The Twinkie Defense, 30 Years Later

Dan White, and the pain that he caused when he assassinated Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk almost exactly 30 years ago, will never be one of those subjects about which you can joke, especially here in San Francisco.

But there was some humor — or at least an eyebrow raise — to be coaxed out of that tragedy. In part, that includes the ridiculous “Twinkie defense.” If you can get through the bevvy of video ads lodged between paragraphs, Pat Murphy’s San Francisco Sentinel has a good background piece on the Twinkie defense, germane again now that Hostess has released a 100-calorie pack of Twinkies.

In short, White argued at trial that he had been depressed, and as evidence of his distressed mental state, pointed out the copious amount of junk food, including Twinkies, he had been consuming of late. From the Sentinel;

In the press, White’s consumption of sugary junk food was widely misreported; the press reported as though White claimed that sugar in the food had caused (rather than reflected) his state of depression. White’s defense was labeled “the Twinkie Defense.”

The jury found White guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than first degree murder.

Alright, so that last part’s not too funny, but the fact that one of the biggest villains in San Francisco history went to court with a strategy known as the Twinkie defense, deserves at least a pause. Somehow, though, we think Hostess won’t want you to pause too long before diving into one of their new line of products.


[Image: Via San Francisco Sentinel]

The Twinkie Defense, 30 Years Later