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No One Ever is to Blame

I'm going to do a little historical research. I'd like to know if the Italians were every oppressed or subjugated so I'll have something to fall back on should I ever be arrested for a violent crime. You laugh, but you shouldn't. After all, Isaac Cortez Bynum is trying something similar. He beat his son to death. Abused him to death, actually. And his attorney claims it is due to post traumatic slave syndrome. [Attorney Randall] Vogt says he will argue -- "in a general way" -- that masters beat slaves, so Bynum was justified in beating his son. bq. The slave theory is the work of Joy DeGruy-Leary, an assistant professor in the Portland State University Graduate School of Social Work. It is not listed by psychiatrists or the courts as an accepted disorder, and some experts said they had never heard of it. So, let's all delve into our history and see if we can't blame our bad behavior on anyone but ourselves. Yes, I know the courts will never let this argument stand, but it's the fact that someone is trying to pass this off as a legitimate defense that boggles the mind. How can an attorney stand before a judge and, with a straight face, basically say that his client is not guilty of beating a child to death because many, many years ago his ancestors were beaten, and even though he wasn't there to see it and even though he was never a slave or never had a master himself, this has somehow affected him so deeply that he saw his two year old son as a slave and himself as the master and yes, your honor, my client was destined to beat his child to death. I wonder, as an Italian, what faults of mine are inherent, then. What or who can I blame my shortcomings as a person on? Should I ever land in front of a judge, is there anything in my ancestors' past that I could use as a crutch to diguise my violent crime as something else? I'm sure I can blame something on Mussolini. Or maybe Nero. Perhaps I can work a Post Traumatic Fiddling Disorder into my next therapy appointment. Just think of how easy it will be to not take responsibility for my own actions when I can start blaming people who existed before I was even a twinkle in my mother's eyes. The more I read about people like Joy DeGruy-Leary, the less hope I have for the future of this country and the world at large. The more crackpot theories and blame-everyone-else defenses that pop up in the U.S. courts, the less I think humanity will survive this century. This goes right alongside McDonald's Made Me Fat and Judas Priest Made Me Kill My Dog headlines. This is the Age of No Responsibility. For every action you take, there is a person to blame when that action goes wrong. For every ounce you gain, every crime you commit, every coffee you spill, there is a an attorney willing to help you point your finger in every direction but back at yourself. I thought the fat and coffee lawsuits were bad enough, but now that we have people willing to go that extra litigious mile to set child murderers free, I am officially giving up all hope for mankind. Nero fiddled while Rome burned. I'm sure there's something in there for me. [via Volokh]


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» Well, I'm Set For Anything, Then! from JimSpot
Michele has one hell of a tirade about the blame-it-on-anyone-but-the-one-responsible, ME! society we live in. It's actually inspired by this... [Read More]

» Anybody but me... from Dancing with Dogs
… that seems to be the line of thinking these days for most people, as in this case of a father who abused his child to death, via A Small Victory - No One Ever is to Blame. This evil, evil man’s attorney is going to argue that somehow it... [Read More]


I've got partial Irish and partial German. I can always fall back on those mean old Brits having had a go at my Irish ancestors or a villainy complex from being a descendant of the brunt of two world wars.

And American Indian, too! That's gotta be worth something. Trail of Tears and all that, dontcha know.

Hey, maybe I could invent a "mutt complex" because I have such a mixed heritage? 'Honest your honor. I had no choice but to kill him because I couldn't relate to my disparate ancestors to determine whether I should let him leave.'

Yeah, that'll do it.

I'm a Heinz 57 - a little bit o' everything. Dutch, German, Russian, Panamanian, Gerogia Redneck.... You name it.

I should have a field day. I bet I've got some sort of deeply embedded hatred against one of my own backgrounds that should allow me to pillage entire towns without a lick of guilt!

"Your Honor, My client's German background caused him to violently clash with the Dutch in him, causing him to spill the hot coffee on his lap. McDonald's should have placed a warning on the door that clearly stated "Patrons with German / Dutch heritages should refrain from purchasing coffee"

I smell a book deal.

Are you really an Italian? Look deeper, you might be an Etruscan, or a Neopolitan, a Sicilian, or some other oppressed person. Maybe your regional heritage was usurped for some ideal of a Greater Italy. Resist the urge to assimilate! Even from America, your heritage of shameful oppression can help you!

After all, Italy is the imperial state of those evil civilizing forces that took a happy group of coexisting tribes that lived as one with their environment and each other and turned it into a horrid state that produces nothing more than men's fashion and sports cars. Or something like that.

I think you should blame the mafia and olive oil.

And thanks, now I have Howard Jones stuck in my head.

