Make Them Pay!

hangman’s noose
Photo by Tamara Gore on Unsplash
vigilante definition

My daddy told me he grew up in a one-bedroom log cabin in East Texas. He happily married a mid-Western farm gal and they settled in California to raise their six kids.

As one of those kids who grew up in a beach town near Los Angeles, my reality was much different than his as a kid. We didn’t have much in common, but we spent a lot of family time watching mid-20th century Western movies. He loved the grit and the action, and I loved the romance of an earlier time.

Of course, he knew better than me how hard it was to survive on some of those ranches with scrub brush as far as the eye could see. I tuned that part out and imagined myself as the pretty schoolmarm doing her virtuous best to not succumb to the handsome sheriff.

The plot always involved low-life perpetrator(s) and a murder, a rape (not mentioned as such but the torn dress and tears garnered sympathy), or some cattle rustling. They done wrong and the community needed to be avenged!

Enter the hero (usually the sheriff), or possibly a bad guy intent on misdirecting the avengers away from himself, the true mastermind of the crime.

A posse of volunteers was formed to root out the bad guys (always guys) from the Earth. Collective rage was stirred up along the trail and the perpetrators were almost always caught after a vicious gun battle. The exception was if they made it over the border to safety in Mexico, a seemingly lawless country that harbored criminals.

But usually vengeance was served. “String ’em up!” they yelled, circling the purported malfeasants from on top of their horses, their faces full of anger and determination. Justice in a court would take too long to feed these angry beasts, and they were taking no chances that their blood lust would go unfulfilled.

captain america
Photo by Fredrick john on Unsplash

I haven’t watched an old Western in a long time, but I’ve seen the vigilante plot line in countless movies as I got older. Robin Hood, Batman, the Avengers. Name any superhero.

We come to 2021 and a deviously brilliant Republican plot.

The crime: Abortion.

An abomination against God and country. For 50 years, a segment of the community has been wanting to punish the perpetrators. MAKE THEM PAY!

The punishment: It’s time to let loose the posses and MAKE THEM PAY!

Previous attempts at legal remedies have failed in the courts. A normal law against abortion would just bring a lawsuit against the governing body that was responsible for enforcing it. That had been tried for years and years in multiple courts throughout the land.

The genius idea behind the new law was that the government was totally out of it. It was left to the public to root out the perpetrators and MAKE THEM PAY!

Any adult can get $10,000 plus court costs from the perpetrators. All it takes is finding a person getting an abortion in Texas or their aiders and abettors. Friends, relatives, doctors, clinic staff, Uber drivers. MAKE THEM PAY!

If eleven-year-old Sally was violated by her step-father, the courts could deal with him. But she couldn’t be allowed to get off scot free. She needed to have this baby. If she succeeded in getting a abortion, whoever found out about it could sue her horrified and devastated mother, who took her to the clinic, and the sympathetic doctor and staff. MAKE THEM PAY!

No matter that the young girl had no idea of what the father figure in her life was really about when he got into her bed to “cuddle.” She would have to go through nine months of distress and ostracism before bearing a child she had no capacity to care for. MAKE THEM PAY!

The posses would be encouraged to weed out and punish the perpetrators and their enablers, whether they be a teen-aged Guatemalan immigrant who was raped by an unknown assailant during the trek north or a middle-aged institutionalized Downs syndrome patient abused by staff. MAKE THEM PAY!

How will they find their victims? Will government or medical workers surreptitiously hand out lists of suspects? Will greedy citizens root out rumors at high schools and Universities? Will church members gleefully go after fellow parishioners who faltered?

What if multiple people pursue litigation against the same target? Is there a limit on how many lawsuits one person can have brought against them for the same deed? What if one person or organization makes a mission of making money off this law? Is there a limit on how much they can clog up the courts with their lawsuits? Is there a penalty for the plaintiff if they’re proven wrong?

Vigilante justice might have had some relevance in 1800’s Texas when courts were few and far between. This process sounds more like the Salem witch trials, pitting neighbor against neighbor and greed against despair.

Different cultures and religions have different ideas about when conception, life, and death start and end, no matter what science says. There was a reason the Founders separated Church and State. Not everyone has the same beliefs. A democracy of equals should be open to all beliefs that don’t impinge on the well-being of others.

protest sign
Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash

It seems like every day I see anti-vaxxers on TV with posters saying, “My body, my choice.” I might question their reasoning, but I don’t question their rights. Let that ring universal and send this bill to the graveyard of ill-conceived legislation.

Kill this vigilante litigation process before it metastasizes to other issues, like guns, vaccines, infidelity, sexual identity, or how you care for your child. Nobody will be safe.

Kill it now.




Mary Morrison is an itinerant traveler and super procrastinator who published her first book at age 68.

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Mary Morrison

Mary Morrison

Mary Morrison is an itinerant traveler and super procrastinator who published her first book at age 68.

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