Sentenced to AA

Recently, a guy was shot to death while trying to rob an AA group in South Carolina. The shooter was an AA old-timer. An attorney who has remained sober since 1981, who was lawfully carrying a concealed weapon, and I think rightfully defending himself. The first question that came to my mind was why this AAer felt he needed to carry a gun to that meeting in the first place. It seems to me that if God helping this guy fix up his character flaws and stay away from the sauce, the least he could do was protect these steppers from being shot in a meeting. Couldn’t he have just added “please don’t let me get shot today” to his prayer and meditation?

This story, along with the story the FTG postedgot me thinking about what type of people attend AA meetings. Most people I know in AA are nice folks, even those zealots who have drank the religious kool-aid. AA’s policy is that they will accept any person who has a desire to quit drinking, which really should be amended to include the many AAers who have been ordered by the courts to attend. AA is free, so it costs nothing to send a person convicted of a crime to AA – at least not in terms of fees. It does cost in terms it being ineffective, and as a result those who attend to receive treatment wind up back where they started, and back in the court system. The revolving door of AA costs society an unthinkable amount of money.

Most AA meetings will include those who are not there by choice, but are there to get their “cards signed” as proof that they attended, and fufilled their sentencing requirement. One might assume these consist mostly of those convicted of impaired driving, but that isn’t the case. AA has become a dumping ground for criminals of every stripe, from wife beaters to off duty cops who beat the hell out of a fireman. Often, AA is used as pre-sentencing condition to prove to the court that a defendant is serious about getting help, as with this man who raped a 13 year old girl. The abuse excuse is alive an well in the courts, and AA has become the catch-all anecdote to just about any crime. Drunk drivers, wife beaters, muggers, robbers and a host of others have all found their absolution in AA. Blame it on the booze and you are almost certain of lessening your accountability, but you will ironically be forced to attend AA, who will hold you accountable for everything.

Some of the old-timers are among these scoundrals who were sentenced to AA and found religion. With time, these people become the leaders of various AA chapters. People who have failed at everything in their lives can thrive in AA. They become the sponsors, the arm twisters, the 13th steppers of the group. People who would never be allowed a license to become a therapist are counted among those who manipulate and control the lives of others. One might also think that there is shame in being sentenced to AA, but that is not always the case. Drunkalogs among the old-timers often become a pissing match as to who was the biggest scumbag before they found the religion of AA. This is when I have to actually agree with one AA slogan – “Take the alcohol out an asshole, and you still have an asshole”.

I don’t own a gun, and I’m not a big gun guy – but I don’t blame this guy for packing heat in his meeting. With AA, you never know who you might run into.

Sentenced to AA

  • AnnaZed

    Nice piece, I'm not so sure about this bit though:

    "Blame it on the booze and you are almost certain of lessening your accountability, but you will ironically be forced to attend AA, who will hold you accountable for everything."

    It seems to me that one of the cornerstones, maybe the appeal, of AA is that the disease model pretty much frees the member from any real feelings of accountability. Not only do they get that valuable get-out-of-jail-free card (and that is what the court cards are) but they get a quick course in why everything isn't really their fault, thus the court ordered attendee acquires a far more valuable psychological pass on criminal behaviors and accountability.

    There is a lot of crap mouthed in AA about amends and being honest with yourself, but when you touch on the central white-hot issue of the drinking itself and the behaviors that it engendered; the disease flag flies up and the member can breath a sigh of relief (not his fault, he was sick). I attended AA with a very popular guy who called himself "Wild Bill" and fashioned himself with leather vest, cowboy hat, imperial beard and hairstyle to resemble the famous gunslinger. His drunk-a-logs were epic and rivaled only by his wince-inducing piety and pseudo-intellectual parcing of the Big Book (certainly the only book he ad ever read in his life). My old sponsor used to get all post-menopausal lonely lady tittery around him and just adored him.

    He once "shared" with me outside of a meeting about a drunken episode where he plowed his car into a line of cyclists on a highway and drove away leaving them for dead. I am a cyclist, not a person who's licesense has been taken away who rides a bike, an actual cyclist ~ so I guess that the sight of me and my bike made the "incident" pop into his mind. I was so stunned, and newly sober at about a few months, so in thrall to AA that I just couldn't react. Later I asked my sponsor about this and she said that (at 8 years sober) Wild Bill was "working on it" and would one day make amends for this "incident." What amends? like jail time? I think that unlikely.