Paxil now increased to 40 mg.

Use Hannibal and Carthage. North African / Middle Eastern oppression. Can't beat that with a stick for oppression. Otherwise, the Vandels, the Huns, and the French.

Why go so far back? Blame your bad behavior on the Marlins, and the horrible experience of buying a house and moving into it.

You teed it up nicely with the "what are my inherent faults as an Italian" thing, but I'm not taking the bait today. Glass houses and all that.

As a fellow Italian, I find that the ol' rage-at-being-stereotyped-as-a-mafioso excuse comes in handy in a pinch.

I knew I should have skipped the pansy-ass Benadryl and just started pounding Nyquil the minute I got up.

Can conservatives beat on liberals because of all the abuse we've taken from Dan Rather?

Just asking.

My ancestors used to raid the coasts of Europe. Please don't sue me.

If you're checking "slave credentials" to smack down Reggie Rivers, don't bother. Just have a Jew do it for you. ;)

What, you think we eat Matzoh because it tastes good?

What is our justice system coming to? God help us all. What good is justice if you have got lawyers that can live with themselves after coming up with that type of defense.

Blame it on Mussolini. He was a fascist wasn't he? It works as far as I'm concerned. I'm a conglomeration even including some French Hugenot, Pietist from Germany, Irish, Spanish, Scottish,
German great grandfather fled to America to avoid incsciption, that counts. Unless we are all descended from royalty we have some ancestor that has been oppressed. Ridiculous!

Irish Catholic - I've got a lifetime of excuses for violence against both my fellow Americans and the English.

There's only one way out: Teach your kids to be responsible for their own actions, and in a generation or so we'll all look back at this and laugh...

even as we're teaching our children, datarat, there are too many that don't. i'm afraid we're outnumbered.

I believe that those who are willing to take responsibility for their actions generally don't end up arrested for beating their children to death as a responsible person isn't likely to beat their child to death.

Responsible people generally avoid litigation (yes I am making a generalization) and responsibility doesn't make good news copy.

I was once rejected in a bar by a woman who has a vague resemblence to you. I think this is an excuse for me to rant and rage in your comments section with no possibility of you banning me.

You know, cause it's your fault. Even if there is no way in hell it is. :-)

Blame the Sopranos!

Actually, to be serious, the judge already basically slapped down this argument, so what exactly is the fuss? Our legal system is set up to require that "For every ounce you gain, every crime you commit, every coffee you spill, there is a an attorney willing to help you point your finger in every direction but back at yourself."

This is actually a fundamental of legal ethics. There is an ethical obligation to argue the part of the defendant as strongly as possible, no matter how wack that part may be. When we fry this guy, we want to be able to say that he's been given every chance to make his case. Better that a guilty man go free than an innocent be punished and all that (God has got our back here, so the guilty guy will get it eventually). What was the problem again?

About the coffee thing really quick, that has nothing to do with "responsibility" for spilling the coffee. It was about the responsibility for serving coffee so hot that spilling it is life threatening (and the verdict was vastly reduced on appeal).

Oh, come now...short-temper syndrome is certainly hereditary. :) I blame every time I've lost my temper on this image: my Uncle getting hit upside the head with a wine bottle as a boy, as great grandpa cursed about how "we live in America, we speak the American now! Quit speaking the Italian!"

Of course, that's just mom's side. Dad's side is Irish so that explains a lot, too.

"...a responsible person isn't likely to beat their child to death."
Posted by Greg G

I know many irresponsible people, and not one of them would do that. This goes well beyond responsibility and irresponsibility. This was evil.

I say we caucasians should sue the Asiatics to Hell and gone. They are, after all, the ones who chased us out of Central Asia.

Do you know how close China was to being white?


Hmm, the only thing I thought you were condemned to do for simply being Italian was to be unable to communicate without using your hands (actually a plus for blogging), and you were eternally doomed to yell "vaffanculo" at people that piss ya off...

Other than that, I got nothin.

Let's see, you've been abused by trolls, t*d r*U, your real estate agent (or their real estate agent, in any case, a real estate agent), the school system, ... and you need to look to your ancestors for abuse excuses? !

As someone of mostly Roman blood, I think the Germans owe me for sacking my ancestral home.

