It Was Somebody Else's Fault!

for the week of March 18, 2002
by Rubel Shelly

People appear to have a hard time taking responsibility for mistakes these days or stupidity or crime or sin. It's always the fault of someone else. But Harvey Taylor may have taken the art of denying responsibility to an all-time high.

According to press reports, Taylor is a convicted child sex offender who was wanted in Florida for probation violations. The 48-year-old man tried to elude a Penobscot County (Maine) Sheriff's deputy a few weeks ago and wound up spending at least three nights in the woods. As you might have guessed, winter nights in a Maine forest are cold. Very cold.

After he had been found and arrested, Taylor was suffering from frostbite and had to be admitted to the hospital for treatment. After the amputation of some toes, he threatened to sue because police were too slow in arresting him!

From his hospital room, Taylor told a reporter from the Bangor Daily News that he had to have "two or three" toes taken off his left foot. He said he was not sure of the exact number because he didn't want to look too closely at his foot. But there was one thing about which he was very sure. It was somebody else's fault that he was in his predicament. Specifically, he claimed it was the fault of the detective who originally tried to arrest him that he lost his toes.

"If the detective had done his job, I wouldn't be in here now," Taylor said. "I would have been in jail that very same day." Now that takes the cake!

A student who fails a physics or philosophy course tells her exasperated parents, "It was my professor's fault because he expected too much." A married man who has an affair with a co-worker tells his partner, "If you had been a decent wife to me, it never would have happened." And criminals defend themselves in court regularly by blaming every-body from God to parents to co-conspirators and every-thing from societal pressures to economics to Twinkies.

In defending the detective in question, Chief Deputy Glenn Ross of the Penobscot County Sheriff's Office said he was "cautious and professional" in his handling of the situation. On the other hand, he continued, the fleeing criminal "made some decisions and has to live with the consequences."

In the words of Paul, we need not expect to "sin that grace may abound." Instead, we are sinners and need to learn to acknowledge, grieve, and confess our sins that grace may abound. Denial is not a river in Egypt!

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