• Michael McMahon

The Justice System

Updated: 1 day ago


Fairness and legal precedents are of utmost importance. Sentencing must be consistent for people convicted for similar crimes in order to be as democratic as possible. There’s too much deviation. Manslaughter unnecessarily complicates matters. It’s already difficult to harmonise sentencing for other crimes like assault so it’d be doubly difficult to be consistent in having two independent killing offences. The word of manslaughter instead of murder symbolically dehumanises victims as if you were killed for dinner! Some people may indeed be “out of character” when they commit a crime (they must of got the wrong script: we were all doing the Wizard of Oz while they learned Macbeth!). But in truth we can say the same about any criminal who changes and chooses to be repentant after a crime. So there’s no need for this distinction between murder and manslaughter (much like the nonexistence of the forced mating, coerced charity or kid borrowing crimes!).

The mitigating factors for murder are insufficient to justify there being two separate classes of the crime of killing a person. I acknowledge that there can sometimes be genuine accidents that causes deaths and cases of proportional self-defence. But there are other cases that don’t warrant this exemption. Another name for excessive self-defence is vigilantism. Once a person is seriously injured in an altercation they don't pose much of a threat due to their reduced mobility. There are 360 degrees around and above to fire a warning shot so if it just so happen to fatally hit the suspect then it's rather reckless. Even implementing a final blow to an incapacitated victim would be like justifying nonconsensual euthanasia. Firing at a fleeing suspect is dubious unless the perpetrator was at imminent risk of carrying out murder or serious assault. A synonym for negligence can be the intentional endangering of other society members in general; even when they didn’t intend to personally risk that victim individually. It sometimes feels as if death is mysterious and transcendent where there's nothing the legal system can really do to improve the situation. However if a victim of an assault or an accident was left in a lifelong coma instead of dying at the scene, would we feel more of a need to jail the perpetrator? In other words are we subconsciously making assumptions that a pleasant afterlife might be a mitigating factor? Anyway I agree with the insanity defence as a mitigating factor but not always as an exoneration. A psychotic experience will indeed confuse a person’s understanding of logic. But one would still need a small degree of understanding about causality and slyness just to carry out a complex crime. Anxiety is usually directed at one’s self. Murderer-itus isn't a medical diagnosis!

I understand that some people charged with manslaughter have very serious and legitimate grievances against the victim. But society would descend into a free-for-all if everyone were to decide to act violently against people who they perceive to have mistreated them. That would send the wrong message. Being vengeful against other admittedly vengeful people is to be yourself part of the problem. It’s about dissuading people from escalating a volatile situation rather than trying to somehow accommodate such pent-up emotions when determining a court sentence.

I actually had in the back of my mind the notion of unprovoked fights and assaults when I wrote the first post in the thread. But I came across comments that disagreed strongly with my take on manslaughter for the opposite reason. They argued for the sake of the vigilante types of cases. This demonstrates the inherent risk of the manslaughter defence being exploited and abused in all non-accidental sorts of crimes. In my view it’s a lawless downward spiral. People might find rare borderline or tricky cases but overall this defence does far more harm than good. Unless you go by the name Romulus or Remus, no one was raised in the woods by wolves.

In summary, it’s not merely the length of the jail sentence but the potential multi-year disparity between murder and manslaughter that I find concerning. In rare instances there might even be a multi-decade difference for loosely similar non-defensive killings(*). The flip side of manslaughter is that a conviction of plain murder simply results in a life sentence. So in being charitable to one section we ironically risk being uncharitable to those who are repentant in premeditated cases. I think either increasing the manslaughter sentence sometimes or decreasing the jail-time for murder would lead to more overall consistency. I don’t think there’s much point having a mandatory life sentence for murder if it results in most people simply being charged with manslaughter instead. I think we’d be better off coming to a rough consensus on a medium sentence length for killing someone rather than always aiming for a life sentence. Perhaps there's an argument that every case is unique and deserving of a wholly separate set of rules but unfortunately such divine oversight is far beyond the capacity of the state. From my partial understing of Christianity it is claimed that God is all-forgiving and this doesn't mean that mortal beings have to be all-forgiving but merely relatively or generally-forgiving. God can forgive you even if I don't! Communism is deemed idealistic but so are anarchistic versions of capitalistic libertarianism. Likewise just because mandatory sentencing is too idealistic them same can also be said of unregulated individualistic sentencing.

Precedence is being used as a guideline and not a rule(!):

(Pirates of the Carribbean: Black Pear - Elizabeth - Pirate's Code)

Hatred can be reasonable if a partner is caught cheating and this deceit can justify leaving the person forever but it really doesn't condone physical violence. This might sound unrealistic but we've to keep in mind that there are plenty of happy and elderly bachelors in the world who go through their entire lives without the need for a romantic partner. Unless, if it's like the Jarhead movie where they make a video and send it in for your fellow troops to watch, then perhaps we could interpret it as a tiny mitigating factor! Although I'm not sure how much of a slippery slope there is when there's "provocation" in both the romantic and non-romantic senses of the word!

(Jarhead Deer Hunter Scene)

I only rewatched it to edit out any inappropriate content! Jake Gyllenhaul's reply of "fagg*t" also brings up ethical dilemmas. Is it justifiable to be enraged at the personal dismissiveness of a rebuke even if the general insult ends up being far more offensive to a stigmatised minority? In other words if you're not technically standing up for the gay community in this case then you'd almost have to be consenting to the derogatory tone in society in order to be angry about being called it.

With rap music these days you never know what someone could cite as provocation:

(Eminem: Rap Game - all dead)

Judge: Your excuse for stealing the bike is?

Defendant: My penis made me do it. It gives me the strength needed to get through each day.

Judge: Defendant was under duress. Charges dismissed.

The Justice_1653012920172
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(My comments are on post 4, 6 and 8 page 1, post 10 and 13 page 3 and post 8 page 4 of that thread.)

I agree with the goal of rehabilitation on the first page. Although I add that cautious punishment in jail isn’t always vengeful. So non-excessive punishment doesn’t contradict the aim of rehabilitation. Prison may be helpful in preempting and averting there being other future victims from the accused individual. The negative incentive of prison can eventually make someone see the error of their ways. The warning of prison time is necessary for the severe types of crimes so that we can then be more able to fully trust the criminal to not commit another serious offence in the long-term and to hope that they keep to their apology well after they’ve left jail. While it’s indeed true that a criminal can’t undo the past we can still try to learn from any misdeeds we may have made in order to change and prevent similar problems from arising in the future. People seldom change personality overnight and sometimes an epiphany can take a longer time. Discipline in jail entails reward for good behaviour and punishment for bad behaviour.

On page 3, I wade into the death penalty debate. I appreciate the Christian teaching to be always forgiving but in the context of a severe crime I imagine it’s acceptable to simply dislike the person less. I reason that the penalty of death is unnecessary seeing as serial killers can be pretty much buried alive with various restraints in a jail cell. Implementing the death penalty in rich countries might serve as a poor role model for developing countries who'd have less resources in their court systems and forensic departments. I do understand the ethical and slippery slope arguments. Please note that I purposely refer to serial killers who’ve killed multiple people and not murderers with one count. The sheer amount of damage they could do by further demeaning their victims or stirring up unrest if they became unrepentant means that they need to be thoroughly rehabilitated.