If you're Italian you've got Carthage, but since it's all "delenda" now, no one will feel sorry for you.
Try using the Etruscan enslavement of Italians, mixed with a dash of disdain from the more civilized (sorry, it was true) Greeks, and you have a pity-pot-pie of self loathing.
For an extra kick, conflate the true misery of those who lived in previou cultures with the petty annoyances of life today:
"When I read about the Etruscan yolk, I am reminded of Billy McPherson in third grade yelling "Gambini the Bambini" and calling me dumb." It is important to use the word de-humanizing no matter what your complaint .
If you are Italian, start claiming "person of color" status. Use it as a main dish, or as a garnish!
For those without color, think of a particularly poignant category name. Share it with friends at your next party.
Remember: You're not just a complainer-
with a lawyer on retainer!

It's really a shame that attorneys don't (can't?) be held in contempt of court/have their licenses pulled for making arguments like this.

Legal reasoning - a contradiction in terms.

Would it have worked for Sacco and Vanzetti?

Mussolini!? Nero!? What about Caligula...?

I drink to avoid arguements. Then while drunk I find a need to read blogs. Then I end up arguing with people in comments. Then I am forced to drink even more. Eventually I fall down and hit my head on things. It's Al Gore's fault. He created the internet.

It was a bipartisan effort to make IXLNXS's drinking public:


"It's really a shame that attorneys don't (can't?) be held in contempt of court/have their licenses pulled for making arguments like this."

It's 'don't'--professional courtesy and all that, since the people who could decide to inflict such a penalty are, surprise surprise, also lawyers. Personally, I'd like to see a national review board made up of non-lawyers whose sole job was to terminate with extreme prejudice the careers of lawyers who waste court time and money with this drivel (and worse yet, occasionally get them past incompetent judges and deeply stupid juries, where they become horrifying precedents). A few prominent lawyers reduced to selling their blood to pay the bills might get the message out that we're tired of this crap.

Hi! Just to provide a bit of data on the McDonald's coffee case - here's a link to a brief recapitulation of the facts:


The jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages. This amount was reduced to $160,000 because the jury found Liebeck 20 percent at fault in the spill. The jury also awarded Liebeck $2.7 million in punitive damages, which equals about two days of McDonalds' coffee sales.

Post-verdict investigation found that the temperature of coffee at the local Albuquerque McDonalds had dropped to 158 degrees fahrenheit [down from 180-190].

The trial court subsequently reduced the punitive award to $480,000 -- or three times compensatory damages -- even though the judge called McDonalds' conduct reckless, callous and willful.

Many people only know about this case from Jay Leno's jokes. Help spread the Real Facts™. Thanks!

ps -- Italians used to be called wops, didn't they? Ah, here ya go! : "Discrimination and Defamation of Italian Americans". Viola!

pps -- Irish "Irish need not apply" here. And French/English.

And did you see how badly burned she actually was? There were pictures on the internet awhile back but I don't have the link anymore.
I understand that she set it between her legs, but damn, it would have been too hot to drink for hours too.
I am English and French which makes me want to keep a stiff upper lip while I whine. LOL.

I'm half-Italian and half-French.

I could probably get pretty far with the defense that since my recent ancestors never fired a shot in defense of the land of their birth, I've got some coming to me......

If not, I'll fall back on the Italian/Mussolini/Mafia argument.


If your roots are from Southern Italy, especially Sicily, youíre in luck.

Feudalism was not abolished in Sicily until the early 1800s and the poverty level of most Sicilians was extreme. Most couldnít afford leather shoes and wore wooden shoes. A great many never ate meat except on Christmas and Easter because they couldnít afford it. They were hopelessly tied to the land they worked and did not own, with absolutely no chance for advancement in class. They were little better off then slaves. They were repressed to the point of no return. Itís often written that 1 in 12 women in the Islands interior were forced to accept prostitution as the only way to obtain food. Since the poverty level was extreme, there was often only enough money for one dowry, hence only one daughter of a family could marry, the rest often just had to shack up, which didnít go over well with the church and was a further point of repression. Living condition were so primitive for the poor that a small one room abode had the entire family, plus a pig if they were lucky, living in one room.

If you come from Sicily, youíre all set.

sauropods played hell with my neanderthal relatives long time ago.

that's why i felt entitled to club those baby seals at the zoo.

slave theory is sound science.

I think it all depends where you're from in italy. In the north (Milan) they were invaded by the French who apparently turned the abbey of Pavia into a horse stable AND knocked the heads off the the stone carvings in the abbey walls.

In the south, the north africans invaded.

If you're from Naples, apparently the rest of the country hates you.

Or maybe you can blame the trauma on being forcibly united by Garibaldi, against the wishes of the Vatican - who apparently consipired against him. Conversly, the Vatican for conspiring against Garibaldi's patriotic act.

Don't forget the Twinkies. If you eat too many Twinkies, your blood sugar gets all out of whack (That's a technical term.) and you can't be held responsible for your actions. Hey, it worked in San Francisco.

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