Searching For Steven Massof: The Ignoble Invisibility of The Fireman In Hell

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Go to Wikipedia. I know it’s not always the most accurate of sources, but that’s where I first stumbled across Steven Massof.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_serial_killers_by_number_of_victims#Medical_professionals_and_pseudo-medical_professionals
For whatever reason, this online encyclopedia article has a separate section for “Medical professionals and pseudo-medical professionals”, of whom those with the highest body count top the volume of those categorized as conventional serial killers. So Luis Garavito is the first name documented on this page with 138 proven victims, but scrolling much further down to the doctors of death section, you find that Harold Shipman, with 218 proven victims, is in fact documented as the most prolific serial killer in history. You would also see that when it comes to American murderers, though Gary Ridgway, the infamous Green River Killer, is first listed as our great country’s most prolific serial killer with 49 proven victims, his kill count is overshadowed by Steven Massof, who snipped the spines of 100 or more newborn infants.

I want to state that I do appreciate how morbid and distasteful it is to “rank” these murders by body count, as if they’re scoring points in a game. I reject the false song of utilitarianism. I don’t believe that a killer with 10 victims is a better person than one with 11. Stalin famously said, “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.” We must not trivialize or marginalize. Every murder is a foul obscenity just as every life is a precious gift from God, and every murderer, if they have one victim or millions, must be held accountable.

These numbers are not insignificant, however, because my query today, my bone of contention, is three-fold:
1. How can a man decapitate 100 babies?
2. How can he be sentenced to only 6-12 years for such a heinous act? ((t comes out to about 44 days per murder, assuming he serves the full 12 years).
3. How have so few people even heard of him, a man who confessed to a Biblical atrocity easily matching history’s worst and most famous serial killers?

Very quickly, about that horrible round number. I don’t think anybody believes Massof killed exactly 100 babies. The grand jury report uses the qualifier “about”. You know, around that many. This gets to the banality of evil, that this is a man who doesn’t know exactly how many victims he has. He lost count. It could have been 93 or 107. 10 vs 11. Let’s just agree that he’s somewhere between Gary Ridgway and Harold Shipman, and that he’s a horrible, horrible person.

Much has already been made, of course, of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the abortionist in whose clinic Massof operated. There were other collaborators, like Pearl Gosnell, Elizabeth Hampton, etc, and their stories should be told too. Right now, I’m on Massof. The whole thing was Gosnell’s operation, Massof was following his procedure. Massof snipped the necks of newborn babies, born alive at a viable, fully out of the womb, for five years. Gosnell did it for decades. But I’m not here to talk about Gosnell. He’s been sentenced to life in prison, he’s already been the subject of news, books, a documentary, and a feature film.

Some people may say that shameful obscurity is exactly what Steven Massof deserves. That he should be forgotten, buried with the trash he treated this infants as. That we shouldn’t pay this villain one second of our attention. I don’t agree. I believe that some crimes are as topical as they are terrible. I believe that as appalling as they are, Massof’s murders should be held up to the light for all to see his darkness, to learn from it, and ask themselves the hard questions it raises.

I believe the Democrat Party should be asked for their opinion on what he did, and what exactly the difference is between that and what they refuse to condemn. As I’ve already stated in my early article, the reason so many want to ignore Gosnell is because there is not a comfortable distance between what he and Massof did, and legal late term abortions. (http://brianzwriter.com/index.php/2018/10/15/the-inescapable-atrocities-and-uncomfortable-questions-of-gosnell/) So adamant and fanatical is this organization in their support for abortion that many of them can’t even bring themselves to protect the lives of fully born babies who have survived an abortion attempt. (https://www.lifenews.com/2018/01/19/only-six-democrats-voted-to-protect-babies-born-alive-after-botched-abortions/)
Rep. Judy Chu, my former congresswoman (I’m currently not residing in the San Gabriel Valley. She’s still in office) complained that the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is “unnecessary, redundant, and part of a broader attack on women’s health and reproductive health”. But we’re talking about babies who have survived an abortion. Completely separate from the mother, breathing and viable out of the womb. How on Earth does protecting that life attack a woman’s health? These are not my straw men. If this bill was redundant, so what? Can we have TOO many protections for the already living? Those who do oppose requiring the abortionist to care for the baby who survived (an “unfair burden” on doctor and woman alike, they maintain), would oppose snipping the necks in theory, preferring rather that the doctor simply set the baby aside, not offer any care whatsoever, and let it die in squalor. But what’s the difference? 10 vs 11 again. Babies who survive abortions at these stages (up to 24 weeks in Pennsylvania) are viable, but only if they receive immediate medical attention. Is a doctor who sees that infant struggling to live and simply stands by and lets her die really any better than one who kills her himself? If anything, it’s arguably more humane to immediately put the baby out of its misery rather than let it scream and cling to life for a minutes or hours of pain. The difference is, the former gets you years in prison, and the latter is tacitly approved of by 183 members of the House of Representatives. Now I don’t believe these politicians are really so heartless as to actually endorse such inhumanity. I do believe they are so craven, so beholden to Planned Parenthood, so pathologically afraid of appearing even the slightest bit questionable on anything that falls under the Orwellian banner of “women’s reproductive rights” that they cannot bring themselves to oppose it.

