A Teachable Moment? At what cost?

My letter to the editor of the New York Times did not get published – here it is:

Dear Mr. Feyer,
The headline “A Teachable Moment” (Feb. 20) connotes the idea of imparting knowledge and, I’d add, in an ethical fashion. Mr. Jones did no such thing.
Domestic violence is not mutual, as Jones implies. According to credible sources, like CDC, males perpetuate intimate partner violence 85% of the time. Police reports, shelter statistics, and court records provide further proof. And while boys can also be sexually abused, more often it is by older men – not women. Moreover, women are more likely to be murdered and stalked than are men, not vice versa.
Accurate information allows us to focus our resources, including financial ones. Remarkably, Jones refers to this as being “profitable” to organizations that help victims ‘projected as homosexual or female.’ What kind of teacher does this?
We can sympathize with male victims, but not at the cost of misleading society or disparaging organizations that assist victims.
Here is what I responded to:

To the Editor:

Charles M. Blow aims to provide readers with a “teachable moment” regarding the suspension of the CNN commentator Roland Martin after a gay rights organization complained that his Super Bowl tweets advocated violence against gays (“Real Men and Pink Suits,” column, Feb. 11).

Noticeably absent from Mr. Blow’s and others’ commentary was any criticism of the numerous graphic acts of violence — slaps, head butts, kicks, punches — depicted against heterosexual males during the Super Bowl commercials in the interest of humor.

Many commentators, politicians and advocacy groups tend to cast victimization with a homosexual or feminine identity under the guise of advancing equality and social justice. While profitable and politically expedient, such projections not only marginalize the significant number of heterosexual male victims of violence, neglect and abuse, but also recast them as victimizers.

Domestic violence is just as likely to affect men as women; one in five males in the United States has been sexually abused; males account for nearly half of all missing persons; the number of male and female child prostitutes is essentially equal in major cities; and more than half of confiscated pornography depicts boys, not girls. In short, no group has a monopoly on suffering.

We should condemn all public endorsements or mockeries of violence. Our rebuke should not turn on whether the victim is heterosexual or homosexual, male or female, or a member of a group to which we belong, but whether there was an offense made against a person’s human dignity. Unless we, as a nation, hold ourselves to such a standard, we will only substitute one brand of social injustice and bias for another, and compromise our moral authority.

SAMUEL V. JONES Chicago, Feb. 14, 2012

The writer is an associate professor of law at the John Marshall Law School.

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