Mother of killer gets custody

Just when you thought you’ve seen some of the most bizarre judgements, one comes along to jar you awake again:

Jody Barone Death: Father’s family gets custody of daughter

Williamsport Judge Richard A. Gray has decided to give primary physical custody of the child who lost both parents in the Easter 2007 murder- suicide to the father’s family in Williamsport.

Ben Barone shot and killed his wife Jodi Barone during a planned custody exchange of their daughter April 8, 2007.

They did such a fine job raising their son, they deserve to raise their granddaughter – is that the “logic” used?

A Judge’s threats

The judge in this article blames his insensitivity on his short (3 year) tenure. Three years certainly seems like enough time to gain experience, doesn’t it?  

Judge’s Treatment of Rape Victims Draws Fire

Here’s his first mistake:

Rape cases are often settled without a trial so that the victim can avoid testifying and reliving the ordeal.

 But Common Pleas Judge Tim Horton recently ordered two victims to appear in court, in front of their attackers, because he said he wanted to make sure that everyone understood the plea deals that had been worked out by attorneys.

So he asks some of his victims to come to court. Here’s his second mistake:

…a young woman began to break down on the witness stand, and Horton, who has been a judge for three years, scolded her.

“About two minutes here, if you don’t gather yourself, I’m about to rip up this guilty plea, and this man in front of you is about to walk. So I would do your very best to gather yourself,” Horton said, according to court transcripts.

Hmmm. He threatens to allow an accused rapist free if the victim, who was raped at knifepoint on a pool table, doesn’t compose herself.

Then, his third mistake:

Horton also ordered prosecutors to bring the 13-year-old boy to the courthouse so he could look him in the eye and explain why a relative might spend the rest of his life in prison for repeatedly molesting the boy when he was 9.

The old “do you really want to do this” punishment to the perpetrator (you know, you will ruin his career forever, blah, blah, blah). How sad is it that we have such sympathy for perpetrators in this society? And judges who reinforce this bias?

Judge, three stikes and you’re out.

How feminism has helped abusive men

It’s a little known fact that men’s homicides in domestic violence cases have gone down considerably since the 70s. Since women can go to shelters rather than kill their abusers, men’s lives have been saved. Not so for women. Here’s a great article from a few years ago that has many such interesting facts:

Sisterhood is Powerless

Studies show that the numbers of women killing their husbands and boyfriends have plummeted. Women killed 1,357 intimate partners in 1976. They killed 430 in 1997. The decline was most dramatic in the 1990s, and researchers took serious notice of it a couple of years ago, when the Bureau of Justice Statistics published a landmark paper on intimate homicides.

As is often the case with statistical reports generated by government agencies, only numbers, not explanations, were offered in the report. Since its publication, researchers have scrambled to flesh out some theories. They have come up with three main reasons why intimate murders committed by women have decreased by more than 300 percent in 20 years. Feminism is wrapped up in all of them, whether it be the shelter movement and progressive laws, lower marriage rates or women’s improved status.

Sexist ads

Okay, this is meant for a little humorous relief. These ads are funny – probably because we will never see these days again, thankfully. In the future, I’ll try to post some current ads. They’re still sexist these days, mostly because they have hypersexualized images of women or put them in stereotypical roles (have you ever seen a cleaning commercial that used male actors?)

Disney & diversity

Disney has a movie coming out in December called The Princess and the Frog. The princess will be a black female. It has bloggers and others debating whether it is sensitive or stereotypical. Here’s an excerpt from a psychologist interviewed for Does Tiana, Disney’s First Black Princess, Conquer Stereotypes?:

“Because of Disney’s history of stereotyping,” said Michael D. Baran, a cognitive psychologist and anthropologist who teaches at Harvard and specializes in how children learn about race, “people are really excited to see how Disney will handle her language, her culture, her physical attributes.”

