Guilty?

by An Ordinary Man (the novel)

“… There is one more thing. Nick loves you. But he is a man. And men are clumsy, as well as stupid, and insensitive. Sad to say, but it is inevitable that he will hurt and disappoint you, probably sooner than later. But don’t ever think he did so deliberately. The only reason he would hurt you deliberately would be if he somehow fell out of love with you, and even then, he’s likely to at least try to refrain from hurting you. To accuse him of hurting you deliberately makes no more sense than to accuse a dog of hurting you deliberately. Go ahead and be mad at what happened, but do not think it was on purpose. For him to hear that you think he did something hurtful on purpose is for him to hear that you think he doesn’t love you anymore and that is difficult to come back from, especially since he might have done a dozen things that very day that he feels proves he does. Maybe stupid stuff like picking up the dog shit in the yard.”

In our criminal justice system, “guilty” equates to “malicious,” because most crimes require mens rea (Latin for “a guilty mind”), with the theory being that unless you meant the harm, intended it to happen, or just did not give a flying fig if it did or not, did it with a guilty mind, you were not a criminal for doing it.  You might be liable, i.e., responsible, for it, and have to make some kind of compensation, but you shouldn’t go to jail because of it because you are not an evil person for having done it.  Maybe stupid, dumb, insensitive, self-centered, etc.  But not malicious.  A lot of men fit that description; many more than are malicious.  Do you really, really think he intended it that way?

If so, boot him out.  But if not, don’t.  Unless you just don’t like him anymore.  False accusations cause a lot of harm.  Do you really think this pup did this with malice?  Poor you if you do.

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