5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2003
Interesting book, but at length it sounds more like one of the sob stories it purports to outline. It should be made clear that the book is not a book in a traditional sense, in that the thesis is delineated at the introduction but the bulk of the text is composed of short essays. Additionally, it's not entirely clear who the main audience is intended to be.
While Mr. Dershowitz certainly covers his topic well, less than halfway through the book his argument becomes repetitive and muddled. The controversy he rails against in one section could be used to support reasoning in another.
The author does not go into depth to explain why lawyers or justices take, or do not take, the positions they do. In this sense it is little more than a critique of society and the system. We in the public have been lead to believe that the justice system is adversarial. If so, then it is the responsibility of a good attorney to provide a zealous prosecution of his case - be it prosecution or defense - not necessarily to offer a responsible or truthful conclusion. Mr. Dershowitz does not address this issue. Thus, ultimately there is very little substance to his material.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2003
For a man as educated and intelligent as Mr. Dershowitz, this was a surprisingly uninteresting and dull account of a very important issue. While I agree with Dershowitz's main tent -- our society has become less responsible in many ways, and that our law is a reflection of that -- his essays were, to put it mildly, insipid and boring. I realize that the mediums that he choose to broadcast his message -- newspapers -- constrain his ability to express his sentiments in all the proper nuance. (For instance, George Will, a respected columnist, writes for general audiences but never hesitates to express his comments in the language such comments deserve).
Also, after you have read one single essay from Mr. Dershowitz, there is absolutely no reason to read another one. Each essay talks about the same subject in almost the same fashion: that the abrogation of responsibility will ultimately result in the end of the rule of law (which requires that we be responsible for our actions) and democracy (which posits that elected officials are ultimately responsible for their actions). I would encourage careful readers to instead look at James Q. Wilson's "Moral Judgment: Does the Abuse Excuse Threaten our Legal System." Wilson's book goes into far more depth on this issue, offering theoretical and practical support for his arguments. Plus, Wilson is far more interesting. : )
on January 2, 2013
Every single person who gets arrested or busted for a crime immediately uses the "abuse-excuse" it had to be their childhood or some other abuse situation. We have come to believe that every person has been abused, they must have been? or why would they rob a bank? steal? kill? become addicted to drugs or alcohol? Even if true, they were abused, what gives them the right to steal? to kill? to drive while drunk?
Bad things happen to good people every day, does that give them the excuse to break the law? to hurt others? to live a criminal life?
This book tells it like it is, we have become a society where we blame others for our own actions. We are responsible for what we do. good or bad, I guess we could all blame someone else, use the "abuse-excuse" but then what? We are a victim, so nothing after that is our responsibility?
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2013
Mr. Dershowitz: I wish the talking heads in the media had asked you to explain yourself when you fully endorsed this same old tired "Abuse Excuse" when Jose Baez used it and you SUPPORTED it in the Casey Anthony case. Having watched every minute of that trial, it was a textbook (according to YOU) use of the Abuse Excuse. Obviously the book was written well before and you felt the need for media exposure..no matter how you went about getting it!
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 1998
Without doubt, Alan Dershowitz is a brilliant attorney and proves his thesis superbly. Although it is politically correct to attack lawyers...I for one think Mr. Dershowitz and Gerry Spence are Supreme Court material. Read this book and learn the art of critical thinking.
5 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2007
While I highly agree that many defenses belong in the waste basket, Dershowitz waxes self righteous to such a high pitch its tough to deal with. First of all, he doesn't see the forest from the trees.
I saw MSNBC investigates on television and saw the tortuous struggle prisoners face in prison. Many of them were literally nice guys. They weren't rapists, murderers or such. But they stole cars, broke into houses, or belonged to a gang. They are ruined lives. But their lives are not ruined by their own acts but by the acts of a draconian justice system that is thrilled to impose harsh punishment for their mistakes. In other words, there is a shift in the content of our law. It is okay to celebrate sodomites on television, recklessly debauch children with illicit television, abort innocent babies who never committed a crime, and so on, but don't dare violate the leviathan state. If you don't pay your taxes, if you rob a bank (poor bank), if you punch a cop who is trying to shoot you or abuse you, if you insult a judge whose arrogance knows no bounds, if you are a conscientious objector and so on -- you will pay the ultimate price. This shift in the content of the law is given physical manifest with the removal of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Court.
Who goes to jail? Allegedly, the anti-social. But, we punish many prisoners so harshly there is a tacit presumption they are sociopaths who deserve that level of punishment. Yet, I have met many cops, judges, bureaucrats, ABA board members, AMA board members, teachers, and people from the department of licensing, politicians and so on who exhibit a cruelty that exceeds some of the worst prisoners I've seen. They delight in cruelty and being downright ornery. Yet, they're not in jail. They've ruined careers, destroyed reputations, shot and killed people, imposed burdens on people who already suffer from barely endurable burdens, foreclose on houses, deny paying insurance claims, but "it's the law." There is a devious sort that likes to commit their crimes under color of law. They're not clever when they do this. They're cowards who hide behind the proxy of power.
I beg to differ from Dershowitz because he focuses on the wrong rascals. This is misdirection or a blind spot that is intolerable. Like Tony Montana said, "You people need people like me, so you can point your filthy finger and say there's the bad guy." Define a criminal as an Italian gangster or a black hoodlum and you won't notice the worse ones who embezzle your tax dollars, commit treason, impose usurious interest rates, recklessly expose your children to filth on television, violate their oath of office by representing AIPAC instead of the American people (as our legislator does) or quoting foreign precedent (as our Supreme Court does who allegedly swear to uphold the laws of OUR land, not someone else's land), utility companies who are subsidized by your tax dollars (allegedly for the public good) but who turn around and charge you for that power your tax dollars created, et cetera. We need to step back and reevaluate our concept of the bad guy, that hallmark of "irresponsibility."
If we don't' do this, God help this country.