Mr. Baran is reserving judgment and encourages others to do the same. But he added that the issue warrants scrutiny because of Disney’s outsize impact on children.

“People think that kids don’t catch subtle messages about race and gender in movies, but it’s quite the opposite,” he said.

Disney has made other attempts at diversity, too:

In 1997, the company’s television division presented a live-action version of “Cinderella” with a black actress, the singer Brandy, playing the lead. In 1998, “Mulan” was celebrated as a rare animated feature that depicted Chinese characters with realistic-looking eyes; most animated films (even those from Japan) had Westernized versions of Asian people until that time.

Not only their characters but also their creators need diversity. It’s not enough for whites or males to attempt to depict women, blacks and other groups. I was dismayed recently to learn, for example, that Oxygen and Women’s Entertainment (WE) have more male producers, directors and writers than female – and these are so-called women’s programming. In the case of the Princess & the Frog, the article mentions two men directed it. We need diversity behind the scenes, too.

Have women really progressed?

Here’s a press release from the UN discussing the status of women’s rights in the world. As Hillary Clinton has said, women’s rights are human rights. Unfortunately, they are often seen as “women’s issues” or as something that, since women tolerate the abuses, must be okay. People that work in sweat factories can be said to be working “voluntarily” or accepting their condition, but it’s a human rights abuse nonetheless. We have to stop rationalizing women’s human rights abuses and start resolving these issues.

Ms. Yade said 60 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the situation of women had not really improved. They had progressed, of course, but it was a path filled with obstacles, where steps backwards remained a possibility. Discrimination against women found its source in the continuance throughout the world of practices and prejudices from another time, in the persistence of both de facto and judicial discrimination. These inequalities were linked to the inferior social status which continued to be applied to women, and by the public debate that was tainted by this.

Mr. Despouy said sometimes inequality stemmed from the application of the law and not the text itself, for example in the area of property and ownership. As to administration of justice, women often had problems participating in it. Important issues were at stake for women, such as child custody among others, and therefore they needed access to the judiciary. Discrimination against women continued to be a major issue on the human rights agenda and the Human Rights Council could not turn a blind eye on it. Discrimination did not only take place in one area, women suffered discrimination everywhere.

Mr. La Rue said all human beings regardless of age, culture, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, among others, should have the right to develop their opinions and express them. It was very important to focus on freedom of expression from the point of view of women. Women had been silenced both in domestic legislation, international practice and customs in some countries around the world. It was necessary to create a safe space for freedom of expression and for the exchange of opinion, in all spheres of life: the family, society, domestic legislation and international instruments. Freedom of expression was a main instrument to halt violence against women and all forms of discrimination.

The Violent Truth

There have been many articles lately on Dr. Tiller’s murder. The pro-life movement has long ago waged a war on abortion and it has been threatening and violent. The media has written on all wars but this one. Now, when they are writing about it, they need to be honest: it’s been about as terrorizing as the Taliban. They don’t bomb girls’ schools, they bomb clinics. They don’t impose modesty, but they try to impose their own morality. They don’t commit murder in the name of honor, but they commit it in the name of what? Righteousness? Justice?

Here are two articles that call it what it is:

A history of violence on the anti-abortion fringe 

Who killed George Tiller?

The “pro-life” movement has never really been about “life” has it? If it were, why wouldn’t it concern itself with:

25,000 youth per year that are never adopted in the US

500,000+ women that die each year from preventable causes in childbirth

Millions of female fetuses aborted or killed in infanticide in Asia

1.5 to 3 million women that die each year from gender-based violence

Why aren’t they concerned that homicide is one of the leading causes of death of a pregnant woman?

It’s not really “life” that they are concerned about, is it? I haven’t even mention war yet. And then there’s the prostitutes (murder is the #1 cause of death), the homeless (life expectancy: 50 years)…

Here we go again

I guess every time we elect or appoint a woman to a high level post we can expect some sexism in the media, whether it’s being quoted or otherwise.

