If I strolled up to you at this very moment, clad in a disguise after following you across a dark parking lot, and I blasted you in the face with pepper spray yet claimed I just wanted to talk with you, I’m sure you would be sympathetic and understanding and would be perfectly fine if I strolled along with my life with no jail time and merely an order to apologize to you like I mean it, right?
Hey, works for Lisa Marie Nowak! I’m sure you remember the diaper-clad ex-astronaut who traveled 900 miles to attack Colleen Shipman in 2007. Yesterday a grossly irresponsible judge named Lubet dismissed Nowak’s clearly malicious and dangerous behavior and sentenced her to a year probation with some community service tossed in, and oh yeah, she has to write a “sincere letter of apology” to Shipman within 10 days.
Well now, I’m sure that scrap of paper will make up for the fear and pain of being stalked and attacked, won’t it?
I was infuriated but not surprised by the shrug of the shoulders and the smirkingly casual manner in which this case was handled. Headlines have watered down this attack as a “love triangle”, dumbing down and trivializing this heinous attack on another human being. Aww, it’s just a lover’s quarrel! A cat fight! Let ’em tug each other’s hair and slap each other with their high-heel shoes. They won’t actually hurt each other. Hell, they’re just girls, after all. And anyway, what did Shipman expect, dating this other woman’s love interest?
How different would this story have been handled, and how different would the sentence be, if Nowak was a man? Or if Nowak attacked the male love interest instead? Or if Nowak pepper-sprayed a random stranger in that parking lot instead of a woman the media could write off as the other woman?
The condescending attitude appears to be that Nowak actually posed no harm to Shipman because (a) she is merely female, and (b) she was acting like a typical jealous woman, and even worse, that (c) perhaps Shipman deserved it because she entered a relationship with a man with whom Nowak still had romantic interest.
In no other situation could a person travel across the country to hunt someone down, follow that person across a parking lot, physically assault that person, then stand back and smile complacently and swear she was sorry, and can I go home and leave this pesky nonsense behind me now, Your Honor?
Nowak sat in a jail cell for a whole two days. Big deal. Shipman, for her part, was attacked first in the parking lot, then again in the courtroom by a negligent and cowardly judge. Perhaps she should receive a “sincere letter of apology” from Judge Lubet.