Let's Get Honest! Blog: Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

'A Different Kind of Attention Develops Sound Judgment' | 'Suppose I'm Right Here?…' (posted 3/23 & 3/5/2014). Over 680 posts, Public-Interest Investigative Blogging On These Matters Since 2009.

Men’s Rights, Women’s Right, or plain old WHAT’s Right?

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This is a quick post, and on again reflecting on the He vs. She wars, which are not possible to win, let alone ridiculous in premise, here’s a little book:

  METAPHORS WE LIVE BY

Is it true that all of us, not just poets, speak in metaphors, whether we realize it or not? Is it perhaps even true that we live by metaphors? In Metaphors We Live By George Lakoff, a linguist, and Mark Johnson, a philosopher, suggest that metaphors not only make our thoughts more vivid and interesting but that they actually structure our perceptions and understanding. Thinking of marriage as a “contract agreement,” for example, leads to one set of expectations, while thinking of it as “team play,” “a negotiated settlement,” “Russian roulette,” “an indissoluble merger,” or “a religious sacrament” will carry different sets of expectations. When a government thinks of its enemies as “turkeys or “clowns” it does not take them as serious threats, but if the are “pawns” in the hands of the communists, they are taken seriously indeed. Metaphors We Live By has led many readers to a new recognition of how profoundly metaphors not only shape our view of life in the present but set up the expectations that determine what life well be for us in the future. (from introduction in The Conscious Reader)

“Metaphors We Live By” by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

. . .

It is important to see that we don’t just talk about arguments in terms of war. We can actually win or lose arguments. We see the person we are arguing with as an opponent. We attack his positions and we defend our own. We gain and lose ground. We plan and use strategies. If we find a position indefensible, we can abandon it and take a new line of attack. Many of the things we do in arguing are partially structured by the concept of war. Though there is no physical battle, there is a verbal battle, and the structure of an argument–attack, defense, counter-attack, etc.—reflects this. It is in this sense that the ARGUMENT IS WAR metaphor is one that we live by in this culture; its structures the actions we perform in arguing. Try to imagine a culture where arguments are not viewed in terms of war, where no one wins or loses, where there is no sense of attacking or defending, gaining or losing ground. Imagine a culture where an argument is viewed as a dance, the participants are seen as performers, and the goal is to perform in a balanced and aesthetically pleasing way. In such a culture, people would view arguments differently, experience them differently, carry them out differently, and talk about them differently. But we would probably not view them as arguing at all: they would simply be doing something different. It would seem strange even to call what they were doing “arguing.” In perhaps the most neutral way of describing this difference between their culture and ours would be to say that we have a discourse form structured in terms of battle and they have one structured in terms of dance. This is an example of what it means for a metaphorical concept, namely, ARGUMENT IS WAR, to structure (at least in part) what we do and how we understand what we are doing when we argue. The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another.. It is not that arguments are a subspecies of war. Arguments and wars are different kinds of things–verbal discourse and armed conflict–and the actions performed are different kinds of actions. But ARGUMENT is partially structured, understood, performed, and talked about in terms of WAR. The concept is metaphorically structured, the activity is metaphorically structured, and, consequently, the language is metaphorically structured.

At the back of this (1980 publ.) book is a section that talks about the CONDUIT method of communication — and cites how this leads to untold evils.  At best, communication is negotiated, with respect for differences, until some basic consensus is reached.

However, there are limits to this, and there ARE people who have no intention of doing so.  In such cases, then the dialogue becomes fruitless, if not dangerous.  In pursuing Life, Liberty and Happiness – – – an individual should be allowed to set some LIMIT on how long to continue in fruitless or possibly dangerous negotiations. 

The timeframe within family law is generally 18 years from the birth of the  youngest child, unless you get lucky, wise, rich, or out of there by some other means, depriving untold professionals of a captive audience.  No matter, there are more where the first batch came from . . . .

Now, to understand what’s going on in the family law venue, it’s necessary to ADMIT that there are religious groups — and I include people who religiously cling to hating the opposite sex, whether or not they self-classify as agnostic, atheist, or whatnot — that’s a theology, that’s an -ism, and that’s a worldview that only ONE worldview is acceptable — these groups perceive giving women rights, per se, is an “attack’ on their gender

Look — when can we return, USA, to the “metaphor” that is contained in our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence.  Given those, then the main struggles are to recognize people that don’t look like “us” to be actually acknowledged as human beings, in these unalienable rights.  These CIVIL rights. 

We are raising a nation of bigots.  It’s frightening.  The main point is not statistics, but due process, and uncorrupt judges, mediators, and attorneys.  As to the family law venue, I’m real jaundiced these days, and will bite my tongue, at least for today, other than to assert that it’s become two things:

1.  Therapeutic Jurisprudence.  Guess what?  Law and Therapy are two SEPARATE fields, and I do believe the former one holds more sanity,a nd possibly precision, than the latter, which presumes a subject/object relationship I happen to think conflicts with the entire premise of having a court to start with.  If it’s law, do law.  If it’s therapy, then count me out — I’ll find a qualified therapist when that’s  the priority, IF it becomes one, but the thing that appears to create the need for it is this circus, to start with!

2.  Business for Social Scientists, turning our nation more and more into a complete bureaucracy, where actual productive, creative activity is draining out of the workplace, as if the taxes supportinga ll this weren’t enough drain to start with.  Public SERVANTS???  Then let them actually read the case files, obey the rules of court, stop ignoring evidence, and cease ruling on hearsay and personal opinion.  These are ETHICAL matters.

Tolerance, please for formatting (can’t access regular computer).  Not my best post, but I borrow from better writers above and below:

And here’s an article:

Men’s Rights” Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

“They’re changing custody rights and domestic violence laws. Posted: Thursday, November 5, 2009 7:45am”

By Kathryn Joyce

[Kathryn Joyce is a freelance writer based in New York City and the author of Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement]

This article is fairly long, mentions so many players in this venue, and a reader who actually looked up several of them would be better informed on the field.  I have blogged on some of the individuals or items in here already.

My comments, for now:  Public, WAKE UP!  !!!  The time is now. . . .   And I do not think the solution is to pick a side, but to look at what has been forgotten in this process.  There are plenty of groups who would be  just fine for all men vs. women war (and ideology) to keep on going — business is good, after all, in these circles, and unlike other sectors of the economy, there is no lack of clients in the family law venue, especially when fights over custody are bitter.

Is it possible to have a non-polarized view of these events, without projecting one’s own woes and bad experiences onto the entire field?  I know, I’m  guilty of doing this during my blog.  On the other hand, how many blogs do you know that actually point to the federal funding of these dramas? 

The woman who wrote this has authored a book on Christian Patriarchy.  I say that Christian and Patriarchy are mutually exclusive.  WIthout COMPLETELY revealing my identity (let’s hope), and for where I’m coming from, see either righthand column, or one of my earliest blogs which says this:

If you can bear with my theology, or allow some poetic license here, for rthe sake of argument:  The “Jesus Christ” I read (that’s past tense, present tense) about in the Bible — which I’ve been doing for decades, complete with the intellectual background, the degrees, a good deal of Greek, and trying to live the stuff, the professional multicultural variety (yada, yada, yada),  – – and whether or not one considers the accounts reliable, but as written — the guy confronted the religiosity, hypocrisy, failure to care for — or for that matter, basically notice — the poor, the sick, the weak  and basic oppression of his own religion —  and got crucified for it. 

I’ve had “Christian Patriarchy” in my face, on top of me, and calling me  names, and I have stared straight into the angry face of a personality that didn’t see a PERSON, but a GENDER, and, as such, an ENEMY.  I have been called Satan, and Eve, straight-out, and the dude had weapons, too, and had this hitting habit, too.  I have had to go around and try to counter some of the dudes that were egging him on to “win” and to “dominate” ( that’s brave, dominating a pregnant woman whose car, bank account, and etc. you’d already commandeered for the cause.  How manly ….).  I believe I have as much a right to criticize and address this as the next person, while still acknowledging that feminISM isn’t a reliable theology either.  However, I do believe it began as a  reaction to injustice based on gender, and that injustice based on gender DOES have a religious basis, no matter what the color or jargon — Christian, Muslim, Jewish, agnostic.  Misogyny is misogyny, as is basic narcissism.

It’s a sad day when the dialogue has degenerated into ISMs and IANITIES…  Talk about inane.  Father’s rights countering women’s rights, countering being assaulted in the home, underpaid and etc.  It gets down to economics sooner or later.  Add to this, for some interest, CIVIL rights, racism, and in short the US/Them mentality for defining what’s right and what’s wrong.

I would LIKE to say NO!  STOP!  Trying to answer “who”  is wrong, is wrong.  But in a lawsuit, or legal process, the question is, WHAT is wrong.  It’s a WHAT not a WHO. 

Unfortunately, family law is set up to do the character evaluation thing, not the evidence thing (see my last post). 

Lying to get one’s way– especially bearing false witness under oath, stealing, murdering, and if you’re in a marriage, I say adultery, although most folks are, who cares?  I call those wrong.

Defrauding other individuals through the court process, which happens, is wrong.  Part of this includes lying, suppressing evidence, violating rules of court (how many of us even know them?), intimidating witnesses has GOT to be morally near the bottom, and so forth.  Extortion, like I mentioned last post.  These THINGS are wrong.

And if this sounds uncomfortably close to the 10 commandments, then let’s go with some penal codes instead.  This still leaves the same problem  also detailed in the Bible — who’s going to judge, and who’s going to enforce?  Suppose those judges are taking bribes (won’t be the first time in history, right?).   The sons of Samuel, as I recall, a top-notch prophet, were causing a ruckus sleeping with women who came to the temple.  Nothing new under the sun, for sure, in that matter. . . . . . See Alanna Krause case — two of the individuals influencing her case — as a minor daughter — were in bed together.  Fat chance she had of justice with that going on.

So, HERE is the article. I may return for paragraphing, and commenting — but it talks about key issues and players.

Like most such articles, it does NOT follow the money trail through the government grants system, and it doesn’t really show which organizations are in bed with which other ones.  However, this is informative, and I’ll slap it up here today (sorry for the analogy).  Suggest googling the individuals and organizations mentioned, then look some of them up on TAGGS.hhs.gov or usaspending.gov.  For starters.

Have a nice day!

At the end of October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, members of the men’s movement group RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting) gathered on the steps of Congress to lobby against what they say are the suppressed truths about domestic violence: that false allegations are rampant, that a feminist-run court system fraudulently separates innocent fathers from children, that battered women’s shelters are running a racket that funnels federal dollars to feminists, that domestic-violence laws give cover to cagey mail-order brides seeking Green Cards, and finally, that men are victims of an unrecognized epidemic of violence at the hands of abusive wives.
“It’s now reached the point,” reads a statement from RADAR, “that domestic violence laws represent the largest roll-back in Americans’ civil rights since the Jim Crow era!”
RADAR’s rhetoric may seem overblown, but lately the group and its many partners have been racking up very real accomplishments. In 2008, the organization claimed to have blocked passage of four federal domestic-violence bills, among them an expansion of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to international scope and a grant to support lawyers in pro bono domestic-violence work. Members of this coalition have gotten themselves onto drafting committees for VAWA’s 2011 reauthorization. Local groups in West Virginia and California have also had important successes, criminalizing false claims of domestic violence in custody cases, and winning rulings that women-only shelters are discriminatory.  
Groups like RADAR fall under the broader umbrella of the men’s rights movement, a loose coalition of anti-feminist groups. These men’s rights activists, or MRAs, have long been written off by domestic-violence advocates as a bombastic and fringe group of angry white men, and for good reason. Bernard Chapin, a popular men’s rights blogger, told me over e-mail that he will refer to me as “Feminist E,” since he never uses real names for feminists, who are wicked and who men “must verbally oppose … until our flesh oxidizes into dust.” In the United Kingdom, a father’s rights group scaled Buckingham Palace in superhero costumes. In Australia, they wore paramilitary uniforms and demonstrated outside the houses of female divorcees.

But lately they’ve become far more polished and savvy about advancing their views. In their early days of lobbying, “these guys would show up and have this looming body language that was very off-putting,” says Ben Atherton-Zeman, author of Voices of Men, a one-man play about domestic violence and sexual assault. “But that’s all changed. A lot of the leaders are still convicted batterers, but they’re well-organized, they speak in complete sentences, they sound much more reasonable: All we want is equal custody, for fathers not to be ignored.”

