TCS Daily

What the Monster Learned

By Douglas Kern - January 20, 2006 12:00 AM

Your name is Mark Hulett and you are a monster, even if you don't know it yet. Your judge's name is Edward Cashman and he is a different kind of monster, even if he doesn't know it yet. And your victims' names are Justice and Innocence, thanks to the two of you. And you have learned that monsters are meant to be free.

You recently pled guilty in Vermont to sexually assaulting a six-year old girl repeatedly over four years. (Hat tip: Lost In Lima Ohio.) You are thirty-seven years old. You thought you were in trouble. You thought you did something bad. You could have gone to prison for decades. According to Judge Cashman, you act "without concern for the consequences of [your] actions on others." And you "failed to show a sense of empathy for the reaction of others to [your] conduct." Those words sounded bad. But then again the judge only gave you sixty days in jail and probation. So maybe the words weren't so bad.

Bad is a word you understand pretty well, even with a 75-85 IQ and a "low emotional maturity level." But the judge isn't interested in words like bad. In fact, precious little in the paper suggests that what you did was wrong. Oh, Judge Cashman refers to "crimes as abhorrent as these," but nevertheless, he won't hold those crimes against your "individuality." Really bad crimes might be held against a person. But "abhorrent" crimes? No big deal.

The angry people are always using words like "evil" or "depraved" or "obviously deserving of severe punishment." Not the nice judge. He doesn't want to talk about what you deserve, or what the victim deserves, or what society deserves. It's all about you. Judge Cashman wants to talk about how to fix you. He wants to talk about how gosh darn unfair it is that you can't get treatment in prison. And he wants to talk about what a great person you'll become if you get treatment right now! Getting treatment later is not so good, because a delay in treatment might harden you "into a pattern of thinking that further alienates [you] from the fundamental social values we are trying to promote." Oh, dear little Mark, we certainly don't want to alienate you. After all, you "may so succeed with treatment that supervision in the future can end." And you "will have the opportunity to reconcile with [your] society by proving [your] successful and complete rehabilitation."

You don't know what those words mean, but they sound pretty good. Don't forget: probation!

Your name is Mark Hulett and instead of getting punishment, you're going to get therapy and probation. You're going to discover that therapy consists of smart people saying lots and lots of words to you. Just nod when you're supposed to nod and shake your head when you're supposed to shake your head. Perhaps you can squeeze out a few tears? And mumble: "Touching children is bad, m'kay?" There you go! You're on the road to Wellsville. Of course, you always knew that raping children was bad. You aren't insane -- after all, you hid your actions for a reason. But therapy will teach you that raping children is really bad. Promise not to do it again, cross your heart and hope to die? Nod your head. Good boy.

Judge Cashman sure does love his words. He thinks that people with the right letters after their titles can say words that will make you normal. The angry people think that deeds speak louder than words. But the judge has words to explain why words are better than deeds.

Judge Cashman doesn't like the word "retribution." That isn't "the issue." It isn't the issue because the word "Judge" appears in Judge Cashman's title, so Judge Cashman decides what the issue is. And nice-sounding words are the issue to Judge Cashman. Deeds and victims aren't.

Perhaps that probation document is a little scary, with all its rules. No drinking, no porn, no hanging around kids -- what a bummer. Don't worry. Soon you'll figure out that your probation officer can't really enforce all those rules during the fifteen minutes per week that she spends with you. Just say yes ma'am and no ma'am and show up for your appointments on time, and you can live as you please. Most probationers do.

And if probation gets too annoying, well, nothing stands between you and another state, one full of children to play with. The judge says that if you flee, you'll get in big trouble. But you thought you would get in big trouble when you did what you did to that little girl all those times. And you didn't! Maybe "big trouble" is just a story like Santa Claus -- a myth to make you behave. If you leave for Massachusetts in the middle of the night, all you'll get is an out-of-state arrest warrant issued against you, that is, if and when someone notices your absence. If you don't get pulled over, you can do just about whatever you want. Or flee the country altogether! And to think you once worried about getting caught.

