Thursday, August 9, 2012

Vigilante? Or Hero?

I ran across this article a few weeks ago about a 23-year-old father who beat a man to death, because the guy was molesting the dad's 5-year-old daughter. The guy was an acquaintance and he had taken the girl off into the woods where the dad found him on top of her with his pants down .... I wish my imagination didn't give me such vivid sensory stories sometimes. The dad beat him to death. He didn't mean to, but he did.

Had it been me, I would have meant to. Maybe this dad is a nicer guy than I am. Obviously he doesn't have my experience nor probably my knowledge of the fucking perverts who will commit such heinous crimes. He wasn't thinking about what his daughter would go through if the guy were arrested and she had to testify. He may not know that the 47-year-old perv would never be rehabilitated, but would continue to victimize children as long as he could get to them. No, this dad was just saving his daughter in the moment, and he didn't mean to kill the perv. I would have.

It's not that I'm a fan of vigilantism. I'm not. If I were, the neighbor who wrote "bitch" on my windshield a couple of weeks ago wouldn't have any air in her tires or windows in her car.

But sometimes I can't help rooting for the one who takes care of business before the system can even get involved. Here's another story.

Last year one of my students, a woman who was in her early 40's,  came to my office in the middle of a conference day. She didn't have an appointment because she hadn't been in class for at least a week. She apologized and told me she'd been in jail for several days, and had just gotten out.

She said her grandson's mother had been dating a class-three pedophile. He molested her 4-year-old grandson.

After they found out about it, my student calmed her son down and persuaded him to let the police handle it. Then she paid the fucking pervert a visit. Our conversation, after she told me how they found out the grandson was molested, went something like this: 

Student: I had to go to jail for three days, because he had to go to the hospital and get a few stitches.

Me: You beat him up? (She wasn't a big woman. Not as big as I am.)

Student: I had a talk with him. He needed a few stitches after we were done talking. But he was lucky I didn't do worse, and the police didn't find the gun because I hid it.

Me: Wait. He needed stitches because you shot him?

Student: No, I didn't shoot him. He was lucky.

Me: You had a gun, but you didn't shoot him?

Student: No. I went there to talk to him. He didn't deny what he did, so I beat him with the gun. But I didn't shoot him, and I don't have a record so the judge let me go.

Me: You beat him with a gun? And did he have to stay long in the hospital?

Student: I don't know. He had a few stitches. I heard 32.

Me: He had 32 stitches? That's a few?

Student: I didn't shoot him. He was lucky.

I gave her a hug before she left, but I still had to recommend she drop my class.

I would rather have given her an A for being a bad-ass grandma. If anybody ever hurt my Coraline, he'd be lucky if I didn't kill him too. Not that I'm a violent person, but the court already had their chance at that fucking pervert and his rights came before the rights of his future victims -- and there will always be future victims with perverts. Somebody has to protect the babies.

See, I'm afraid I would have shot him. I would have taken one for the team. I already know I could do it because I did try to kill a man who was terrorizing my family once. But that's another story. 

A grand jury decided not to charge the dad. A judge declined to charge my student, even though she gave the guy 32 stitches. I agree with the decision both times. It's not like either of them showed a pattern of beating or murdering innocent people. But maybe I saw Billy Jack one too many times.

One tin soldier rides away.

What do you think? Should the dad who killed the guy who was allegedly molesting his daughter go to prison? Should my student have been charged after she beat a man who -- again allegedly -- molested her grandson? There's a difference, I admit, because my student didn't catch the fucking perv in the act. But still ..... Would you do the same thing?


  1. You know what...the truth is, I don't know. I am not sure I know my capacity for physical violence and rage. Or my ability to put myself in harm's way for another. I am always sort of amazed at people who say they would give their lives, or kill someone in a certain situation. Unless they've already experienced such extreme circumstances, how are they so sure?

    I think I commented on your FB post, about that young man in Colorado who people say "abandoned" his baby and girlfriend. I think I said that I bet he always thought he'd act very differently in such a situation.

    So whenever I'm asked such a hypothetical, I envy those who have conviction & certainty about their possible actions, but the only honest answer I can give is: "I know how I'd like to act, but I don't know how I would act." And I hope I never have to find out.

    1. All true, Zann. I can take a strong stand here, but I don't really know how I'd respond. And every situation is different too. I might not have gone and found the pedophile like my student did. But I know what I've done in the past when someone threatened my family. I'll write about that soon. One thing I will admit, using that kind of violence against even a pedophile would not make me a better person.

  2. I used to say I'd NEVER allow a man to beat up on me. Because if he did, I'd fight right back.

    Then I was faced with the situation. Theory and practice are two entirely different things, especially when your children are watching.

    I didn't fight back.

    But I did divorce his sorry ass.

    1. You were still protecting your children, Jello. That's the whole point. You did fight back -- just not in the way you imagined. Sometimes it takes more courage to do it the way you did. {{{}}}

  3. No doubt, there is something satisfying about giving kid-harmers some instant karma. Still, I think it's really psychically damaging to indulge in that kind of thinking (nevermind the actual behavior).

    1. Possibly, Pancake. However, it also gives some comfort to believe you might have some control over the situation if something did happen. Nothing about pedophilia is psychically healthy.