Friday, October 31, 2014

The Quest for Forgiveness: Chapter 4 (Part 1)

Last time, we learned that Brijanna had accused Ethan of abuse. He hasn't, but he's decided he's not going to defend herself because it would hurt her reputation and because some Muslims might try to kill her if they learn that she converted to Christianity. I'm not really sure how this would come up if he defended himself and not if he didn't, but... that's Rothdiener logic for ya.

This is probably my favorite chapter in the whole book, guys. It's awful. It's so awful that I had to break it up into a couple sections.

So let's dive right in and tackle part one!

The chapter opens with a Bible verse from Job:
Though I cry, ‘I’ve been wronged!’ I get no response; though I call for help, there is no justice.
Which would be far more appropriate if Ethan HAD decided to call for help or cry he'd been wronged. As it is, Isaiah 53:7 seems like a far more apt verse.

So the case causes a huge media buzz because Ethan's a professor and his wife's a former beauty queen. Ethan shows up on the first day and gets all excited because Susan is there "to lend support," but shocker, she's not on his side. I guess he didn't pick up on that the other night when he called to try to talk to her and her dad said she never wanted to see him again.
The confident assistant prosecuting attorney, an energetic woman named Carol Moore, had a lot riding on the highly publicized event. It was her first major case, and she would make every effort to impress her superiors with a win. At any cost to Ethan!
Cue the villain.
Ethan and his lawyer learned that the judge was also a woman. The news troubled Cain who wondered if his male client even had a chance for a fair trial.
...If the judge was a man, would the prosecuting attorney start wondering if Brijanna even had a chance for a fair trial? I promise female judges can objectively hear the facts of something, especially when that's their job.

Ethan gets seriously angsty while the judge walks up to her seat:
All of his dreams were shattered. Emptiness filled his soul.
To be fair, things aren't going well for him, and since he has absolutely no intention of clearing his name, they will probably continue to go poorly. However, I really want to use the phrase "EMPTINESS FILLS MY SOUL" next time I feel a little sad.

The writing doesn't get any less melodramatic. The judge asks for his plea and this happens:
A wave of panic suddenly engulfed Ethan. Had the judge already decided his guilt? He swallowed hard. The drama must play out. How he wished he could open his eyes and wake up from the horrible nightmare he was facing! He knew it wasn’t possible— this situation was far too real.
Robert Cain (Ethan's lawyer) then explains that Ethan won't be taking the stand in his own defense. The judge is like, "Erm, what?" and takes Ethan and the two lawyers aside so Ethan can explain what the heck he's thinking. He explains that if he defended himself, the press would "destroy Janna."

The judge is all, "Ooh, that's mysterious," but Evil Carol the prosecutor just wants to get going so she can destroy him:
“Your Honor, can we please get on with the trial? I will bring out any secrets this man is hiding.”
...followed by an evil cackle, I suspect. The judge is NOT amused by this and snaps at her not to question the way the judge is running this trial. She then asks Ethan if he's innocent. After some pushing and prodding from his lawyer, he says he is. The judge asks why Brijanna would lie. Ethan's like, "Hadonno."

The judge has clearly decided Ethan's not guilty at this point, referring to Brijanna as the "alleged victim," and even pointing out that understands he'd be scared that she and Evil Carol are women. She ends with the bizarrely comedic line:
“How much more could this trial be stacked against you? Am I right?”
"Am I right? Am I right? Come on, this audience is deader than... something dead. You can probably tell I'm not that good with jokes."

Ethan says he won't reveal "all the details regarding my daughter," but I have NO IDEA WHAT HE'S TALKING ABOUT. What details does he think he's hiding that won't come out in the case as is? The only details he's hiding is the fact that he didn't do it. That's... an absence of detail. Does he think if he doesn't testify nobody will find out she used to be Muslim? Seriously, what is he referring to?

The judge asks him if Brijanna is lying, and Ethan just says he's innocent. The judge starts getting really persistent, being all, "Why is she lying? WHY IS SHE LYING?" to which Ethan responds:
“Teens are rebellious by nature. They lie, cheat, and steal.”
"And if my daughter stole a car, I would defend her then too!"

The judge keeps pestering him to tell her about his relationship with Brijanna, "off the record," and Ethan essentially says, "Everyone betrayed me! I'm fed up with this world!" Finally he caves and tells the judge that Brijanna was adopted from Kuwait as a Muslim and has converted to Christianity, and that "the more radical Muslims" will hunt her down and kill her for that.

The judge reveals that Brijanna has rejected Christianity, saying it was forced on her and that she wants to find her real parents and reclaim her real faith. Ethan protests, "She was baptized," which is a totally sound explanation, because if you get baptized when you're not a sincere Christian, you just bounce right off the water and can't go under, like a witch.

After this news, Ethan just gives up and mutters that they should get this charade over with so he can just go to jail already. The judge tells everyone in the room that they can't say anything about this in court. Everyone goes back in except for the judge, who calls someone named John and asks for info about Brijanna because she wants to confirm his story (about the Muslim thing, I guess? Although Brijanna already told people that? I don't know what else she could confirm) and give him a lighter sentence.
Near the front, sat a row of women she believed was from a women’s rights organization . She had seen them in similar cases . Her experience told her they may not be searching for the truth, but for their own idea of justice.
Pffft. Like women's right organizations care about truth. They just want to hurt men! All the time! As much as they can!

The judge laments that she must keep an open mind, and the trial begins. But you'll have to wait for next week to find out more of how it goes. Hint: It goes stupidly.


  1. I'm just now getting caught up on this series (I know!), and so far the only thing I can remotely defend is that "alleged victim" is the appropriate legal term since there hasn't yet been a conviction. I personally take victim claims at face value because I know how destructive that process can be and the chances of anyone doing it on a lark are pretty remote, but for a judge speaking about a case she's presiding over, it would be the right terminology.

    That said, OY. I'm pretty sure judges don't banter reassuringly with defendants. For that matter, if Ethan is set on falling on this sword, skip the trial, and go directly to jail - HE CAN DO THAT. All he has to do is plead "no contest". That way he doesn't admit guilt but he spares everyone the trial he says he doesn't want to take place.

    Also, I feel like there should be a bingo card for Rothdeiner's storytelling. Mary Sue would be the free space because it's a given. You should draw up a list of the rest of the other 75 possible topics/themes. I'm sure there's bound to be a website or app somewhere that will let you generate bingo cards from a pool of things. It could be a fun interactive way of snarking through another of his stories!

    1. The trial is one of the more infuriating sequences in the two Rothdiener books I've read thus far (and that's saying a lot, since there's potentially infuriating material in every chapter0. The chapter I posted today revisited it again and reminded me why it made me so angry.

      But a bingo card would be perfect. I'll have to pull that together when I manage to get around to The Quest for Freedom. *shudder*