Murder and the Reasonable Man: Passion and Fear in the Criminal Courtroom

By Cynthia Lee | Go to book overview

Introduction

FEMALE INFIDELITY

John, a mechanical engineer, finds out that Veronica, his wife of seven
years, is having an affair with his best friend. Tormented by images of his
wife and his best friend together, John alternates between wanting to shoot
himself and wanting to shoot the two of them. Finally, he confronts his
wife, tells her he knows she has been unfaithful, and asks what drove her
to betray him. Veronica admits she has been unfaithful. She apologizes, but
John isn't satisfied. He demands to know why she has done this to him. She
tells him that she no longer loves him. In disbelief, John grabs his wife and
tries to kiss her. Veronica pushes him away, choking as if she can't stand the
way he smells. At this, something in John snaps. John wraps his hands
around his wife's throat, like a wedding band that fits snugly around the
ring finger. His hurt pours out of his heart into his hands until Veronica lies
lifeless before him.


GAY PANIC

Mike, an honors student at the local junior college, plays quarterback on the
football team. Good-looking and well-liked by his classmates, Mike prides
himself on being an all-American guy. One day, Mike takes a hard fall on his
shoulder during football training. After practice, Mike decides to relax in
the school's sauna where he finds his friend and fellow teammate Gary.
Gary asks him about his shoulder. Mike tells him that it's pretty sore. Gary
who is openly gay, asks if Mike wants him to massage his shoulder. Mike
says that would be great. Mike, clad only in a short white towel, lies face-
down on a nearby bench. Gary starts to massage Mike's shoulders and back.
Mike tries to muffle a groan of pleasure. The massage feels good, almost too

-1-

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Murder and the Reasonable Man: Passion and Fear in the Criminal Courtroom
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Crimes of Passion (The Doctrine of Provocation) 15
  • 1: Female Infidelity 17
  • 2: Unreasonable Women, Gay Men, and Men of Color 46
  • 3: Gay Panic 67
  • 4: Culture and Crime 96
  • Part II - Crimes of Fear (The Doctrine of Self-Defense) 125
  • 5: An Overview of the Doctrine of Self-Defense 127
  • 6: Race and Self-Defense 137
  • 7: Race and Police Use of Deadly Force 175
  • Part III - Rethinking Reasonableness 201
  • 8: The Elusive Meaning of Reasonableness 203
  • 9: Toward a Normative Conception of Reasonableness 226
  • 10: The Act-Emotion Distinction 260
  • Conclusion 276
  • Notes 279
  • Bibliography 349
  • Index 365
  • About the Author 371
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