If Steven Massof does only serve six years, he could be out in time to speak at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

Back to him. In the scant information about Massof there is out there:
Google
(A Google search for the man who killed 100 babies yields 1,560 results. A woman who sent a racist Tweet has 294,000) there are differing accounts, in descriptions of both his manner and exact culpability. Some of the articles, for example, say Massof testified that he “saw” 100 infants killed: (https://triblive.com/usworld/nation/3783403-74/gosnell-clinic-massof)

Of course, even if he was just standing there, handing Gosnell the scissors, he would still be an accessory to the worst kind of crime, and culpable himself. The Grand Jury report, however, makes it clear Massof was no mere witness:

“Although Massof was not as cavalier about what he did, he admitted that there were about 100 instances in which he severed the spinal cord after seeing a breath or some sign of life:

Q. … of those 100 how many were larger than 24 weeks?

A. That I couldn’t tell you for sure. I would have to think that they would all be because they were all able – after a certain period in weeks, you know, there’s – they would have to be capable. I mean premature births are quite common.”
-Gosnell Grand Jury Report, pg 114-115 (https://cdn.cnsnews.com/documents/Gosnell,%20Grand%20Jury%20Report.pdf)

And:

“Gosnell’s students parroted his grisly techniques. Massof himself admitted to us
that, of the many spinal cords he cut, there were about 100 instances where he did so after
seeing a breath or some sign of life. The shocking regularity of killing babies who were
born alive, who moved and breathed, as testified to by Gosnell’s employees,
demonstrates that these murders were intentional and collaborative. ” (pg 228)

Isn’t that sick? Why isn’t this guy more infamous? By his own admission, Massof snipped the spines of more than 100 babies. What did he have to say for himself? How did he carry himself in court? Oddly, reports differ:

“He answered questions from the judge in a monotone voice Thursday, exhibiting little expression. “(https://6abc.com/archive/8417220/)

“Massof spoke eerily in a slow and deliberate manner, almost over-articulating his words. He seemed to take an odd, sarcastic glee in relating the illegal activities and filthy conditions under which he worked for approximately nine years.” (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/gosnell-employee-it-would-rain-fetuses.-fetuses-and-blood-all-over-the-plac)

“(Massof) at times exhibited an almost ghoulish glee, smiling and giggling, as he described the abortions he did and infants whose spines he snipped with surgical scissors.

“’No babies would be born alive at 3801,’ Massof said Gosnell told him.

“At one point Massof asked jurors to feel the backs of their necks and he guided them to the spot where he would use scissors. Several jurors did.

“’It’s like a beheading,’ Massof said.” (https://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2014/02/gosnells-right-hand-man-is-sentenced-to-6-12-years/)

“Massof spoke eerily in slow and deliberate manner, almost over-articulating his words. That, along with his “scuzzy” appearance made him appear creepy and –at least to this observer–somewhat revolting. He seemed to take an odd sarcastic glee in relating the illegal activities and filthy conditions under which he worked for approximately five years.” (https://www.operationrescue.org/archives/gosnell-employee-it-would-rain-fetuses-fetuses-and-blood-all-over-the-place/)

“I don’t know how it started,” the 51-year-old Massof, voice cracking as he forced down a sob, told the judge.” (http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2014/02/13/Assistant-gets-6-12-years-for-Gosnell-clinic-role/stories/201402130268)

So was he monotone, ghoulishly gleeful, eerie and over-articulate, or on the verge of tears? There’s clearly some editorializing by some of the sources I’ve cited. It’s not very objective journalism to describe his appearance as scuzzy and revolting.  But, these could all be true, describing Massof’s manner at different points of his prosecution. Multiple sources describe his odd smiling while he gave graphic descriptions of the Hellish conditions of the clinic. His voice only seems to have cracked, it is reported, at his own sentencing. Would it be cynical to speculate that the tears he swallowed were not for any of the babies he slaughtered but for himself, or simply sane?

I wish I could see footage of the man himself, either in court, an interview, or candid. But YouTube isn’t much interested in Steven Massof either.youtube

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So I can’t see what he sounds like when he’s saying, “It would rain fetuses, fetuses and blood all over the place” or “I felt like a fireman in Hell…I couldn’t put out all the fires.”

