The legal case known as the Massie Affair

Honor Killing

The legal case known as the Massie Affair is described and analyzed in the book Honor Killing Race, Rape and Clarence Darrow’s Spectacular Last Case by David E. Stannard. The story of the killing of an accused rapist created a sensation in Hawaii where it occurred and across the country in 1932, and the merits of the case have been argued ever since. The case was a major issue even before it included Clarence Darrow as defense attorney. The case presents a nexus of race, social class, legal structures, and other forces and suggests some of the failures of the legal system, the prejudices of much of the populace, the place of the military among a civilian population, and more.

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
The legal case known as the Massie Affair
Just from $9/Page
Order Essay

The case involved a pampered daughter of privilege named Thalia Fortexcue, who married Lieutenant Thomas Massie, a naval officer stationed at Pearl Harbor from 1930. She may have married the dashing lieutenant without realizing that he was limited to military pay, and the lack of money and the difference in social standing created tensions that divided the two. In addition, Thalia believed herself to be socially superior to the other wives at Pearl Harbor, so she was largely ignored by them because of her behavior. The couple soon became known for excessive drinking and public battles. The lieutenant in time was disenchanted with his wife and sought a divorce, but he first gave her a warning and said if she did not behave, he would go through with the divorce, which at that time was a stronger threat to her social standing than it might be today. One evening, the pair attended a Navy event at a nightclub in Waikiki, and Thalia did not behave that night and slapped an officer before storming out alone. Massie thought she had gone home. After a while, he started calling home to see if she was all right, and when she did answer, she seemed to be in a state of shock an claimed that oln her way home she had been raped by several Hawaiian men. She did not want to call the police, but her husband did so anyway. Thalia did not give any details at first and claimed that it was too dark and that she could not identify any of the men involved. Later, though, she gave the police a description and a license number. The police arrested a man named Horace Ida, and it would later be shown that much of the information Thalia gave that led to this arrest had been given to her by the police. Also arrested was Ida’s friend, Joseph Kahahawai, and three others. Other witnesses emerged to cast doubts on her story. The trial fell apart and led to a mistrial.

That was the first trial associated with the Massie Affair. While awaiting a retrial, Thomas Massie and two Navy enlisted men kidnapped Kahahawai, apparently because he was the darkest skinned of the five defendants. The kidnapping was at the instigation of Thalia’s mother, and she and the Navy men interrogated Kahahawai and tried to beat a confession out of him. One of the group eventually shot Kahahawai, and the group went to dump his body in a desolate area, but they were stopped by police before they reached their destination and were arrested. The second trial associated with the Massie Affair would also be the main event.

The situation from the first had strong racial overtones, with the young white wife supposedly raped by the “natives” on the island. Her charges were flimsy, which made many Hawaiians believe that she had made them up and that the first trial was a case of white justice seeking to blame the dark-skinned man for a crime that did not occur. Also, the case raised all manner of flags about supposed black lust for white women, about vindictive white women being able to find dark-skinned scapegoats for their own indiscretions, about the occupying military lording it over the native population, and so on. Many in the white population saw the issue differently and believed that the men were guilty and that they were only acquitted by a Hawaiian jury that hated white people. That sort of outcome was the mirror of what was more common in the Old South as black defendants were convicted by all-white juries. In these terms alone, the case played to the prejudices of both sides and obscured the truth about what had happened, though as Stannard shows, there was likely no rape at all and Thalia was covering a meeting with a white man. This event is reminiscent of the charge by Susan Smith that a black man had stolen her car and killed her children, when in fact she had done it herself. Numerous cases can be cited where whites in different parts of the country blame4d blacks for certain crimes that never happened because they thought that stereotype would be believed. In a different way, the same idea empowered Lincoln Steffens to claim that Hawaii was now beset by a crime wave, which was not true:

As Steffens confessed in his book, the crime wave that he had proudly created was entirely invented, although technically all the “crimes” had been real. There had been no increase at all in the city’s actual crime. (Stannard 221)

Similarly, rumors were rampant about what had really happened to Thalia: “Rumors that he knew she had lied about the rape and hadn’t attended the trial for that reason” (Stannard 359).

