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Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016

The devil made me write this column

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

You remember the old comedic line "The devil made me do it." That was just a humorous way of claiming an excuse for bad behavior. And as a society, we have increasingly become dependent on the excuse mentality. We no longer claim fault for our actions but instead, insist that someone or something else is to blame. And I, for one, am growing so very sick of this warped justification for inappropriate actions.

It creeps into politics everyday now. The ever-popular Cynthia McKinney of Georgia had a half-dozen excuses for her political loss last week but not once did she mention that perhaps her outlandish actions had brought an end to her political career. Our friend Al Sharpton goes to Houston and says the increase in crime there from the New Orleans evacuees is not their fault, it's the fault of a slow responding federal government. Just one more excuse without one shred of self fault.

There's a murder trial under way in Virginia that almost defies description. Two recently released convicts went on a murder spree and police are still trying to count the bodies. They know the duo killed a family of four including two young girls; they know the duo killed three members of another family five days later; they know of at least two other murders at the same time that were almost certainly the work of these two ex-cons.

Now here's where the excuses begin. The first suspect will tell the courts that sexual abuse as a child turned him to a life of crime and murder. That is his excuse. He wants the world to know that it wasn't his fault that he slit the throats of the two young girls and then burned their bodies. He was not at fault because as a child - he alleges - he was sexually abused.

Of course, by coming up with this excuse, the murderer hopes to escape the death penalty. He knows that he will never see life outside of the prison walls but he fears the death penalty and thus, he has found an excuse for his actions.

First, don't let any death penalty opponent tell you that execution is not a deterrent for crime. This man desperately wants to avoid his day with the executioner or he would simply plead guilty and face the consequences. But instead, along with a willing attorney, the murderer now has a plan to tell the jury. It was not his fault because of his past life.

Not a day passes that you won't hear someone shift the focus of blame away from themselves by making some lame excuse. We overreact and get into arguments because it was someone else's fault. We could not accomplish some task because of the fault of someone or something else.

Has it always been this way? I am most certainly not versed enough in history to know the answer. But I can judge today and in today's world, there's ample blame to spread around but rarely does that finger of blame point in our direction. This blameless trend is sick, it's wrong and it will eventually lead to the ruination of a promising society.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen