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size apparently does matter
getting away with a little criminal activity
by tracey l. kelley (@TraceyLKelley)

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Nebraska’s attorney general is promising to appeal a probation sentence given to a short man. The judge decided that the man, at five-foot-one, could not survive in prison. Richard Thompson could have faced ten years in prison for sexually assaulting a child. The judge told him the crime deserves a long time behind bars, but that Thompson was too small to survive in a state prison. He got ten years’ probation instead. The ruling infuriated advocates for crime victims. But supporters of short people say it’s about time their unique challenges are recognized. A spokesman for the prison system said Thompson’s height would not put him at risk among the state’s 44-hundred inmates.

This pint-sized pedophile sexually assaults a girl, yet receives probation because he might be harmed? Judge Kristine Cevava was obviously quite shortsighted on the importance of sentencing sex offenders. Come on, how lowdown would it be for him in the big house? He wouldn’t even have to reach very far for the soap!

I didn’t realize there is a measuring stick and a “You Must Be This Tall” sign outside the Nebraska State Penitentiary.

Did he molest the 12-year-old daughter of his fiancée because no one but a child could see eye-to-eye with him? Maybe all the navel gazing he’s done during his 50 years on this gigantic rock we call Earth resulted in a slight epiphany: he’s actually Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up!

Not only has the judge seen fit to dole out a wee amount of pity for his plight, apparently she’s giving him a step up into high society as well with an electronic bracelet to wear the first four months of his house arrest sentence. Why, didn’t multimedia giant Martha Stewart have to wear one of those, too? Son-of-a-cap gun, Thompson’s livin’ large!

Believe me, I’m crying itty-bitty tears over all this.

Not only am I putting all six-feet of myself on a soapbox, I’m making sure that box is on top of a 20-story building, just so that little bastard Thompson has to stand on his tippy-toes and crane his neck to see me looking down on him.

A new victim has come to town, and it suffers from heightism. There’s even a support organization for it now, the National Organization of Short Statured Adults, a united organization of short men and women from around the globe, committed to opposing heightism in society, providing a supportive environment in which to share experiences, and promoting the message of self-empowerment for all of its members.

A representative for this organization first came out in support of Thompson and Judge Cevaca’s ruling, stating he agreed because of the “dangers Thompson would face in prison because of his height.” After that comment, the representative was fired and the organization posted a statement on their Web site, indicating they are in full support of the violated child.

Well, goodie. The Lilliputians no longer want this to be a huge issue.

I’m not trying to downplay the realities of living as a shorter-than-average person. But let me speak up for a minute about what it’s like to shop in the big and tall section.

I was short once. I think I was four. After that, I was always the tallest in my class and around age 11, I sprouted up to the full height of six feet I enjoy today as an adult.

Being the tallest all the time was devastating, especially for a young woman. In assembly, I stuck out like a barn silo. My feet were enormous. Dating? No way -– teenaged guys rarely dated anyone taller than they were and even at 17, when their hormones finally caught up to mine, it was way cooler to pick up dates. Literally. Up off the ground. Like Tinkerbell. And clothes didn’t fit right. In fact, there’s a picture of me in ankle-wader jeans next to the word “dork” in the dictionary.

That humiliation alone should have justified a three-day, five-town, bank-robbing spree. Somehow, I resisted the urge.

Short people can wear lifts or heels, even wear hats, but tall people can never shrink. We may slouch or hunch, but not so much with the shrinking. If old ladies in grocery stores don’t use us as an extension to reach pork and beans on the top shelf, they shy away, as if our very height and height alone will somehow consume them behind the stacked pyramid of creamed corn, leaving behind two bobby pins, a crocheted sweater and the faint scent of lilies-of-the-valley.

A boss (a very bad boss at that) once said to me “Do you realize how intimidating you are because you’re so tall? You really shouldn’t stand so close to people.” Since I was about to quit, I stepped closer, looked down upon the short, squat woman and said, “Really? I hadn’t noticed” in a deep voice.

See, most people aren’t afraid of short people. But tall people freak them out. Big time.