Shouldn’t that elicit more outrage? Remember Cecil the Lion? Some large mammal gets shot in Africa, and by the hysteria and vitriol of the media, celebrities, and public, you’d think that dentist had committed mass genocide.  It reached the point where an dentist with the same last name was getting death threats (https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2015/08/05/report-la-dentist-mistaken-for-walter-palmer-getting-death-threats/) Death threats! For a lion! So perverse were these overreactions to killing a potentially dangerous animal, that it actually may have contributed to a human’s death:

Less than two months after Cecil’s death, an experienced guide was leading a tour group in Hwange when he was confronted by an aggressive lion named Nxaha and was mauled to death. Taylor speculates the criticism stemming from Cecil’s shooting may have caused the guide to hesitate in defending himself.

“We were all talking about it: If you shoot a lion, your career’s over,” said Taylor, who believes Swales may have been reluctant to shoot the beast for fear of public reprisal. “This guy was a really successful guide, and he died by a lion. And I think that’s the Cecil Effect. Guides in Zimbabwe are petrified of having the world turn on them.” (https://www.foxnews.com/world/cecil-effect-dangerous-for-lions-guides)

Well, done everybody. You’re all terrible.There’s clearly room for a Joker meme here (“You kill 100 babies and nobody bats an eye. Shoot one lion, and everyone loses their minds!”), but I’ll restrain myself. I just wanted to make a point about misplaced outrage, ask us why the rage for one, and the total and ubiquitous indifference for another.

I am outraged by Steven Massof the criminal. Yet more, I am fascinated by Massof the man. Perhaps that is inappropriate, that I should only express horror and incredulity at his atrocities, or let this fiend die in darkness (I’ve already articulated why I will not ignore him), rather than view him as a character, but I am a writer, and even the meanest (in both senses of the word) of us are human, from zygote to Ed Gein. Massof does have my attention, if absolutely nobody else’s.

Truly a sorry specimen of the human race. A man as pitiful (though not worthy of pity) as he is despicable. Every American medical school he applied to turned him down, so he had to go to St. George School of Medicine in Grenada. After graduation, he couldn’t find a residency, so he worked as a bartender and a cook before he joined Gosnell, making $200-300 a week. He quit following a run-in with the father of Ashley Baldwin, a 15-year old who worked at the clinic.

“His relationship with Ashley seemed odd and there was uneasy the impression that there was more to it than the inappropriate jesting that Massof related to the court.

“He threatened to beat me within an inch of my life,” Massof said of his altercation with Ashley’s father. “I ran away as fast as I could.” (https://www.operationrescue.org/archives/gosnell-employee-it-would-rain-fetuses-fetuses-and-blood-all-over-the-place/)

That’s an irritatingly vague insinuation. The clearly biased (writing for Pro-Life group Operation Rescue) Cheryl Sullenger obviously has a bone to pick with Massof. Can’t blame her for that. I do wish I had a more complete transcript, however. What was the nature of his relationship with Ashley? Did her father threaten to beat him, driving him to quit because he made inappropriate jokes around her? Or is this man who killed 100+ babies also a pedophile? Describing his mass murder with a ghoulish grin and possibly a pedophile? I’ve got to take this all with a grain of salt, because I’m inclined to believe it. But it makes Massof sound like a cartoonish supervillain. If I wrote a fictional abortionist who giggled as he described snipping living babies spines and who was possibly sexually inappropriate with a 15-year-old, I would be rightly called out for writing an over-the-top straw man, propaganda grade. This is too much to be true.

Actually, for legal purposes, because I don’t want to get sued for libel, let me make it clear: I am not accusing Massof of sexual misconduct with a minor. We have been given no official reason to believe that. As far as I know, he has never been charged for such illicit activity or even explicitly accused. That’s not what this is about, because even if he were as chaste as Mother Teresa, he’d still be the guy who killed 100 babies.

Anyway, after leaving Gosnell, Masoff got a job for a telemarketing firm. Again, if you made up someone this evil, it’d be called unrealistic. A high school classmate described how Massof presented himself as a doctor at the local saloon, asking everyone to call him “Doc” and regaling them with stories of medical procedures in Philadelphia. (https://triblive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/regional/s_720404.html). Trying to sound like a big shot, I guess, rather than a failure of a man in every sense there is. Massof was eventually implicated himself, went to court, and received a reduced sentence for testifying against Gosnell. Helping to bring down the worst serial killer in American history doesn’t appear to have done him any favors in the big house:

Mr. Lindy said Gosnell has told other inmates Massof is a “snitch.”

Massof has since been threatened and is housed in isolation.” (http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2014/02/13/Assistant-gets-6-12-years-for-Gosnell-clinic-role/stories/201402130268)

I would find it supremely irritating and emblematic of the general problem with the reaction to Massof if the other inmates mistreated him not because he had by his own admission decapitated 100 babies, but because he testified against a man who had killed even more. Where are your priorities?

