I remember very clearly the first thought that went through my mind when I heard about the branding that was going on in DOS: “That’s game over for Raniere”.
I knew it wouldn’t happen right away – and I wasn’t exactly sure who would take him down – but I felt certain that Raniere’s days were numbered.
Given that no law enforcement agency in the Albany, NY area had ever taken on Raniere’s crime syndicate, I wondered if any of them would finally be forced into action by the sheer repulsiveness of the branding.
That answer turned out to be “No” – which is, in retrospect, unfuckingbelievable.
For a long while, I thought it would be the father, husband, brother or uncle of one of the branded women.
But that didn’t happen either.
Finally, the investigators and prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) stepped in – and restored my faith (at least temporarily) in our justice system.
But, what if?
What if Raniere hadn’t decided that branding his initials on women’s pussies was a good idea?
What could he have done – how far could he have gone – and still avoided being prosecuted?
Was it the branding itself that caused his demise?
Or was it the branding and the location of the branding that did him in?
Or was it the trifecta – i.e., the branding, the location, and the fact it was his initials that were branded on the women – that led to his current predicament?
How much could Raniere have gotten away with before some part of our justice system rose up to stop him?
What if Raniere had decided to have the DOS women tattooed instead of branded?
Would there have been as much outrage about that?
Would that caused Moira Kim Penza and her colleagues in the EDNY to open up the investigation that could now result in Raniere spending the rest of his life in prison?
My sense is that tattooing would not have been a “tilt”.
While many people would still have been upset, had Sarah Edmondson been displaying a tattoo in that infamous picture of her in the New York Times, I do not think it would have had the same effect as the branding did.
What if Raniere had decided to have the women branded on a different area of their bodies?
Would an ass-branding have sparked the same outrage?
How about a boob-branding?
Or how about someplace innocuous like an arm?
This is a tough one to sort out…
My sense is that branding a breast would likely have had the same impact as branding a pussy.
But I’m less certain that an ass-branding would have been so repulsive.
And I think an arm-branding might not have resulted in any investigation whatsoever.
And what if the brand was something other than Raniere’s initials?
What if it was a peace symbol?
Or one the elemental symbols: fire, water, air, earth, and spirit?
What about a heart – or a cross?
Would those brands have been less objectionable?
Would Sarah Edmondson have even quit over one of those brands?
This is another tough question to sort out.
But something other than Raniere’s initials would likely have caused less of a visceral reaction – at least for me.
So, how far could Raniere have gone before he hit tilt?
I think he may have gotten away with women tattooing his initials – or some sort of symbol – anywhere on their bodies.
I think he may have gotten away with women being branded with some sort of symbol just about anywhere on their bodies (I think it’s still possible that any type of pussy branding would have resulted in some sort of investigation).
The only thing I’m really certain about is that having women branded on their pussies with his initials was definitely not the best idea that the “world’s smartest man” ever had.
I‘m looking forward to hearing what readers of the Frank Report have to say about this topic…