Impeach Judge McKeon? Sure, but he’s retiring anyway

District court judge John McKeon sentenced a man to 60 days in jail for raping his own daughter.

Judge John McKeon sentenced a man to 47 days in jail for raping his own daughter.

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.

People who say Krakauer’s book is unfair haven’t read it

A poster by Missoula artist Andy Smetanka, parodying the cover of Krakauer's book

A poster by Missoula artist Andy Smetanka parodies the cover of Krakauer’s book.

Perhaps you have not read about this issue in your hometown newspaper for the last month, but Jon Krakauer’s book Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town came out yesterday. I am about halfway through, and it is a gripping read. Plenty of local luminaries assured me it was garbage, including Griz correspondent Bill Speltz—who two months ago insinuated that Krakauer was biased and his book misleading, before adding that he would “hold judgment on Missoula until reading it”—and county attorney Kirsten Pabst, who criticized Krakauer for not interviewing her and wrote a memo to Doubleday calling the book “actionable libel.” I quote the Missoulian:

“Pabst did not appear to have obtained a copy before writing the memo; she appeared to be responding to information she had received about the publication, including questions she received from Krakauer in connection with his reporting for Missoula.

That makes it sound like he tried to interview her. Also, guys: I know you love Missoula, and I do too. But you have to read a book before you determine that it’s a hit job. So far, I find Missoula striking not just for its descriptions of how this town has mishandled rape, but also for its generosity.

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Startled by bukkake, columnist blames feminism

Award-winning author Joseph Dobrian reads at Prairie Lights.

Award-winning author Joseph Dobrian and his pocket square at Prairie Lights

At the risk of feeding the outrage machine, I urge you to read this column by Joseph Dobrian in the Iowa City Press-Citizen, “Feminism does not empower women. It infantilizes them.” Mad props to Justin, Den Man for the link. The first paragraph goes like this:

I saw a revolting image on Facebook the other day: a nude woman on whose face and torso several men had evidently just ejaculated. The caption said, “Feminism. Because being a housewife wasn’t degrading enough.” That accusation — that feminism encourages such conduct — might sound counterintuitive, but there’s something to it.

I’m going to stop you right there, bro. You saw an image of a nude woman covered in ejaculate on Facebook? Facebook content is vetted by automatic and human moderators. That’s why you don’t see hardcore pornography in your News Feed. Maybe Dobrian confused his browser tabs.

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Is it wrong to question Shia LaBeouf’s rape narrative?

Shia LaBeouf does even this unnaturally.

Shia LaBeouf does this unnaturally, somehow.

More than one of you sent me news that Shia LaBeouf says he was raped during #IAMSORRY, the performance-art apology for plagiarizing Daniel Clowes that was itself plagiarized from Marina Abramovic. Sorry—we got sucked into a Baudrillardian whirlpool there. The important part of the sentence is that somebody raped Shia LaBeouf, or so he said in an interview with Dazed. His description of events—a woman entered the exhibit, lashed his legs with a cane, and raped him while her boyfriend waited outside—conflicts with reports from his fellow artists. Also, it is insane. But to even allude to these issues is to question the narrative of a victim of sexual assault, which is wrong. I quote the AV Club’s Sean O’Neal:

But to question any of these details…is to enter into the always-uncomfortable arena of casting doubt on a sexual assault allegation…to blame the victim. Timed as it is in the midst of the continued controversy surrounding Bill Cosby, LaBeouf’s story could also be seen as commentary on the way society treats rape accusations, particularly when they involve a celebrity. But, again, to even suggest there may be some other, “artistic” purpose to LaBeouf coming forward with this would be to trivialize a charge of sexual assault.

I swear, if that son of a bitch made us think about this on purpose…

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Van Valkenburg announces deal with Department of Justice, calls them dicks

FVV

Fred Van Valkenburg and a woman who loves her job, by Kelsey Wardwell of the Missoulian.

And like that, the Gordian Knot is untangled: Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg has announced a tripartite agreement with the Department of Justice and State Attorney General Tim Fox to improve the way his office prosecutes sexual assaults. Van Valkenburg will drop his lawsuit, and the DOJ will stop investigating him and releasing statements about it while he is on vacation. Now we just shake hands, smile for the cameras and put this unpleasantness behind us. Quote:

“(The USDOJ) never once reached out—never once in two years—reached out to work cooperatively with me in this matter,” Van Valkenburg said. “The letter that (Acting U.S. Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels) issued on Feb. 14 was the single most unprofessional thing I have seen in my practice of law in 41 years…Why did the United States Department of Justice do what they did here?…People working for the United States government think there is no price to things.”

L’chaim, everybody! Samuels succeeded Van Valkenburg at the podium and remarked, on behalf of said government, that “had we had to litigate this, I am confident that we would have prevailed.”

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