My title was easy but my subtitle had competition. Here were the other options:
“Blame anything but yourself”
“The helpless addict defense”
“Depravity or disease?”
“Sin or sickness?”
On August 1, 2013, the Cleveland kidnapper (rapist and baby-murderer too) who held three women captive for over a decade, told the court, “These people are trying to paint me as a monster. I’m not a monster. I’m sick.”
He thinks self-pity sells.
“I have an addiction,” he continued, “just like an alcoholic has an addiction. Alcoholics cannot control this addiction. That’s why I could not control my addiction.”
Wait. For over a decade, this monster was in TOTAL control of three other human beings. Everything they saw, smelled, tasted, touched and heard was under his complete control. Yet he had no “control” over himself and his alleged “addiction”?
Sorry, but I’m not that stupid.
The Cleveland kidnapper (who shall remain nameless) lured his first victim into his clutches with the promise of a puppy for her son. Two more victims were targeted and captured. He chained them down in dark rooms, boarded the windows from the inside and deployed multiple locks on heavy doors.
A decade disappeared. But he was helpless, right?
I don’t buy the dehumanizing notion that we have no control over our attitudes, compulsions, actions or even our addictions. I realize every case and heart is different. Also, there may be some physiological or external factors adding to one’s struggle, but they do not trump free moral agency in human beings, nor should they minimize moral accountability in society. No man made in God’s image is “born” to rape. It’s a choice.
Blaming anything or anyone but yourself always creates a monster. Human depravity thrives on self-pity. Innovative excuses for sin abound to those unwilling to come clean and take the blame. Some can fool everyone but God.
This monster in Cleveland blamed his “addiction” (not himself) for his behavior. Then he blamed others for his addiction, including some relatives and the authorities. He cited pornography as a factor. Then he claimed the sex was consensual, saying, “We had a lot of harmony that went on in that home.”
Language matters, people! It was a prison, not a “home.” It was predation, not “harmony.” It was total control, not mutual “consent.” It was willful sin, not “addiction.” He is not just “sick,” he is evil.
While we are at it:
- Abortion is not just a “choice.”
- Adultery and pedophilia are not “love.”
- Terrorists are not merely “militants” or “gunmen.”
- Illegal aliens are not “guests.”
- Tax-hikes are not “investments.”
- People who disagree with you are not always “bigots.”
- Rapists are not “unplanned lovers.”
- Sexual harassers are not just “huggers” (as one alleged abuser labeled himself)
In the same courtroom with the monster, one of his victims gave voice to her solace. She bravely said, “I spent eleven years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning. I will overcome all that happened, but you will face hell for eternity.”
It’s not often these days that such talk of hell gets traction. That’s probably because few of us have spent eleven years in isolation and in chains being raped and tortured by an “addict.” Nevertheless (I love that word), I hope she can discover deeper levels of peace over time and that bitterness will have no hold on her. It sounds like she’s choosing to overcome her victimhood and re-claim some control.
Why is it that those with the best excuses available rarely use them?
It is morally monstrous to enslave human beings for selfish and abusive purposes. Nevertheless (there’s that word again), God’s mercy is available to those who truly repent, inside and out. God once transformed a ravaging monster named Saul into Saint Paul, the missionary! If the Cleveland kidnapper ends up in hell, it will not be because he sinned. We all do that. It will be because he cherished his sins, blamed everyone but himself and carried his “helpless addict” defense all the way to God.