Your name is Mark Hulett and it sure does feel good to be a free man. While drug users and drunk drivers and tax cheats rot away in prison, you can watch TV and sleep in late and feel the sun on your face in your own back yard. Seems like that nice judge did you a favor, didn't he?

He didn't. Judge Cashman should have taught you that child rape is an abomination and that you are an evil man -- because it is and you are. He should have punished you not only because you deserve it and not only because the victim deserves to see it, but also because you deserve to be taught the truth about yourself and your actions. You know right and wrong and have free will. Society owes you an explanation about your wickedness, offered in the only language that you understand. And that language is punishment.

Some people don't care for the idea of the state as a moral tutor. They don't like the notion that punishments craft the souls of men and the moral limits of societies. They prefer to think of the law as a limited instrument for maintaining order; they prefer to believe that morality is an individual matter, to be resolved through reason and thought and words, words, words. Words are fine for the wise and clever. But awful punishments teach morality clearly -- and most clearly to bad, bad men like you, Mark Hulett. Perhaps you would not have raped that little girl repeatedly if someone had taught you that terrible actions mean terrible consequences. But most likely the Judge Cashmans of the world have stood between you and the truth, all your life. They have always offered you empty words instead of the punishment you desperately needed, and still need.

But this is the false lesson you've learned from the nice judge:

Raping that little girl wasn't so bad. If it was bad, you would have been punished, but you weren't. Guilty as hell, free as a bird - ain't pedophilia grand? Of course, Judge Cashman didn't mean for you to learn this particular lesson. But his words say one thing, and the sun on your face says another. Maybe the judge should learn a word for when punishment is a good unto itself; for when punishment teaches a lesson that words cannot. How about "justice"?

You wonder: did anyone else learn a lesson? Did your victim learn that the reward for bravely reporting horrific abuse is to see your tormentor walk free? Did the local prosecutors learn that -- when faced with emotionally draining and legally complex child molestation cases -- they may as well just give up and deal it out? Did America's pervert population learn that Burlington, Vermont is a great place for sodomizing little children? Did the people of Vermont learn that Judge Edward Cashman is a disgraceful man who should be removed from the bench immediately?

But who cares? Your name is Mark Hulett and in just a few short days, you will walk among God's good people soon to be rehabilitated and redeemed through the power of beautiful words. You are a monster, absolved of a monster's punishment. One day, in this life or the next, you'll regret your freedom, though. Justice cannot be denied forever. But in the near term, you will enjoy ice cream and movies and sunshine -- even as your six-year-old victim languishes in a prison without walls, a prison you made just for her. Forget her. Forget them all. You're a rapist of children, and in less than sixty days, you'll be free.

Doug Kern is a lawyer and TCS contributing writer.



And what have the rest of us learned?
Mr. Kern,

You forgot to mention what the few decent people living in Vermont who care about their children have learned: Don't bother with a "justice" system that imposes no justice...if you want justice you'll have to do it to the perverts yourself. I decided many years ago that I would not trust the protection of my children to the legal lottery of the modern American "justice" system. If my child is harmed or threaten with harm by someone that some judge or parole board provided with a second chance, the enablers will suffer the same fate as the pervert. Imagine how much safer and freer our society would be if judges had good reason to worry about about punishing too little rather than too much.

Stop Subisdizing Violent Criminals
When the legal system fails like this, while simultaneously preventing people in their communities from exacting their own justice under penalty of law, it seems like the police and the courts are there to protect criminals from citizens, rather than the other way round. The alternative, we are told, is a "wild west" scenario with chaos in the streets as people engage in vigilante justice. But I wonder, how long would the violent criminals run free before they either were a) killed or b)scared into behaving decently? Seems like the real sociopaths- the hardened killers and rapists, would be removed very quickly, and the more casual criminals would run a cost/benefit analysis and find the risks too high to run.
But instead we spend all this money on a system that can't or won't protect its citizens by keeping even the most violent child rapists off the streets, and judges who don't believe in punishment, removing any deterrent whatsoever. Unbelieveable.

go back to platonism
In a recent article and some other reading I learned about Platonism vs. Aristotelian logic. The way I took it is, some of us believe there are principles and we need to conform to them if we want to be a strong and healthy society. One of those principles is to protect children. Others of us believe in seeing things in themselves and being openminded about what's best in any situation. If a child is not protected and something bad happens, it's terrible but the perpetrator is a human being too, who got hurt in the past.