The Washington Post summed up some of the sexism in an editorial (Double Standard) yesterday:

Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice said in a radio interview that Judge Sotomayor was picked because “she’s a woman and Hispanic, not because she was the best qualified.” Former congressman Tom Tancredo sank to even greater depths when he called Judge Sotomayor a “racist” for her past affiliation with the Hispanic advocacy group, the National Council of La Raza; Mr. Tancredo called La Raza “a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses.” Former Bush adviser Karl Rove implicitly questioned Judge Sotomayor’s intelligence, saying in an interview with PBS host Charlie Rose that “I know lots of stupid people who went to Ivy League schools.” No doubt, but would Mr. Rove have said the same thing in connection with Justice Alito?

Of course, they’re having a field day with her comment that a wise Latina might have a different perspective on life than a white male. All of a sudden being PC is okay again?

The right context

Ask yourself this: who commits more child abuse, men or women? If you’re like most folks, you’ll say women. Perhaps it’s been the media that has influenced this perception. Take notice the next time you read an article on child abuse and how each gender can be treated differently. Here’s an article that puts child abuse into context – something that is not often done.

Men are more commonly the perpetrators in abuse cases, while women lead in cases of neglect. Statistics show the most typical abuser profile is the boyfriend of a single mom, 18 to 30 years old and unemployed. If the mother is facing financial difficulties herself, she may have the boyfriend move in to share living expenses — or to have free child care while she works.

The fact that these men have no biological bond with the children, and often no prior parenting experience, makes them ill-prepared to deal with crying jags, potty-training accidents and the battle of wills that can come with feeding very young children.

“If you look at the age curve for victims of shaken-baby syndrome, it often correlates with the crying curve of babies — the amount of time each day that babies spend crying,” said Dr. Mark Kesler, medical director of the state’s child protection team for Orange and Osceola counties. “People don’t understand that babies can cry a certain number of hours each day, and that’s normal.”

It doesn’t take much, Kesler notes, to seriously injure an infant by shaking. The difference in size and strength between adult and child coupled with a baby’s weak neck muscles and disproportionately large head can quickly lead to permanent brain damage or death.

The article, Brutal Child Abuse on the Rise, states that child abuse may increase as the economy worsens. 

It also provides resources at the end.

It’s a difficult topic, but it’s written with facts and resources. Well done!

Notice how this article, Lynn Child Abuse Rates Outpacing Most of US, provides some context, but discussion of solutions focuses on who? Single moms, of course. Research does find that single parenthood contributes to a small degree of social problems. However, 25 million single parents in a nation of 300 million are not the cause of society’s social ills, including child abuse. Father absence is actually just a small factor. It makes more sense to look at factors like poverty, drug laws, gang prevention and so on than to focus on single mothers.

Praise to the perps

In Cops: Argument preceded murder-suicide, a 31 year old man shot his girlfriend in the head and then turned the gun on himself. The children, one as young as two years old, were not injured.

While the headline states an argument preceded the killings, the article says a motive wasn’t found:

“We have no motives, just a very unfortunate situation. Very tragic.”

And while we learn the woman attended a community college, we know nothing else about her. We do learn what a nice guy the killer was:

Some neighbors said they often saw the man and the children playing outside in their yard with other kids from the neighborhood. They said the man was polite and talkative, and the couple showed no signs of a combative or violent relationship.

“He was so nice. He would be so active with his kids, throwing balls and running around,” said Debbye Powello, who lives in an apartment across the street. “He seemed to be a very nice man.”

Randy Gray, who lives a few doors down, said he spoke the man several times and he seemed to get along fine with everyone.

“They were just real nice people,” Gray said.

How does a man who kills his girlfriend deserve 4 paragraphs of praise? If a person killed someone on the street, would we praise the killer?

It’s time we acknowledge the lives of the victims, not the perps. They don’t deserve such praise.