[UPDATE: Toole gets 30 months in Club Fed. Maybe during his first strip search, someone will find more reasons why his drinking habit causes him to steal, lie and cheat. He does seem to pull these things directly out of his ass: Toole Gets Prison Time]
“With all due respect, the statement you made in the courtroom regarding Mike’s attendance at an AA meeting that, ‘it didn’t work’, was not only insensitive and bitingly sarcastic, but it was also a person affront to all those who battle addictions. If only it was that easy – that people receive counseling or attend an AA meeting or two and they are cured. But, we know, Judge Conaboy, that this is simply not true. As I noted before, there sadly is no cure for alcoholism and, therefore, sobriety is a lifelong struggle….”
– Sharon Palushock, MD
The above quote was written by Michael Toole’s sister-in-law, in a character reference letter to Richard Conaboy, the judge who will soon sentence Toole – a former judge himself, who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. She is scolding the good judge for making a comment on the efficacy of Toole’s treatment program, after he was caught stalking the key witness in his case; and arguing it was okay, because he happened to have done it on the way from an AA meeting.
I got a chuckle out of this for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that this woman is chastising the guy whose very ass she should be kissing. She is also, in classic AA form, equating sobriety with ethics – and is, in fact, marrying the two. Nothing in the court record implied that Toole was drunk while he was stalking the witness. All that was acknowledged was that he was following a witness around against specific court instructions. By this woman’s logic, Toole should be absolved from breaking the law because he is an alkie, which was why he was stalking this witness in the first place. It’s all part of the disease, you see.
My guess is what the judge was making reference to when he said, “it isn’t working,” is the part of the AA program that promises more than abstinence. Like being able to “handle situations which used to baffle us.” If the old Michael Toole was a morally bankrupt guy who worked the legal system to his personal favor (which he was, as this is what he is being sentenced for in the first place), then the new AA version of him should be expected to obey the rules of law and the court, and know not to harass the key witness in his trial. The judge was not speaking about Toole’s ability to abstain from alcohol. He was referring to his inability to do “the next right thing.”
This is a neat trick AAs often play when they pull the abuse excuse. By defining sobriety as more than abstaining from alcohol, and placing abstinence in the same package as morality, they can plea the idea that their dastardly deeds aren’t their fault, but are part of their drinking problem. In this reference letter, this woman is setting her brother-in-law up for a lifetime of absolution, by declaring alcoholism as a disease that cannot be cured. It’s perfect! Stalk a witness? It ain’t my fault. Break conditions of parole? Sorry, I’m an alcoholic. It’s a life-long, day-at-a-time struggle, ya know. With AA’s definition of sobriety, one will always be able to say, “I’m sorry, I was drunk at the time.”