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Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome?

Defense lawyers will try anything:

Lawyer to argue slave syndrome in 2-year-old's death

The slave syndrome is an untested theory that has never been offered in court. It comes from Joy DeGruy-Leary, an assistant professor in the Portland State University Graduate School of Social Work.

DeGruy-Leary testified earlier this month that blacks are affected by past centuries of U.S. slavery because the original slaves were never treated for the trauma of seeing relatives whipped, raped and killed.

Because blacks never got a chance to heal and still face oppression, they suffer from multigenerational trauma - and violent or aggressive behavior often results, she said.

Washington County Judge Nancy W. Campbell recently threw out DeGruy-Leary's pretrial testimony, noting that the theory has not been proven.

But the judge said she would reconsider the defense for Bynum's September trial if his lawyer can show the slave theory is an accepted mental disorder with a valid scientific basis and specifically applies to this case.

"I think it can be proven," Vogt said. "The problem is it's brand new. It's not as easy to present in court as something that's been established over years."

Or perhaps the problem is that it's complete bullshit...


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Comments (21)

If only we would have come ... (Below threshold)

If only we would have come through on those reparations, we could have saved that poor kid's life...

One would think, at first g... (Below threshold)

One would think, at first glance, that the attorney is actually trying to foster race-based stereotypes to get her client off the hook for the brutal beating death of a toddler.

Or she's capitalizing on the typical knee-jerk reaction to any mention by a black American of slavery (i.e. Reggie Rivers recent attempt at Bush-Bashing).

Or one other longshot: that we've progressed (regressed?) as a society to the point that no matter what the situation, there's always an alternative to taking responsibility for one's own willful actions.

A brief self-correction:</p... (Below threshold)

A brief self-correction:

The attorney in the case is not the author of the post-traumatic slavery syndrome, but rather is using the construction of a professor who coined the idea. I must therefore retract my second option to some degree, as I don't know the racial or ethnic background of the attorney in question.

I apologize for the mistake, and promise to do better next time.

(heading over to stand in the corner)

I find your longshot choice... (Below threshold)

I find your longshot choice extremely hard to believe - you hardly ever see anyone making excuses for their actions.

/sarcasm off

Multi-generational trauma c... (Below threshold)

Multi-generational trauma can happen.

For instance, my ancestors were hurt in
the potato famine, and now me and all my
Irish compatriots can't stop drinking.

Might surprise all of you, ... (Below threshold)

Might surprise all of you, but I find this to be complete bullshit too.

I think the theory is utter... (Below threshold)

I think the theory is utter bunk, but I can't blame the attorney on the case for trying it. The judge has come up with a fair challenge, though: the attorney can use the theory, but has to prove it.


Apparently, this idiot's la... (Below threshold)

Apparently, this idiot's lawyer probably believes that if you slap him hard enough, his grandchildren will be born dizzy.

The <a href="http://mhking.... (Below threshold)

The thing that floored me about this whole mess is that DeGruy-Leary is getting PAID to come up with this unmitigated BS!

"It is also not uncommon fo... (Below threshold)

"It is also not uncommon for minorities to use their race a primary factor in the defense (thanks OJ and Johnny!). But this one really sets an all time low."

"This is getting out of hand. How long will blacks hold on to something that happened to someone else almost 200 years ago? "


Two comments from trackbacks. I wonder why Paul or some of the other guys here havent called this guy on his lack of specficity, ie. What does "It is not uncommon for minorities to use their race..." What does, "not uncommon," mean exactly? Are their any statistics on this? Perhaps statistics like the disproportionate number of black males in jail, many for petty crimes, while Ken Lay, and a bunch of other big boys who have done far worse and are still walking the streets.

As to quote number two, why do some blacks hold on to it. Perhaps for the same reason the jews hang on to the Holocaust after over 50 Years. More died during the middle passage than jews died in Europe during WWII. Maybe becuase slavery did have a lasting impact our lives. Maybe becuase the final bondage of slavery was not lifted until the late 60's during the civil rights struggle. There are a lot of reasons.... Perhaps one of them is that there are still people in the world who feel as this guy does... And who trivializes the suffering of a people to make a political point.

