Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Injustice

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town
Jon Krakauer, 2015

Number 3 of 50

Cravings inspired: the ability to castrate rapists remotely using only my mind
A passage I loved: "After a victim has reported a crime to the police, many people believe that the decision whether or not to charge the suspect with a crime, and then prosecute the suspect, is the prerogative of the victim. News media often contribute to this misconception in stories about rape victims by reporting that a victim "declined to press charges." In fact, the criminal justice system gives victims no direct say in the matter. It's the police, for the most part, who decide whether a suspect should be arrested, and prosecutors who ultimately determine whether a conviction should be pursued." [I did not know this fact. The implications are staggering for victims of sexual assault, especially non-stranger sexual assaults.]
If this book were a person: Your favorite college professor. The one who seemed have endless information and the ability to make all of it fascinating and comprehensible.

Look, my husband is out of town, so I'm reading like a fiend. And it's a good thing for him that he missed being around me while I was reading Missoula because 1) I did practically nothing else but read it until I had turned the last page and 2) it gave me a temporary allergy to everyone with a penis.

You might know Jon Krakauer from his books Into Thin Air and Into the Wild, both of which were made into major motion pictures. He is really, really good at turning complex, large-cast, true-life stories into rip-roaring page turners, loaded with suspense and drama. This book is not an exception. I am so grateful that this author, with his massive popularity and broad audience, chose to dig into this infuriating, heartrending subject.

Unfortunately and maddeningly, it's clear that the men who are committing non-stranger sexual assaults wouldn't recognize themselves as the perpetrators in these stories. These are people who, by whatever disaster of mental illness or upbringing or demonic possession, do not actually believe they are doing anything wrong. The sheer certitude of their belief makes them, insanely, very credible advocates for their innocence. Victims, on the other hand, have a slew of responses to being victimized that prejudice police, juries, judges and the public against them. Result: rapists go free.

And this is assuming the case even comes to trial. Look, the deck is so insanely stacked against justice, you just have to read the book to believe it. It's bitter medicine, but Krakauer's dramatic flair hooks me every time, and I was captivated, even when I wanted to burst into a towering pillar of righteous flames.

Up Next: January Theme book, TBD

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