Thursday, July 18, 2013


Yesterday I got a call from a radio talk show in the Far West asking if I would agree to appear on a two hour segment this morning to discuss the coverage of the Zimmerman case. I was somewhat reluctant, as I am no fan of talk shows, but I agreed. At the appointed time, I received a call from the station and listened patiently to a series of commercials as I waited to go on air.

I was first asked what I thought it was about the case that made such a media splash. I said I thought it was the youth of the deceased, coupled with the even more youthful photograph that was initially shown in the media. The moderator said he disagreed with me, that it was race, pure and simple. He went on to make some remarks about how the media had manipulated public opinion by using such a youthful picture of Martin. I suggested that it might not be manipulation, but that the picture used was the only one the family had. I’ve had at least two cases where there was only one photograph of the victim available. The moderator said he wasn’t buying that at all, and it seemed to me that he was suggesting that I was being disingenuous. I responded that I had a policy of not attributing malice when some other explanation was available. I pointed out that this philosophy undergirds our criminal justice system.

He wanted to know what I thought about the verdict, and I said it looked to me as though the jury wanted to convict Zimmerman of something, but did not think that what he did constituted manslaughter or murder. I said I agreed with the jury’s verdict.

The moderator steered us back to the issue of race, and then he held forth at length saying that the coverage was about race, pure and simple, and that the age of the victim had nothing to do with it. I suggested that we perform a thought experiment. Imagine that Zimmerman had shot a 45 year old 6’6” black male convicted felon. Would there have been extensive coverage if that had been the case? He intimated that I was presenting irrelevant hypotheticals and, if I heard him correctly, opined that there would probably have been the same amount of coverage. We then cut to commercials. I got the impression that the longer I talked, the less the moderator liked me.

The underlying thesis of the show seemed to be that the left-leaning media had sensationalized the coverage and ignored the facts to advance their liberal agenda. During the commercial, I began to gather my thoughts to diplomatically express this thought. It appeared to me that he, as a right-leaning member of the media, just might be sensationalizing his coverage to advance a conservative agenda. Of course, I was willing to stipulate that he had not consciously done that because of my policy of seeking innocent motives for people’s actions. It is probably a good thing that I didn’t get a chance to voice this opinion. The first commercial had not finished before a representative came on the line, thanked me for my time, and said they wouldn’t need me anymore.

The Zimmerman case has become a political football, with rabid partisans on both sides of the political spectrum talking loudly about it. The debate is producing more heat than light. I reiterate the call I made in a previous post that everyone back off, take a deep breath, and calm down. The only thing that the Zimmerman verdict means is that the state failed to carry its burden of proof.