But there is one thing I will agree with all of you on... This is a bunch of bullshit. And really dishonors those who DID suffer under slavery and in the aftermath.

I think here there is a mee... (Below threshold)

I think here there is a meeting of interests between the lawyer and Dr. Joy Leary. He's obviously willing to do anything to get his client off the hook (it's his job). But Joy Leary needs to get a court to hear her arguments, and if deemed admissable and as a contributing factor to the situation, this could be very good for her. Most likely, even if her arguments are proven true, the guy will still go to prision. But for her this would be a great success.

I think Joy Leary believes that people of color suffered so much trauma collectively as a population, that it the problems caused by the trauma are so deep, that they are passed on like an inheritance or a tradition to the next generation. Just as the children of abusers commonly grow up to be abusers, people of color pass on this weight to the next. Joy Leary doesn't want or does she percieve this to be a permanent problem though. First she thinks we need to admit that people of color carry these problems, and carry this weight as a population. Just because Bill Cosby is healthy doesn't mean his people are. The path is to healing is something called "Reparations".

If Joy Leary can prove in a court of law, it could be the begining of a legal basis for Reparations. My first thoughts are "I didn't do anything to them, they don't deserve my money!" but this is a reaction to the idea that what is needed is in fact money, and that society does not carry this debt. American society does carry this debt, and it needs to be repayed in so many more ways than with money. What was taken was much more than money could ever repay. I think it's going to take blood sweat and tears.

A reasonable viewpoint on t... (Below threshold)

A reasonable viewpoint on this topic:


Kev:I'm sorry man, I... (Below threshold)

I'm sorry man, I respect you tremendously. And I too think reparations are idiotic. But dragging out one of these tired assed Black Conservatives, who have ZERO credibility among African Americans is an affront to intelligent Black people. Most Black people could care less about reparations, and instead seek a simple leveling of the playing field. Improve schools in the inner city, put more focus into small business loans for minorities of all stripes and create opportunity, that is what most Black people want.
People like Sowell preaching to us, we dont. The fact that he writes on the same site as Ms.Coulter who I think is a flaming idiot and an embaressment even to most rational conservatives, even makes it worse.

LOL! I should have known yo... (Below threshold)

LOL! I should have known you did not write that Kevin. But you must understand, I think of you as THE Kevin. ;-)

Dave,I'm not sure ... (Below threshold)


I'm not sure what Sowell's race has to do with his ideas, whether those ideas are credible or not in the eyes of African Americans, why you're saying that intelligent black people are insulted by those ideas (are you their spokesman?), or even why Sowell's ass is tired..!

I don't care whether Coulter or Michael Moore write on the same web site as Sowell - it's not pertinent to the discussion of "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome". The Washington Post has some good articles and some bad ones... should I throw the whole paper out if one columnist writes something I disagree with? Nonsense.

Schools in the inner city have problems regardless of race - it's not only a black issue, it's an inner city issue. Whites, Asians, Hispanics, Blacks... it's a problem with the poor more than any particular race. Who is to blame for this - slave owners from 150 years ago? No, it has nothing to do with "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome".

Small business loans are in fact given to many minorities - with Asians being among the most successful business owners... many arrived in our country with nothing but the shirts on their backs but somehow manage to succeed. In fact, many Asians were also slaves in this country but I don't hear them bitching about "Post Traumatic Asian Slave Syndrome". Success has more to do with how hard one works, not how many handouts one gets. Neither is opportunity handed out free to anyone who wants it - it comes as a result of hard work.

