 12 years old, they won't sleep; when they're 19 years old, they'll have nightmares and they'll never have a relationship with anybody."

Now, isn't that lovely? What an asset to have in the statehouse and in the halls of justice! Of course, a defense attorney should act zealously to defend a person who is innocent, and is morally bound to provide a proper defense even for a guilty person, but to speak of victims, little children, in this way, is monstrous. Simply monstrous.

And note how people are hemming and hawing, wringing their hands, and making all sorts of excuses for Rep. Fagan's "hyperbole." You know, "hyperbole" used to mean describing a little fish as a big fish, or exaggerating how far a person could hit a golf ball. Boasting about ruining the lives of child rape victims isn't "hyperbole." It's simply vile. It is almost beyond words.

No decent person should speak with this man, look at him, do business with him, or give him the time of day. There was a time when someone saying something like this would have been shunned (and likely more than that). In more civilized times, Fagan might have been challenged to a dual. At very least, his colleagues in the capital would have walked out in protest and sought his impeachment and removal from the Legislature (not to mention disbarment) for dishonoring himself, the House, and the dignity of the legal process for which he serves as an officer of the court.

But nothing of the sort will happen. Why? Because we have become a society of barbarians, bereft of honor and wanting of courage. Nobody will stand up for what is decent. Mark my words: the politicians on the other side of the aisle will try to exploit Fagan's words, they'll express "outrage" and call for "retractions" - but all the while they'll be there to shake his hand, swill martinis, talk about what a great guy he is, and shag a few golf balls with him.

"The only thing lower..."

The term "bottom-feeder" comes to mind.

Instead, his esteemed colleagues will make excuses, they'll "work with" Mr. Fagan, the people will continue to grant him the nearly godlike status that we give politicians. He will continue to strut around as a man about town, people will curry his favor, and will continue to be surrounded by the usual cast of sycophants and hangers-on.

"The only thing lower than a politician is a child molester," said my boss. Sheriff, if you're out there somewhere reading this, please know that someone remembers your integrity - and it is sorely missed in this current culture of the lowest common denominator, of the savage, of the parasite. Your statement is true, though in this case, I think the politician is actually at the same level as the child molesters he defends.

In any case, I would not want this Fagan character anywhere near my wife and son. And if he continues to represent the citizens of Massachusetts, well, I guess the old dictum applies: you get the government you deserve.

So, I guess the moral of the story is that not all politicians and lawyers are dirt-bags, but some of them certainly are.


solarblogger said...

In trying to find good material on this case, I'm very disappointed in the news coverage. I have a number of questions I can't find answers for.

First off, I have to think that if our system would allow an attorney to do this to a child, we have a problem that goes FAR beyond the one attorney. But I can't find much on how Massachusetts handles the cross-examination of children. (I did find proposed law in another state which would make what Fagan said he would do impossible.) I would also like to know more about the legal history of child testimony. (In Massachusetts, the witch trials come to mind!) For some reason, the reporters don't think such questions are worth bothering with. It would be nice to know what kind of government Massachusetts actually has here. (It's conceivable that what Fagan suggested is impossible, and the other legislators don't know this because of a lousy press.)

This is one of those places where our modern emphasis on uniform procedural justice has led to an impasse. Under one arrangement, if the child is innocent, that innocent child can be browbeaten by an intimidating adult. Under the other arrangement, if the adult is innocent, he can be accused by a child whose testimony will be accepted with little question. Neither of these is acceptable.

I think I'd prefer a system where the law allowed the parents to take matters into their own hands, and only got involved when the parents got it wrong.

Love your conversation of virtue and vice here.

God's Guitar Girl said...

Really good commentary. I also can't believe what's going on in your state right now saying that the death penalty for those convicted of raping a child qualifies as cruel and unusual. I won't even get into the verbage here that courses through my grey matter on that one!

Carl Vehse said...

Yet another Massachusetts politician, Rep. Delahunt, was allowed to weasel his way into a House subcommittee hearing and harass a member of the Bush administration by telling the witness he was glad any al Qaeda terrorists watching C-SPAN finally had the chance to see what the witness looked like.

If Kim Jung-Il's North Korea is removed (albeit temporarily) from the "Axis of Evil" list, maybe Massachusetts, with its cesspool of elected politicians, can be substituted.

Kobra said...

I've often lamented the fact that a man can no longer punch another in the nose without going to jail. In some cases, as in this case here, not doing so is barbarity. The problem with the system is that it has become impersonal and mechanistic. The machine is now running the operators and not the other way around. A shame.

Thursday's Child said...

I missed this post earlier. I agree with you 100%. this man should be disbarred, kicked out of office, and tarred and feathered. But that's not the way things are in America anymore. A shame.

I wonder what choice words Martin Luther would have in this situation.