Larry Nassar and the Myths of Violence

Larry Nassar and the Myths of Violence
George pic new

Highland Park, 2/5/18 [Photo: David Kramer]

A graduate of the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, George Cassidy Payne is the founder of Gandhi Earth Keepers International, a SUNY adjunct humanities instructor and domestic violence counselor in Rochester.

Larry Nassar and the Myths of Violence

I despise what Dr. Larry Nassar did to those young women. It should not matter that many of them were exceptional at gymnastics, what matters is that they did not deserve to be taken advantage of by a doctor who they trusted implicitly. Not only did Dr. Nassar violate his oath to the sacred creed of Hippocrates, he also violated our most cherished and precious bond between elders and youth. Once the graphic nature of his crimes had surfaced, the law became justified in sentencing him to the exact time he received, which was the maximum 40 to 170+ years in prison. As the presiding judge said to him bleakly: “I just signed your death warrant.”

And, who can fault that father for charging Nassar like a tortured bull lunging out of a cage? Every parent who cares about their children could sympathize on a primal level with a man whose three girls were unwillingly penetrated by a perpetrator 15 feet away. As he took on the consequences of criminal punishment, personal injury, and national attention, his desire to get his hands on Nassar felt like the most cathartic act imaginable for that moment. As a parent myself, I would be lying if I said that I did not want to see the doctor tackled by the enraged father. After all, it would have felt good to see Nassar go through some of the physical torment he had put all of these women through.

Yet, there is a problem for me. As a reared Christian, and proponent of principled nonviolence, this feeling of retributive justice is at odds with what I know to be true about the prevailing myths which help to regenerate and proliferate violence in human society.

I know that redemptive violence never accomplishes the goals it sets out to achieve. I know that the feeling of immediate satisfaction that comes with revenge is hard to repress, but in the end, the act of violent retaliation only leaves one wounded, traumatized, and in pursuit of an ever-receding horizon of inner peace.

RESOLVE of Greater Rochester Domestic Violence Stinks

From the 2015/16 “Domestic Violence Stinks” campaign sponsored by RESOLVE of Greater Rochester. [Photo: Democrat and Chronicle]

I also know that making scapegoats out of individuals will never result in getting rid of the problem at hand. We can make Dr. Nassar the most evil monster our brains can conjure up. We can make him such an anomaly that by killing him we will never see his likes again. But the truth is more conventional. The menace of pedophilia, sexual abuse, victimizing the innocent with social superiority, will not go away once Nassar is incarcerated and dies behind bars. To make him so different from the society which helped to create him is a very dangerous mistake. There will be countless Nassars waiting to take their turn; and unless the root problems of these diseases are addressed and cured, he will always remain a sensational example of how institutionalized this epidemic of pedophilia, and male sexual assault, has become in America.

I also know that abandoning the attempt to restore someone who has been completely broken apart is always a viable option, especially for those who themselves have been broken and mutilated by his actions. However, it has been shown that pedophilia, sexual addiction, and the traits of being a sociopath, can be overcome. It takes a rudimentary desire to see this change come about, but if one is convicted to the process of rehabilitation, there is the ability to bring people out of the darkness of their anguishes into the light of their original purpose as created beings. It may sound unethical, inappropriate, or even insane to think about Larry Nassar as a baby, toddler, young boy, and developing teenager, but he was all of these. At one time he did not see himself as an abuser of young girls; at the age of 11 he did not see himself as an agent of wickedness. As an infant in his mothers arms, he did did want to become a pariah in the eyes of billions. He did not want any of this to happen, at least not before he learned how to. Through a series of events and choices – always informed and molded by the culture around him – Nassar became an abuser.

 So why can’t he un-become an abuser? Why can’t the culture work to mold him – and others like him – into the people who they were created to be? Or are some individuals so heinous that they are beyond our ability to have compassion for them? If this is the case, don’t they hold one final type of power over their victims: namely the power to prevent them from transforming their anger, fear, and pain into expressions of love, courage, freedom and joy?

POSTSCRIPT:  Today, the City published George’s letter on Trump’s proposed wall.


City Newspaper, February 7 – 13th, 2018


The 180th Anniversary of the Alamo and Trump’s Wall with Dr. Josue Ramirez

Trump’s Proposed Budget Will Pay for America’s Berlin Wall

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


Like what you see on our site? We’d appreciate your support. Please donate today.

Featured Posts


%d bloggers like this: