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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Moral Idiots, Injustice and the Triumph of Evil



"On the night of April 24, 2005, Christine Kramer - her body etched head to heel with two dozen stab wounds and almost completely drained of blood - summoned her last measure of strength to lift her thin right arm up off the floor of East 84th Street kitchen.

Her right thumb dangling and nearly severed, she pointed at her spouse of 27 years. "He stabbed me in the heart," she murmured to cops. "My husband."

Two days before that she had called her mother to tell her that she had given him divorce papers and that he had gone nuts. "She said, 'He's going to kill me, Mom! He's going to kill me! He's going to kill me!'
"

And he did. Yesterday a jury of twelve people (I hesitate to even describe them as people) set her killer, Benjamin Odierno, a multimillionaire real estate tycoon free. He did a jig outside the courthouse, grinning happily. Then he went off to celebrate with his family and friends at Lusardi's.

And he had plenty to grin about. He stabbed his wife twenty-four times, cut himself twice to claim she had attacked and hired a lawyer, Jack Litman, who put his murder victim on trial claiming that she was mentally unstable because she was thrifty with household goods and had loudly argued with him.

That's all it took. With a jury. Now why am I blogging about this on a political blog? Because this case is also the story of why Israel can't seem to get a fair break in the coverage, why American soldiers are turned into villains and terrorists are turned into heroes. Why much of the world and a lot of Americans will claim that it's America that is at fault before and after 9/11.

It's a world where evil emerges grinning, just like Benjamin Odierno, and doing a little jig, while its victims sit in the criminals dock, baffled as to why the world is so unfair, until some of them begin to really believe themselves the guilty ones.

Let's take an analytical look at what Benjamin Odierno did. He set out to prevent a divorce settlement in which his wife would have gotten half his property, by murdering her. It's not an original idea. Plenty of men have done it, but he clearly planned it out.

He didn't merely kill his wife, he created a story... a story in which he was the victim and she was the perpetrator. A story that made him sympathetic and his victim, a crazy unlikeable woman. If you look at the basic facts of the case, a claim of self-defense when stabbing a woman 24 times from head to toe, isn't something that should convince even the worst idiot.

But it convinced 12 jurors. Some of them well educated and successful. It convinced them not because they're mental idiots, but like much of the West these days, because they're 'moral idiots.' Moral idiots are often quite educated. They're not genuinely intelligent, but they have the college education and trappings of intelligence. But they're idiots when it comes to matters of right and wrong.

Like a lot of Westerners today, they were never properly taught right from wrong. Their parents were likely the same products of a culture that had lost all touch with right and wrong. Their professors and teachers certainly were. In college they were taught moral relativism, rather than morality. In popular culture, they were taught that nothing is really wrong, except possibly bigotry and polluting the environment. In this fertile soil of moral idiocy, evil sprouts like weeds, unchecked.

Let's swing back to the Middle-East now. Over centuries Muslim Arabs had conquered and subjugated the Middle East, reduced every other race and religion in the area, to second class citizens. Their response to the Jewish resettlement of Israel was homicidal rage. They set out to kill millions of Jews. Like Benjamin Odierno, they did this with the help of a story, a fictional story of Jews displacing them from their land.

As time went on, the story evolved. A separate Palestinian nationality was manufactured, after Egypt and Jordan lost control over the area to Israel. A people with a passionate desire for their country, even though no such country had ever existed. But the story was developed and told and retold, emphasizing Israeli war crimes. Never mind that these "crimes" would have been a picnic in any of the other Arab states. Never mind that each time the Arabs had begun wars, with the open aim of mass murder.

Like Benjamin Odierno, the Arabs, like all experienced murderers, understood that the truth wouldn't matter. The story mattered. While Israel and its defenders insisted on repeatedly reciting the reality, investigating complaints, trying to argue a middle ground; the Arab propagandists disdained such things. Like Scheherezade, they held their international audience spellbound with their own Arabian Nights, with magic housekeys, tales of oppression and children in staged shots throwing stones at tanks.

The Arab approach was simply to circulate as many stories as possible, certain that some would stick. It was to stay on message, with a simple message. "Israel Stole Our Land. Israel Is Oppressing Us." By doing so they quickly made Israel into the perpetual defendant. The more Israel defended itself, the more the charges gained ground, because the discussion had shifted into a debate over whether Israel was guilty or not.

In "The Manchurian Candidate", Angela Lansbury's character flagrantly had her husband ,the Senator, give out random numbers of Communists in the Defense Department. When he complains, she tells him that "They're not discussing whether there are Communists in the Defense Department. They're discussing how many Communists are there in the Defense Department."

