The judge entered the courtroom, which was barely bigger than a cardboard shoe box. The young man, like those around him, rose to greet him. After some uncomfortable shuffling, and some glares from the victim’s families, everyone was seated. To find out … how long? How long of a sentence would this young man get for an unspeakable crime?
Then, with a slam of the gavel and a clearing of the throat, the judge began to speak, and directly to the young man before him:
“A jury has convicted you of a crime. A crime so improbable that it pains me to speak of it. But a crime, nevertheless, that has negatively transformed the lives of six young women, all of whom you had unprotected sex with and transmitted the most unspeakable of diseases, schizophrenia, to. We’ve all heard the impact statements from the families. We’ve heard how four of the six women require hospitalization and ongoing care. How one of them believes that if she were to take a shower, she would be sucked down the drain. How another believes that she can read the thoughts of everyone around her. How yet another refuses to pick up the phone in the belief that doing so will burn her hand. These are lives destroyed, destroyed by the most selfish act. You, young man, chose not to reveal your illness to these fine, upstanding women, and you’ve passed your virus onto them, unbeknownst to anyone but yourself.
“We all know the facts. Schizophrenia, and its broader cousin psychosis, is now a sexually transmitted disease, and can be, in the most extreme cases, fatal. A person suffering from this type of disease of the mind can walk into a car, believing that the police are chasing her, even if they clearly are not, as was such the case for one poor woman you so abjectly humiliated with your perverse and smug selfishness. These are just the facts: your illness, young man, was something that could be caught, just like the common cold. And even though your particular case is mild, according to your doctors, you did nothing in your power to prevent it from spreading and blossoming into the rest of the world and making it deadlier than you ever knew was possible.
“I cannot fathom to think what was going through your mind when you acted in such a debased manner. I cannot even begin to remotely pass judgment on your act, but, thankfully, a jury of 15 of your peers — men and women alike, young and old, of all sorts of different races and creeds — did just that. They have found you guilty. Guilty of a senseless crime that has ruined the lives of others. Guilty of not protecting the ones you claimed to love and admire. So selfish was your act that you did not limit your wanton destruction to just one individual. You had to crush the lives of five more. Such ignominy is simply unspeakable. That you would — despite being ordered by your doctor not to drink, as we have heard — cruise the bar scene, hoping to infect other people with your terrible disease.
“I cannot begin to fathom what was going through your mind when you made these twisted, terrible decisions. But I can assure you that, despite your diagnosis, you were criminally responsible for your actions, as the jury has decided. You knew what you were doing. And for that, we must now turn our attention towards a suitable punishment. A sentence that will deter others from wandering into the same sinful and perverse territory that you have. A sentence that will also be a fitting penalty for your brazen act that has ruined so many promising young lives.
“I could, if I would, sentence you to a life in jail for every life that you hurt. Six consecutive life sentences, as it were. However, while such a punishment would be fitting, it does overlook the fact that your victims will be forced to endure their illnesses — ultimately, your illness, only magnified and made worse during the sex act — for the rest of their lives. Their suffering did not end in death. They are, indeed, cursed by the very intensification of the manifestation of your illness.
“No, life imprisonment — and then some — would not suffice enough for the heinous acts that you performed. You, sir, are a monster. And I can only think of one thing that would be fitting for someone as barbaric and evil as yourself. And that’s why I am sentencing you to … .”
The judge droned on. There were a few gasps in the crowd, and the judge had to bang his gavel a few times to request silence as he prattled on with his suitable castigation of the young man. The young man slouched in his seat as the judge decided upon his fate. The young man felt miserable. Six lives in solitary confinement would be much more preferable to the course of action that the judge was now laying out.
And, almost as swiftly as he began, the judge finished, rose and retired to his chambers. The young man was led away by police to take part in his fate. Was it a harsh enough sentence? This would be a question posed by those who heard the sentencing directly: the media, the victim’s families, and those who were there simply because they had the time to take part in the proceedings. Outside the courthouse, invectives would be slung and the young man and his deeds would be cursed. Still, at the end of the day, one thing would remain: the sentence. But did it go far enough? How far could it go? Some wanted blood and retribution. However, others just wanted to give the young man a hug. Still, as the young man sped away in the back of a van, he sobbed. He sobbed for the lives he harmed, but, most of all, he sobbed for himself.
He was selfish that way.