BREAKING: Punishment culture and Salem Village!


Maybe some of our leading journalists could possibly step down too:
Here at THE HOWLER, we're not gigantic fans of punishment culture.

No doubt it's the influence of Cousin Elizabeth, who married the Reverend Hale in the wake of the Salem witch trials. According to academics and experts, they married in 1698, several years after Reverend Hale flipped on the wisdom of the trials.

Inspired by Professor Gates, we decided to check out the numbers. Cousin Elizabeth was the niece of Anthony Somerby, our seventh great-grandfather.

(We say he was "our seventh great-grandfather." In fact, the gentleman was only one of our 256 [sic] seventh great-grandfathers! So the picking-and-choosing works when we construct our genealogies. Professor Gates, take note!)

Back to our original point. We were struck by the pursuit of punishment displayed in today's New York Times editorial.

If we understood the work correctly, the editors feel that Dr. Larry Nassar was wrong in his decades of sexual assaults. Having drawn this bold conclusion, the editors decided to look for many additional people to punish. We were struck by this part of their editorial, Lou Anna Simon-wise:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (1/25/18): [Nassar] is not the only one who deserves to be called to account. An investigation commissioned by U.S.A. Gymnastics and released last year found that its board repeatedly turned a blind eye to Dr. Nassar’s abuses. An investigative series by The Indianapolis Star found that the organization had covered up accusations of abuses by many coaches, not just Dr. Nassar. Three key board members, including the chairman, Paul Parilla, resigned on Monday.

That’s a start, but it’s not enough.
The United States Olympic Committee said it is considering decertifying U.S.A. Gymnastics, but the Olympic committee was also slow to act in the Nassar case. What changes will it implement to ensure that such widespread harm to American athletes doesn’t happen under its watch again?

The resignation on Wednesday of Lou Anna Simon, the president of Michigan State, where Dr. Nassar’s medical practice was based, was overdue. Though Michigan State has denied covering up Dr. Nassar’s crimes, reporting by The Detroit News found that 14 university officials were told of Dr. Nassar’s sexual misconduct in the two decades before he was arrested, and that at least eight women had reported his actions. Michigan State continued to allow Dr. Nassar to see patients for 16 months while he was under criminal investigation after a 2014 allegation of sexual assault by a patient.
"That's a start, but it isn't enough!" That's what they told Reverend Hale!

We were struck by that reference to Lou Anna Simon. Her dumping was overdue, the editors say, noting that "14 university officials were told of Dr. Nassar’s sexual misconduct in the two decades before he was arrested."

We couldn't help noticing this—the editors forgot to say if Simon was one of those fourteen officials! At times like these, who really cares? Let the blood run in the streets!

Inevitably, the editors go on to recommend that even more people need to be punished—the guilty along with the innocent:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (continuing directly): The athletic trainers, assistant coaches, university police officers and other school officials who let Dr. Nassar’s abuse go on should also step down. The N.C.A.A., which is investigating the matter, should consider sanctions against Michigan State, including banning it from postseason play for some period, as it did Penn State’s football program after the former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of molesting children over a period of 15 years.
Exactly! After we punish the people who took part in this matter, let's go on to punish those who didn't. Let's punish a bunch of undergraduate athletes, including undergraduate woman athletes, by depriving them of the right to take part in postseason play!

We humans love to stage stampedes. And dear God, how we love to punish!

The editors call for folk to step down. It seems to us that these editors could perhaps set a top-notch example!

One final point:

Earlier today, we saw loud voices on ESPN saying that journalists hadn't listened. What about journos at ESPN?

The question didn't come up!


  1. How many more must suffer? Clearly, something has to be done about those evil creatures called 'men', and their evil instincts. Surely we can devise the most humane way to put them out of their misery.

    1. Shut up and go away.

    2. When the Establishment wants men gone, Trump will make it happen. He just can't say "No" to the Establishment.

  2. Simon is responsible for the policies that enabled Nassar to abuse children so long.

    If you listened to the testimony of the athletes, they told people repeatedly what was happening, but they were always put off. Nassar was sheltered. That is on Simon.

    1. Agreed. It used to be you'd expect the person at the top of a dysfunctional institution would step down whether or not they had been personally notified of -or, in some cases, were in fact directing- what was widely known. I guess Bob Somerby thinks there's more justice in the more modern "let's blame it on Lynndie England and move on" approach to accountability for the elite.

      What I can't understand was why Somerby recently seemed to be critical of Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks (and Mika Brzezinski) for not knowing what everybody knew about Harvey Weinstein. Aren't those two (/three) elite enough to get a pass? And shouldn't they now be able to cash in on their being, "shocked- shocked- to find out there is" sexual exploitation going on in the movie industry?

  3. Goddamn, that was some good snark Cmike. Almost inscrutable, but good.


  4. At the heart of this issue is not over-punishment but the fact that no one seems to listen to little girls when they try to tell adults around them that they are being abused.

    This does hearken back to Roy Moore. The girls who he stalked and the ones he "dated" did complain about him. But Somerby thought it was a rush to judgment to believe them. Maybe it is true that our norms permit adult men to routinely prey on children. In that case, a Salem-style rush to judgment is warranted.

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