If I whet My glittering sword,
And My hand takes hold on judgment,
I will render vengeance to My enemies,
And repay those who hate Me.

— Deuteronomy 32:41


He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

— Isaiah 53:3


The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness.

— William Blake, “Jerusalem”


A Robin Redbreast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.

— William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence”





This post is about yesterday’s news stories about the sentencing of “monster doctor” Larry Nassar to a term of 40 to 175 years for sexual abuse.

Before I get to my main point – actually, points — I would like to mention some of my deep feelings about human suffering and sympathy.

My mother used to say to me that she had always wished one of her children would become a doctor. She used to say how much she admired our pediatrician, Dr. Cohen, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who was the type of caring, humane physician she most admired. He was the type of doctor who was always on call.

I would always say to her, “I couldn’t be a doctor. I can’t stand the sight of blood.” And, indeed, the sight of people or animals suffering, just the thought of it, was something that deeply upset me. Once, I observed boys torturing frogs in a local reservoir with their pocket knives. This greatly upset me. It also struck me that there was no reason for such cruelty, and I couldn’t understand what motivated the boys or why they enjoyed it. I had such feelings about suffering in general, including emotional pain, even minor emotional hurts.

To repeat, I hate to see needless suffering: inflicted upon others; experienced by them.




Yesterday, on January 24, 2018, Dr. Lawrence Nassar was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of from 40 to 175 years by Ingham County (Michigan) Circuit Court judge Rosemarie Aquilina for molesting young girls and women. Larry Nassar, D.O., is a 54-year-old former Michigan State University and USA gymnastics team physician who has also been sentenced (in November 2017) to 60 years in federal court on child pornography charges.

Judge Aquilina, who had opened her courtroom to all the young women victims who wanted to address Dr. Nassar directly, forced him to listen when he pleaded to make it stop.

“It is my honor and privilege to sentence you,” she said yesterday, and noting the length of the sentence, added, “I just signed your death warrant.”

Given an opportunity to address the court before sentencing, Dr. Nassar apologized and, occasionally turning to the young women in the courtroom, said: “Your words these past several days have had a significant effect on myself and have shaken me to my core. I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”

Just before sentencing Dr. Nassar, the judge read parts of a letter that he had submitted to the court last week, in which he complained about his treatment in a separate federal child pornography case and wrote that his accusers in this case were seeking news media attention and money. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” he wrote in the letter. There were audible gasps from the gallery when the judge read that line.

Dr. Nassar was accused of molesting girls as young as six, many of them Olympic gymnasts, over a period of many years under the guise of giving them medical treatment. In November, he had pleaded guilty to sexually abusing seven girls.

Judge Aquilina was a fierce advocate for the victims, often praising or consoling them after their statements.

“Imagine feeling like you have no power and no voice,” Aly Raisman, an American gymnast and Olympic gold medal winter, said in court. “Well, you know what, Larry? I have both power and voice, and I am only just beginning to use them. All these brave women have power, and we will use our voices to make sure you get what you deserve: a life of suffering spent replaying the words delivered by this powerful army of survivors.”




I hate to see anyone suffer. And that includes Larry Nassar. I wish he could be given some hope.

I hope I do not appear to be minimizing the horrors of what the girls who were abused by Nasar experienced. Perhaps I am. I don’t know what it was like.




A sad story. Horrible. So what do I think? And why should anyone care what I think?

That I wonder: is anyone completely beyond redemption?

Should the purpose of punishment be to humiliate and make an example of the victim? To make a statement? I think that that is what the judge was doing. The trial has given her the stage, a platform; she is in the spotlight. She is making the most of this opportunity to impose a draconian sentence on Nassar.

Is anyone so horrible that they cannot still be considered part of the human race? Perhaps amenable or susceptible to making amends and reforming themselves? Nassar is clearly a pedophile. The evidence of his guilt is overwhelming. Is there treatment for such persons?

To repeat: I hate to anyone suffer, and that includes the worst of the worst, the most lowly and depraved.




The Nassar trial was like an orchestrated Orwellian “hate,” with the judge the conductor. Public outpourings of hate seem to be common nowadays. Consider the Women’s March 2018.

I was looking at some photos shared with me by an acquaintance who attended the march on January 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. Here’s what I saw:

A woman holding a poster aloft with what appears to be a doctored close up photo of Trump. Two arrows are pointing to Trump’s mouth. Trump’s lips have been altered and colored brown, so that it appears that his mouth is an anus. On the sign, in big letters, “‘THE ONLY SHITHOLE” is written.

A woman with raised fist, a tattooed forearm, half closed eyes, and pursed lips holding a sign that reads “Kicking Ass & Taking Over the World” with a cartoon Rosie the Riveter type flexing her muscles.

A woman holding aloft a sign that reads “the EMPEROR HAS NO TAX RETURNS.” There is a cartoon drawing of a fat man’s midsection. Where his penis would be, a blank piece of paper is covering it up, with only “1040” written on it.

A young woman with a pink knit cap holding aloft a sign that reads “HELL hath No FURY LIKE SEVERAL MILLION PISSED OFF WOMEN” with the female gender symbol.

