I haven’t not yet read Krakauer’s book about Missoula and rape culture. But if we needed evidence that tolerance for rape does exist, and that educated, influential people in our state still fail to see rape as a serious crime, or see the failure to punish rapists as a serious failing, look no further:
That is happening. After arguing that a 14 year was ‘older than her chronological age’, this judge gave her rapist effectively a 30 day sentence – and now he’s receiving a lifetime achievement award (my previous thoughts on the situation here. Because he’s made so many other good calls, this one is apparently forgivable! The point isn’t that he made a mistake in sentencing – everybody makes professional errors in their careers. But when the facts of the case are not in question, shouldn’t we expect a judge, at least one who we’re going to publically honor, to err on the side of protecting the vulnerable, not the victimizers? Between a deceased teenage girl and a grown man who had authority over her, Judge Baugh sided with the victimizer instead of the victim. If we don’t want to be reminded of our society’s collective callousness towards this crime by books like the one Krakauer has written, we need to see the sort of error Judge Baugh made in sentencing Stacey Rambold as an mistake of such magnitude that it can’t be overlooked as ‘a bad decision among many good ones.’
Entitlement is a word that gets over used these days – but it’s the only one that can possibly describe this situation. Baugh decided that this grown man was ‘entitled’ to nearly consequence-free statutory rape of a 14 year old, and the Yellowstone Area Bar decided that a retiring judge was entitled to a lifetime achievement award regardless of his terrible decision. It’s never pleasant to have your entitlement pointed out, especially by an ‘outsider’ like Jon Krakauer. But as a group, Montana men (and I include myself there) need to recognize that too many of our number share these entitled beliefs, apparently without shame, and someone needs to call them out on it – because the consequences are painfully evident.