I came out of retirement this past Monday to help a friend handle a case in Bradford County. I enjoyed being back in harness, but at the end of the proceedings, I was sure that I did not want to go back into the full time practice of law. In keeping with my motto of “Get to court early and often,” I got up before sunrise and drove to Starke, arriving before the courthouse was unlocked. One of the first things I noticed was the gigantic statue containing the Ten Commandments. It was a beautiful piece of sculpture, but it caused me to do some thinking. The Ten Commandments, which embodies precepts that are foundational to Western law, are quite properly displayed at courthouses. As I recall, however, the original tablets containing the Ten Commandments were small enough to be carried by hand and be placed in a box about the size of a cedar chest. Exodus 25:10. Moses would have needed a forklift to get this set of commandments down from Mount Sinai. How does this ostentatious display square with Jesus’ injunction in the Sermon on the Mount? Matthew 6:1-6.
Near the Ten Commandments I saw a stone bench covered with engraved quotations. It was the American Atheists’ monument to—what? As near as I could figure, it was not a monument to anything. It was instead a monument against theism in general and Christianity in particular. On one part of the monument they had engraved Biblically ordained punishments for violations of each of the Ten Commandments. These punishments are severe by modern standards, and the message seemed to be “See what troglodytes these Christians are? Who could possibly worship such a God as the one they worship?” At least I think that’s what they were saying. The other message I read into the inscription was “It’s okay to break the Ten Commandments.” I could not help but think that the American Atheists needed a good dose of St. Augustine’s principles of Biblical interpretation (See my previous post on St. Augustine). If they’re going to engage in fair criticism of Christians by quoting scripture, they should at least try to understand proper Christian reading of those scriptures. Instead they look for the most unflattering reading possible, regardless of whether true Christians interpret the scriptures in that way.
The next thing I noticed was that they had also inscribed a number of quotations from our Founding Fathers. The problem is that none of the men they quoted were atheists. John Adams was a Christian, and Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were Deists. In the age of our Founding Fathers, Deism was a sort of watered down form of Christianity which denied the divinity of Christ, but which treasured his moral teachings. In other words, Deists believed there was a god (with a lowercase g). Couldn’t the American Atheists find a quote from a Founding Father who was a card-carrying atheist? Apparently not.
The only actual atheist they quoted was Madelyn O’Hair, founder of their association. Her quote was as follows: “An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that deed must be done instead of prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, war eliminated.” I wondered how many hospitals the American Atheists have built? I couldn’t find any on Google. How many hospitals have Christian churches built? When it comes to doing good deeds, what charities has O’Hair’s American Atheists founded? I couldn’t find any. I did find a post by an atheist who claimed that any charity not founded by a church was an atheist charity. It seems he is an adherent of the motto “who is not against us is with us.” I wonder where he may have gotten such an idea? [Hint: Read Mark 9:40].
I don’t see how O’Hair can fairly characterize Christians as people who wish to be uninvolved in life and to escape into death. Those who truly follow the teachings of Christ are fully involved in life, to include building hospitals and doing acts of benevolence. They do not see their Christianity as an escape into death, but an escape from death.
O’Hair’s last proclamation that an atheist wants to see “disease conquered, poverty vanished, [and] war eliminated” seeks to falsely portray Christians as wanting to see disease rampant, poverty endemic, and war waged. Her statement is both counterfactual and illogical in the extreme.
As a monument against Christianity, the American Atheists’ statue is a monument to hatred and bigotry. They hate theists in general and Christians in particular, and they feel that they are the intellectual and moral superiors of Christians. This is the message of their monument. It has no place in front of a courthouse because it seeks the dis-establishment of religion.
I wish, rather than allowing the American Atheists to erect their monument to hatred, that the Ten Commandments had been taken down. The Ten Commandments should be graven on the hearts of every Christian. Why do they need to be graven on gigantic rocks outside courthouses?


Wednesday, July 17, 2013


When St. Augustine became the Bishop of Hippo in 396, he began to write On Christian Doctrine, a book on how to interpret scripture. The book, which he did not complete until 427, reveals him to be one of the most profound thinkers in the history of Western philosophy.  The cornerstone of his system of Biblical interpretation comes from Matthew 22:35-40:

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  (KJV).
St. Augustine wrote that “Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the divine Scriptures, or any part of them so that it does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbor, does not yet understand it at all.” On Christian Doctrine, 1:XXXVI:40 (D.W. Robertson, Jr., translator).

Building from this cornerstone, St. Augustine worked out a systematic method of reverently interpreting the scriptures which anticipates and refutes many of the jibes of the modern day atheists such as Richard Dawkins and his ilk. St. Augustine's system is not, however, a fundamentalist or literalist system. He welcomed the discoveries of heathen science as an aid in scriptural interpretation, despite the fact that he could read well enough to see that some things in scripture seemed to be contradicted by science.