Airline travel snaps our legs and backs in half; our heads graze the ceilings of cars while our knees crack into the steering column; crouching in a European shower requires the agility of a contortionist and that first beam on a roller coaster is an optical illusion that nevertheless will certainly decapitate the rider in an instant, thus we slink into our seats and at the end of the ride, there’s a picture on the scream board of some dork ducking under a rail that’s obviously 10-feet above her head.

More importantly? We don’t get time off for tall behavior from the crimes we commit.

The size of a person's character is not a physical trait. Whether or not someone can see over the dashboard is not an indicator of criminality.

However, Richard Thompson is a child molester. It doesn’t matter if he’s tall, less than tall or a little teapot, short and stout. He should pay for his crime within the guidelines of the law, even if he has to wear a Garanimals prison jumpsuit. Judge Cecava demonstrated an extreme liberal perspective by treating the criminal with more respect than the child he sexually violated. A man who may resemble a child in stature can still better defend himself than a young girl whose childhood was ripped away.

No one should ever get so high and mighty wielding supposed justice that they forget that small detail.


Tracey likes to shake things up and then take the lid off. She also likes to keep the peace, especially in a safe, fuzzy place. Writer, editor, producer, yogini, ('cause yoger or yogor simply doesn't work) by day, rabid WordsWithFriends and DrawSomething! player by night. You can follow her on Twitter: @traceylkelley or @tkyogaforyou

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juli mccarthy
6.21.06 @ 1:26a

You have GOT to be kidding me. This is just appalling. Have we really become this stupid??

I have always been short and slight, topping out at 5'2" and 110 pounds at my largest non-pregnant size. The only kind of "heightism" I have ever suffered was during a brief period in the 70s when that goddamned Randy Newman song resulted in total strangers actually lifting me off the ground and hollering "HELLO" into my face. (Well, that and the fact that I have always been the cousin sent to retrieve ping-pong balls from under the sofa at family gatherings.)

HEIGHTISM??? No pun is intended when I say to these weirdos: GROW UP.

sandra thompson
6.21.06 @ 8:40a

Oh, please don't call that judge "liberal." I'm a liberal and I'm outraged. She's just plain deranged or stupid. I don't understand how she got into law school with that I. Q. I happen to believe that prison never did much of anything good for most people sent there, but society has to be protected from some people, and prison is how we do it. Was there anything in his sentence which said he can't go near anybody under the age of eightteen? I certainly hope so, and that if he does he GOES TO THE BIGHOUSE.

I'm very envious of your height, Tracey. I've always been short and most of the time it's a disadvantage of more or less excessive or mild annoyance. My daughters are five ten and five eleven respectively, and they get stuff off the top shelf for me. Sigh. One of my grandgeeks is six four and when we hug my head is in the middle of his chest and I can hear his heart beat. That's nice, I have to admit.

tracey kelley
6.21.06 @ 11:20a

"...when we hug my head is in the middle of his chest and I can hear his heart beat."

That's so beautiful. Tall people give great hug. Look out, Juli!!

Liberal wasn't exactly my term - it's come up in the stories on the issue as her having a sense of fairness and compassion for his "plight." You know, because anyone with a more "conservative" POV loves it when children are molested and want to see litterbugs prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Extremism. Gotta love it.

In a column of 1,000 or so words, it's hard to go into all the details, but yes, Thompson can't be around anyone under 18, along with some other "restrictions."

In workshop, we've been talking about "Lolita" a lot and while that is a wonderful work of literature, I have no sympathy for it in real life. At. All.


heather millen
6.21.06 @ 1:14p

I always meant to be 5'8" but I stopped short (ha!) at 5'5".

I can't even begin to invision the logic behind this judge's sentence. Okay... so SURELY some time in history, a dwarf/little person committed a crime that sent them to prison. I mean, did they LIVE? Spontaneously combust among entrance?


juli mccarthy
6.21.06 @ 4:42p

And by the way, is it just me or is this sentence itself a form of discrimination? Why on earth should this guy's stature figure into this?

