Self-care can take many forms, and it doesn’t have to involve funneling money toward your bath bomb collection. For instance, today, you can reclaim your time with a quick skim through a random sampling of Americans’ opinions on one Martin Shkreli.
Harper’s has published selections from the June transcript of voir dire in the fraud trial of the famously besmirked pharma bro, wherein prospective jurors were forced to reveal to a judge any biases that might prevent them from making a fair decision in Shkreli’s case. More than 200 people were dismissed from the pile of possible jury members because, it seems, Shkreli’s reputation as a smug jerkoff who price-gouges HIV and cancer patients preceded him. Their in-court explanations are positively healing to read.
“The only thing I’d be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to,” one juror declared. Said another: “I don’t like this person at all. I just can’t understand why he would be so stupid as to take an antibiotic which H.I.V. people need and jack it up five thousand percent. I would honestly, like, seriously like to go over there—” “Sir, thank you,” the judge interrupted, presumably to protect the potential juror from drawing charges of his own for threatening the defendant.
These hero almost-jurors prove that effective shade need not be complicated nor particularly creative. Some of their simplest phrases are their best. “I have total disdain for the man”; “I’m aware of the defendant and I hate him”—if these people weren’t standing before a judge, they would 100 percent be blowing on the tips of their nails, flipping their hair, and flouncing away before their interlocutors could utter another word. Everything they said—“he’s a greedy little man”; “he’s the most hated man in America”—is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but reading the comments as a whole feels even better than truth-telling. It feels like watching that inauguration Nazi-punching GIF over and over again, but without people fighting all over your Facebook wall about whether or not it was okay.
The most honest juror self-disqualifications concern Shkreli’s face, which nine out of 10 faceologists* (*not a real medical specialty) agree is yearning to be knocked around. “I was looking yesterday in the newspaper and I saw the defendant,” one person said. “There was something about him. I can’t be fair. There was something that didn’t look right.” Yes, yes, that sounds right. Another juror explained that “when I walked in here today I looked at him, and in my head, that’s a snake—not knowing who he was—I just walked in and looked right at him and that’s a snake.” Perceptive!
Of course, none of these people made it onto Shkreli’s jury, because judges must strive to get a set of 12 people who know as little about the involved parties as possible, and who have no preconceived notions about their innocence or guilt. That’s great for the justice system, but sad for me, because I would very much like to hear more sharp observations from the mind of juror No. 144. “The question is, have you heard anything that would affect your ability to decide this case with an open mind. Can you do that?” the judge asked the prospective juror. “I don’t think I can,” the juror replied, “because he kind of looks like a dick.” That kind of well-reasoned argument belongs in every good jury deliberation, or at least in the miniseries adaptation.