I just think that as this particular crime is an infrequent logical extreme, the defensive punishment would therefore statistically be rarely used. So I don’t think there’s too much risk of a downward spiral. The ingrained evil of serial killers/mass shooters/war criminals are obviously many orders of magnitude worse than all of the other types of criminals. Thus it will be harder to rehabilitate them. Remorselessness could be used to infer the degree of intentionality during the crime. The sanctity of life is respected as the serial killer would avoid the death penalty. I just feel that trying to rehabilitate these specific individuals back into society is too risky and much of a lost cause.

Forgiveness is crucial and will always be a spiritual and emotional virtue. But indeed the concept of forgiveness, patience and giving second chances isn’t the same as subservience. It’s of course possible that a hypothetical person who committed multiple attacks is already fully repentant. Although in such a scenario it’d always be hard to tell whether they’re sincerely apologetic no matter what they said. You’d never know if it was with genuine sadness or else if they’re a bit equivocal with self-interest or ambivalence given how hostile their previous mindset must have been. Jail is a backup plan in case there’s a risk of remorselessness and recidivism. That’s why irrespective of the deterrence vs rehabilitation or free will vs determinism debates, there’d at least have some jail time for a severe crime if only as a precaution.

Post 48 page 2:


Unfortunately there could be serial attackers who might not even try to repent after being caught. In the case of the Norway mass shooting Breivik was not only remorseless but was still attempting to incite others to commit further hate crimes in court. His unapologetic attitude is an implied threat that he’d be willing to attempt to do it again if he was given the chance. I think rehabilitation can incorporate the idea of reverse reasoning when it comes to such uncooperative perpetrators. No it’s not about the active deterrence of others. A proportional judicial response is about being neutral and passive towards any unrelated criminals. It focuses solely on how to deal with the specific perpetrator who committed the crime. But sadly a disproportionately lenient response to the likes of Breivik might inadvertently be seen as a vulnerability or an incentive by other potential attackers who subscribe to these sinister ideologies.

The Christchurch mass shooter was influenced by Breivik's ideology and Breivik's repeated public statements of remorselessness worsens the risk of macabre followers. Some people say not to even mention their name to reduce notoriety. This might be helpful in recognising the unspeakable amount of evil they inflicted but I still think we've to sometimes say who they are for clarity so people know exactly who we're talking about. Perhaps we could get into a habit of naming them once at the beginning of a conversation and thereafter refer to them by the location name followed by the adjective mass shooter so as to avoid repetition. Although naming them is also necessary so the public understand the ideology they were motivated by as well as their personal characteristics so we understand the risk factors of their biographical profile. Moreover always avoiding their name risks creating an impression of an insurmountable threat such the fictional character of Voldemort under the designation of "he who shall not be named".

#23 page 1: https://debatepolitics.com/threads/mass-shooters-should-be-killed-slowly.365095/

Although both are dire crimes there’s an immense distinction between murder and serial murder. Even working within the framework of Norway’s restorative model there’s a mismatch in that Breivik would of got a similar sentence to a criminal who killed just one person. I understand Norway’s stance against the death penalty. Their commitment to objectivity and self-control is commendable. But a very grim way to rephrase his horrific crime is that he permanently confined 77 innocent victims into jail cells the size of a coffin. I think a three-room house arrest will be inadequate to change the mindset of this terrorist. Sometimes the medicine for an illness is painful and has side-effects so the way to cure psychopaths like him is intense confinement in my opinion. Without much display of self-awareness one can only assume he’s the same violent person as he was when the attack was carried out. Restorative justice can include the notion of tough love. The sanctity of human life recognises that evil people can repent or die of natural causes without in any way attributing sanctity to evil people themselves and their sacrilegious actions. Serial killers are not unconscious or non-rational animals even though their crimes might sometimes be dubbed animalistic. Norway might not like the notion of deterrence but they've managed to deter me from supporting such a lenient and complacent response to an atrocious individual.

The Atlantic: “Norwegian far-right monster Anders Breivik... received 21 years in prison for his attacks last year, including a bombing in Oslo and a cold-blooded shooting spree, which claimed 77 lives. That's just under 100 days per murder. The decision, reached by the court's five-member panel, was unanimous. He will serve out his years (which can be extended) in a three-room cell with a TV, exercise room, and "Ikea-style furniture."


(Post number 90, page 4.)

Fairness is a two-way street. We can’t scapegoat or exaggerate the threat posed by a particular person. By the way I’ve never heard anyone more obsessed about the word “homeowner” than America! I hardly ever see it used in crime articles in Ireland or Europe. I heard a joke about one of my deceased relatives who was bursting to use the bathroom but they mixed up the houses when they visited my grandparents. That could have been even more tense if it was in America.

You don’t even need to leave a voice message; just ring yourself with pretend threats and you’ll intimidate anyone that overhears you!

Further feedback on aforementioned ideas:

The forum below seems to have become obsolete and so I'll repost its content here. https://www.politicsisle.com/threads/death-penalty-alternatives.1229/


(new examples of provocation cases in this thread)

A blog of links is handy to save storage space on the website. Moreover debate forums are a perfect medium to get people's opinions. Once you've a few different threads then that will be a critical mass to keep forming new ideas in an upward spiral! I'm always careful to reference all of my work with quotes; not because I'm being corrected by a teacher but simply that there's a risk my internet links will break over time!

Further examples:

“A rugby player sobbed as he was handed a three-year suspended prison sentence for the manslaughter of a pensioner in a one-punch attack in a pub... Judge O Donnabháin said he felt O'Sullivan's remorse was genuine.” -Independent “A son has been jailed for life for brutally stabbing his father to death during a "trivial" row over broadband speed. Stephen Gallagher, 55, repeatedly stabbed his 76-year-old father Thomas, originally from Achill, Co Mayo, more than a dozen times with a knife after losing his temper... Stephen Gallagher was sentenced to life in prison, and was told he must serve at least 13 years and four months before he can apply for release - though the judge told him: “You may, in fact, never be released.”” - Irish Mirror I don’t know anything about these two cases. The degree of culpability may well be quite different. But on first impression are they really different enough to justify perhaps up to a 20 year variation in the jail sentence? While these are specific examples, my argument isn’t really referring to particular cases. It’s meant more in general. Jail sentencing for mitigating factors should be equal for all defendants. Loopholes could be easily exploited. We can’t over-indulge in preferential treatment. It's not a popularity contest so whether the victim was a moral or immoral person during their life is not relevant. Provocation is not only individually subjective but it's also relative to the culture of a region in the sense that I might not find a statement very insulting in the same way that someone else in a different country would where they've a different emphasis on values. So there can be ambiguity in the extent of the provocation even if there was some amount of provocation. A difficulty with provocation is that we can’t always understand the tone of a situation by the mere content of what was said. For example, a veiled threat might not look like a threat on paper. For instance it’s possible to disguise threats in the form of body language, false accusations, intrusion within your striking distance or a loud voice as a pretext to attack someone. Conversely a defendant could try to exaggerate the intended meaning of what was said. Therefore it’d be very hard to properly understand situations where there’s provocation on both sides. I do appreciate that provocation might take the form of a threat and not just an insulting statement. A verbal threat of assault or blackmail are examples. In those instances I feel that the pain caused by physical violence is still disproportionate and often worse than emotional harm even though both are terrible. Furthermore in the case of manslaughter the dead person can’t give their side of the argument. I understand that there can be extenuating circumstances that were factors in a crime. But having a negligent mindset of not thinking about the consequences of a crime before carrying it out is sometimes itself caused by an active decision to be apathetic towards the victim. In essence they’d be deciding not to properly analyse their actions nor to resist their angry feelings. Ideally there’d be a standard sentence as a benchmark; not a mandatory sentence by politicians but a recommended sentence from fellow judges. The aggravating and mitigating circumstances would then add to or subtract from that jail term like a maths formula. I concede that there’ll be some degree of subjective leeway and intuition needed in determining their capacity for change and repentance in reducing a sentence. But one-off provocation is highly subjective and risks giving too much power to only one particular judge. A group of judges will always be more impartial than one judge by being able to balance each other out. It’s often not feasible to have multiple judges at only one trial. But precedence can fill in as a reflection of group wisdom. Precedence allows us to see the bigger picture and accurately rank the severity crime in the whole scheme of things. It’s easier to expose a bad precedent than an individual bad sentence. For instance I read that a person was initially sentenced to 6 years for tax evasion on garlic produce although it was reduced to 2 years on appeal. I’m not downplaying the severity of lost revenue for vital government services. But keep in mind that when we focus on the ethics of one case in isolation we can lose sight of the fact that there will always be more severe and less severe crimes. There’s no limit on the amount of evil criminals can inflict. There’s not really a single gravest crime in the strict sense. As gruesome as it is for someone who broke another’s leg there’ll always be a second criminal somewhere who breaks both their legs. Truth be told some sentences for manslaughter where someone is actually killed are significantly less than those initial 6 years. Even in dissimilar cases precedence can help us use counterfactual circumstances to gauge the relative severity of a crime and create a lower margin of error when considering a sentence. With that particular case it was admittedly a huge tax figure of over €1 million. Then again there’s no way to quantify the monetary value of a lost eye in an assault for instance seeing as it’s technologically irreplaceable. When you think about it the lifetime costs of medical expenses from the victim, their lost working productivity, the salary of forensic analysts, detectives and legal fees probably would end up costing the state a colossal amount of money even if it’s not quite a million euros. A crime is a crime no matter who commits it. Yet I sometimes get the impression that it can be viewed as a milder or more severe crime depending on how it suits the conflicting social or political images of different courts. A liberal judge naturally aims for a forgiving justice system while a conservative judge wants a strict sentence. The difference between lone judges and both politicians or juries is there’s no majority rule mechanism in handing out sentences. Precedence is an indirect form of democracy among representative judges. The ideal of overall consistency and equality trumps other ideals so it’s not enough to say the amount of strict sentences roughly balances out the number of lenient ones. While it’s not always the case I can’t help but spot these possible inconsistencies: for example there might be large compensation for workplace accidents but a sometimes significantly softer attitude towards vehicular accidents, or payouts for libel without always having an equivalently stern attitude towards verbal assault. That is to say an insult can be damaging whether it has some basis in reality or not. Case law can hopefully assist in preventing the undertones of politics. Precedence is being used as a guideline and not a rule. “Two teenagers who attacked another three teens with acid in Waterford last year will not face criminal charges after an earlier decision to caution them instead has been upheld on review.” - Independent Precedence isn’t perfect. I’m not trying to be unrealistic. It’s indeed possible for there to be a bad precedent on certain issues. There might be cases where precedence isn’t the best fit even if it suffices. In such cases it can be updated. But an advantage with precedence is that it places a limit on the potential amount of distress or uncertainty because it’d have to be applied across the board. So in the above example they’d be compelled to relieve criminal charges to all other perpetrators of this crime. That would become untenable due to the severity of other cases. Therefore they’d have to find a general compromise that’s not harsh or too lenient to deal with a multitude of these incidents. Even if a precedent isn’t 100% optimal for a given situation it still deserves to be emphasised out of pragmatism. I think it’s better to be consistently average than it is to risk poor sentences so as to get an occasional perfect sentence. Time is finite and valuable. So it’s a bit of a balancing act. We don’t want to subject a criminal to excessive wasted time in a jail cell if they’re already sincere. Likewise we don’t want to waste more of the victims energy and time with unnecessary worry. The individual is the primary victim rather than just the state. This means if there’s enough evidence you’d imagine there should at least be an initial court case for everyone to first debate the matter rather than the director of public prosecutions unilaterally opting not to press charges. The state is giving itself too much power in choosing to side with some victims rather than others. I never actually intended to get involved in these matters. I’m not a lawyer but I can’t help finding some counterintuitive sentences very worrying when I read about them. I understand that newspapers don’t know everything about the confidential contents of a court’s decision. Maybe there’s mitigating factors that are kept secret and so we’re not aware of them. But in such cases one would imagine an exceptionally light sentence should require an exceptionally unusual excuse to justify a lesser sentence than the average convict. I believe victims of the same crime class are entitled to an equal sentence and the onus is on the court to justify a different sentence. All else being equal then the sentence should be equal. We can’t be prioritising the pain of some victims over others. People are entitled to an equal consideration of their defensive rights on behalf of a court irrespective of the personal character of those involved. It’s virtuous to be forgiving but not to the extent where it’s at the expense of the victim’s well-being and security. What’s troubling about suspended sentences with severe crimes is not the fact most of the sentence can be suspended but that occasionally the entire sentence is suspended. It’s as if it’s all or nothing where a certain judge appears to feel that to jail the person even temporarily would be an admission of leniency and it’d be best to have no jail time as a sign of complete repentance or innocence. I think that’s over-ambitious. If someone wants to rehabilitate manslaughter perpetrators then that’s fair enough but they’ll have to be consistent and rehabilitate murderers too. We can’t be selectively rehabilitating some people and not others. Otherwise there’s a risk of arbitrariness. Even if it means some murderers would go under-punished, it’d at least lead to more justice overall by limiting anomalies. Hypothetically if someone slapped me and then got a week-long jail sentence, that's fine and were I to slap anyone afterwards while saying "care to explain yourself", then I should also really get no more than a week-long jail sentence either. I'm criticising vigilantes as much as I am criminals. What I'm saying is that people's pain perception are equal and hence deserving of equal protection in the justice system.