A smart lawyer does not work so much to prove his client innocent, as to shift the blame, on the victim, on the police, on anybody convenient. In the O.J. Simpson case, it was the LAPD who was really at fault. In rape cases, it's the victim who was really responsible. Lines on defense like that were the reason rape shield laws were created. Once the point of contention shifts from "Did he or didn't he do it" to the victim's culpability, the case has mostly been won already.

While Israel's Hasbara focused on dealing with the reality of what was going on, the Arabs spun a legend. Like in Liberty Valance, the legend that was better than the truth, was the one that got printed. Israel's insistence on addressing the situation that was actually going on, rather than simply creating a completely false storyline and peddling it to the exclusion of everything else; doomed its case, just as surely as the prosecution doomed Christine Kramer to not just be a murder victim, but a reviled one.

Let's take a look at the jury again. At the mindless minds of men and women who set a murderer free. You'll find them not just in juries, but answering questions in telephone surveys and voicing their opinions on political issues. They are what happens when the human soul remains unformed and the human character devoid of passionate convictions of right and wrong.

“It was very difficult to side with the prosecution when the majority of the character witnesses called were there for the defense,” said one juror, Randy Levine, 29, associate media director at an advertising firm.

"He didn't mean for this to happen," said juror Mark Flowers of Harlem.

Miri Samuel, another juror, agreed and said it seemed that Mrs. Odierno could have been the instigator of the couple’s fights. “Christine Odierno looked like someone who could possibly start the whole thing, and there was nothing to contradict that,” said Ms. Samuel, a sales representative for Estée Lauder.

Meanwhile, they said, Mr. Odierno came off as kind and grandfatherly.

“He was a simple, decent man who tried to live a simple, happy life,” Ms. Samuel said.

Another juror, Joanne McGrath, assistant dean of admissions at New York University School of Medicine, said Mr. Odierno ultimately saved himself. “Putting him on the stand was a big, big, big factor,” she said, “because he turned out to be a likable guy.”


Note that last part in particular, Benjamin Odierno was a likable guy. Now if Joanne McGrath had any shame at least, she would have at least avoided admitting that she was influenced by how likable a murderer was. But moral shame is an inaccessible concept for moral idiots. If Joanne went out with her slip showing she would be ashamed, but she doesn't even understand that she should feel shame when she informs the New York Times that she freed a man who stabbed his wife 24 times, because she found him likable.

Despite, or maybe she is assistant dean of admissions at New York University School of Medicine, Joanne McGrath is a moral idiot.

Meanwhile Miri Samuel thought Benjamin Odierno reminded her of her grandfather. Hopefully grandpa never decides to stab grandma, because we know for sure who Miri Samuel would side with. And it wouldn't be the woman whose body is lying bloodied and hacked apart on the floor.

As it turns out a lot of reporters had the tendency to call Arafat, grandfatherly. One BBC reporter even wept on television when he was being transported for medical treatment. Despite being a mass murderer, a terrorist who had ordered crimes too horrific for words, Arafat smiled benevolently and asked them how they were doing and invited them for tea. The blood on his hands didn't matter, he was grandfatherly.

Moral idiots do not make decisions based on right and wrong. They have no grasp of right and wrong. They make decisions based on what they are told to believe and their emotional pull to someone. If one side has a better story, they believe that story, because most of them aren't capable of actually discarding lies from the truth and seeing the basic reality of what is going on.

They believe the more appealing side and the Arab side has trotted through bushels of smiling and bloodied kids, for the cameras. It doesn't matter that they murder children, the way some people staple files. It doesn't matter that they themselves murdered some of the children they showed off for the cameras, as happened in Lebanon and with the Mohammed Al-Dura case. This is a degree of complexity beyond the grasp of the modern moral idiot who instinctively grasps for the smiling face and the better story, the one with no grey areas, told with the utter conviction of the professional liar, who has no holes in his story, because the entire story is a lie. The entire story is the hole.

The justice system is an adversarial system, in which both the lawyers and prosecutors are the adversaries of justice. Sometimes justice triumphs over both sides. Rarely.

The international arena is also an adversarial system, glued together by agendas, lies, interests and prejudices. As in the justice system, murder is not murder if you tell a really good story.

27 comments:

Lemon Lime Moon said...

This is one of many stories ongoing in this vein this week.
In Utah the Bosnian Muslim murderer is finding more sympathy from the media than his victims.. a 15 year old child among them.
why they ask... was he *driven* to do it?
they dont ask why victims died or why that guy was so very evil.
It is how the world is now.
Good vs Evil is getting to such a fever pitch and no one will be able to stand in the middle anymore.
Everyone is going to have to choose a side soon. This is the biggest war going on in the world today.

ozarkyid said...

Since the government is disarming the law abiding citizens, these kinds of victims are only going to increase. I guess Odierno should thank Giuliani and Hillary that his victim was unarmed.

Sultan Knish said...

lemon

of course... once you assume that someone has to be "driven to kill" instead of "willing to kill", as with the palestinian arab terrorists... then their motivations become the focus rather than their crimes

Sultan Knish said...

ozark, I'm all for the right to bear arms but the reality is it's a lot more likely to women being killed by their abusive husbands, than the other way around

Anonymous said...

What a travesty of justice that Odierno got away with murder while thousands of miles away in Israel Shai Dromi faces charges for fatally shooting a man who broke into his house. And even after shooting him, he immediately began CPR.

Shooting the intruder was justified, and Dromi was under no obligation to try and save his life...but he did. Obviously his motive for shooting the man wasn't to kill, but self defense.

That's in stark contrast to Odierno who didn't just kill his wife, it was over kill, especially considering his bogus and superficial wounds. Given his wife's overkill, no matter how much she may have antagonized him, a reasonable person would have thrown the book at him.

But a jury acquitted him because he seemed like a nice guy. Well, niceness is not an inborn character trait, it is a tool people use to manipulate others and can been used for good or evil.

Most people are nice and friendly because they want others to treat them that way. An attrative woman smiles at a cop because she doesn't want a speeding ticket. That's their motivation. Evil people use niceness to establish a relationship which ultimately leads to deception and victimization.

The Palestinians have caught on to this. Appear nice, switch from traditional arab attire to suits and ties, smile, talk about peace, tell tales of woe and victimhood. Gain sympathy, trust and then...they move in for the kill.

You're exactly right Sultan. The lessons learned from Odierno's acquital and what is happening in the arab world is very comparable.

Keli ata

MM said...

You're 100 % right. I'm a male who survived a violent spouse, and that has helped me greatly getting out of the loony left and seeing Israel's position for what it is.
Please take out the word "mongoloid".

Sultan Knish said...

MM, it's been taken out

Sultan Knish said...

yes K.A., some people are genuinely good, others are good at manipulating others

one of Americans worst weaknesses is an inability to recognize that kind of manipulation and to take 'niceness' at face value

Muslims have been quite adept at using this and people still do not understand that a person being friendly is not necessarily your friend

it's how the 9/11 hijackers could make nice with Americans, be hosted by them, all the while smirking inside

Odierno couldn't wait to bring that smirk out in the open, when the jury let him walk because he seemed like a really nice guy

Yobeeone said...

Some things never change. The Mary Berry murder. An old woman age 88 is stabbed with a knife 88 times. The murder gets off with three months in jail. Reason for the short sentence? She was old. That was in the 70's. I suppose today he wouldn't be arrested at all.

Anonymous said...

Just as a public service to some of your female readers: a normal man with no evil intent will totally understand if a woman alone in a parking ramp for example would be leery about accepting help from a man she doesn't know.

A man with evil intent won't listen to the word no. WARNING BELLS SHOULD GO OFF--a man who doesn't hear 'no' is trying to control you. Actually, anyone who doesn't hear the word no is trying to control you. Just remember--No is a complete sentence.

As women we're afraid of being rude, even under circumstances when our intuition is right. So we'll accept an offer from a strange man to carry our groceries inside. Then the guy might make small talk, try to form a union, tell you something like, "Boy, OUR bags are really heavy."

Watch out for this forced union.

Then, if you start hestitating and insist that he not come in your apartment, he might call you vulgar names. Again, he's trying to invoke that natural instinct we have to not appear rude or act like a B****. Another ploy.

Then, he might say something like, "Why are you being so mean, after all, I tried to help you." Ah, invoking a debt, loan sharking some call it.

I can't stress it enough. A normal guy will understand if your leery about accepting his help. A criminal, for example a rapist, won't listen to the word NO and will try several if not all of the ploys I cited.

You also might want to read Gavin deBecker's book The Gift of Fear. It should be required reading for all women.

Keli ata

Friar Yid said...

Interesting post- but are you seriously suggesting that Israeli nationalism wasn't/hasn't been equally a product of manufacturing? And same thing for the marketing. In fact, both groups continuously use the same talking points, casting themselves as David against the mighty Goliath. You can argue about which of these views is right, but you've got your eyes closed if you're going to argue that the Palestinians are the only ones playing the game (just ask the Foreign Minister, or Israel's ambassadors to the US or UN).

Moral idiots do not make decisions based on right and wrong. They have no grasp of right and wrong. They make decisions based on what they are told to believe and their emotional pull to someone. If one side has a better story, they believe that story, because most of them aren't capable of actually discarding lies from the truth and seeing the basic reality of what is going on.

Both countries are killing each other. Both countries justify their actions by creating stories in which they're the good guys. Now I happen to think Israel has the right to defend itself, but that doesn't change the fact that Israel makes propaganda (or call it spin) too. Suggesting that it doesn't, that this is as simple as "looking at reality" is yet another spin.

Ditto for this stuff:

Muslims have been quite adept at using this and people still do not understand that a person being friendly is not necessarily your friend

it's how the 9/11 hijackers could make nice with Americans, be hosted by them, all the while smirking inside


I am not so naive to think that Israel is an American ally out of the goodness of its heart. The Israelis are no less pragmatic than the Muslims or Arabs. They're in this for themselves, and have consistently demonstrated this for decades, even before the founding of the state.

Defend Israel all you want, but cut the crap that Israel isn't playing the exact same game as the Palestinians. I can support Israel without drinking its Kool-Aid.

Sultan Knish said...

yes that's good advice k.a.

predators are instinctively manipulative, they know how to play on weaknesses and a desire not to be rude, not to offend and more particularly 'not to make a scene' is one they know well can be exploited

Sultan Knish said...

friar,

israeli nationalism is built around pride in actual achievements and an actual country with an ancient history

what is palestinian nationalism built around? it's not fictional because it has propagandistic elements,

it's fictional because it was cobbled together when the other Arab states decided they weren't getting back the territory anyway and they might as well try to play it this way with the local arabs there as a separate nation being occupied by israel

there's no country, no achievements and no people, there never was and unlikely there ever will be

only murder and poems following the same line

an independent nation was only one of israel's achievements, it is in the end a forum for a much larger set of achievements that began even under the mandate

israel has repeatedly offered compromises, have the palestinian arabs made a single genuine compromise they actually intended to keep?

I am not so naive to think that Israel is an American ally out of the goodness of its heart. The Israelis are no less pragmatic than the Muslims or Arabs.

Israel is an American ally. An alliance is by definition based on mutual interest.

An alliance is different than someone smiling at you and then cutting your throat.

I can support Israel without drinking its Kool-Aid.

How about the Rum and Coke? Or the Seltzer? Ginger Ale? Dr. Pepper?

Anonymous said...

"what is palestinian nationalism built around?"

Palestinian nationalism is built around terrorism. Always has been, always will be. For the longest time, anyone, even those of us like me who are largely ignorant of mid-east politics recognized that the PLO was a terrorist organization, not the military branch of any nation.

It had no legitimacy. No heritage. Just a bunch of Jordanian squatters trying to steal land and get closer to Israel in order to attack.

Then, politicians suddenly started trying to broker a peace deal between Israel and "Palestine," which only gave these terrorists credibility and legitimacy in the public eye.

Ever notice how "PLO" is rarely if ever mentioned anymore? How Arafat was suddenly "Palestinian President" and not chairman, as the Oslo Accords dictated his position and title, to avoid the implication of nationhood for Palestine?

But inch by inch, media report by media report, he was elevated to president; hamas elevated to government.

And with these media distortions public opinion changed and the issue shifted from terrorism to the desire for a homeleand, which most decent people could relate to. The arab desire to destroy Israel hasn't changed one iota.

Ironic how Palestinians accused Israel of apartheid when they demanded that all Jews be evicted from Gush Katif and burned down 19 synagogues.

The Palestians just tone it down when they're on television and in the presence of high-ranking politicians.

Israel is too kind for what it is dealing with. But then again, it is a moral nation. They've made good faith efforts at peace, given up land...what have the Palestians given up?

Of course, most people ignore the fact that it's not about having a homeland.

The Palestians could easily move to any arab country (assuming anyone, including the more moderate countries would want them) and have a muslim homeland. And if they miraculously decided they wanted to live like normal, decent people in peace, they could have fought for Israeli citizenship.

They want none of that.

Friar, Israel isn't playing the same game as the Palestinians. How do you come to that conclusion? During the Lebanon war, israelis sounded alarms and put its citizens in bomb shelters to protect them. They even dropped fliers to warn Lebanese civilians move out before a air assault.

Palestinians throw their young children in harms way and call them martyrs. They hijack ambulances to bomb Israelis.

Israel at the moment is treating five Palestinian terrorists at a hospital (can't recall off hand where). Do you really think injured IDF soldiers or any Israeli for that matter would be treated at a Palestinian hospital?

Okay. Granted, I have only been following what's happening in Israel with Palestine for a couple of years. But some things are easy to recognize. It doesn't take a rocket scientist.

Kelia Ata--just some personal insight from the peanut gallery.


Shabbat Shalom Sultan, Lemon, Yobee, and Friar.

Anonymous said...

Sigh.

In my first post on this thread I cited the case of Shai Dromi who shot an arab burglar breaking into his house and then instinctively began CPR on him. I think he personifies the character of Israel as a whole. It's nature.

Why don't the arabs see it? Then again, maybe they do see it, and exploit it horribly.

