Thursday, March 02, 2006

Something To Think On......

This excerpt is from Craig MacAndrew & Robert B. Edgarton, Drunken Comportment: A Social Explanation 165, 173 (1969)

Author's Thesis:
"..the way people comport themselves when they are drunk is determined not by alcohol's toxic assault upon the seat of moral judgment, conscience, or the like, but by what their society makes of and imparts to them concerning the state of drunkenness...The moral, then, is this. Since societies, like individuals, get the sorts of drunken comportment they allow, they deserve what they get."

When the authors say "they deserve what they get," they are referring to legal culpability and disallowing criminal defendants to use evidence of voluntary intoxication as a defense or as evidence that they did not have the requisite intent necessary to commit the acts of which they are accused.

I know that this book was written almost thirty years ago, but I was unfamiliar with this theory and I find it quite interesting.


Renegade Eye said...

I was and plan to return as a health professional.

The issue you raised was debated some thirty years ago, whether alcohol abuse is a disease or a behavior.

We know much more now about the physical basis of alcoholism, it's not a debate anymore.


ella said...

This actually is about the conduct of people while they are drunk, not the reasons they drink. It is a different argument then that of "why are people alcoholics" and "is there an addictive gene." It is about whether conduct (violent acts etc) while drunk, is caused by the drinking, or if people associate drinking with certain behavior to start, and then act that way when drinking (or in my opinion use drinking as an excuse for violent behavior)

Reidski said...

Hi ella, not visited for some time - actually, far too long - so thought I'd just say hello and say that this is certainly an interesting and thought-provoking issue.

It's maybe a bit fascistic to argue that, if society tolerates behaviour which is caused because of drunkennes, then it deserves all the anti-social behaviour which comes its way. Just because we don't protest and shout about something doesn't mean we don't care and are concerned about its consequences.

Oh, and love your Pet Peeves that you posted previously - I'm with you all the way on most of them!

Renegade Eye said...

How is this for being weasle like. Alcoholism should be allowed as a defense, because for some, it can't be controlled, even with therapy.

Nobody sets out to fall asleep, with a cigarette in their mouth, and burn down their home.

ella said...

I think this is an interesting issue. The cases I have read usually aren't that close to the line.

Ex. Man gets drunk with two strangers, they become friends, end of the night man is found in the back seat of one of strangers' car, two strangers/new friends found shot to death in the same vehicle. He claims voluntary intoxication negates mental state for intent to kill.
case: Montana v. Egelhoff (1996).

Basically, the traditional view today (as written in Egelhoff) is that voluntary intoxication "may not be taken into consideration in determining the existence of a mental state which is an element of [a criminal] offense."

I agree with this view.