Does anyone remember the 1978 shootings of SF Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk? In a controversial verdict, Dan White was convicted of manslaughter (not murder) due to what became known as the “Twinkie” defense. His lawyer convinced a jury that he suffered diminished capacity by depression that was worsened by eating too much sugar, including Twinkies.
Last month, a 16-year-old boy from Texas who killed a family of four in a drunken car crash, was convicted of manslaughter, but got no jail time—probation only—due to the expert witness of a psychologist who persuaded a jury that the boy, from a wealthy family, had a feeling of privilege, called “affluenza,” which diminished his capacity for judgment, and was deserving of a lighter sentence.
Perhaps the precursor to this “I-can't-be-blamed; I-have-a-disorder” cop out was the 1970's expression made famous by Flip Wilson, “The devil made me do it.” As a psychologist, I know there are legitimate disorders, but this “blame-it-on-someone-else” excuse is as old as Adam’s “she-gave-it-to-me” defense in the Garden. Might this be one way the spirit of lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:6-7) is manifesting itself today?