He taught that these seeming contradictions were a signal to engage in deep, protracted study of the passages so as to try to discern their true meaning. He even gave a set of rules for reconciling these contradictions. If the contradictions could not be reconciled by careful exegesis, then he held that the passage in question should be interpreted figuratively rather than literally. “[W]hen the words taken literally give an absurd meaning, we ought forthwith to inquire whether they may not be used in this or that figurative sense which we are unacquainted with; and in this way many obscure passages have had light thrown upon them.”    On Christian Doctrine, 3:XXX:41 (Marcus Dods, translator).
I just finished the Teaching Company's audio course on the history of Christian theology. In the course I learned that St. Augustine engaged in a study of the book of Genesis which extended over several years and produced a theory of creation which anticipated modern science’s Big Bang theory by over 15 centuries. St. Augustine was a remarkable philosopher and theologian. I have put his study of Genesis on my list of books to read. If it is as well reasoned as On Christian Doctrine, it will be a very interesting read.
You may want to stop reading now, because I am going to say some things which most people will find dull beyond endurance. (Maybe you find what I have already said to be dull beyond endurance).
Interestingly, from my study of the trial of Galileo, it seems that Cardinal Bellarmine used St. Augustine's system of scriptural interpretation to censure Galileo. Bellarmine was quite content to have the sun at the center of the solar system if there were sufficient scientific proof of the proposition, but when Galileo wrote, Tycho's geocentric system for the solar system worked as well as Galileo's heliocentric system. Until Tycho's system could be refuted, it was to be accepted because it conformed more to scripture than Galileo's. Galileo did not live to see his system triumph. When science conclusively proved Galileo's system to be superior to Tycho's, then scripture was reinterpreted in conformity with St. Augustine's teaching in On Christian Doctrine. This is a grossly oversimplified explanation of a complex controversy, but it is far closer to the truth than the grossly oversimplified explanation given by the partisans of the "Science versus Religion" school of thought.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I hope this will be my last post on the Zimmerman case, but I thought it might be helpful if I gave my analysis of: (1) The monumental problems of proof confronted by the prosecution, and (2) Why the trial ended the way it did.

The only full story of what had happened came from the lips of the defendant, and he quite naturally gave an exculpatory statement. There is a line of cases in Florida which holds that if the only version of a killing comes from the defendant’s mouth, that version must be accepted unless the defendant’s statement is either impeached or contradicted by other evidence. Wright v. State, 348 So.2d 26 (1st DCA Fla., 1977).  One way of impeaching a witness’s statement is to show that the witness has made conflicting statements. The prosecution decided to put on all the available statements made by the defendant to demonstrate the conflicts among the statements. This is a reasonable tactic, but it runs a grave risk. Each of the statements is exculpatory. There were peripheral disagreements among the stories, but they all agreed on the main point—Zimmerman said he acted in self-defense. The prosecution thus repeatedly put the defendant’s defense on for him when they put on his statements. This relieved him of the obligation to testify and allowed him to escape cross-examination. I have put on homicide cases this way myself with mixed results. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t.
There is a second way to try such cases. Put on only one statement by the defendant, make the defendant take the stand to testify, and then repeatedly impeach him with the inconsistencies from the other statements. (Some will say that he has no obligation to testify in any event, and I agree that he has no legal obligation. But if his story is not adequately put before the jury by other means, he has a practical obligation to testify). Of course you run the risk of either having the judge dismiss the case because you didn’t put on enough evidence or having the defendant decide you have put on so weak a case that he doesn’t have to testify. I have put on homicide cases using this second method with mixed results.

I had a unique opportunity in one case to try both methods. The first time I tried the case, I put every one of the defendant’s numerous statements into evidence, and in final argument I charted the conflicts among the statements. The defendant didn’t have to testify because I had repeatedly told her story for her. The jury hung. I resolved that on the retrial I would do my best to make the defendant testify. I would do this by putting on only one of her statements, and that would be the statement in which she put herself in the worst light. She would feel compelled to testify, and I would impeach her with the many inconsistencies in her other statements. She testified and I beat her over the head with her inconsistencies. The jury convicted, but it was a close run thing. The second jury was out for an inordinate amount of time and nearly hung again.

The prosecutors had either course of action open to them and had to choose the method they thought most likely to achieve a conviction. Using the first method, they were going to get the case to the jury no matter what. Using the second method, they ran the risk of having the defendant call them, refuse to testify, and losing the case because of weakness of the case. If they had gotten the defendant on the stand the inconsistencies would have been much more effective when brought out on cross-examination, and the jury just might have come to dislike Zimmerman enough to convict him. Calling Zimmerman a liar in final argument based on a chart of inconsistencies from his statements would not have been nearly as effective as calling him a liar based on his stammering and stuttering as you lambasted him with contradictions on cross-examination.

Those are the advantages and disadvantages of the two methods of presenting the case. Which way was best? I would probably have opted for the second method, although I have had cases blow up in my face when I used it. The prosecution team opted for the first. I do not criticize them for having done so. Monday morning quarterbacks may say that the prosecution chose the wrong course of action, but I will not. They had a tough decision between two problematical courses of action, and they chose the one they thought best. I think at the end of the day, they would have been unable to carry their burden of proof using either method.