Sultan Knish said...

shabbat shalom k.a.

and yes the arabs do see it, that's why they exploit it... mercy and forbearance to your enemies is a weakness in this code and invites attack

that's why america is going through hell in iraq, once it became clear that the americans wouldn't be harsh and ruthless

in the arab mind, the willingness to be ruthless and cruelly kill is proof of the moral righteousness of your case

the failure to do that demonstrates cowardice and thus no moral basis for ruling

this is why terrorists are venerated and the more aid america gives, the more it's hated

Bush is wrong... they really don't think like us, most of the world doesn't and until we get that... things will go from bad to worse

Robert said...

Uch, what a travesty.
I already signed up for the good side! May we be strong!

Remember, we have to trust that this is all a test for us. We will win in the end.

More imporant: Benjamin Odiero ymach shmo, may look like he is winning, but down inside, he is hurting really bad! His wife is getting trememdous reward for what she went through.

The stupid murderer stabbed his wife body, but he really stabbed his soul, and he's gonna pay BIG unless he does teshuvah FAST!

Remember Saddam Hussein ymach shmo? All those palaces, the choicest girls, the money and power, and ends a common criminal ratted out from a fox hole, sent to prison and dying a horrid and embarrassing death?

So may it be for all these evil people!

Sultan Knish said...

true robert, the end of evil is rot and decay, both from inside and outside

shabbat shalom

Shlomies kid said...

Friar Yid=champion of moral equivilency

Friar Yid said...

anon- Israel is playing the same SPIN game as the Palestinians. I agree that their tactics are different and would concur that by and large the Israelis act with more restraint in their military operations. But you're fooling yourself if you argue that Israel's nationalism wasn't manufactured (like any other nationalism) or that they don't create national myths to reinforce how they and others see themselves. Everybody makes up stories to justify their country's actions. Israel is no different in this regard.

If SK wants to contrast the factuality of those myths or the implicit morality within them, fine. But don't tell me the Palestinians are the only ones telling tales, or suggest the Arabs are the only ones who "smile and smirk inside". The Israelis have plenty of reasons to smirk and I can't imagine they don't from time to time.

Shlomies kid- why even bother to open your mouth? I'm not arguing for moral equivalence, I'm pointing out that both sides create myths and propaganda to defend what they do, like every other country, incidentally (fine, maybe not Lichtenstein). It's not about morality, it's about methodology.

Are you seriously going to argue that in a time of global spin, Israel is the singular exception? Last I checked, the PM and IDF still had press secretaries and spokespeople and there was a Foreign Ministry and ambassadors, all of whom routinely give comments to the international press. It's spin. Justify it if you want, but call it what it is. Oh, and get your words out of my mouth. Cheers.

Udiyiah said...

Yes, I guess some pigs are more equal than others.

Gordon MacD said...

While I have no argument with you about Israel or the Palestinians, I do think the Odierno case was a poor example to pick to try to illustrate a point. One aspect should certainly be made clear, if it isn't already. The jury did not set Ben Odierno free because they thought he was such a nice guy he "deserved" to get away with murder. They found him "not guilty" because--in part--he was such a nice guy they didn't think he was CAPABLE of murder.

Even that was far from the whole case. How anyone can talk as if they knew with such utter certainty exactly what happened, based on only half the evidence, beats me. On what grounds can anyone dismiss so cavalierly the testimony of several witnesses as though it were all a "story" made up by one man? Evidence was given, not just by this woman's own sons, but by the ex-girlfriend of one (who could hardly have any personal interest in the outcome), along with several neighbors, and even the woman's own brother, of how crazy she was. She was not just abusive to her husband, who did nothing to deserve the treatment she gave him. She wasn't just bonkers either, though she did do nutty things like hoarding batteries and toilet paper. She also did nasty, accusing things. Quoting from the New York Times:

"She became increasingly unstable and angry, the father and sons testified. She would lock herself in the bathroom for hours, they said. Mr. Odierno testified that she once pulled out all the electric plugs and unscrewed every light bulb in the chandelier so that when he arrived home, he found the house in utter darkness. She went from dressing the boys like 'dolls' when they were young, Mr. Odierno said, to ignoring them. [...]

"In 2003, she blamed her husband for her broken wrist, a neighbor testified. But Stephan and his father testified that she had broken it while jumping off a loose stone wall near their country house, an account reflected in what Mrs. Odierno told emergency room personnel at the time, according to hospital notes read in court."

And from another Times report:

"Marcus Odierno said his mother began acting as if she were being abused, even though she was not. He said she would slam into him, Stephan or their father and yell: 'Get your hands off me! Don’t touch me! You’re hurting me!' Then, he said, she would open the glass doors to the solarium 'and scream these accusations out into the backyard,' for the neighbors to hear.