“A spectator at a golf tournament who sued after he was hit on the head by a golf ball and knocked unconscious has lost his High Court action. Colm Campbell had claimed he is in constant pain and his life has totally changed after he was struck on the left side of his forehead during the West of Ireland Championship for amateur golfers held at County Sligo Golf Club at Rosses Point, Sligo, five years ago.” -IrishExaminer I don’t know the details of this case or the exact aftermath of the incident. Nor do I know anything about golf or where spectators should stand. Neither do I know how hard it is to dodge a golf ball relative to it’s speed even if they saw it coming. Anyway what caught my attention is that even in a complete accident you’d imagine there’d still have to be some form of compensation. For example if someone stepped back and broke something in a shop you won’t be criminally prosecuted for theft or fined an excess amount for vandalism but you’d nonetheless have to pay the bare cost price of the item. Similarly if you cause an accident there’s a trace level of responsibility by mere involvement even if there wasn’t any negligence. So it’s not unfair to have to at the very least contribute to their medical expenses and time out of paid work or activity even if there’s no added punitive damages. I concede that there’s a public health system that will cover a lot of the costs. Nevertheless if someone ends up being hurt as a result of your actions then it’s normally your moral responsibility as a gesture of charity and goodwill to ensure they’re helped and not to abandon them. Judges are given far too much discretion. This case is very much at odds with other compensation settlements where someone might be injured by tripping on something. It's a lot harder to see a golf ball in the air than a patch of ice or an uneven hole in the ground. I wasn't trying to be smart or sarcastic by making comparisons in compensation rewards but the judge seemed a bit smart-aleck and unsympathetic herself in her concluding statements. “Paediatric nurse Morley, who smothered her three young children at their family home, has been found not guilty of their murders by reason of insanity.” (breakingnews ie) - To be honest I don’t particularly agree with this logic. Morley was indeed suffering a lot of anguish. Nonetheless both the severity and the innocence of the victims’ pain outweighs the pain of the perpetrator. I’m not saying that people with psychotic disorders have never committed crimes. But if they do commit a crime then they still have to be held responsible. Once a threshold is reached it’s not always clear how much positive feedback there is between evil actions and mental instability. People in the process of committing crimes can be unnerved by their actions if they’re experiencing conflicting sensations such as anger and guilt. People make mistakes and can gain the insight to change a negative mindset. If their symptoms subside then they might find it much easier to understand their mistaken vantage point. If they are repentant then that is a big mitigating factor as it’d be for all other defendants. I believe that mental illnesses can be extremely painful and as I wrote elsewhere that suicide is unfortunate and regrettable but it isn’t in any way evil or immoral. Yes I do find it very odd and ironical that I’ve to defend suicide while at the same time being skeptical of overusing the insanity defence. I’m not sure if the insanity defence is having a negative effect on mental health awareness. Self-harm is clearly not a crime but harming others as a form of scapegoating really is a crime. To be conciliatory I’ll say that it might not be too harmful to view provocation, negligence or mental illness as a mitigating factor and as a form of repentance but not as a completely blameless exoneration. I don’t know all the evidence heard at court in the aforementioned case. Nonetheless she left notes to confess to her crime and didn’t resist arrest or hide evidence which can all be seen as mitigating factors... Deirdre Morley Case - John Bowe I think that mental health services should be available to those who were mentally ill during a crime but I don't think it really excuses all of their actions. There's no reason why any criminal for that matter shouldn't be allowed to meet with psychologists and psychiatrists seeing as there's probably a tinge of instability in all crimes. Some mental illnesses like autism do revolve around empathy deficits in how people relate to others but that doesn't condone psychopathic incidents simply because someone can err on the side of caution before acting on angry thoughts. Other illnesses might disorient a person's perception but it's often not instantaneous so they must of had a window of opportunity to reveal their thoughts before actually acting on them. I think the insanity defence is a mitigating factor in these sorts of crimes because they were not committed out of sadism like other serial killers. But we nonetheless have to ensure that people with violent obsessive thoughts cannot expect to be completely let off the hook should they give in to temptation and must try their best to resist their impulses. Moreover I feel these sentences are unsustainable. It's not about what would've happened if it were the father instead who was the perpetrator as the man in the video suggested but rather what if the victims were random strangers on the street? Even if the perpetrator is in pain we've still to demand adherence to the law because when the crime is unprovoked it'll become terribly difficult to regulate in a fair way which criminal is more deserving of the insanity defence. Mental illness exists on wide spectrum that can affect each patient differently. Everyone after all can go through periods of ups and downs in their mood or experience problems controlling anger and frustration though perhaps not to the extent that it warrants a clinical diagnosis. There's probably many criminals convicted without an insanity defence even though they might suffer elements of emotional dysfunction or mild, undiagnosed PTSD. Should the insanity defence itself exist on a spectrum of leniency from partial defence to major mitigating factor? “A mother of four who drove her car at speed on a footpath in an attempt to run down two teenage girls who had attacked her 14-year-old daughter has been given a three-year suspended jail sentence. A judge said the accused, Mary Lawrence, had taken “the law into her own hands” after being annoyed with the way gardaí had handled the incident involving her daughter.” (irishexaminer) I feel this is a confused outlook. I’m no legal expert but it’s frustrating because it must be relatively easy for highly qualified judges to be consistent when they want to follow precedence. The answer to a cycle of violence is to nip it in the bud. It’s not to take into account her grievance at previous garda actions. That’s totally separate to this case even if it was her motive. If there’s mutual non-defensive violence then criminalise both people in my opinion instead of concluding that they’re now even and calling it quits. If it’s a crime for most people to drive on footpaths than it must logically be a crime for all. Otherwise just forget criminalising it and make it legal for everyone to drive on footpaths! Any crime by a non-demonic entity that's committed in accordance with the impartial laws of physics will be tolerated. Otherwise we've a right to file a complaint with the Physics Department, 2A Pearly Gates, Heaven. I didn’t want to be so sarcastic but consistency appears to be increasingly challenging. Even though that quoted example is a minor incident it’s still important to maintain balance so as to be better able to deal with more complex cases like robbery or murder. I’m not disagreeing with the need for forgiveness. I’m merely saying we must endeavour to be equally forgiving to all repentant criminals as a collective group in a crime category rather than just individually to ensure sustainability. The dilemma is that forgiveness can be subjective and personal while ideally the court aims to be impersonal. We can always attempt to be more even by spreading out that forgiveness.

PS: I never went to law school. I did junior cert CSPE if that’s any consolation!

I had these walkie-talkies when I was a young child. They often picked up the signal for the builders talking to each other in the back of the estate. One day after dinner I heard them and started cursing into the walkie-talkie. The boss got angry and began threatening the employee with getting him fired as he didn’t know it was me. I tuned out so I’m not sure how they resolved it. I was too young to know any better!

Any defence given in verse format will be viewed as an additional mitigating factor:


(Eminem - Stan)

I was checking over my blog links so I spent the last half-hour listening to Stan and the Sopranos murder compilation. I didn't realise there was another guest in the room so I've truly no idea what type of person they're expecting me to be.

Needless to say there'll be a full acquittal on offer for those who confess to their crime in a music video presentation:


(No Doubt -It's My Life)

(For some political correctness I felt I should counterbalance a male killer song with a female killer song!)

The insanity defence would require more of a heavy metal vibe to convince the jury:


(Papercut - Linkin Park)

I don't want to give the wrong impression; I'm not saying I'd never be provoked into committing a crime. It's simply that I wouldn't expect to be let off the hook if I fell down that path!

I was late for class after being at a hurling match. Two people ahead of me were sent out and warned me to say sorry and not just to walk blasé into class. I did so and got a big round of applause from the class. It was a week later when the other two snitched that they'd told me to say sorry and the entire class gasped!

What better way to test your resilience than to deliberately get lost in a foreign city? I was feeling overconfident so I decided to let my phone go out of battery before finding my way back to the hotel. I couldn't ask anyone for directions because I don't speak Portuguese and didn't even bother to remember the name of the hotel. There's no cheating allowed for the sake of your own self-esteem. I was to test my orientation skills and rely on my general sense of direction to navigate to the other side of the city. Unfortunately it took me at least 4 hours to locate it because I didn't recognise the square it was beside from different vantage points. It was embarrassing because I passed by the top of the road at least 3 times and it was after 2am on return. When I checked Google Maps afterwards I could see that I was searching in all the wrong places miles away!