Slavery is hideous, as is the multitude of other ways that mankind has abused their fellow man. Throughout history many peoples were slaves to others; there is a lot wrong in the world, and things should not be this way. But, what irritates me about all of this is the idea that "Everyone else is to blame for all of my problems. Everyone, that is, except me." The victim mentality already makes me sick but when it is extended back a hundred years I get the sense that some want to be professional victims as a result of their unfortunate heritage. "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome" is a crock of shit.

No, I dont claim to be a sp... (Below threshold)

No, I dont claim to be a spokesman for anyone other than my company and myself. But I can tell you that overwhelmingly Black people reject the rhetoric of people like Sowell and Armstrong Williams who are more appologist for the right, than true representatives of modern african american political leanings, which indeed are diverse. I agree that the concepts of reparations are ridiculous. If the 40 Acres and a Mule promise had been kept 140 years ago, this issue would not even be on the table. I am not a social scientist or psychologist, so I dont feel qualified to address the community impact of over 400 years of racism on the pysche of a race. I can only share my PERSONAL experience. You see, I am a child of the ghetto. I grew up in it, was wounded and nurtured by it. I succeeded where others didnt becuase I was stronger than the forces that saught to pull me down.
I dont even want to go there on the asian thing. You see, I think I know a lot more about that than you do too. I was there during the riots following the Rodney King trial, and I saw the asian businesses in the ghetto burn. I do not justify that bit of barbarism, but I do understand the resentment that led to it. I used to shop at a little Korean market, where Blacks were treated with disrespect, price gouged and not even offered a job in a store serving their community. This is a complicated issue, and one I wont be diverted on here.
Your points are well taken about other races being enslaved, the point you seem to miss is that long after endentured servants went out of vogue in the United States, the decendents of those slaves, free from the stigma of that slavery, and not stigmatized by the color of their skin were able to blend into society. As late as the 1960's Blacks were still being murdered in the south as a result of racism. So this is not just about slavery, but the racism that long outlasted that institution.
People like Sowell and Williams tend to overlook that in their glee at fitting in. I am assuming, perhaps WRONG, that you are not black, if that is the case, I can forgive you your opinions, theirs I can not.

Dave,You’re seem t... (Below threshold)


You’re seem to be saying two opposite things. First, “I don’t claim to be a spokesman for anyone other than my company and myself.” Then you declare, “... overwhelmingly Black people reject the rhetoric of people like Sowell...”. I’m not sure you - or anyone - are in the position to speak for Black people in such a gerenalized way. You seem to be quite sure of yourself on this, sorry if I don’t agree. If in fact Blacks’ political leanings are diverse, does this also not leave room for conservative leanings? In any case I’m trying to avoid talking about the right, the left or about politics. The topic at hand is “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome” and whether it deserves any credence. You seem to agree that it doesn’t.

I appear to have unknowingly touched a nerve. Nobody in this thread said that either Sowell or Williams are true representatives of modern African American political leanings. I never implied that; instead, I said “I’m not sure ...whether those ideas are credible or not in the eyes of African Americans.” I admit I am not in the position to speak for Blacks (or anyone else) as a whole and try to avoid sweeping statements like “[Sowell] is an affront to intelligent Black people” which implies that only unintelligent Black people don’t harbor hostility towards him. I wouldn’t dare imply that, although you might have. I am saying that one should not view the ideas of any man (or woman) differently through the color of their skin and I stand by that. If you read the link I mentioned earlier you will see the following quote - and you shouldn’t read it any different whether coming from a white left wing liberal or a black right wing conservative:

“The very idea of apologizing for what somebody else did is meaningless, however fashionable it has become.”

This quote sums up what I consider to be a reasonable response to reparations and “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome”. It’s not a political statement, it’s not a right wing or left wing statement, a black statement or a white statement. Whether Osama bin Laden said it doesn’t make it any less true.