"In the last year of her life, he said, Mrs. Odierno would hold a knife to her own throat and ask her husband and sons, 'What are you going to do, are you going to slit my throat?'"

At least this jury did not seem to be dumbly naive about women, and the outrageous lies some women can tell, playing shamelessly on the credulity of others. What can make this so much worse is that abusive women of this type don't just make false allegations for obvious motives, like lying to manipulate others for advantage in a divorce case, though of course they can do that as well. It's the way they can lie so viciously for motives so seemingly petty, trivial, or downright irrational that some people can't see them as "motives" at all! Sometimes it's merely to vent their spite on someone. And sometimes it isn't even that. Sometimes it's merely to get attention and sympathy for themselves--simply to get someone to say "Ohhhh, you poooor thing!"--and they don't give a damn who gets hurt, or how badly, by the false accusations they indulge in for the sake of this. That, perhaps, is truly "evil." Yet when others can't see what to them looks like an adequate motive for lying, they may be only too ready to conclude that this woman "must be" telling the truth--which is far from always the case.

We shouldn't forget that conditions like Munchausen's by proxy are typically female. And if that's uncommon, false accusations of rape for instance are deplorably common, far more so than some would like us to believe--while some women perpetrate them for the most trivial of motives. Neither should we forget that the entire Salem "witch" craze was brought about by credulous fools who chose to believe the ravings of a couple of hysterical teenage girls--and resulted in innocent people being hanged.

At any rate, some witnesses at the Odierno trial said, based on their observations of her behavior, that they did believe this crazy woman was wholly capable of attacking her husband with a knife. Meanwhile there was little evidence to suggest that Ben had ever vented any ill will upon his wife. So far from "abusing" her himself, he had apparently not even retaliated for her own abuse of him, but had simply walked away. A truly life-threatening assault, however, and the fear it engenders, can certainly prompt more robustly defensive behavior. A knife attack, even from a far weaker person, is a deadly threat that can easily be fatal.

Of course, Christine Odierno's mother, who could naturally be expected to side with her own daughter (even if her brother did not), did report that Christine had told her she was "afraid Ben was going to kill her" over the divorce, and that according to her, he'd "gone bananas." But given reports of her previous behavior, there was good reason to suspect those accusations were "just more of the same," irrational paranoia on the one hand and projection on the other. She, not he, was the one who kept "going bananas."

Admittedly there was sharply conflicting evidence about what happened in that final fight. Given the "docile" way Ben had responded to his wife's abuse for all of the last ten years, how likely was it that he'd suddenly turn around now and deliberately murder her?

There was on the other hand evidence that Ben had inflicted a couple of stab wounds in his own abdomen, which the prosecution naturally claimed he'd done to make it look as if his wife had attacked him when she hadn't. Yet it's unclear to me just how these wounds came to be "self"-inflicted: the police who entered were struggling to remove the knife from Ben's hands, and it's by no means clear that these wounds were not simply accidental. And if these two wounds were inflicted in this way, it doesn't mean all his other wounds were.

Most of all, as part of some supposed "plot" of deliberate murder it makes absolutely no sense that Ben Odierno would inflict such wounds on himself in front of witnesses who of course would say later that they saw him doing it. If that's what he was doing, he had plenty of time to stab himself before anyone arrived, while nobody was watching. The most that all this points to is that Ben Odierno was not in a normal state at the time: whether through fear and terror, or shock, or guilt, grief, or something else, who can say?

I cannot say unequivocally that Ben Odierno did not finally "lose it" and attack his wife. There's certainly room for someone to hold that opinion. Though I will add that if that is what happened, it does seem to have been the culmination of ten years of abuse and insanity from his wife that led him to snap when the final break came. But neither can anyone say with certainty that he wasn't just defending himself against a potentially lethal assault from this crazy woman. As juror Mark Flowers put it: "We'll NEVER KNOW what happened inside that kitchen." [My emphasis.] Not for sure.

And that, in the end, is my point. Even if it seems to some "more likely than not" that Ben Odierno was guilty of murder, "more likely than not" is not good enough in criminal law. He must be found guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." And there certainly was, to my mind, "reasonable" doubt in this case. As William Blackstone put it, "the law holds that it is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer." This same principle can be found in English law commentaries at least as far back as the fifteenth century.

Whatever anyone thinks about Ben Odierno then, I don't see any call to insult this jury with accusations of everything from "moral relativism" to "idiocy." If they saw reasonable doubt in this case it was not only their right, but their duty under law to find the defendant "not guilty." It was not because they "couldn't tell right from wrong," still less because they couldn't think. On the contrary, it was precisely because they could think, and weren't blinded by "passion," that they were able to weigh alternative possibilities. If I were ever on trial for anything, I certainly wouldn't want a jury of "passion"-driven hicks whose best skill was jumping to conclusions. Just because there's a corpse on the floor, it doesn't have to follow that anyone was guilty of "murdering" that person, however "obvious" it might look to some.