Angela Corey has been roundly criticized for her handling of the George Zimmerman case. Those on the right side of the political spectrum feel she should never have filed the charge to begin with, and those on the left seem to think she bungled the case. In this blog I will give my analysis of her filing decision.

Before filing any charge the prosecutor must be able to answer three questions: (1) Has a crime been committed? (2) Did the defendant commit it? (3) Can I convince a jury that the defendant committed it? Unless these three questions can be answered in the affirmative, the case should not be filed. Simply knowing the defendant committed the crime is not enough, you must have a reasonable prospect of convicting the defendant at trial. Usually the thorniest of these three questions is the third. Sometimes you have a firm belief in the guilt of the defendant, but you realize that you have a marginal case which may or may not be enough to satisfy a jury. What do you do?

Here is what I think happened. It may not have happened this way, but I know how prosecutors think and this is the process I would have gone through to arrive at a decision to file charges. We begin with Corey satisfying herself that the answer to the first two questions is a resounding “Yes.” She then asks herself the third question and the answer is not “Yes,” it is “Maybe.” She believes that justice cannot be done unless the defendant is convicted and punished. This sort of case is what is known among prosecutors as “a chase which has to be tried.” I have worked through this process several times in my career and arrived at a decision to file charges. In some cases I achieved a conviction, and in others the defendant was acquitted. I well remember the last case of this nature that I lost. The judge consoled me after the trial with the comment “It was a case which had to be tried.” I would not be surprised to find out that someone knowledgeable of the system has consoled Corey with the same words.
If you think Zimmerman was not guilty of murder you may criticize her decision to file as ill-advised, but there is no ground for criticizing it as improperly motivated. Corey foresaw the firestorm of criticism which would come in the wake of an acquittal. Corey knew that a no-file decision would have minimized the flack. Facing such a situation and having an opportunity to minimize damage with a no-file, her decision to file charges was a courageous act.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


I turned off my cellphone this morning because I was busy doing some investigation and research on a pressing legal issue. After attending to that chore, I turned my cellphone back on and saw several messages from various news agencies wanting a comment on the Zimmerman verdict. Of course, by the time I saw the messages, the agencies had gotten their comments from other sources. It's just as well, because I have little to say about the verdict that I didn't say in my previous post while the jury was still out. I do have a comment or two, though.

Nobody should be upset that Zimmerman got acquitted. Our court system recognizes that we live in an imperfect world and we can seldom do perfect justice. Since fallible humans are prone to error, we designed our justice system to insure (as much as humanly possible) that when those errors are made, they will be to acquit the guilty rather than convict the innocent. I have seen many patently guilty people freed by juries because they believed they had a reasonable doubt. It is certainly disappointing, and I still occasionally feel anguish about some cases where juries acquitted evil men who had committed horrific crimes. But that's the nature of our criminal justice system, and any innocent person charged with a crime has reason to be glad the system is set up that way.

Because of how the system is set up, we can not say that the Zimmerman verdict was the product of prejudice--nor can we say the verdict proves Zimmerman innocent. We can say that the jury seems to have thoroughly studied the evidence, and we can say that they appear to have carefully weighed the law and the evidence. They asked for clarification of the manslaughter instruction and were told to ask a specific question. If normal procedures were followed, they had a copy of the instructions in the jury room with them and to read and try to interpret. Rather than asking a specific question, they worked on through to their verdict. This is not unusual. I have seen it happen many times.

They did their best, they came back with a verdict. We can ask no more of them and we should not attribute ill will to them. I do not care to elaborate, but I have seen verdicts returned which I sincerely believed were motivated by malice. In my experience, these malice-motivated verdicts are returned quickly. The length of deliberations, the apparent careful attention to the exhibits, and the request for clarification of the manslaughter instruction all indicate that the jury was trying to do the right thing. If you are a Zimmerman fan, you will think they did the right thing. If you're no Zimmerman fan, you have a right to think they made a mistake. There is, however, no evidence that they acted from any motivation other than the desire to try to do the right thing.

