Goetz’s victims — sympathy for thenunderdog—was therefore automatic.nMoreover, under New York’s verynstrict gun-control laws, Goetz had nonright to own a weapon at all. AndnGoetz himself soon admitted thatnthere was no specific life-threateningngesture that had caused him to haulnout his revolver — just “the generalnsituation” he had found himself facingnin the subway car.nSo what gave him the right to startnblasting away with a lethal weapon henhad no right to own in the first place?nWas he really a psycho — a deeplyndisturbed personality elevated to celebritynstatus by a shallow New Yorknpress? Or had he shot his victimsnsimply because he was afraid of blacks?nThese soon became the received opinionsnin certain elevated intellectualncircles. With absolute certainty, a leftwingnsociology professor at NYU toldnan interviewer: “This isn’t a case ofnself-defense. Society feels that blacksnand Hispanics are threatening. Goetznwas a member of the white middlenclass. He had a built-in hostility.” Or asnthe famous radical lawyer WilliamnKunstler put it in a satirical poem:n”Bernhard Hugo Goetz, stimulated bynimagined threats, let bullets raise himnfrom obscurity …”nThat was the second myth.nLillian Rubin is a major promoter ofnthis second mythic tradition. She’s nonleft-wing sociology prof, nor a radicalnlawyer: no, she’s a chic San Francisconpsychotherapist. In Quiet Rage, shensets out to probe the deep psychologicalnreasons why Bernhard Goetz mightnhave started shooting a gun in thatnsubway car in December 1984. Shenfinds the answer in childhood traumas.nGoetz’s father was a harsh Germanicntype who never gave Bernhard (orn”Bernie,” as Rubin insists on callingnhim) the love he needed. Goetz’snmother was little help, sympathetic tonthe child but deferring to the father innall things. The result was an insecure,nwithdrawn, and fundamentally antisocialnand hostile child and adult: hungrynfor love, perhaps, but willful and stubbornlyndetermined not to let anyonenstep on him. This is part of Goetz’sn”quiet rage” at the world — a rage thatnexploded in that subway car.nBut there’s more. When Bernhardnwas 12 years old, two male teenagersnaccused his father of sexually molest­ning them. In exchange for sexual favors,none of the teenagers claimed,nGoetz senior offered him five dollars.nThe scandal rocked the small upstatenNew York town where the Goetz familynlived and where the father wasnalready hated as an unscrupulous realnestate developer. Bernhard sat all thenway through the trial but was then sentnoff to boarding school in Switzerland,nto be away from the embarrassingnpublicity. Rubin suggests that the scandal,nand what Bernhard perceived asnhis subsequent “expulsion” from thenfamily, had a deep traumatic impact onnthe 12-year-old. No doubt it did. But,nRubin says, the business about “thenfive dollars” is actually the key to whatnhappened in the subway in Decembern1984: for what led Goetz to reach fornhis gun was, precisely, a request fromnone of the black teenagers (TroynGanty) for five dollars.nThese were, Rubin suggests, magicnwords. They brought the long-termnrage inside Bernhard Goetz to thenboiling point. Goetz senior had recentlyndied. His death allowed Bernhard tonavenge both his (consciously) idealizednfather and the terrible trauma he himselfnhad suffered 25 years before, onnjust the type of punk kids who hadncaused all the original trouble. But it’snbest just to quote Rubin here:nBernhard William Goetz diednin September 1984. Threenshort months later, his son andnnamesake, mourning a lossnthat, in fact, had happened anquarter century earlier, walkedninto a subway train carrying anloaded gun and, at the firstnprovocation, let loose with anbarrage of bullets—bulletsnaimed at targets that existed asnmuch in his past as in thenpresent. . . . These shots werenmeant to avenge his father andnto deliver retribution for hisnown suffering as well. Thenconjunction of events isnundeniable.n”Undeniable”! As George Orwellnonce said, only an intellectual wouldnbelieve this. Rubin has never personallynmet Goetz, never personally interviewednhim. She simply has no way ofnknowing if “the five dollars” held anprominent place (consciously or unconsciously)nin his memory of thennntraumatic trial of 1961. This is justnoff-the-cuff psychologizing from 3,000nmiles away. In any case, besides thenfamous “five dollar” offer by Goetznsenior to his boyfriend, there was also an”ten dollar” offer, which was perhapsneven more important, involving actsneven more shocking to 1961 upstatenNew York. Rubin passes quickly overnthis last fact. But it means that “the fivendollars” was not a unique and standoutnpart of the trial testimony. Rather, itnwas simply part (and not the mostnimportant part) of Goetz’s father’s ongoingnbribes to boys he found attractive.nYet the less prominent “the fivendollars” was at the 1961 trial, the lessnlikely it is that Troy Canty spoke anyn”magic words.”nWith enough careful attention tonconcrete details, and a sensitive andnbalanced application of theory, it isnpossible sometimes to do responsiblenpsychohistory. But Lillian Rubin’sn”Five Dollar Solution” is not an examplenof this. On the contrary, it’s thensort of thing that has given psychohistoryna bad name: It’s a rashnspeculation, based on a single (and notnuncommon) coincidence, presentednwith the total certainty of the secondrater.nWorse, in this case the speculationnis in the service of a definite andnbiased ideological agenda. For the virtuenof “The Five Dollar Theory” fornRubin is, of course, that it absolves thenfour black youths of any active role innwhat happened to them on the subway:nThey were merely symbolic victims,nwho unfortunately tripped then”trap” in Bernhard Goetz that (supposedly)nhad been set way back inn1961. In other words, according ton”The Five Dollar Theory,” Goetznattacked four basically innocent andninoffensive teenagers because one ofnthem happened to say something thatnset off Goetz’s own deep-seated, longpreparednpsychosis. As Rubin presentsnit, Goetz was then raised to the statusnof a hero by a venal and unthinkingnNew York press, and by a white publicnthat was racist at heart. Hence, thensubtitle of her book: A Time of Madness.nThe reference is both to thenalleged insanity of Bernhard Goetznand to American society in general.nGiven this view of things, it’s not sonsurprising that under a facade of objectiven”psychological analysis,” in realitynRubin never gives Bernhard Goetz anMARCH 1988 / 27n