Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Blame Game

by Joyce Tremel

I’m usually a pretty calm, rational person. Ask anyone. At least about the calm part. (You might get differing answers on the rational part.) But every once in awhile, something sets me off. On Tuesday morning I went online to read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and came across this headline: “Wife’s Illness Drove Man to Child Porn, Lawyer Says.”

Well, that did it. Calm and rational went out the window. I’m so sick and tired of everyone from famous celebrities to this low-life scumbag with child porn on his computer blaming everyone else for their problems. This man’s attempt to blame his sicko behavior on his now-dead wife has taken the blame game to new lows. Why couldn’t he just plead guilty without the excuses? Does anyone really care why he had child porn on his computer? I certainly don’t.

In reading the article, the excuses get even worse. There’s a doctor who explained that the man would not have developed an interest in child pornography had he not “been under extraordinary mental and emotional distress associated with his wife’s severe, unrelenting and ultimately fatal illnesses.” Huh? Excuse me? Is it me, or is this pure B.S.? Thousands of people every day go through the same distress and heartache of a loved one’s illness without having the compulsion to look at naked children.

The man’s lawyer also tried to get his case postponed by saying his client was claustrophobic and wouldn’t be able to tolerate the Allegheny County Jail. The judge refused, but did have him sent to the Beaver County Jail instead. All I can say is the man is lucky I’m not a judge. He’d be in the smallest enclosed space I could find.

Why does blaming others for one’s problems seem to be so rampant these days? I even see it at work when someone is arrested. Nine times out of ten, the asshole will say, “It’s not my fault,” or something close to that. It’s never his fault when a guy punches his wife in the face: “She provoked me!” It’s never the mother’s fault when her two year old is found wandering the neighborhood because she’s sleeping: “I was at the bar all night—I was tired. She should know not to leave the house.” Yeah, that’s it. Blame it on a two year old. Then there are the parents who blame their child’s problems on the schools, the teachers, the police—everywhere but where it belongs. How are the kids to learn responsibility if not from their parents?

I’ve been thinking about this issue and trying to relate it to my fiction writing. I know when I do my revisions, I’ll be on the lookout for the Blame Game. It’ll be okay for my villain to say, “It’s not my fault,” but I never want my protagonist to blame any of her failures on someone else. She’s more likely to blame herself even when it is someone else’s fault.

How do you feel about the Blame Game? Do you think people have lost their sense of responsibility? Can you relate it to your own writing?


Annette said...

I seem to be the type who takes the blame for everything rather than passing it off on others.

As for Mr. Caste, perhaps they should let him share a cell with Paris Hilton. Might cure both of them...

Joyce said...

That's a great idea, Annette!

I have the tendency to take the blame, too. In my case, it was probably the twelve years of Catholic school that did it. I'll confess to anything!

Tory said...

I certainly have a lot of experience with the blame game through community mental health work, but I don't believe it's a new phenomenon. It's part of the the criminal personality. It's just making it into major media that's beocming increasingly frequent.

I see being able to take responsibility as a developmental step that some people never make. While guilt may not seem like a great thing, it's a lot more psychologically advanced than blame. That's not to say guilt can't get overdone, as it does when people take on responsibility for the whole world. That's what I'm working on these days.

Nancy said...

One of my favorite bits about the Sopranos finale was Tony and Carmela making excuses for their kids' failures.

Meadow dropped out of medical school, for instance, because malpractice insurance would have been far too high.

Joyce said...

Tory, I knew you would have something great to say about this topic!

Nancy, did you see the Pirate Parrot's spoof of the Sopranos on YouTube?

Cathy said...

Great blog on an interesting subject, Joyce--and right on. My experience has been with kids who are never responsible according to their parents. These kids don't make very adult adults.

Lee Lofland said...

So, Joyce, do you now blame me for your use of the word asshole? :)

Joyce said...

Nope, Lee. I learned that one all by myself! As a matter of fact, I learned a whole new vocabulary when I started working for the police department.