Excuse Return Fire
A character tries to make an excuse, but then the same excuse is used to justify punishing them.


(permanent link) added: 2011-11-23 05:08:02 sponsor: Topazan (last reply: 2013-04-12 23:15:19)

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Do We Have This? I can't find it.

Possible launch title: Excuse Boomerang.

The culprit has been caught red-handed and is about to receive a well deserved punishment. But, he objects, it wasn't his fault. He had no control over his actions. He had to commit the crime.

Unfortunately for him, the authority figure also has no control over his actions, and has to deliver the punishment.

An Excuse Boomerang is used as a rhetorical shortcut. Rather than argue with the culprit about whether or not the culprit can be held responsible, the authority simply claims that for the same reason he can't be held responsible for the punishment he is about to deliver.

Related to Ironic Echo.

Examples

Literature
  • In Jingo:
    Oh, no doubt the man would suggest there were mitigating circumstances, that he had an unhappy childhood or was driven by Compulsive Well-Poisoning Disorder. But I have a compulsion to behead cowardly murderers.
  • This Ambrose Bierce poem:
    "There's no free will," says the philosopher;
    "To hang is most unjust."
    "There is no free will," assents the officer;
    "We hang because we must."

NewspaperComics
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Similar to the Zeno of Citium story, Calvin claims that he can't be held accountable for his actions because he was predestined to do them. Hobbes knocks Calvin over, claiming Calvin was predestined to fall down.

RealLife
  • Charles James Napier (attributed), during his governorship in British India:
    "You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
  • There's an Older Than Feudalism story about Zeno of Citium chastising a slave for stealing. The slave argued that it was his fate to steal. Zeno informed him that it was also his fate to be beaten.

WebComics
  • This Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic, in which a woman protests that arresting her ego for smoking marijuana is unjust, when other parts of her mind and body were responsible for the deed. The police officer handcuffs the woman and tells her his hands are just obeying the frontal lobes in Congress.
  • There was an early Pvp strip in which Cole attempted this unsuccessfully. His employees were in the habit of neglecting their jobs to play video games. At one point, he told them that he was too busy playing a certain game to finish the payroll, only to decide a moment later that he actually should get it out of the way.

WesternAnimation
  • Unsuccessfully attempted by Hank in King of the Hill. A new employee turns out to be a drug addict, and gets his lawyer to invoke the Americans with Disabilities Act to keep his job and demand special accommodations. This inspires other employees to, with the help of the same lawyer, claim to suffer from a variety of outlandish disabilities and demand inconvenient and time-consuming accommodations. Hank tries to get a handle on the situation:
    Hank:You see, I recently came to realize that I, too, suffer from a disability: Good Worker Syndrome. I get sick to my stomach unless every one around me is giving 110 percent. The symptoms include pride, responsibility, and a feverish enthusiasm. It used to be a common condition among Americans.
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