The world is full of terrible things, things like ugly people and responsibility and consequences. Fortunately, money and fame have always acted as a force field against these afflictions. Hundred dollar bills work like a Kevlar vest against the bullets of hardship, provided hardship doesn’t decide to shoot you in the head. In the spirit of Zero Accountability, the following is a timeline of five wealthy or renowned people throughout history so far removed from responsibility that they were able to commit horrible crimes and then earn more wealth and renown out of unapologetically bragging about them.
#5. CasanovaCrime: Incest
Right around the time the American colonies were throwing tea into the bay and complaining about taxation without representation, Giacomo Casanova was wrapping up a self-guided sex tour around Europe. Between 1746 and 1774 he had sex with more woman than you have Facebook friends. He bounced back and forth between major cities during an age when most people rarely moved more than fifty miles from where they were born, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Casanova would end up sleeping with at least one person in this family tree. Unfortunately, that one person happened to be his daughter.
When Casanova was thirty-five he accidentally seduced his own 17-year-old daughter, Leonilda. He even proposed marriage to her but the mother, Donna Lucrezia revealed that Casanova was the girl’s father before the two could marry. In a situation where most people would likely rip their eyes from the sockets, Casanova took it on the chin. He calmly rescinded the proposition of marriage and proposed a threesome instead. A big family threesome. Just so we’re all on the same page, Casanova’s solution to the problem was to fight incest with more incest.
Look Giacomo, sex is not that answer to everything.Zero Accountability Moment
In 1789, Casanova wrote Histoire de ma vie (History of My Life) which is a twelve volume, 3500 page collection, all primarily focused on his sexual conquests. Included in the autobiography, is the story of Leonilda. He explains the threesome he shared between her and her mother in shameless detail.
"…On the other side of the bed [Leonilda] undresses completely and gets in next to her, saying that as her father I was at liberty to see all my handiwork. Her mother is proud of her, she praises her, and she rejoices to see that I find her beautiful. It sufficed her that she was in the middle and that it was only upon her that I extinguished the fire with which she saw that I was burning. Leonilda's curiosity delighted me to the soul.
…Moved to pity, Leonilda sends her mother's little soul on its flight with one hand and with the other puts a white handkerchief under her gushing father."
#4. Soren KierkegaardCrime: Statutory Rape
Arguably the pioneer of existential philosophy in the nineteenth century, Soren Kierkegaard is widely known for his analyses of religion and the human condition. He is considerably less known for seducing a child. Kierkegaard was twenty-four when he met fourteen-year-old, Regine Olsen and decided it would be in everyone’s best interest if he had sex with her.
There’s something about Olsens.
To his credit, he wasn’t interested in only, “Hitting and quitting that” (a common 19th century saying). Kierkegaard wanted to develop a monogamous relationship with Olsen, so monogamous in fact that she would never be able to love anyone else but him.
Like most teenagers, Regine Olsen was fairly impressionable. Kierkegaard became a close friend of the family and had a subtle hand in influencing her taste in art and culture while a less than subtle hand worked furiously under her dress. For two years Kierkegaard contributed to shaping her into a woman who couldn’t possibly fall in love with anybody other than him until naturally, she did just that. Kierkegaard then proposed when she was eighteen and then for no clear reason other than to screw her up a little more, he called off the engagement after a year leaving Olsen devastated and hopeless.
“I made you rabbit, Soren.”Zero Accountability Moment
Six years after breaking the engagement Soren Kierkegaard wrote The Seducer’s Diary in which the listless and bored protagonist infuses himself into the life of a young girl with the intention of manipulating her into falling in love. He proceeds to influence every aspect of her taste until she gives herself entirely to him right before he leaves her. The story is so thinly veiled that it’s a wonder Kierkegaard even bothered to change the names, and it reads like someone insisting that the world sit up and take notice of this amazingly heartless feat.
#3. Louis AlthusserCrime: Strangling His Wife
Socrates once said, “By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll be happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.” No one took this advice more literally than Louis Althusser. A Structural Marxist philosopher from the early 20th century, he remains a favorite topic among literary critics and philosophy majors, or as you know them, those assholes in college-town bars with the tweed jackets and the gravitas beards. In fact, the only thing this group of dilettantes likes more than correcting people who pronounce “Althusser” wrong is ignoring the fact that he strangled his goddamn wife.