My memory of the police arrest programmes on TV sunk in. Sometimes you’ve got to assert your authority around the house(!):

(Her exaggerated crying was in anger and incitement that she didn't get to attack me rather than it being out of sadness. I was confused at first by her apparent emotion of fear when it was herself who was on the offensive. I think it was merely an attempt to vilify me as being violent. She sneered continuously with a contorted expression. Staring in fear isn't just a defensive sensation and it can also be used as a threat of vigilance in preparing and psyching yourself up to fight. She was roaring at the very top of her voice. If that's not verbal assault then I don't know what is. She was trying to destabilise me with an extremely high pitch. They were insulting me where my sister was expressing how much she hates me and to get me out while my mother was trying to console them by ridiculing me as "sick" and warned them that I was "angry".)

We’ve to control our emotions against any agitated and melodramatic siblings!

No I don’t need a taxi! After packing my bags a few times and having fallen out with my temperamental parents and many relatives, I’ve inadvertently become an expert on the trustworthiness of apologies! I learned the hard way. We sometimes got on quite well and I gave them a dozen second-chances even though they could be dismissive and unhelpful. But I’d to leave them for good after they started pushing and shouting. It was very prolonged. I'd told them in the kitchen that I didn't want to stay with them any longer because they were ignoring me. But they became hysterically aggressive and they wouldn't let me leave until they voiced their hatred of me. My father leapt off his seat and tried to push me with his chest. I blocked him with my hand and told him to stay downstairs while I packed my bags. After a minute had passed he followed me upstairs. He approached me looking pensive while I was in my bedroom. Then he suddenly grabbed me and tried to shake me as he screamed in my ear to never come back. He repeated that same line 3 or 4 times. He was snarling in a really deep and unnaturally fast voice. It was in a threatening manner right in my face. I managed to shout back at him to get out and he retreated to the door. My mother and sister were with him and blocked off the entrance. They were ganging up on me and screeching. All three of them were inciting each other and bracing themselves. They tried to stare me down. I felt cornered and managed to close the door on them. It was an outburst of unjustified anger about nothing at all. Their wild and unpredictable behaviour caused me a lot of uncertainty. I remembered my disagreement with the provocation defence and avoided escalation! I immediately realised that I lacked sufficient evidence should the situation have gotten worse. It was only after much of the incident was over that I managed to pull out my phone and record them as a warning. I don't habitually have my phone on the ready and couldn't have recorded the incident as it unfolded. I quickly packed and my mother wouldn't stop following me until I'd left the front garden. They knew I'd have to leave them for a long time and that's why they did it. It was them who tried to deter me as much as they could from ever returning.

My mother was smirking at me and invading my personal space. It's harder to say a person was confused by their stress during an altercation when they've an expression of contentment as opposed to anger seeing as it implies deep indifference and vengefulness. Although I don't think a jury could appreciate the sarcasm in a smile. Should anything have happened I'd have been outnumbered 3 to 1 for witnesses. What would a court do when the victim is falsely accused of provocation but by a larger number of people? It's one person's word against another. That's the problem when you're alone and against a group. It's one reason why we've to be proportionate and unaggressive. Moreover a prolonged scowling expression of disgust can feel intensely threatening and demeaning even though it's mute and leaves no evidence whatsoever. Insults don't always sound harmful on paper but in person they could make you feel like a bad person and it takes a lot of willpower to overcome any lingering doubts or guilt. I wasn't sure whether their intention was to launch an attack or whether they were instead trying to get me arrested if I'd to defend myself. A few days afterwards I met my younger sister and father at the bus station who both looked away with a blank face. The next week my father sent me a text saying while they were at fault for the escalation that I'd also to accept some blame and responsibility for what happened. The pushing was unprovoked and in my view I'd been very charitable to them by offering so many second chances. In the months afterwards they approached me several times on the street telling me to come back but it was insincere because I'd already told them to stay away from me. They kept approaching me and following me down the road. They didn't keep any distance away from me. My father was saying sorry and somehow he didn't see the contradiction in tugging me on the arm or pulling up in the car right beside me. I'd to ring them to tell them I'd have to push them away if they try to intimidate me. If they're already warned then you don't need a restraining order to prevent people coming to you repeatedly without your permission. One reason I was so wary of ever trusting them again is because I was uncertain about the extent of their hostility. Had I not managed to push them back and close the door on them, what would've happened? It's a counterfactual so I don't know for certain. Were they just trying to push me around? Or if I let my guard down would they have attacked me further? Or else did they each forget how invasive they appeared when their individual actions are multiplied by the three of them? Whatever their actual intentions were I was in fear due to their raging emotions. I'd actually rank this episode to be worse than the time my phone was robbed by a group of teenagers. I got the impression that at least they might obey some kind of street code where as my parents were just in a frenzy!

I then realised I'd been misreading their behaviour all along. My father became manipulative. He'd hide behind cluelessness where he'd say the incident never happened and then just he'd just ignore me. When he was questioned he'd always lie that he was sorry without actually saying what he was sorry for. Or else he'd keep repeating himself and go around in circles. I might advise or prompt him what to say if he seemed unsure where he'd begrudgingly parrot it back and I felt like I was apologising to myself. Meanwhile my mother would cheerfully say sorry for an incident and state what happened without really saying why she was sorry. Weeks later they'd take it back and say they actually weren't sorry. I always knew something was off where in retrospect it was obvious they didn't sound sad or upset when they said sorry. It appeared more defensive than genuine and they never elaborated on it but anyway I somehow felt morally obliged to accept their apology. They often sounded sorry more for themselves in being asked to apologise. I made a mistake in ignoring the emotional tone of the apology where I only focused on the content of what was said. If I told them to say it like they mean it they might say the same thing in a more tense voice. When you tell one lie you've then got to tell more lies just to cover up previous lies so the whole saga continued endlessly. How can you trust someone when there has been an infinite regress of lying about having not lied?! It's almost gotten to the stage where they could apologise for previous fake apologies! In fact the amount of time-wasting was almost worse than the initial incidents. They might get frustrated if I even mentioned it and accuse me of being obsessive. I thought at first they were just a bit anxious or insecure so I gave them more time but then the coercive incidents would repeat and they were well able to socially interact with others so I became more suspicious. They were very intelligent but when they responded to my questions about these incidents they'd temporarily play dumb. Another one of their tactics was to equivocate by contradicting themselves. For example they'd accept full responsibility but add that they'd always the right intentions and just made a mistake. So they'd accept what they did was wrong and yet they'd still maintain that they were never ill-intentioned. The whole affair was almost becoming an epic! I remember my religion teacher at school despised the words "just" or "only" when someone was apologising for forgetting homework! My parents often added in defensive understatements that they thought they were only trying to help or that it was only their emotions and not their thoughts that got the better of them. They said about the shouting incident how they acted silly or immaturely in a self-effacing way without really acknowledging the severity of the threat they caused. Shouting by accident doesn't make sense because it requires energy. I literally told them numerous times to stop and they refused to do so. If they were experiencing uncontrollable emotions then they could've asked me to leave and come back later. Saying they didn't know the risk of stress doesn't add up when they were warned before each incident. Besides, a true accident tends not to re-occur multiple times seeing as a person would normally be alert after remembering the previous one. Offering a half-hearted partial apology isn't acceptable when they've had such a long period of time to think it through. They'd every trick in the book where they'd claim that nothing they say will work and then use it as an excuse to not to say anything at all. Otherwise they'd give really short and curt apologies where they'd never openly apologise for everything and just give slow and superficial drip-drip statements instead. If someone is really motivated to express remorse for serious incidents then at the very least they'd hardly be running out of things to say after the first few sentences. Spending little time thinking about what they're going to say shows a real lack of effort and commitment. I'm not trying to be difficult but saying a one-worded "sorry" or a few vague statements doesn't really work when past apologies were broken.