    • zydeco

      “My old sponsor used to get all post-menopausal lonely lady tittery around him and just adored him.”
      That's the best line. I (sadly) can relate to that. But here's hope in reading all these posts Cheers

  • friendthegirl

    Hi Anna, This cracked me up: "My old sponsor used to get all post-menopausal lonely lady tittery around him and just adored him."

    Speaking of accountability, this is a phrase I've had a bellyful of: "I'm an alcoholic, so…." (or "We are alcoholics, so…")

    And what comes after "so" is usually a negative characteristic, like "…so I'm impulsive" ; "…so I'm impatient" etc.

  • H

    There is a symbiosis between the authorities and AA. The authoritities get a place to send drunkies and AA gets someone to occupy a chair at meetings. And, it allows both to pretend to take action. Very useful. And, cost free to both.

  • sherwoode

    Oh Yes,in AA you can be a failure in all areas of your life,but if you stay sober and get several years you automatically become a marriage counselor,a therapist, a minister, the all knowing one.Old timers give all kinds of professional advise,running peoples lives and indoctrinating them into the cult.So many old timers use newcomers in every way they possibly can use them.

  • AnnaZed

    "…many old timers use newcomers in every way they possibly can use them."

    In an AA group that I belonged to there is a particularly pathetic old lizard (he's still there) called Santa due to his vague bearded resemblance to the image of Saint Nicklaus. He is childish and attention seeking in the meetings that he dominates like an unruly child (talking, passing notes, telling jokes, pounding the table, fucking around with his hearing devices ~ it's pretty clear that he can't actually HEAR anyone but himself and he doesn't seem to care about that, interrupting, getting up and wandering around the room); then he launches into what could only be called sermons for his credulous faithful. Even with my eyes crossed and my face nearly to my knees at just days sober I could tell this asshole was full of shit.

    His sponsees are called "elves" but are, of course, grown men. He keeps a little posse of these men (about 5 at any given time, many for years on end) and works them through their steps and such. That would be bad enough, but he runs these men's lives like a nosy maiden auntie in antebellum Georgia might micromanage virgin maidens. He runs his sponsorship game like a fey teen aged girl with the constant threat of withdrawal of his affection and attention. Each sponsor contract is "renewed" every MONTH so the elf must toe the line or risk being "fired" as an AA slave/dog every four weeks.

    He is in their shit every way that you can be in anyone's shit. They begin every day calling him at an appointed hour and minute, variations of even five minutes are grounds for reprimand. They run endless errands for him (he is disabled and can not drive). They pick him up and drive him everywhere he wants to go. They are summoned for mind melting sessions with him "one on one" every Sunday. Particularly grotesque is the experience of seeing this obviously long post-sexual person dishing out dating advice to these sad lonely men (who are required to spend every Saturday night with him at his meeting and "meeting after the meeting" ~ it's a 5 hour AA session all centered on him, he loves it). Not surprisingly these men are not major woman magnets, but they don't seem to be allowed to even date for very long ~ there is always something wrong with the women and they return to spending their weekends with Santa. I detected that the vicarious experience of the elves recounting their sex lives to him has a sick appeal for this creep and that he was very invested in separating the men from their women or any woman who might conceivably love or even like them.

    As I got to know him I came to see how staggeringly dysfunctional and disturbed his whole set-up actually is. Of course, he's retired. So, he's got nothing but time to manipulate and dominate these poor shaken men who have emerged from years of profound alcohol abuse, drug abuse and drink dependence and simply transferred control of their lives to him. He's fond of talking about what a big mover and shaker he once was (a car salesman!) and tells a sad, small, bald and obvious lie about once having owned a Maserati car. Never in a million fucking years did this sad looser who lives in a garage behind his wife's mother's house in a slum own that car, never. So much for rigorous honesty. Besides, he's functionally illiterate. I've seen him try to write a simple sentence. The level is around late grammar school with learning disabled style errors (sorry, but that's what I observed, I would feel sorry for him if he wasn't running a sort of Heart of Darkness style End of Days cult around himself ~ obey Santa or die). the Big Book is the only thing this cretin has ever read, of that I am certain. Yet, having twenty years or so sober (or so he says) he is a king in AA. A God really, worshiped, admired, obeyed. It's disgusting.

    • friendthegirl

      Oh god, Anna. I swear, if someone made a movie about Santa and his elves, no one would be able to suspend their disbelief. Wouldn't it be great, though? Something along the lines of Trekkies?