Three years ago one Wendell Williamson wantonly gunned down two strangers in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Purportedly his paranoid schizophrenia bade him to kill in order to save the world.
Now another North Carolina jury has decided that the psychiatrist who had treated Williamson months before his shooting spree should pay Williamson $500,000. This eminent jury seems to have concluded that Williamson might have been cured had the psychiatrist done his job right.
It’s the O.J. defense with a twist. O.J.’s lawyers shifted the blame to the police who caught him. Williamson’s lawyers have shifted the blame to the psychiatrist who failed to cure the purported insanity that triggered the fatal shooting spree.
What happens to people when they become jurors? Does Lamont Cranston cloud their minds? Does confinement to a courtroom and jury room make them temporarily insane?
Whatever the case, consider the defenses that today’s lawyers could mount, successfully, for the villains of history:
Yes, Brutus struck the blow that killed Caesar, but there was a blood-lust in the air that day in Rome. Someone was bound to kill the power-crazed Caesar. Brutus was merely the pawn of fate, swept along in the force-field of hate that surrounded him. If you blame Brutus, you must blame all of Rome.
The South was within its rights to secede from the Union. Lincoln provoked an illicit war in his effort to preserve the Union. Therefore, John Wilkes Booth did not commit murder, he merely killed an enemy who was waging an unjust war against Booth’s homeland. Booth is a patriot warrior, not a murderer.
Aldolf Hitler and Josef Stalin cannot be blamed for the millions of lives they took. Clearly, they suffer from paranoia, delusions of grandeur, and sociopathy. These men are to be pitied, not punished, for they were driven by demons beyond their control to commit acts whose heinousness only normal human beings can comprehend.
Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray, and Sirhan Sirhan are victims of unrealistic expectations. As males living in the United States of the mid-Twentieth Century they were expected to rise to the top, to become powerful and famous. When they were unable to fulfill society’s expectations, they could only strike out at those who were powerful and famous. Society must forgive Oswald, Ray, and Sirhan; society itself must shoulder the blame for their acts.
No one expects politicians to be truthful. Politicians are expected to lie and voters have come to rely on the fact that politicians lie. Bill Clinton merely acted in accordance with the ethics of his profession when he lied under oath and encouraged others to do the same. It would be grossly unfair to him and confusing to voters if we were to change the rules in the middle of the game. Leave Bill Clinton alone and go after real criminals like smokers.