Early one morning they were threatening to call the police on a made-up assault claim if I didn't attend a new school meeting but then months later they couldn't remember it and said I was confused and had hallucinated the incident. Sometimes they tried to mix it up with another imagined incident somewhere else when we were supposedly driving back from holidays in Kerry. When I was in hospital years ago they went to a meeting with my psychiatrist and lied where they got him to say that I had hallucinated everything. My Indian psychiatrist was attentive and helpful but disagreed with my attitude towards my parents and said I was obsessed about such "trivial" complaints. He might have been deceived by my parents because they tried to convince him. I was patient with my parents because I initially thought they were so ashamed of the incident that they were just embarrassed to admit it happened. Judging by later behaviour though it was clearly only their attempt to ignore me further. He said once how in fact it did happen but emphasised that he didn't actually call the police. It was as if he felt that it was acceptable to threaten me so long as he didn't actually act on the threat. He apologised years later and of course he later took it back and said that it never happened. He engaged in continuous lying where he'd sometimes say whatever he thought I wanted him to say. He'd even offer me advice or book counselling sessions and claim that I was suffering PTSD. Indeed I was stressed but I was stressed only at his behaviour. On one occasion he said a prayer for us to heal. Whenever I asked him to apologise he'd always say that I was vengeful and obsessive because it was stretching on for so long even though the only reason I'd to keep asking him was because he kept lying. Obviously if he was honest the first time then I would've never needed to ask him again. I'd almost solve the world's most intractable problems just by dealing with my parents! My father was unnaturally averse to apologising and one time alleged hysterically that I was asking him to get down on his knees and beg for forgiveness. Or else he'd give mock apologies and ask me repeatedly if I respected him. Maybe he felt invincible and viewed apologising as a sign of subservience or weakness. Or perhaps he was simply too afraid to own up to his mistakes. Sometimes he could be kind and compassionate but other times he could be a silly and condescending person. My father's personality seemed to change over the years where he could be increasingly quick-tempered when I was in my late teens even though he was always calm when I was a child. Some of his behaviour didn't vibe with his former self where his relaxed nature became more inattentive in tone.

They got panicked sometimes and overreacted. With apparent kindness my mother offered to clear out my apartment while I was in hospital saying that my landlord was reselling it only to realise weeks later that it was in fact my mother who had asked the landlord to end the lease. I had tried to reduce my interaction with them previously by renting elsewhere because they often behaved well during short visits. There might be periods where I was speaking to my mother and not my father or else it could be vice versa. It was as if they took it in turns to deal with me. The risk is if you spend too long with someone who has unpredictable behaviour then they might take you for granted. I briefly fell out with both of them together but they knocked on the door of my rental early one morning with sad faces and perhaps a tear. They asked me to give them another chance and I obliged. I was being deceived since they didn't give a detailed apology yet judging by their expressions I hoped for the best. I don't know why someone would want to be loving one day and uninterested the next unless they just enjoyed the melodrama.

One reason I was so uncertain about them is that they also went through these longer phases. In 2nd year of secondary school I was often with my mother and sister in the house because my father worked in Dublin for several days each week. My mother and sister were often cross and mute where my mother didn't even say happy birthday when I was 16. Then in 4th year my mother's attitude towards me seemed to really improve. I wasn't sure if it was my father who convinced her to change but I was much happier with her. We often got on very well where we'd frequently bring the dog for a walk together and I thought our relationship would stay very positive. For years it was going relatively good but I could tell that they were slowly slipping back to their old ways in the months before I had to leave them. My parents visited me while I was in hospital and bought me food shopping so I thought afterwards that they changed for good and they were always going to be nice and so it was a big shock to me that they later regressed. In hindsight they didn't actually visit me as much as I thought they had. I arranged to visit my father in Athlone where my mother drove me up and yet she refused to book a room in a hotel for us to chat and I was left wandering outside for a long time. Nonetheless I'd extra appreciation for their company in hospital because it was often very quiet in there.

We're mortal so after 6 months I gave them an opportunity and briefly tried to have a small, distant friendship with them but it didn't work out. I eventually realised that they were saying sorry just so they could lull me back and have an opportunity to reject me again a few days later. It forced me to reinterpret my understanding of the Christian notion to be forever forgiving. The best I could do was give them chances but I can't sacrifice my life waiting around for them to be honest. I tried to get them to change and failed. I've invested a lot of time trying to be friendly with them but if I return to them and were another incident to occur after a few months then that will be another long time with them wasted. Another disruptive incident could cause me much stress. Even if there won't be another major incident there might still be a risk of frustration if they start ignoring me or lying to me again. I didn't decide to leave out of one incident in isolation but rather it's the repetition of incidents that show a lack of care. Previously my mother wrote me a letter in which the apology was two lines and the remaining pages were only about herself, her extended family and casual small talk. If they're not sorry then I 'd almost prefer them to say so than to waste my time pretending that they are. You can't force people to say sorry since they won't stick to it.

A year after the fracas I retried contacting them. I told them we could have a distant relationship where I might ring them rarely as an acquaintance so long as they were willing to explain themselves. Minimal contact isn't too much of a risk. They said they were sorry and that they were thinking about me for the year. Yet they soon showed indifference in that they failed to reply and spoke in a tired and unmotivated way. Everything they said seemed like they were making it up on the spot. The inconsistencies of their statements began to appear. They even blamed me for not being able to speak with me to apologise even though I had to avoid them because they were so rude in the instances that we did communicate. I could tell that they weren't thoroughly remorseful by their hesitation. My mother asked how I was and pretended to chat even though I was asking her to say sorry. She wasn't being serious and asked if she could fly over to meet me when I was away. It seemed like she was trying to laugh it off. She still insisted that she was only trying to offer me a lift even though she knew that she was intimidating me by coming near me and entering into my room. She didn't mind threatening me with my father and sister but somehow she expected me to believe that she actually cared about me getting a cheaper lift with her. She'd overheard my father shouting at me and had tried to block me leaving. She also brought in my clothes right after the confrontation as a sarcastic excuse to come right beside me. Yet when I told her this she dismissed it and claimed she was merely acting a bit childish at the time. If someone is slightly honest then I think you only need to slightly forgive them. They seemed somewhat less insincere than the previous attempt but it didn't seem like they'd undergone any major conversion. I told them I wasn't yet willing to restart any contact with them but that I didn't dislike them as much as I used to. I added that if they ever find it in them to be wholeheartedly apologetic then we could resume a distant sort of contact. I also advised them to write down their thoughts so that they'll know what they want to say. I've to be analytical because we don't have an unlimited reserve of resilience, patience or recovery and so the frustration of dealing with temperamental people can risk undermining your own emotional stability. Anyway incident plus year and a half my father eventually emailed me a more substantive apology. It was over a page long so I decided to restart slight contact through post or phone but I don't think we'll be meeting in person anytime soon. The time away was a sufficient warning even if I can't be certain that he's 100% sorry. I rang him after his email to ensure his speech was consistent with what he wrote. My mother rejected the opportunity and didn't immediately reply to my email. If she hasn't changed her attitude after such a long period of time then it's unlikely she'll change drastically in the near future. A month later she sent a more helpful apology and I said we can be slight friends. For almost two years I never received any attempted apology from my sister and only bare assertions from my father that she was in some way remorseful. The fact that my father made little attempt to talk to my mother or sister about their behaviour places a limit on how much I can accept him back into my life.

