Last month in Valley County, Montana, a man pled guilty to repeatedly raping his 12 year-old daughter and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, with credit for 13 already served. The state-mandated minimum sentence for incest is 100 years, but judges are allowed to mitigate that at their discretion. In this case, a psychosexual evaluation found that the defendant was not likely to reoffend. Judge McKeon also cited the support the defendant had received from his “family, friends, church and employer.” These supporters included the victim’s mother and grandmother, who requested that he not be sent to prison.
A petition calling on the Montana Supreme Court to impeach Judge McKeon for this sentence now has nearly a quarter million signatures. But it doesn’t really matter, because he’s retiring at the end of November, anyway. It’s frustrating. No sanction we can impose on him now would satisfy us. Like the crime itself, this situation wrecks our sense of justice, partly because nothing can balance the scales but also because it’s kind of our fault. You can read all about it this week’s column for the Missoula Independent.
For lighter fare, or at least for fare that does not center on the most awful crime imaginable, this is also the Indy’s election issue. You can read my introductory essay here. If this feels like the longest election of our lifetimes, it’s probably because it is. Ted Cruz announced way back in March 2015, and sixteen other Republicans followed him—the largest slate of primary candidates any American party has ever fielded. Somehow, we would up with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the two most disliked major-party candidates in history. It’s tempting to view these options as both and therefore equally unpalatable. But it is a choice between licorice and shit, and in such moments, it is imperative we not surrender to the luck of the draw.
Besides, there are plenty of exciting races further down the ballot. In Montana, voters can choose between another multimillionaire with no experience in politics and a lukewarm Democratic successor to a more popular executive, in the race between Greg Gianforte and Governor Steve Bullock. Our limited polling suggests that contest is close, and so is the supreme court election between Dirk Sandefur and Kristen Juras, who has never served as a judge. She did try to shut down a sex advice column in the student newspaper, though. Politics may be gross this year, but it’s gross like Chthulhu, which is to say gross but also interesting and potentially apocalyptic. We’ll be back tomorrow with the very last Friday links of this election cycle. I hope it is, anyway.