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  • Even heavy drinkers are still responsible for their actions

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on July 9th, 2007 (All posts by )

    It really is no excuse:

    Intoxicated people have much greater control over their behavior than generally recognized. For example, in those societies in which people don’t believe that alcohol causes disinhibition, intoxication never leads to unacceptable behavior.

    Research in the US has found that when males are falsely led to believe that they have been drinking alcohol, they tend to become more aggressive.

    So it isn’t simply a case of “the alcohol made me do it.”

    The article goes on to note that in tests drinkers performed as well as sober people if they were offered small rewards.

    It doesn’t take a genius to realize that absolving criminals from responsibility for their actions for any reason whatsoever is going to increase crime, especially violent crime. Until 2003, when our most senior federal court here in Germany decided otherwise in a fundamental test case, intoxication was generally considered an extenuating circumstance; in cases of extreme intoxication defendants could literally get away with murder. Quite predictably, habitual drinkers who planned to murder someone, usually their wifes or girlfriends, made sure that they had blood alcohol levels upwards of 0.2 percent before they did the crime. Especially galling was that this very obviously required premeditated planning, but bleeding-heart judges were only too happy to let them get off with a slap on the wrist: “The poor man, losing his wife in such a tragic manner!”

    Googling didn’t really tell me how the issue is handled in the US, it seems that the various states have quite different laws.

    At any rate, in my personal opinion it should nver be an excuse. There may be some rare cases where somebody loses control under the influence after all, but it then is their personal responsibility to keep their hands off of alcoholic beverages.

     

    7 Responses to “Even heavy drinkers are still responsible for their actions”

    1. James R. Rummel Says:

      Until 2003, when our most senior federal court decided otherwise in a fundamental test case,…

      This is an international blog, so our readers might find it helpful if you defined what “our” is referring to.

      James

    2. John Jay Says:

      As George Carlin once said (and I paraphrase): “if you drink or use drugs to unlock your true personality, what happens if you are an a**hole?”

      Drink does not put anyhting in your mind that wasn’t there in the first place.

    3. Ralf Goergens Says:

      This is an international blog, so our readers might find it helpful if you defined what “our” is referring to.

      Good point, James, thanks. I corrected the oversight.

    4. Ralf Goergens Says:

      if you drink or use drugs to unlock your true personality, what happens if you are an a**hole?”

      Exactly! :)

    5. Pseudo-Polymath » Blog Archive » (late) Morning Highlights Says:

      […] Drinking, responsibility, and cultural keys at Chicago Boyz. […]

    6. Oliver Suess-Barnkey Says:

      Japanese people I know insist that when drinking with work colleagues, they feel free to express themselves because anything untoward they might say would not come back to haunt them, as it would be considered the alcohol talking, not the person’s true feelings.
      It sounds preposterous.
      I was told this once after witnessing an outburst by a mid-level employee during a rather innocuous speech by the boss at a holiday party. “Nobody wants to hear you. Just sit down and shut up” the drunken salaryman blurted out, repeatedly. The boss didn’t even acknowledge the outburst and kept right on spilling out the banal platitudes about working together and so on.
      I remain unconvinced that the heckler did not earn a black mark in the boss’s book, not matter how drunk either of them were.
      On the other hand, the Japanese exhibit other forms of behavior that is inexplicable in rational terms…

    7. Dan tdaxp Says:

      If one believes that actions made under altered mental states should not have the same consequences as actions made under a “normal” mental state, then why does the cause of the alteration (exclusively alcohol-induced or an interaction between alcohol and internal monitoring) matter?

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