Friday, July 12, 2013


I write this post at 11:00 PM on Friday, July 12, and the Zimmerman jury has suspended deliberations until tomorrow. I have been asked by several media persons what I think the jury will do. My answer has uniformly been "They will acquit, convict, or hang." I gave up predicting jury verdicts long ago. One media person did talk me into saying that I thought that a conviction as charged of second degree murder was the least likely verdict, and that it was a tossup whether the jury would convict of manslaughter or acquit. Observers of the trial, no matter which side they prefer, may have grounds to be disappointed by whatever verdict the jury returns, but they should not be surprised.

I have also been asked several times  about the enduring significance of the Zimmerman case. What answers will the trial provide about race relations, gun control, concealed carry permits, and stand your ground laws? Criminal trials are not designed to provide these kinds of answers. Despite the dogma that “the very nature of a trial [is] a search for truth” [Nix v. Whiteside, 475 U.S. 157, 166, 106 S.Ct. 988, 994, 89 L.Ed.2d 123 (1986)] criminal trials don’t even do a good job of discovering the truth. 

A properly conducted criminal trial is more a test of proof than a search for truth. It is the prosecutor’s job to decide what she believes the truth to be and then go into court and try to establish that truth beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense attorney’s job is to test that proof by subjecting it to rigid scrutiny.

When the system works properly and the state proves a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, we can have a high degree of certainty that the defendant is truly guilty. Given the asymmetrical burdens of proof in a criminal trial (the defendant need not prove anything), we cannot say with any degree of certainty that someone who has been acquitted is truly innocent. In order to insure (as much as humanly possible) that the innocent go free, we tolerate a system which often allows the guilty escape punishment because of a failure of proof. The defense attorney who ethically performs her job of holding the prosecution to its burden of proof performs a noble and necessary task, even when she helps a criminal escape punishment. And since we designed the criminal justice system to work that way, we shouldn’t get excited about the possibility that a guilty person may “get away” with committing a crime.

To summarize: Can a criminal trial answer any of the great questions of the day? No. A criminal trial can answer one question and one question only—“has the state proved the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?” What the coverage of the Zimmerman/Martin case needs is for everyone to back off, take a deep breath, calm down, and not try to make the trial settle any questions other than the question whether the state has carried its burden of proof.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


My wife, Lane, is an avid gardener, and our back yard is alive with colors in the summertime. A few weeks ago my daughter Laura, who lives in Ohio, became very sick and Lane went to Ohio to act as a nurse. This left me in charge of watering the flowers. Each day I emailed Laura and Lane a photo of one of the flowers in our yard. I'n no photographer, but the flowers were so pretty it was hard to botch the photos. I think my favorite photo is the one I've posted with this blog. Don't ask me the name of the flower. I have trouble telling the difference between sunflowers and tulips.


Most public debates in America produce more heat than light. One of the most heated of those debates is the debate known as "Science versus Religion." The basic tenet of the extreme advocates for "science" is that science is not only incompatible with religion, science has proven religion to be false. Some descriptions of the debate actually presuppose the answer given by the extreme advocates of science. E.g. "Faith versus Reason" (presupposing that those who have faith are unreasonable). My favorite warped description is "Brights versus Dims." This presupposes that those who advocate for a Godless science are "bright" while those who believe in God are "dim." Of course, such a dichotomy classifies Rene Descartes, Galileo, Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Augustine of Hippo, and Thomas Aquinas, to name a few, as intellectually challenged.

Science cannot disprove religion. The scientific method presupposes that all phenomena have natural explanations. Science therefore refuses to consider supernatural explanations. It is impossible to disprove what you refuse to consider. What science can do, however, is disprove specific historical and scientific facts which have been taken as articles of faith by certain religions. E.g. The science of botany has shown that the mustard seed is not the smallest seed. (See Mark 4:31).

The core belief of monotheistic religions (that there is a God who created the Universe) cannot, however, be disproved by science. The belief is actually irrelevant to the scientific method for the reason already stated: Science refuses to consider supernatural explanations for anything.

Naturalism, the refusal to consider supernatural explanations, comes in two flavors--methodological and philosophical. Methodological naturalism recognizes the possibility of supernatural explanations but refuses to use them because "God did it" isn't a very satisfactory explanation for questions like "How does an internal combustion engine work?" Many scientists are both theists and methodological naturalists. Philosophical naturalism denies the existence of God and refuses to recognize the possibility of supernatural explanations. Philosophical naturalism is therefore basically atheistic.

