Due to the undeniable role that they play in perpetuating the abuses of Family Courts (as well as the existence of Gloria Allred), precious few MRA’s would be willing to consider anybody bearing the title of “lawyer” as an ally to the cause. There is, however, one law professor from Harvard who, whether by accident or design, has contributed invaluable material to the Men’s Rights Movement. The name of that man is Alan Dershowitz.
Dershowitz is popular with most liberals, but very unpopular with feminists. For one thing, he destroyed Andrea Dworkin in a debate over pornography. For another, he has mastered the art of logic better than nearly any other man alive. As such, one of his books, I think, should be required reading for anybody willing to participate in the MRM in a capacity greater than that of an observer. I picked it up three years ago and it changed my life. The name of that book is The Abuse Excuse: And other Cop-Outs, Sob Stories, and Evasions of Responsibility.
In this gem of a legal treatise, Dershowitz treats us to an idea originally put forth by Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov: that a defense of criminal irresponsibility for one’s actions is a double-edged sword. He applies this idea to a number of real-life legal cases, and shows how doing so harms the defense’s arguments. In doing so, he also explains the uses of and difference between necessary cause and sufficient cause better than anyone I’ve ever seen.
What Dershowitz does, first and foremost, is point out what was a glaring legal trend in the early Nineties: to invent new “Syndromes” for every court case under the sun. From “Battered Woman syndrome” to “Black Rage syndrome”, to “Holocaust Survivor syndrome”, Dershowitz shows how these defenses ultimately hurt the people they’re designed to protect.
In the case of Battered Woman syndrome, Dershowitz references the infamous “Burning Bed” incident which happened in my home state of Michigan. In this case, a woman was being abused by her drunkard of a husband (or so we’re told). Late one night, after he fell asleep, she took her children out to the car, doused her husband’s bed in gasoline, lit it on fire, and drove away. Her attorneys argued that she acted in self-defense; Dershowitz points out that she did not, since her husband was asleep at the time. He also points out that if she did indeed have a psychological disorder that prompted her to kill her husband, then she’s not exactly the sort of person you should trust around children. He makes the same argument in his installment on the Lorena Bobbitt case.
In the case of Black Rage syndrome, we are treated to the case of a black man who murdered a white man. The black man’s attorney argues that he was so persecuted by white society that he had no choice but to lash out. Dershowitz asks why a man who has a psychological disorder that could prompt him to lash out at any given moment and kill a white man should be admitted back into mainstream society.
In the case of Holocaust Survivor syndrome, Dershowitz tells us the story of a group of holocaust survivors who asked him to defend them in court pro bono (since he had a history of doing so) on charges of theft. They asked him to argue that they had Holocaust Survivor syndrome; in other words, struggling to stay alive in Hitler’s Germany had conditioned them to get by through stealing and lying. Dershowitz refused to take their case, saying that he knows plenty of holocaust survivors who have no trouble obeying the law.
If nothing else, Dershowitz’s book is worth reading for the absolute skewering he gives to Catherine MacKinnon’s and Andrea Dworkin’s arguments in favor of banning pornography. Dworkin claimed that pornography was responsible for such crimes as rape and child abuse. Dershowitz tied these in with similar anti-religious arguments and capped them all off with a logical gem, in which he said that blaming religion for the acts of violent fanatics, just like blaming pornography for rape and child abuse, is “like blaming oxygen for pyromania.”
Dershowitz seems to delight in debunking feminist arguments or just arguments in general that spring from the notion of female entitlement. He also mentions an incident in which a police officer pulled a woman over, suspecting that she was driving while intoxicated. The woman proceeded to assault the policeman, saying: “You can’t fucking do this to me! I’m a doctor, goddammit!” She was, of course, instantly arrested and subjected to a sobriety test, which she failed. Her attorney defended her against the assault charges, saying that she was suffering from PMS at the time of the incident. Dershowitz, clever man that he is, pointed out that the judge accepting the PMS defense would also be obligated to revoke the woman’s medical license, since it would be an absolute disaster if she started exhibiting symptoms of PMS during an operation.
In what looks like a foreshadowing, Dershowitz also argues against expanding the definition of rape to include intoxication. He points out that, unless the drink was drugged or force-fed to the woman, it wasn’t rape, because while she may not have been in her normal state of mind, she chose to drink the alcohol and is therefore responsible for whatever she did while under its influence. Sadly, it doesn’t seem that Dershowitz convinced too many lawmakers.
The Abuse Excuse is the one book that, more than any other, shaped my critical thinking skills and made them as sharp as they are today. I think it should be required reading for all MRAs. If you haven’t yet read it, go to your local library and pick up a copy. If you can’t find a copy, order one from Amazon—it’s dirt cheap. It’s a bit outdated in terms of the cases it discusses (around a fifth of the chapters are devoted to the OJ Simpson case), but all of Dershowitz’ ideas are every bit as applicable today as they were when he wrote them. I don’t know if we can peg him fully as another Red Pill-taker, but he’s definitely not part of the Blue Pill crowd.