I am so baffled by this.

sloan bayles
6.21.06 @ 5:19p

Being the tallest female on my side of the family at a whopping 5'4" (Mom is all of 4'9") I can't say I suffered from "heightism". The main point of the article I can't even comment on...I'm too astounded for words.

robert melos
6.22.06 @ 3:29a

When you consider the fact child molesters are considered the lowest on the food chain in prison it always struck me that the system didn't simply segregate they to their own wing, or area, or whatever. I do think it shows a sick mind of a judge, who I don't think of as a liberal but an idiot, to sentence him based on his height.

On a sort of related note of judges who make foolish rulings, a judge recently kicked a rape case because the prosecutor was late to court.

All of this does point out a major problem with our legal system.

I can't really comment on height. I'm 5'11". Not really tall, and not really short.

michael driscoll
6.22.06 @ 3:26p

Some people are afraid of really short people, and I bet if a midget stood really close to your boss he/she could be just as intimidating...and poke her in the va'jay-jay for emphasis. I'm just sayin' is all. What?

And since we're talking va'jay-jay: someone told me a story once about a woman who was deathly afraid of midgets because she got into (what seemed to be) an empty hot tub, stepped on a midget who was submerged and then other midgets started popping out of the water. Evidently, they were breathing the bubbles of air coming from the jets to stay under water for long periods of time--like tiny little human submarines, with tiny little torpedo toes and fingers. Tiny, but popping up everywhere...

brian anderson
6.22.06 @ 4:05p

Man, there's no way I can follow that.

Some folks are tall, some are short. Does it make a difference? Well, in many subtle social ways it does (tall women and short men both complain about dating issues), but it isn't the judge's place to make a ruling. Is there any way a conditional rider can be attached to a sentence, saying "Hey, if there's this kind of problem, it should be revisited?"

And for my personal gripe, tall people can complain all they want, but I'll be happy when airlines stop trumpeting "More leg room!" and start offering a few more inches of shoulder room so I don't get constantly maimed by the drink cart.

russ carr
6.22.06 @ 7:07p

Whaddya call a hot tub full of midgets?

A shrimp boil.

michael driscoll
6.22.06 @ 8:15p

I like how Tracey's column has been hijacked by boiling midgets...with their little sausage arms...and legs. And eyes that...sparkle.

russ carr
6.22.06 @ 8:26p

At the heart of it, I'm of the opinion that bullets (or syringes full of lethal drugs) don't discriminate. Otherwise, toss the runt to the wolves. If he doesn't like how he gets treated, well...I bet the child he assaulted wasn't exactly singing the "Happy Happy Joy Joy" song during her ordeal. There's a reason you go to jail; it's called punishment.


michael driscoll
6.22.06 @ 8:30p

I think what Russ is trying to say is that...well...midgets die every day, so why should there be an exception?

Don't worry Russ...I'm here to save the day. NO need to thank me.

lisa r
6.23.06 @ 8:48a

First off--one of my great-uncles suffered from dwarfism. It's not a joke--it's a serious genetic disorder and he died young from the associated health problems.

That being said, the judge was an idiot. The man's an adult (not a dwarf or little person--just short), let him pay for his crimes. The child was the real victim and has been victimized again by the judge by her refusing to sentence the man properly.


tracey kelley
8.22.06 @ 10:29a

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has filed a brief with the Nebraska Court of Appeals detailing his request for the re-sentencing a child sex offender deemed too short for prison.
Bruning says 51-year-old Richard Thompson's sentence was excessively lenient and that he should be re-sentenced.
The brief was filed today.
Bruning says Thompson is a danger to Nebraskans and the sentence of probation he received from Cheyenne County District Judge Kristine Cecava (suh-CAVE-uh) in May was too soft.
Thompson was sentenced to probation for two counts of sexual assault of a child on May 26th.
A brief from Thompson's attorney is now due in 30 days.

sloan bayles
8.22.06 @ 10:50a

Good to see the AG is pursuing it.

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