The battle is therefore not between science and religion but between religion and those philosophical naturalists who seek to employ science as a weapon against religion.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Lane and I were preparing to go to Illinois to visit the courtroom where Lincoln tried his famous Moonlight Murder case, which is better known as the Almanac Trial. Lane wasn't nearly as interested in seeing the courtroom as I, but she likes to travel and thinks we don't travel enough. It now looks as though we're not going to be able to go. The upcoming execution which is scheduled for tomorrow is  likely to  be put off, possibly until next week. I am scheduled to be an official witness, and as one of the  prosecutors on the case, I feel duty bound to see it through to the end.

I'm probably not missing much by not going to the courtroom. I've taken a virtual tour of the courtroom online. But you always gain insight by visiting the "scene of the crime." I'm now on the twelfth draft of my book on the trial, and I'm pretty well finished except for proofreading. Of the books which I have written, I enjoyed writing this one the most, and this is the book on which I have received the most cordial reception from experts in the field. There seems to be a collegiality among Lincoln scholars which is lacking in some of the other fields I've researched. Experts in other fields have been relatively cool toward me, but Lincoln experts have been both friendly and helpful. 

I'm toying with the idea of writing a book entitled "Lincoln for the Defense: The Criminal Trial Practice of Our Sixteenth President," but that project will have to wait on the completion of a book on the Lindbergh  Kidnapping Case which I am helping a colleague to write. 

Monday, July 8, 2013


Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels are spinning in their graves. The Lone Ranger was a campy, impossibly heroic TV figure from early twentieth century radio and TV. He and his faithful Indian friend Tonto were played enthusiastically by the two aforementioned actors. Moore so identified with the role that he had trouble letting go of it when the series ended. The series sought to instill moral virtue in the children who watched and listened to the stories, and it did a fair job of doing just that despite the fact that modern audiences will probably find the stories laughable. Although I was a huge Lone Ranger fan as a child, I find the shows hard to watch today.

The latest installment in the Lone Ranger franchise (which would be more appropriately titled “Tonto and the Stupid White Man”) flopped at the box office this past week, and deservedly so. Because it would be tedious to enumerate everything which is wrong with the movie, I will limit myself to two critiques.

First: The movie can’t decide what it wants to be. Does it want to be realistic, with its dirty cowboys, or fantastic, with its impossible special effects. Galloping a horse from car to car atop a speeding train? Preposterous. All fiction requires a certain amount of willing suspension of disbelief, but this movie demands large doses of willing suspension of sanity. Does it want to be funny, with an eccentric, wisecracking Tonto, or does it want to be disgusting, with a cannibal for a villain? How can the Lone Ranger go from a bumbling nincompoop with an aversion to guns one minute to a sure-shot master horseman and gunfighter the next?

Second: The movie seems to channel every postmodern media cliché in the book. We have already mentioned that the hero, whom Tonto repeatedly calls a “stupid white man,” is a bumbling nincompoop. Tonto himself, although somewhat more competent than the Lone Ranger, is a raving lunatic. The male nincompoop appears to be the new comedic stereotype (e.g. Ray Barone and Tim the Tool Man Taylor who must continually be whipped into shape by their more intelligent wives). The stereotyping of men goes a little further than the good-guy nincompoop. The movie also follows the postmodern stereotype for villains. The careful (and not-so-careful) observer cannot help but notice that all the competent white males in the movie are villains (the cannibal outlaw, the robber baron railroad man, the General Custer clone who needlessly slaughters innocent Indians). The exception which proves this rule is the Lone Ranger’s competent brother, who might be considered heroic if you overlook the fact that his neglect of wife and child is borderline criminal.

The problem with such stereotyping has been loudly trumpeted in the case of fashion models. We see nothing but incredibly thin women as fashion models and we expect all women to be incredibly thin. Women wind up jeopardizing their health by trying to be too thin. We see men portrayed as nothing but nincompoops or villains on television and in the movies, and sooner or later people start believing that all men are either nincompoops or villains.  I’m willing to bet that many foreigners who digest a steady dose of American media actually believe that American men are all villainous nitwits.
Having said all this, I will admit that I found the movie mildly amusing. Save your money, however, and wait until it comes out on Netflix and pay-per-view to watch it.