Original article no longer available
April 5, 1995
Author: Bella English, Globe Staff
For sheer chutzpah, and a few laughs, it was the best story in yesterday’s paper. Aryeh Motzkin, a philosophy professor at Boston University, was fired because he sexually assaulted a junior faculty member and sexually harassed at least three students over a four-year period. So what does the good professor do? He turns around and sues BU for wrongly firing him, claiming that the university discriminated against him as a mentally handicapped person. His suit alleges that he suffers from depression and that the medication he takes loosens inhibitions. (It must have, if he filed this doozy). Once the school was aware of the allegations, he said, it had an obligation to help him deal with his problem.
Motzkin is but the latest in a long line of people who force their abominable behavior on others, then, when caught, cry: “The devil made me do it!” Drink, drugs, depression, my mother/father/dog, PMS, post-traumatic stress disorder, steroids, pornography, the full moon are all to blame. Anything goes in this whinefest that society has become. So now Boston University has to spend a bundle of money defending itself from a geezer who couldn’t keep his hands to himself.
Funny thing. Usually it’s drinking or drugging that the dirtbags use as their defense. But the latest twist on that is this: it’s not taking the drug that made them do it. Exhibit A: John T. Locke of Beverly. Last month, he was found not guilty of attacking a black Boston police officer while shouting racial epithets because — get this — he wasn’t taking his antipsychotic medication at the time and therefore couldn’t be held criminally responsible.
Judge Elizabeth Dolan found Locke not guilty of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault on a police officer and violating the officer’s civil rights. All because he forgot to take his pills. So whose fault is that? It’s enough to, er, drive you crazy.
Let’s see if I can get this straight. In America, people who drink and commit crimes are generally found guilty. But people who don’t take their medication and commit crimes get off. The latest excuse is the Prozac Defense. Under this theory, you get your pick: Either you did the crime because you took a drug, or you did the crime because you forgot to take a drug.
Dr. Robert Aranow, a psychopharmacologist at McLean Hospital, has this to say about it: “Depending on the type of medication, antidepressants are not known to make people do things they would not choose to do, except in some cases involving mania .” In other words, that dog don’t hunt.
According to legal papers, Motzkin has been diagnosed as “afflicted with diminished capacity.” Seems to me that if the professor was hitting on women, his capacity was hardly diminished. If this bogus lawsuit sees the light of day, you can bet there will be plenty of expert witnesses pontificating about “inappropriately crossed boundaries,” “mental disorders,” “mood conditions” and “mind inhibitors,” all of which are mentioned in Motzkin’s suit.
Down in Florida, mental health experts recently testified that a convicted murderer had a personality disorder that made him suffer from “low self- esteem, impulsive behavior and anxiety.” The poor guy apparently felt so bad about himself that, on a dare from friends, he went out and randomly shot a stranger. Ah, peer pressure. Wonder if killing someone raised his “self- esteem?”
One of my favorite decisions comes from Toronto, where a man charged with criminal assault against his wife recently claimed — successfully — that he could not be held accountable for his behavior after ingesting 80 ounces of liquor, 12 beers and prescription drugs during a 30-hour period.
I must be missing something. Did someone tie this guy up and pour the booze and pills down his throat? Adding insult to injury, this decision vacated an earlier one involving a man accused of raping a partially paralyzed elderly woman in a wheelchair. His defense? He was blind drunk. His first stop after he got out of jail was, probably, a bar.
Plymouth County District Attorney William O’Malley was a rarity: a prosecutor who wasn’t a politician. He operated without a press flack, actually took calls himself and — wonder of wonders — allowed his staff to speak freely with reporters. Obviously, he was secure in himself and in his job. Above all, he was the most decent of men, the kind of guy who still cried over a kid’s body at a crime scene 22 years after becoming a prosecutor. Those of us who value compassion and common sense will miss him. If there is a heaven, its streets will be safer and its citizens will sleep better knowing Bill O’Malley is around.
Record Number: 00096107
Copyright 1995, 1998 Globe Newspaper Company