Well, “snitching” on a man who practiced such heinous atrocities for decades may not endear Massof to their fellow inmates, but it did get him a much lighter sentence than he deserves. Sentenced to 6 to 12 years. Admittedly, he was not sentenced, tried, or charged with killing 100 babies. They couldn’t give someone convicted of that crime such a light sentence…could they? He was sentenced for two counts of third-degree murder. But he did admit to 100 and we have no reason to doubt this claim.

I don’t believe in the death penalty. It’s not for man to say who lives, who dies. But there are some crimes that are so vile, so dangerous, so unspeakable, that they go beyond the pale, and the culprit has lost the right to ever take another breath of free air, for the rest of their lives. I’m a Christian. I believe even the foulest of us sinners may be forgiven. But a price must be payed. As a lesson to others and some small fraction of the punishment he’s earned, Steven Massof should be locked up without any possibility of parole until the day he faces his final judgement.

But that’s not what happened. 6 years would be 2020, 12 would be 2026. If he serves the full sentence, Massof will be 63 years old when he gets off. What then? I don’t think he’s a continued danger to society. Certainly he’s never going to practice “medicine” again, something he was never even licensed for in the first place. Maybe he’ll try his hand at bartending again. How many people will he pass on the streets, people who have never seen his face or heard his name, who won’t have any idea this slight 60-something who just walked by has more victims than any other serial killer in American history (excepting Gosnell himself), and alone among American serial killers, was actually caught, tried, and convicted of his crimes, but now walks free among them, having completely paid his debt to society?

Is it pointless, unproductive, unhealthy, even unChristian of me to harp on Massof on his crimes, rather than ignoring him like absolutely everybody else? What am I hoping to accomplish here? If I do write a book or make a movie, will that do any good? Perhaps. Like I’ve said, this is a social issue of the utmost importance and urgency. It’s no mystery where fiends like Gosnell and Massof come from. It’s the Culture of Death, a society that turns a blind eye to the most prevalent of unnatural destruction of human life. A political paradigm that legally allows such unborn homicide, and slanders as sexists and slavers any who oppose such a barbaric institute. They would dare say that such exceptions prove the need for legal abortion on demand, that desperate women would turn to such monstrous men in such subpar clinics if their practice were outlawed. But such a perversion of the lesson of Gosnell ignores the fact that these butchers only operated because it was legal in the first place, that they received special dispensation from the Governor to evade standard health inspections. More to the point, this is possible because we have created a world where unborn life is treated as cheap and expendable, something to be tossed aside for convenience, ripped apart and thrown in the garbage. The supposedly moral regulations are weak and arbitrary. You’ve painted gray what should be black and white. When such differences between these crimes and the “reproductive rights” every Democrat fights for with fearful intensity are so minute and toothless, a week here, the few inches between inside the womb and without there, is it any wonder such horrors happened? Who are we to judge? Massof never would have done it otherwise.

So yes, shout Massof’s name from the rooftops and let any and all articulate why they oppose him, and if that is not morally disingenuous with whatever positions they support on tangential issues.

But for Massof himself? The man will be in jail for years to come, and with double jeopardy laws, he’s not getting retried. People launch campaigns to try to get the unjustly convicted or excessively sentenced out of prison, but there’s no recourse to get a convict more time or a harsher sentence (see Brock Turner). Nor should there be. Our legal system isn’t perfect (it if was, Gosnell and Massof’s atrocities wouldn’t be borderline legal), but it is the system, and we’ve got to accept that Massof will be a free man some day. Sooner than he should.

Well God bless him. Maybe he’ll learn something on the inside. Maybe he’ll have a more mature and morally sane appreciation of his own crimes. “Fireman in Hell”? That’s quite a turn of phrase, but Steve. You were an arsonist.

I just wonder though. He must have had noble ambitions at some point. He claimed, “I believe that Dr. Gosnell was honestly trying to help women and protect them from abuse and neglect,” which is all well and good, but how do you take one look at that hellhouse of cat feces and baby feet in jars and not turn and run? Was he content to play a big shot in the bar, claiming to be a fancy doctor while selling his soul for $15,000 a year? When he was studying medicine in the West Indies, the blue water and white sand of which must seem like a thousand centuries ago, could he have ever imagined.he’d end where he did? But the bigger tragedy and the irresistible mystery to me is that Massof has not ended up anywhere. His story continues, just as we all do. Unlike all those infants he snuffed out with route violence, he still has a life. But what can one make of it? Where do we go from here?

At his sentencing, he admitted, “I realize that this is something that’s wrong and will never be right and will never go away“, words that fall ludicrously short of the terrible reality. But what can be said, for himself, or society, or all the lives he cut away, before they ever had a chance?

"People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead." -James Baldwin
“People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.”
-James Baldwin

Ah, Massof! Ah, humanity!

 

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