Sultan Knish said...

Friar, Israeli national pride is based on a real national identity, history and heritage, along with the many national accomplishments, not least of which are agricultural and scientific

palestinian nationalism is wholly manufactured, it has no basis in any nation or in any accomplishment... it is simply a myth created for the purposes of perpetrating an assault

Sultan Knish said...

gordon,

the jury did indeed decide to set odierno free, because he was charming

we know for a fact that he was capable of murder, because he carried out a murder... that fact is utterly undisputed and indisputable

his defense consisted of claiming that

1. he acted in self-defense, even though he suffered two wounds, while his murdered wife suffered several times that number, brutally and all over her body

2. that he was acting in some sort of dream state... the latter one is right up there with Colin Ferguson's black rage as an excuse


there were absolutely no witnesses to what happened, so discussing eyewitness testimony is utterly pointless

there were only witnesses to her supposedly 'crazed' behavior, none of which claimed, including the stuff you recited, that she had ever cut or assaulted her husband

all the testimony was meant to take the personal quirks of the victim and arguments she had and put her on trial

and if hoarding batteries or toilet paper makes you 'crazy and dangerous' then I've encountered thousands of crazy and dangerous senior citizens

it's simply an insecurity born out of childhood scarity of fear of winding up in economic insecurity

She was not just abusive to her husband, who did nothing to deserve the treatment she gave him.

yes up until the point he hacked her up with a knife... no doubt he had been the paragon of saintliness up till then... which is why she tried to divorce him, feared he would kill her... and he did

She would lock herself in the bathroom for hours, they said.

Something few women have been known to do after an argument. Definitely merits stabbing.

Mr. Odierno testified that she once pulled out all the electric plugs and unscrewed every light bulb in the chandelier so that when he arrived home, he found the house in utter darkness.

Well I'm convinced now that he was perfectly in his rights to stab her. After all she once turned out all the lights. Clearly she was dangerously insane and he had no other choice.

At least this jury did not seem to be dumbly naive about women, and the outrageous lies some women can tell, playing shamelessly on the credulity of others.

No the jury seemed to be dumbly naive about murdering millionaires and their slimeball lawyers. They were willing to be charmed by said murderer on the stand and they let him off.

I'll skip the rest of your material for this simple fact. She was not lying about abused. Whatever benjamin odierno had or hadn't done before this, we know what he did to her. And we know he murderered her.

Most of all, as part of some supposed "plot" of deliberate murder it makes absolutely no sense that Ben Odierno would inflict such wounds on himself in front of witnesses who of course would say later that they saw him doing it. If that's what he was doing, he had plenty of time to stab himself before anyone arrived, while nobody was watching.

So what exactly does the argument come down to? Odierno was acting in self-defense because he was making up a phony alibi where others could see him?

That's the 'drink some whiskey after the car accident out in the open' defense

I cannot say unequivocally that Ben Odierno did not finally "lose it" and attack his wife. There's certainly room for someone to hold that opinion.

Yes, like perhaps her hacked up body is one piece of evidence. Or that she feared her husband would kill her and that he did. Or that he gained millions of dollars from killing her.

Minor matters like that

Though I will add that if that is what happened, it does seem to have been the culmination of ten years of abuse and insanity from his wife that led him to snap when the final break came.

Well of course murdering your wife is justified if she hoarded batteries and turned off the lights. What was I thinking.

But neither can anyone say with certainty that he wasn't just defending himself against a potentially lethal assault from this crazy woman.

Or that O.J.'s wife wasn't murderered by some mysterious second attacker. Of course WE'LL NEVER KNOW. After all if we can't disprove a murderer's excuse to the nth degree, we've got to let him go.

Of course this line of defense gives a blank check to any murderer to kill someone, nick themselves with a second knife and proclaim they were acting in self-defense

some common sense or common decency however should set in when you consider the disparate strength of victim and murderer, the disparate number of wounds on victim and murderer and the fact that the victim had stated before and after that he would and had killed her

and if we had a justice system that rich murderers couldn't buy their way out of, this wouldn't be an issue

as it stands, her mother had probably best take the goldman\brown route of pursuing him in civil court and hoping this time the jury have actual souls instead of copies of the Daily News where their hearts should be

"Whatever anyone thinks about Ben Odierno then, I don't see any call to insult this jury with accusations of everything from "moral relativism" to "idiocy."

It wasn't an insult, it was an accurate description and all told, if they were to be stabbed two dozen times, it would clearly be an act of self-defense that would prevent them from sitting on any future trials

Lemon Lime Moon said...