“You’re dwelling on the corporal while I’m trying to engage you in the metaphysical, dude.”
It’s common for couples to offer one another massages after tough days. It is considerably less common for these massages to be issued from the front, exclusively on the neck and with enough force to crush a windpipe. Still, that’s exactly what Althusser claimed occurred on November 16th of 1980. He explained that he was giving his wife (who assumedly was made entirely out of eggshells) a front-neck-rubdown when she stopped moving. While the neck is a vulnerable part of the body, generally a person being strangled will indicate that he/she is unhappy with the situation, especially while face to face with the person doing the strangling.
Zero Accountability Moment
Althusser never stood trial for the crime, instead he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital where he wrote L'Avenir diure Longtemps (The Future Lasts Forever). The book is a memoir that recounts the most important moments in his life, including cherished childhood experiences and also that one time he murdered his wife. He writes,
“I pressed my thumbs into the hollow at the top of the breastbone and then, still pressing, slowly moved them both, one to the left, the other to the right, up towards her ears where the flesh was hard. I continued massaging her in a V-Shape. The muscles in my forearms began to feel very tired… Hlne’s face was calm and motionless; her eyes were open and staring at the ceiling.”
#2. Amy FisherAttempted Murder
Long Island is known best for two things: its ice tea and Amy Fisher, both of which are bad for you and rely heavily on duplicity. Amy Fisher started a relationship with the mechanic Joey Buttafuoco in 1992 after crashing her parents’ car and asking Buttafuoco to work on it without telling anyone. What should have been an ordinary setup for softcore porn launched to international fame because Amy was underage, Buttafuoco was nineteen years her senior and because Amy then shot his wife. Fisher drove to the Buttafuoco house one night in May and shot Mary Jo Buttafuoco in the head, but poorly because she survived. The story made headlines across the country, partially because of the love triangle, and partially because Buttafuoco is a hilarious name. Amy spent three years in prison for attempted murder and Joey Buttafuoco also did time for statutory rape.
Zero Accountability Moment
After her prison sentence, Amy was released and confused why she wasn’t famous anymore. In an effort to redeem her popularity, or at least remind people she existed, Fisher wrote a book about the whole experience called If I Knew Then…. The autobiography leaked intimate details about her relationship with Joey. The book was popular for around a week and then she faded into obscurity again.
Out of desperation to stay relevant, Fisher went on talk shows to meet with the Buttafuoco’s again. She also leaked a sex tape and started a career as a stripper where she promised to donate some of her tips to Haiti relief. All of these flickers in her dark life were attempts to get the world to look at her again and remember that she was once that little girl who shot that nice woman in the head.
#1. O.J. SimpsonMore Wife Killing
It would be wrong to build a list of celebrity crimes without consequences and not include O.J. Simpson. The football hall of famer allegedly stabbed his wife and Ron Goldman to death in 1994, and when I say “allegedly” I mean “unquestionably.” Simpson was acquitted of the murder charges in a criminal trial confirming once and for all that in a doubles match with evidence and motive vs. fame and money, evidence and motive will always lose miserably.
And lose by way of stabbing
After the trial, O.J. Simpson promised to launch a tireless man-hunt for the real killer across golf courses all over the country. So far, his findings have been inconclusive at best.
Zero Accountability Moment
In 2006 O.J. Simpson tried to prove that crime does, in fact, pay by writing a book entitled, If I Did It where he hypothesizes how the murders might have happened if he had done it. The insane plan to cash in on the death of his ex-wife and her friend left the entire country incredulous. No one knew if he was bragging about what he had done, or bragging that if he would have had the chance, he would have done it ten times better than the actual killer. Just about everyone suspected that book would never see the light of day, but Goldman’s family received the rights to the story to satisfy an unpaid civil judgment. They published it with a new title, If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer. The "If" in the title was emphasized a little less than Simpson might have wished ...
Too on the nose?
O.J. Simpson never made any money from his story. Ironically, the book Simpson hoped would simultaneously bring him more wealth and fame proved that a man capable of killing two people with a knife, was completely incapable of killing two birds with one stone.