Graeme Wood, writing about the sentencing of Larry Nassar for the Atlantic, shares an account by George Orwell of seeing a Jew abuse a Nazi following WWII, which the famed author found "pathetic and disgusting." Wood writes that Judge Rosemarie Aquilina likewise became pathetic and disgusting when she endorsed vengeance against the man accused of sexually assaulting more than 150 women and girls. After sentencing Nassar to up to 175 years in prison, Aquilina said she had signed his "death warrant" and "would allow someone or many people to do to him what he did to others" were it not for the Constitution prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment.
Wood finds these comments "unjudge-like" and harmful to the "dignity of the proceedings." "Subjecting Nassar to a lifetime of rape is not my idea of justice, and fantasizing about it is not my idea of judicial temperament," he writes. That's not to say Nassar doesn't "deserve to be raped 150 times"—it's possible he does—but a judge shouldn't say it. Wood also says anyone who claims that criticism of Aquilina's choice of words is tantamount to sympathy for Nassar is revealing their own "twisted sympathies." Wood wonders if it would be comforting for Nassar's victims "to know that a horrific act of abuse ... is being done to correct the wrong against" them. Read the full piece here. (Wood isn't alone. Rachel Marshall at Vox also says Aquilina went too far as a victims advocate, betraying her role as a judge. But Mark Joseph Stern at Slate argues judges editorializing at sentencing is far from uncommon and Aquilina's desire for vengeance is understandable.)