Naive about "women" and the "lies some women can tell".............
Interestingly, sons who grow up seeing their fathers abuse their mother become abusers themselves.
It is interesting in this case that the sons back up the abusive father accusing the mother of abusing herself.
There lay a woman with a thumb dangling by a thread and multiple stab wounds all over her body.. and somehow she deserved it.

Abusive husbands are very often known for their suave exteriors. They are very very charming when you first meet them. Butter would not melt in their mouths. They are liberal in praise and supposed adoration and presents and love til they find a flaw.
The first flaw is usually being pregnant and deserving of a kick in the belly.
Or saying something that doesn't sit right with him and of course that deserves being punched in the head repeatedly til you hit the floor and then a couple kicks for good measure.
Now, you can't ever really tell what wil set him off, so you walk on eggshells.
Talking too much, or too little, supper , no supper, sleep, no sleep, laugh, dont laugh.
it is like living in a concentration camp with a demented nazi. That is no exaggeration.
You never know when you will be hit , kicked, or murdered.

But he is the picture of the loving spouse to all around. Genteel sometimes, and ever so charming and shy to others outside.

But the outside demeanor is the opposite and if you speak up you look like a complaining idiot.
a witch with a capital B instead.
You are not believed. God help you if you report him.
The police will not take him away and anyway he is out in 24 hours, looking for you.
When you leave them, they call at all hours of the night, daily.. 7 days a week to keep you from sleeping. At 3 in the morning you hear a voice on the phone.. "I will have you declared insane and take the babies and then I will hurt them so bad and you wont be around to save them , will you, you ........ They will believe me because I can shmooze and you can't"
Or pounding on your door at 5 am for admittance or *else*.
Threatening the children, esp the girls.

And unless you disappear completely, change your name, and stay out of sight, there is no end to it.

But to things like you Gordon, its "women" who drive men to this and so they deserve their own abuse and their own death.
I suppose the children deserve what they also get.
I could go on and on into morbid and awful detail that would stand peoples hair on end without one exaggeration.

But I also know why you say the things you do Gordon. Your words reveal you completely.

Anonymous said...

"Gordon said: The jury did not set Ben Odierno free because they thought he was such a nice guy he "deserved" to get away with murder. They found him "not guilty" because--in part--he was such a nice guy they didn't think he was CAPABLE of murder."

Gordon, I don't understand your logic at all. They let him off just because he looked innocent? So a scruffy looking person with bulging eyes arrested (but innocent of)an identical crime should be convicted?

The guy was acquitted in all likelihood because he was 1. extremely wealthy (and sadly, society equates wealth with morality and general goodness). Wealth and education cover a multitute of sins and crimes. Wealthy people are perceived as more educated, more moral, more intelligent.

2. Odierno was an older man, and his jury probably didn't want an old man to spend time in a harsh prison at his age. (nonsense again. By that criteria Nazi hunters should have just backed off and let these mass murders live out their remaining days in South America; How old was Hess when he died in Spandau prison? KKK members who lynched and killed blacks in the 50s shouldn't be prosecuted.)

FYI: the legal age of criminal responsibility in most states (is seven); there is no age limit that precludes someone from being arrested after age seven. Being old isn't a barrier from prosecution and incarceration.

Finally, Odierno's legal team in all probability included a "jury consultant" content not with rooting out bias against their client but hand-picking a bunch of moral idiots that would acquit someone because they seem nice and incapable of murder.

And yes, I also feel the jury is fair game for public criticism. They're not altruistic volunteers who just happened to want to judge a criminal case out of the goodness of their hearts. They were required to serve on the jury; the judge gave them a list of legal instructions to base their decision on when he charged them at the end of the trial.

The jury's comments to the press reflected a total lack of critical thinking skills and their verdict didn't reflect one legal principle.

Just another thing to think about: If Odierno had been an older,poor homeless man with a severe mental illness--say psychosis--and committed this crime he would have been summarily convicted and sent to prison for the rest of his life. He wouldn't receive mental health care and because of his "acting out" (in reality untreated psychotic symptoms) would be confined to solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, worsening his psychosis.

Meanwhile, Odierno gets to spend the rest of his life in the lap of luxury.

And this is justice?

Keli Ata

Tom said...

January 17, 2007 NYPost -- A veteran cop yesterday fought back tears recounting the "terrified" face of dying stabbing victim Christine Odierno when he found her - and his desperate attempt to help her.

"She looked terrified . . . I wanted to comfort her," Sgt. Thomas Caruso testified at the trial of Odierno's husband, Benjamin.

The testimony in Manhattan Supreme Court drew protests from the suspect's lawyer.

"Those are crocodile tears," defense lawyer Jack Litman told the judge out of the jurors' presence.

Benjamin Odierno is accused of stabbing his 57-year-old wife to death in their Upper East Side townhouse in April 2005 as they fought over their impending divorce.

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