All rationalizations can be deadly and have been. History and human nature teach us, however, that “Woody’s Excuse,” #22 on the Ethics Alarms Rationalization list, can hold its own with any of them when it comes to tallying up pain, ruined lives, and death. This is “The heart wants what the heart wants,” the comedian, actor and acclaimed director’s personal pass for his seducing and marrying a girl who was, in essence, his adopted daughter.
Today the Washington Post carries the grim final act of a story so terrible that it crosses into the realm of black humor. A veteran Labor Department lawyer, married, with an impeccable record, was found dead in his cell after being arrested and charged with violently attacking a co-worker with whom he had become infatuated. The story is full of weird U-turns of phrase; for example, the judge called the lawyer, charged last week with first-degree burglary while armed and third-degree sexual assault relating to the June 5 attack, a “wonderful person in most respects”—-that is, “most respects” beside the implications of his breaking into a woman’s home, punching her in the face (or spraying her with mace,) then trying to incapacitate her with a stun gun, handcuffing her hands behind her back and knocking her to the floor. The victim was so badly injured that a plate had to be surgically implanted in her face.
Other than that, Judge, you’re right: he was a hell of a guy. Continue reading