"Heat of Passion"

In 1988, a man was hiking through the woods when he came across two female hikers having sex. He watched them for a while and then he opened fire, killing one of the women. He was sentenced to life in prison but appealed, claiming that he shot these women because he was “provoked by their show… by their nakedness, their hugging and kissing and their oral sex.” The Superior Court of Pennsylvania gave this defense some thought: “The principal issue is whether the trial court erred when it disallowed evidence of the defendant’s psychosexual history to show the likelihood of a killing in the heat of passion aroused by defendant’s observation of two women engaged in homosexual lovemaking.”

The court ultimately decided that “the sight of naked women engaged in lesbian lovemaking is not adequate provocation to reduce an unlawful killing from murder to voluntary manslaughter.” Good. But courts throughout America have consistently ruled that men are allowed to use a “heat of passion” defense if they murder their wives upon discovering they have been unfaithful, or if they kill a man who makes an unwelcome sexual advance. Courts have also ruled that men are incapable of thinking rationally while having sex and therefore they are not entirely culpable for, say, asphyxiating a rape victim. The American law’s bestial view of men is disturbing. Even more troubling is attempting to articulate a rationale for permitting a “heat of passion” defense.

See: Commonwealth v. Carr, State v. Bingham, Schick v. State, People v. Berry, People v. Ambro; the gay-panic defense

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