Monday, September 8, 2014

Sentencing Law and Policy Blog: Intriguing Concurring Sentiments About Federal Child Porn Downloading Cases from Judges Noonan and Reinhardt

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Intriguing concurring sentiments about federal child porn downloading cases from Judges Noonan and Reinhardt

Late last week, two judges on the Ninth Circuit made noteworthy an otherwise forgettable decision in US v. Hardrick, No. 13-50195 (9th CIr. Sept. 4, 2014) (available here), through their concurring opinions in a run-of-the-mill affirmance of federal conviction of a child pornography downloader.  Here is the text of Judge Noonan's Hardrick concurring addition: 

What I've Taken Away from Reading Mistakes were made (but not by ME): Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts

Back on August 7th I posted a 41 minute video presentation from the 2014 TAM Conference given by Dr. Carol Tavris: Who's Lying, Who's Self-Justifying? Origins of the He Said/She Said Gap in Sexual Allegations if you haven’t watched it you really should its amazing.
Later that day I emailed back and fourth with Dr. Tavris. In one of her email’s she told me about a book that she co-wrote with Elliot Aronson titled Mistakes were made (but not by ME): Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts in 2007/2008 and that she and the other author are revising it at the end of 2014 adding new chapters.

I have already recommended this book to all the Virginia lawmakers and now I am recommending it to all the readers of this blog. It has something for everyone.

Here is a small sampling of what I have taken away from Mistakes were made (but not by ME): Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts ………… 

We all share the impulse to justify ourselves and avoid taking responsibility for any actions that turn out to be harmful, immoral or stupid. 

Most of us will never be in a position to make decisions affecting the lives and deaths of millions of people, but whether the consequences of our mistakes are trivial or tragic, on a small scale or on a national canvas, most of us find it difficult, if not impossible to say “I was wrong; I made a terrible mistake”. The higher the stakes - emotional, financial, moral – the greater the difficulty. 

In fact, most people when directly confronted with proof they are wrong, do not change their point of view or course of action but justify it even more tenaciously. 

Lying to the public to convince them of something you know is untrue is not the same as lying to yourself. 

Self-justification not only minimizes our mistakes and bad decisions it is also the reason that everyone can see a hypocrite in action, except the hypocrite. It allows us to create a distinction between our actions and our moral convictions.