In examining the current American obsession with crime and punishment, Kaminer (I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional, 1992, etc.) achieves a difficult feat. While mentioning the Menendez brothers, Lorena Bobbitt, the L.A. riots, and O.J., she actually manages to be thoughtful. Kaminer argues that, whether in the courtroom or the talk-show studio, the way we talk about guilt and responsibility has strayed far from common sense. ``Our notions of accountability are confused in part because we have immodest expectations of justice. We want it to be clear and final and true. We want people to be either victims or victimizers, without recognizing that many of us are both.'' She also makes a strong case that those willing to excuse acts of violence on the grounds of prior victimization have more in common than they would like to think with those who want to lock 'em all up and throw away the key. ``We may deplore these cases when they frighten us, but we revel in them when they make us feel avenged.''