I once saw a Dutch movie that takes place in the past. Someone molests a child. The people of the town don't call the cops-they go and stomp him to death. Very Satisfying.

The judge you wrote about relied on his own logic for the choice he made, and that's sad because people are pathetic. Some of the smartest people do some of the stupidest things. Reasoning can take you anywhere you want it to go.

That is not to say that judging according to principles is always so great. In fact, the reason we have these moral midgets in power is because of past abuses of moral authority. But that doesn't make this case okay.

The Simpsons
Vermont has become a very pathetic version of a Simpsons episode. When a character complained to the police that someone what trying to kill her, the chief of police responded by saying, "I'll tell you what I tell everybody who comes in here: The law is powerless to help you". So the character takes the law into her own hands and attempts battery on the suspect. The police promptly arrive and arrest the lady. When she says, "I thought you said you were powerless", the chief of police responds "I said the law was powerless to help you, not harm you".

I learned a lesson, too, from all this. I learned that I don't want to go to Vermont on the off chance that my daughter might land in front of one of the molesters who might wind up in front of Judge Cashman or someone else who might follow his ideological ilk. The good people of Vermont will never, ever see a dollar of my tourism money until they learn the same lesson.

Firestorm in Vermont
The most sickening words among the many that have been published came from the Defendants Lawyer. He stated his client did't think he had done anything wrong and regretted the loss of her as a friend.
There is a firestorm here in Vermont resulting from Cashman's sentence and words. Attempts are being made to seek a resentence hearing. Corrections has stated there is, in fact, treatment available in prison for this individual.
If nothing else, Cashman is up for retention in April of 2007. The State House will burn down before this man is retained on the Bench.
We do not need to encourage pederasts to move to Vermont.

Welcome to Blue State Utopia!
Yeah, we can see how well the Blue Staters can manage things.

Sayyyyy isn't that the state where Howard Dean is from?

Please please PLEASE tell me that this cashman clwon was placed on the bench by Dean.

Not to take away from this poor little girl's suffering, and I hope she recovers and manages to just forget all about it and lead a happy life, it would still be just too darn sweet if good old Crazy Howard is the guy who put that idiot in a black robe and let him make decisions which affect other peoples' lives.

Intellectually Disabled in the Criminal Justice System
Though I have had some difficulty obtaining clear information on this still-pending court situation, I understand that all parties in this case may be intellectually disabled, including Mark Hulett, the parents and the little child. I understand that the parents let the offender sleep in the same bed as the child. I urge you to offer your support to this small group of intellectually disabled victims--and they are all victims, including Hulett--whose inability to make sound decisions was only to be expected by virtue of their less fortunate biology. I urge you to play no games with their misfortune, nor use them in any partisan politics, for their lives are not about politics. Their lives are about survival in a world that never gave them equal choice or equal opportunity.

I have great sorrow for all who were involved in the years of trouble that preceded this trial and its ensuing furor--especially for the little one, whose life has been painful from her earliest days. I suffer for all those who are not given a measure of mental ability equal to the their brothers and sisters. Their souls are not less beautiful or worthy though they are often scorned and overlooked by society. They have been given to us by our Creator, and we are charged with their protection and love. Many who should have been their advocate and defender abuse them instead. In this instance, it seems that many are using a small group of mentally disabled people for some strange purpose, which does not include their interests, their comfort, or their justice. This exploitive behavior is a sign of an abuser, rather than one who has their justice at heart.

"The Arc" is a national organization “devoted to promoting and improving supports and services for people with mental retardation and their families.” I urge you to read their information regarding mental disability and criminal justice online at:

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