To be honest I'd made a few defensive mistakes. I should've left immediately instead of packing my bags in order to have reduced the risk of them following me upstairs. I knew there was a slight chance that they'd break their apology by perhaps being rude but I thoroughly underestimated the risk of a physical altercation. Previously I'd tentatively re-friended them on a trial period but I should've kept more of a distance at the beginning instead of being back home with them for the week. Some of my past impatience towards them was due to a lack of help but seeing as I was becoming more independent I felt that this would no longer be an issue anymore. I was too optimistic and naive in accepting so many untrustworthy apologies. I was often a bit isolated in the past and so I was always tempted to meet back up with them. This is why having a wide circle of alternative friends could help buffer a troubled friendship. I always assumed that he had temporary bouts of insecurity but the way he shouted made it clear that he was demeaning my own experience of insecurity. Ironically they thought I should let them off the hook for the way they didn't withstand a few moments of stress when they pretty much humiliated me for my months of anxiety. When he shouted it seemed like it was his extreme anger that had made him anxious rather than it being the other way round. It was as if his rage put him in a trance because I'd never seen him act so bad before. I think he often had sleepless nights that would aggravate his stress.

Additionally I made a few personal mistakes. I used to dwell a lot after I left them and often felt angry. Instead I should focus more on adjusting well to my current goals so that I'm less tempted to think of them so frequently. Besides, we cannot know for certain the inner reasons why people behave one way or another. Unless they choose to verbalise their feelings the most we can do is hazard a guess seeing as we can't read their mind. The week before my parents yelled at me they'd discussed each incident and said they regretted it. So logically it can only be the case that either they'd a sudden change of mind afterwards or else they were mostly lying while they said it. The fact that the week passed quietly until the screaming started strongly implies they were being dishonest when they claimed they were contrite. I recall my mother giving me a lift where she seemed untalkative and monosyllabic. My father would ignore me when I asked him to clarify the apology he had given me since I'd to double check he was still on board. They appeared tired of me instead of being happy that I'd given them another chance. They were distant towards me in the days before the shouting.

At least the incident just so happened to serve as a case study for my provocation thread! They inadvertently taught me how to be patient and to stand up for myself! I can't guarantee we won't keep falling out again. When someone is found to have been mostly lying in every apology they've previously given you then it's hard to fully believe them when they repeat the exact same apology. I regret being so dependent on them in the past and I should have formed my plans without expecting their support. My father often made me ask him again and again for help where he'd pretend that he was considering it. He really burdened me because he kept telling me to ask him in a weeks time where after months he'd never give a clear answer. Sometimes he even replied that he couldn't because he claimed he had to help my sisters instead. For example when I asked him about going to a grinds school he replied that he wouldn't because he was going to send my younger sister there in the future instead. She never asked to go and it was only his attempt to pit us against each other. That might sound petty but it was just the negative tone that bothered me.

I tried to be patient and optimistic because we were once great friends where they gave me lifts, cooked me meals, bought me presents, went on nice drives each weekend and also annual holidays. I'd often go hiking or play tennis with my father. My mother always helped me with my chores. Another way they helped me was with occasional financial allowances. I was confused about whether I should let it go even if they weren't sorry. That's what I tried doing. I never actually asked them to make up for an incident because I felt that if they were half-sorry then they'd gradually pay it back in emotional support if we stayed together. Maybe I should've demanded more collateral upfront! I wasn't sure how indebted I was to them for having had a pleasant childhood. I'm not happy to leave anyone and I do wish they were nicer in the past where we would still be friends. Some people however just prefer being selfish. We only know our parents as adults and don't know much about their childhood. Another reason I was patient towards them is that I knew they had slightly stressful periods in their past that are confidential to them. But sometimes people slowly change for the worse over many years and there's nothing we can do about it. It's my worry about potential future incidents rather than just my anger at past incidents that makes me cautious about fully returning to them. I'm not trying to be vengeful by reducing contact but I've to counterbalance two opposing principles: to be forgiving while also erring on the side of caution. The dilemma is that we're encouraged to be merciful but we're also warned that it's better to be safe than sorry! It can be saddening when I think of the potential amount of happiness we could have all had together in the time lost but we can't make the decisions of others. When you reach adulthood your parents can feel less responsible for you such that any previous pretence of friendliness can disappear quite quickly.

Long-term friendships can be beset by a series of minor incidents that have an exhausting and accumulative effect rather than a single major incident. There were a lot of these smaller incidents where they might try to embarrass me, pressurise me or undermine my goals. I used to put it down to them merely being confused but I can now see from later incidents that it was really out of ill-intention. Sometimes they'd conceal hostility in the guise of help. For example they tried locking me in my room and then the house until I would agree to go to a 4 month stay in a hospital in Dublin but I managed to escape them over the garden fence. They started doing more harm than good overall. They gave me bad advice during my study for the leaving cert where they wouldn't allow me to self-study more often even though I was falling behind. When I left my leaving cert my father was constantly panicking and waking me up in the middle of the night. Even though it was me who should've been upset by the exams, I was actually forced into a position of having to console my father who appeared to be depressed. I tolerated it at first because I thought he had anxiety and was just worried about me but I soon realised by his hateful accusations that he was just using it as an excuse to seriously harass me. They'd accuse me of being ungrateful and imply that they preferred my siblings by saying they'd help them instead of me. It wasn't actually them that funded me and yet they claimed that I'd wasted their money. My mother said that my sister's friend was better than me for going to university. My father started ringing up my school about my exams and tried to turn it into a fiasco. I eventually forgave them because they used to help me with pocket money during my school years. Later my father would book career guidance sessions and tell me never to ask him for anything ever again if I wouldn't go with him. I went easy on them because they gave me free accommodation and they kept me company. On second thought do we really owe our parents for this?! I might have made a mistake in not being more assertive with them in the beginning because I always imagined that they'd improve. Had I somehow known in advance that they were only going to keep getting worse then I would have left them much earlier. We knew each other so long that I never envisioned having to end our friendship. In other incidents my father didn't say no and instead always lied that he was going to do something only to cancel in the last moment. He booked interviews in Dublin for an Open University course and agreed to be a guarantor for a loan and then waited until the deadlines had passed. It was frustrating and extortionate but he'd think nothing of doing these type of things. I didn't immediately have the funds to leave my parents' house after my leaving cert but I was trying to leave because they were being unkind. I was so desperate that I was even considering living in a car. Yet years later my father disparaged me when he spoke of me living in a car in a really silly voice. I was at an airport where he made up a whole story about speaking to a manager and got me to leave a queue for ticket resales only to be delayed for 5 hours in having to re-join the queue. I forgave him even though he didn't say sorry solely because it was himself who had paid for the ticket. When someone is always mean it can be straightforward to avoid them but it's when the person has mixed good and bad behaviour like my parents that it can become very confusing in how to respond. Sometimes passive-aggressiveness can be worse than blatant, active aggression because it can be more time-consuming and it's easier to conceal it as being unintentional. Unfortunately my father can struggle to understand basic empathy. He bought himself an apartment to lease out to others and then deceived my grandmother that it was for me. I had to kindly decline my grandmother's offer of thousands of euros to help with a mortgage and had to explain to her that he was lying. I'd told him from the beginning that I didn't want it and he never consulted me. It was nothing more than a ploy. They often tried to make me feel guilty where they'd claim I was extorting them and being selfish. I remember going on a tennis holiday after my junior cert for a week that I paid for myself. My parents however had thoroughly vilified me in the months beforehand where I couldn't get a lot of enjoyment out of the break because I felt so stressed. When I challenged him about his behaviour afterwards he denied that much was said. He also engaged in favouritism by openly supporting the holidays of others later on. My mother gave me a backhanded compliment how she knows that I'd never hit her when I never once threatened to do so. We were heading up to a relative's wedding where my parents were giving me unwanted advice and telling me to "shut up". My mother and older sister were in a fit about being late. The only reason I stayed with them was because I was worried they'd be angry to my father if I wasn't with him. It didn't occur to them how inappropriately they behaved but they relaxed as the evening progressed. Anyway the list goes on! I better not write down every little incident or I'll end up writing a book!