This raises another element evident in the analysis offered by Stannard, one showing the growing role of the media in trails in America, which also meant perpetuating rumors, creating problems out of whole cloth, editorializing about what is true and what is not, and generally making the entire legal procedure more salacious and more difficult than it has to be. The trial is depicted less as a search for truth and more as a boxing match with one side favored over the other.

The final outcome did not satisfy most ideas of justice, either. Thalia continued to play the innocent victim, but the prosecutor angered her on the stand so that she tore up some evidence and stormed out of the trial. Her sense of superiority was apparent not only over the people of Hawaii but over the naval personnel and their wives as well. The jury found the defendants guilty of manslaughter, but even that seemingly small victory for justice was thwarted when the Territorial Governor commuted the sentence of ten years to one hour served in his office. The defendants were allowed to leave the country, which meant that there would also be no retrial for rape because Thalia, the complaining witness, was no longer on the island.

Stannard suggests that this trial changed Hawaii forever, and yet what it really did was highlight the racial and social divisions that existed there and that were becoming more pronounced because of the large number of naval personnel stationed there. Pearl Harbor would remain famous, or infamous, for this trial and would only become a different sort of infamy after the attack by Japanese forces in 1941. The governance by the American government had the aura of paternalism toward the dark-skinned people of the islands and so created divisions that would persist for decades, and indeed that have some sway to this day. The sort of racial and social divisions seen in this case mirror the divisions in the South for much of our history, with the same sort of tensions in the justice system and the same difference in perceptions between the white population and the minority population, though in Hawaii, the dark-skinned population was not the minority but instead had the aura of an occupied population.

Gender tensions are also evident in this case, not only between the white accuser and the dark-skinned accused men, but also between that same woman and her husband and between that woman and the naval husbands and wives on the island. The way the case ended suggested the willingness of the government to step in and thwart justice when it saw that as necessary, leaving the native population distrustful of the courts for decades and convinced of the injustices being perpetrated against them. If the law is intended to apply equally to all, it is clear that that ideal was not followed in this case.

Works Cited

Stannard, David E. Honor Killing Race, Rape and Clarence Darrow’s Spectacular Last Case. New York: Viking, 2005.

Get Professional Assignment Help Cheaply

Buy Custom Essay

Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?

Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.

Why Choose Our Academic Writing Service?

  • Plagiarism free papers
  • Timely delivery
  • Any deadline
  • Skilled, Experienced Native English Writers
  • Subject-relevant academic writer
  • Adherence to paper instructions
  • Ability to tackle bulk assignments
  • Reasonable prices
  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • Get superb grades consistently

Online Academic Help With Different Subjects


Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.


Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.

Computer science

Computer science is a tough subject. Fortunately, our computer science experts are up to the match. No need to stress and have sleepless nights. Our academic writers will tackle all your computer science assignments and deliver them on time. Let us handle all your python, java, ruby, JavaScript, php , C+ assignments!


While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.


Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.


In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.


Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.


We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!


We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.


Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.

What discipline/subjects do you deal in?

We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.

Are your writers competent enough to handle my paper?

Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.

What if I don’t like the paper?

There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.

Reasons being:

  • When assigning your order, we match the paper’s discipline with the writer’s field/specialization. Since all our writers are graduates, we match the paper’s subject with the field the writer studied. For instance, if it’s a nursing paper, only a nursing graduate and writer will handle it. Furthermore, all our writers have academic writing experience and top-notch research skills.
  • We have a quality assurance that reviews the paper before it gets to you. As such, we ensure that you get a paper that meets the required standard and will most definitely make the grade.

In the event that you don’t like your paper:

  • The writer will revise the paper up to your pleasing. You have unlimited revisions. You simply need to highlight what specifically you don’t like about the paper, and the writer will make the amendments. The paper will be revised until you are satisfied. Revisions are free of charge
  • We will have a different writer write the paper from scratch.
  • Last resort, if the above does not work, we will refund your money.

Will the professor find out I didn’t write the paper myself?

Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.

What if the paper is plagiarized?

We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.

When will I get my paper?

You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.

Will anyone find out that I used your services?

We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.

How our Assignment  Help Service Works

1.      Place an order

You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.

2.      Pay for the order

Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.

3.      Track the progress

You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.

4.      Download the paper

The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.

smile and order essaysmile and order essay PLACE THIS ORDER OR A SIMILAR ORDER WITH US TODAY AND GET A PERFECT SCORE!!!

order custom essay paper