In a way you are proving my point. Once a child of the ghetto, you now appear to be a successful business owner that succeeded (in your own words) “because I was stronger then the forces that sought to pull me down”. That’s exactly my point. Most probably it was hard work, determination and the strength to overcome that got you where you are today, and not expecting someone who did nothing wrong to you to apologize through reparations or guilt-based handouts. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

As far as “the asian thing” goes, maybe (as you say) you think know a lot more about that than I do, but being there when the LA riots occured after King’s trial doesn’t make one an expert on Asian's ability to consistently succeed in business. If one spent some time in various Asian countries and learned from the culture one would be better prepared to know a lot more about it. If you understand the resentment that led to the burning of Asian businesses and killing their owners, maybe you can help foster understanding in some way by encouraging people not to burn down other businesses if they don’t get offered jobs, are treated with disrespect or suffer price gouging. If I suffer price gouging I call the Better Business Bureau and no longer shop at that business. I encourage everyone to do that. If I don’t get offered a job at a business, I look elsewhere for a job, just like everyone who really needs a job. I don’t stop after one rejection and think, “I’m going to burn that place down and kill the owner.” If I get treated with disrespect at a business, I complain to the manager and depending on the outcome I might no longer give that business my money. Face it - most small business owners have the right to hire or fire anyone they want. That’s the nature of a free market society.

Speaking of the King trial, if the rioters disagreed with the outcome, why didn't they spend their time and energy appealing the verdict instead of going out and killing 50 people? I don't care what color you are or where you came from; if a court of law with a jury says something you don't like, it doesn't make it okay to burn, loot and kill. I didn't see people rioting when Simpson got acquitted. Now he's got a new TV show but I don't see people smashing their TV sets. In any case the riot mentality tends to take over without any reasonable basis. Why did rioters burn cars when the Lakers lost the NBA championship a few years back? Was it supposed to make everybody feel better?

I’m not debating that racism is a problem - but it’s a problem that is slowly getting better. It’s very disturbing that a generation ago Blacks were still being murdered in the south as a result of racism, but it’s also disturbing that people of all races in 2004 have suffered murder as a result of robbery, hate, bigotry, domestic violence, etc... Blacks don’t have a corner on victimization through racism and murder - humans have a corner on that market. It’s a worldwide human condition. Among my friends it’s those that consider racism something to be stood above, worked around, overlooked if possible and forgiven that are most successful in life, and most successful in helping others to realize how stupid racism is. I think that’s why racism is a problem that is slowly going away, but I don’t want to go too far in lessening the offendedness of those that want to hang on to every last bit of their legacy.

Sowell and Williams tend *not* to overlook racism, which is apparent if you read their writings. Further, I’m not sure they express “glee at fitting in.” Their opinions most certainly do not “fit in” with most of my friends’ viewpoints. It doesn't appear from their writings that they care to fit in at all - nor do I. I don't care if you agree with me or not, I'm just stating what I believe to be true at this time. It's my opinion. I reserve the right to change it over time as I learn and discover more. I would bet that Sowell and Williams get more hate mail than any other kind.

As an aside, those that state a given opinion shouldn’t have to be forgiven (or not) by someone else for stating that opinion. I disagree with some of what you've said, but you haven't wronged me. You don't need my forgiveness and if I said you did, it would be an accusation in disguise. I also wasn't aware that I had wronged you, thus requiring your forgiveness! If one is so offended by a certain opinion that they consider the author or speaker of it to have personally wronged them, I think that person has a serious anger problem. Opinions can be agreed or disagreed with, supported or rebutted, but those who hold certain opinions do not need to be forgiven by those who happen to disagree with them. Taking things on such a personal level is unhealthy and probably worsen the ability to debate issues like racism in a reasonable manner. Just my opinion, of course.

Very well written Kevin. On... (Below threshold)

Very well written Kevin. One thing you will find about me is that I can admit when I am wrong. Several of the points you made rang true to me, others did not.
I will not debate them verbatim, simply becuase at this moment, I dont have time to. Maybe I will blog on the issue at some time, and you are MORE than welcome to comment there. Next week I have a very important business event that is taking a lot of my time, so I must keep this somewhat brief.
I WILL make a couple of points.