Eventually I'd to stop seeing my psychologist, life coach and aunt who all disagreed with me! I told my aunt about the incident who later decided to join in. I was walking back from tennis when she drove past me and angrily claimed I was a few minutes late. She was scowling and I felt she was getting frustrated over nothing. But when we got back to her house her bad behaviour continued. She dismissed my experience of mental illness and my "anxiety". Then she'd carry in my bags to make it look as though I was the aggressor where I'd have to go back in and get them off her. When I did so she was poking me hard and saying a wry sorry each time. That could be yet another potential problem with provocation and physical proximity even when it's from a smaller person where someone would be framed for a crime. It confused me as she was very helpful in the past and helped pay for my school in Galway for the year but people can change their temperament very quickly. I think she was trying to copy my mother by following me around without my permission. She said sorry weeks later but it was in a defiant and argumentative manner where she'd minimise what happened and demand that I accept it. I met her again a month after where she was at another relative's house and she just chased me around asking if I wanted a cup of tea and ignored my requests for her to step back. She used to make me dinners each Sunday and so I was surprised by her sudden indifference. We often went on trips together when I was younger so I'd have naturally viewed her as a good friend. She said one or two underhand things that peeved me in the past but I let it go because she was usually friendly. She once claimed I was too self-aware to be anxious, repeated flippant statements about my struggle with shin splints saying that I was too young to have muscle aches and other times she became really hostile towards me about my hygiene where she'd reject me as a friend if I wouldn't allow her to follow me around with deodorant. She followed suit with my mother and sent me an email months later asking how I was doing as if nothing had happened between us. In other words it was my fault that we weren't speaking in her view. I used to get on well with my psychologist for a long time. She helped me understand interpersonal skills. But then all of a sudden she started bringing up the subject of my parents in each session against my will. She'd ignore my comments, ask the same questions repeatedly and just accuse me of being obsessive saying that other people had gone through worse. Even though I showed her the video of my parent's behaviour she'd still give blunt orders for me to meet up with them without giving an explanation as to why I should. My life coach was pleasant at first. She gave me advice on career paths. But then she offered to talk with my parents under the guise of mediation. She reported that my parents said that not much happened in the shouting incident and that I was exaggerating it even though they were saying sorry to me in the weeks beforehand. Afterwards she changed her mind and seemed to agree with them saying that she was a parent herself. I'd to stop seeing her after she repeatedly urged me in each appointment to accept their offer of renting an apartment. I told her we could still be friends but I'd to end the meetings. She was generous by offering me all of the appointments we had for free as part of her training and so I didn't want to blame her. They could all be very nice but they became too judgemental. People can be biased when they're also friendly with your adversaries and didn't see the incident first-hand. People say to love your family and ideally that would always be true but it's much harder when others don't always reciprocate. They say we don't get to choose our family and I suppose that means they're really just random people. They weren't always a caring family and having finally recovered from my mental illness I'd then to start recovering again from their threatening antics. They ended up aggravating all the problems that I already had seeing as I was looking for rent and changing life plans when they decided that now was the time to push me out of the family. I imagine people born into large families must probably have a master's degree equivalent in crisis management and conflict resolution! It’s safe to say a few situations went a bit beyond them! I remember trying to study and sometimes I’d hear dance beats humming in the background from my sister’s room. I used to try to block it out with white noise or earmuffs. My parents usually allowed her to turn it up and so I used to always go to my grandmother's house for homework in secondary school. At this stage I’m so accustomed to studying under adverse conditions that thankfully I’m less distractable and can study on the move! My sisters never interacted a lot with me so I'm not sure how much difference it makes to them that they left me in 2020. My parents often allowed them to dislike me. At least I still get on well with my younger brother, grandmothers and others in my extended family. If anyone else criticises me about my parents then I'll say no more and just direct them to this thesis! If everyone had to put their personal relationships online then it might increase their accountability seeing as they won't be able to hide their grudges!

As I already said I accepted his apology and it's fully informed and satisfactory. There's still a tiny tint of ambiguity in just how legalistic the tone is and that I'd also to get him to read this very thread so that he'd know what to reply to. Anyway it's a very trustworthy apology even if it's not quite on a par with St. Paul's change of heart on the road to Damascus.

My aunt is actually a solicitor so she'd be well able to articulate her apology if she wanted to. It's not that I'm an English teacher who wants precisely structured apologies. The problem is that if she's already being evasive in her three-sentence apology, then what hope is there that she'll be remorseful if another incident were to occur in a few months? In the second sentence she simply parrots back my initial question. Her apology isn't proportionate with the amount of stress she caused me. You have to say it like you mean it. Not speaking to someone doesn't always count as a punishment if they don't miss you very much.

She must've understood that she was bothering me because I told her that directly at the time. She eventually sent me a somewhat more inclusive apology:

I was slightly more isolated for a long time when I first left her where she just sent postcards for Christmases and birthdays. I knew her apologies were tentative when she didn't even mention the way she ignored me since then.

I always thought she was on my side but some people get annoyed very easily. I remember meeting her once where she was getting frustrated to the staff about having her temperature checked for Covid. It was the first time I noticed that she was a bit impatient but I assumed it was just a bad mood. I never thought her short-temper would harden. She rang me about the emails and said she had forgotten what she said in the car and that she was sorry. I decided to give her a tiny bit of charity. It's possible to not always get on with someone and remain a bit courteous. For instance saying hello doesn't mean I've to have a long chat and meeting up for a long time doesn't mean I've to do it often.

I got a few short sentences resembling an apology from my younger sister:

"If I died and it was it was Pluto or Hades and if it was the twelve Greek gods then I would have more truck with it because the Greeks didn't pretend not to be human in their appetites and in their capriciousness and in their unreasonableness. They didn't present themselves as being all seeing, all wise, all kind or beneficent because the God who created this universe if it was created by God is quite clearly a maniac. Utter maniac; totally selfish! We have to spend our life on our knees thanking you? What kind of God would do that? Yes the world is very splendid but

it also has in it insects whose whole life cycle is to burrow into the eyes of children and make them blind. They eat outwards from the eyes. Why did you do that to us?

You could easily have made a creation in which that didn't exist. It is simply not acceptable."

(Stephen Fry on the Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne RTE)

Perhaps we need capricious judges in the colosseum who stick their thumb up for a suspended sentence and down for life sentence without wasting time on objectivity!

Erased post (almost):

Stress can compromise our decision making skills but we still have to control ourselves as inflicting pain on others won't make the stress go away.


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