Two women sitting on a low stone wall (with another woman between them). Both have large signs on their backs. One sign reads: MY SUPER POWER IS THAT I CAN LOOK AT SOMEONE WITH GETTING A BONER.” The other sign reads “I’D CALL HIM A CUNT BUT HE LACKS BOTH DEPTH AND WARMTH.”

Two guys with broad grins standing on top of a stone wall. They are holding aloft a sign that reads “THE ONLY xxxHOLE IS IN THE WHITE HOUSE.”

An elderly man with a funny hat and aviator sunglasses, holding aloft a sign reading “TRUMP: Racist. Sexist. Fascist. PSYCHO”

Most of the hate is directed at President Trump, and, by extension, to sexual predators.

Much of it seems crude and uncalled for. And, actually, disrespectful. Yes, I do think public figures deserve some kind of respect. As was true of authority figures and adults when I was growing up.

There is a swell — threatening to become a tsunami — of meanness, and a lack of a modicum of decency, in our culture nowadays, in the public square.



— Roger W. Smith

  January 25, 2018




In an up email to close friends on February 28, 2018, I wrote:

I wrote on my blog last month: The Nassar trial was like an orchestrated Orwellian “hate,” with the judge the conductor. Public outpourings of hate seem to be common nowadays.

That’s what I disliked about the trial. I know Nassar was guilty of doing awful things.

To know what such a “hate” is, you have to have read “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”




Judge Aquilina & Nassar

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina; Larry Nassar

8 thoughts on “vengeance

  1. Pete Smith

    Strange post, Roger,

    Can you please tell me why one should respect Trump? As Orrin Hatch so appropriately said about Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal, “I apologize to the press for calling President Clinton a jerk. The position of the President of the U.S. deserves respect. One should not call the U.S. President a jerk, even if he is a jerk.” Same goes for Trump. One should not call him a shithole, even though he is probably the biggest shithole world leader ever, except for Hitler.

    I know you like to be contrarian but how on earth can you express an iota of sympathy for Lawrence Nassar. Please read all the statements from these women about the “examinations” he performed on all these innocent young pre-teenagers, etc. If you still think anything short of life in prison is appropriate for him, your thinking reeks of misogyny.

  2. Roger W. Smith

    Pete — Your angry comments are acknowledged. I am not a misogynist. You should know this. Needless to say, I read and took notes about the Nassar trials (previous and current) before writing the post. Trump is not “the biggest shithole world leader ever, except for Hitler.” Such a comment shows a grievous lack of historical knowledge/perspective. Leaders and authority figures can be questioned and attacked for their actions, statements, policies, etc., but showing a picture of Trump with his lips configured to represent an anus, etc. is just plain gross.

    The point of my post, which you missed, is that I believe all persons, even the most vile — the lowest of the low — deserve Christian sympathy if we can find it within us, and that rarely is a person completely bad. Read the Bible; Walt Whitman. There you would find counsel to show sympathy and to try and forgive even the most heinous persons, the “despised and rejected.” Or, as David Von Drehle put, it “the lowest of the dead.” In his book about death row. And, believe me, the judge, who is so proud of herself, is attempting to consign Nassar to that group.

  3. Roger W. Smith

    Not nice. You get off on trashing what I have said in earnest. Rather than giving it some thought. Much easier to ridicule something that was well meant and was not, as I tried to point out, intended to dismiss the claims of Nassar’s victims — at least that was not my intent — but you either can’t see this or refuse to acknowledge it. Hate is the beaten path, as was shown at the Women’s March. So easy to throw stones.

  4. Roger W. Smith

    Pete — do you remember my post?

    You responded similarly, refusing to even consider that perhaps I was right in saying that Ming Quang Pham had been unfairly charged and sentenced. The best you could do was call him a “badass.” With no real knowledge of understanding of the case or the individual (whereas I carefully researched this). Just that it’s easiest to consider someone to be garbage and never give them the benefit of the doubt. What happened to him was terrible. He never implemented any terrorist act, but was given 40 years. In your view, the “badass” deserved it and deserves to be locked up for most of his life.

    It says something about where you’re coming from.

    Of course, what you will say is that I am trying to justify Larry Nassar’s crimes. Or that I am a neo-Nazi.

  5. Pete Smith

    All I am trying to say is that it is beyond strange that you would decide to write a long post in support of two of the more despicable humans on this planet. Trump we can argue about — and you’re right that some of the placards in the Womens March were crude — but Larry Nassar? Marcia put it best — if you’re stuck in a room with a bunch of women who have read this post, you better fear for your life.

  6. Roger W. Smith

    It is distressing and sad that your wife would say this. In reference to one of her in-laws. She may have thought it funny. I don’t.

  7. Roger W. Smith

    Your continually dragging Trump in in commenting on various posts, and frequent use of “misogynist” to refer to my posts or views shows that you are deliberately misreading my posts and distorting my views, which you heartily disagree with. This shows biased, distorted thinking on your part. And, a desire to attack a thoughtful piece by vehemently denouncing views I have not expressed. This is not the first time you have done this. The Trump analogy does not work here. His alleged sexual crimes were of a different order and degree than Nassar’s. There were aspects of the Nassar sentencing that bothered me. That does not amount to saying that he wasn’t guilty of egregious crimes. My wife agreed with the gist of this post. She is not anti-women.

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