1. I think you are a reasonable person, and I respect your opinion, even in those areas where we continue to dissagree.

2. My comment about forgiving your opinion was not literal. It simply implied that if you are Not black, I do not expect you to FULLY understand why so called Black Conservatives are not well respected in the majority of the black community (Not opinion, documented fact. Look at polls as to who the audience of these people are.)

3. You are right about the Riots following the King Verdict, but as in the Laker riots, those rioting were not representative of the Black Community, but were a mixed crowd of Blacks, Latinos and even some whites, who took advantage of the situation.

4. The Korean/Asian Market thing, as I said were acts of criminality and barbarism, but since the riots efforts and outreach and getting the two communities or in some cases three (Latino Included), into meaningful dialogue about the issues I have adressed have been successful at creating greater understanding in the communities involved. I wont touch the comment about culture impacting the ability to be successful in business, as that statement in intself has some racist overtones to it.
I think it someone unrealistic for anyone to think that ANY debate will not be taken personal on some level, but that is JUST my opinion.
Nevertheless, I appreciate your well thought out comments, and the ability to be able to discuss this with you.

This is simply outrageous. ... (Below threshold)
Corey May:

This is simply outrageous. The problem with the theory is it can be used as a mitigating circumstance in ANY criminal case with a black defendant, unless some restriction is placed on the use of this theory, i.e. prove that your ancestors were the psychological products of slavery. Further, this is probably the most "un-provable" theory that I have ever heard. There weren't many social workers 200 years ago. I don't believe anyone sat these people on a couch and asked them personal questions about how the raping and murdering of their peers affected their psyche.

I am part Native American I... (Below threshold)

I am part Native American Indian ...... can you imagine the defense I could use if this one was seen as credible?

My people were'nt taken as slaves.....they were just nearly wiped off the face of the earth! Jews join in on the chorus. Hell....many jews who were in concentration camps ......are still alive!

They actually suffered by the hands of others.

If we all go back in time far enough......we all will have an excuse now! Should I scalp my kid now and blame it on the european settlers descendants? Oh wait I'm also part German.....should I scalp myself?

Is there a race of people on earth who were'nt at one time victims of another as well as the perpetrator?

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits"!

Geeze some of you people wh... (Below threshold)

Geeze some of you people who benefit from privilege sure will pull out all the stops to not have to admit your legacy. I've read the book and, attended DR. Joy's lecture.
Why is it so hard to believe? You believe jews when they claim to have been treated badly by Hitler. You believed a black car jacker drowned that white woman's kids even though, in order to save her relationship she drowned them in the car herself. That incident in it's self should tell you something. Americans still hold to the unscientific theory that blacks are inferior. Remember Rosewood? White women whores are still blaming their perversity on blacks and white supremacist men still believe it. This of course would cause anyone trauma. Espcecially if you are aware and progressive and know that slavery is still in effect>>.it's on the law books to this day.
So even though you people play the race card you embibe in semantics so as to not have any association with humanity. You've done this for so long you really believe it. america is a country that doesn't take responsibilty for it's actions. It justifies. Just because some of you white supremacists have put away your white sheets, think of yourself as liberal, may not say or even squirm when one of your comrades says nigger or even faggot, doesn't mean you don't continue the legacy of white supremacy. I bet most of you who've commented on this topic haven't read the book. You believe it's enough to "pose" as an authority. You feel entitled by skin privilege. It's a joke. I go to school at the evergreen state college. The place is the devil's den...until now I believed that humans were human beings trying to remember the Source. I'm glad that I've experienced differently. My eyes are open: You don't have any talent. You steal ideas and hide the evidence of it. You have poor hygene, you quibble over the stupidest shit and are rewarded for it, you are mentally slow at what comes naturally to me. I have to dumb myself down or be sujected to the various forms of stereotypical race hatred created back in the 1500's. You people still hold these dear to your hearts. Actually read the book before you pretend to be adults.






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