One of the respectable new faces of the movement is Glenn Sacks, a fathers’ rights columnist and radio host with 50,000 e-mail followers, and a pragmatist in a world of angry dreamers. Sacks is a former feminist and abortion-clinic defender who disavows what he calls “the not-insubstantial lunatic fringe of the fathers’ rights movement.” He recently merged his successful media group with the shared-parenting organization Fathers and Families in a bid to build a mainstream fathers’ rights organ on par with the National Organization of Women. Many of Sacks’ arguments—for a court assumption of shared parenting in the case of divorce, or against child-support rigidity in the midst of recession—can sound reasonable.
But do any of their arguments hold up? Many of the men for whom Sacks advocates are involved in extreme cases, says Joanie Dawson, a writer and domestic-violence advocate who has covered the fathers’ rights movement. The great majority of custody cases, in which shared parenting is a legitimate option, are settled or resolved privately. But of the 15 percent that go to family court—the cases that fathers’ rights groups target—at least half include alleged domestic abuse.
 
Unsurprisingly, this argument is missing from MRA discussions of custody inequality and recruitment ads, which cast all men as potentially innocent victims “just one 911 call away” from losing everything they have earned and loved. These rallying calls, and the divorce attorneys hawking men’s rights expertise on MRA sites, promising to “teach her a lesson,” serve as what Dawson sees as a powerful draw for men in the midst of painful divorces.
While MRA groups continue to expand their base of embittered fathers and ex-husbands, they’ve cleaned up their image to court more powerful allies. RADAR board member Ron Grignal, the former president of Fathers for Virginia and a former state delegate candidate, organizes the group’s Washington lobbying activities.

{{It’s spelled “Grignol” and here’s a PIPL link…and this, apparently, is what he thinks of protective orders, based on “Death by Protective Order” from the organization above.  Predictably, it wasn’t to protect herself, it was to gain a strategic advantage in divorce:  ”


“In fact, protective orders are very often and too easily misused by one parent to gain advantage in a child custody battle and are a device to keep the family home in a property settlement. Once one spouse has gained custody of their minor children and the house through a protective order, it is difficult for the other party to secure significant custodial time with their children and almost impossible to regain the house.

Protective orders can also {{But is this what they DO?}} provide cover and shift blame from spouses who may have initiated the break-up by having an affair or simply becoming bored with the marriage.

Lawyers and other advocates willingly take part in this protective order fraud through the advice they give their clients. Judges and magistrates err on the side of caution because they don’t want headlines of a murder or serious injury if they don’t grant a protective order”

If so, where is the evidence of handwringing or hair-tearing-out on the part of judges and magistrates for the headlines that have already occurred?

 

BACK TO MAIN ARTICLE, K. Joyce:

In 2008, RADAR partnered with Eagle Forum for a conference at the Heritage Foundation about the threat that VAWA poses to the family.

{{This link is from 2006, and lists other organizations involved, including “ACFC” — note similar acronym to “AFCC”…}}

Grignal argues that state interpretations of VAWA are so broad they could cast couples’ money disputes as domestic violence, enabling unwarranted restraining orders that then win women’s divorce cases for them. Politicians, Grignal says, are increasingly on board with men’s rights movement concerns.
“On domestic violence, I’ve had both state and federal legislators tell me they know that this process is out of control,” says Grignal. “They’re afraid if they support [reforms] they’ll be tagged as ‘for domestic violence.’ But I’ve had Democrats on Capitol Hill tell me they agree with everything I say. A member of the Congressional Black Caucus told me that his brother can’t see his kids, and his wife threatened to throw herself down the stairs to ruin his political career.”
 
Some domestic-violence protections do seem to have unintended effects, such as mandatory-arrest policies that compel police to take someone into custody in response to any domestic-violence call—a policy that has been criticized by RADAR as well as by some domestic-violence advocates, who say it imposes an absurd equivalence between largely nonviolent family spats or insubstantial female violence and serious abuse. But groups like RADAR are criticizing the law for the wrong reasons. In fact, the effect of mandatory arrest in conflating women’s low-level violence with battery, seems very close to RADAR’s campaign for viewing women as equal domestic abusers.
One potent idea advanced by MRAs is the claim that men are equal victims of domestic violence. Mark Rosenthal, president and co-founder of RADAR, makes a very personal argument for the phenomenon. Rosenthal, who doesn’t call himself an MRA, grew up with a mother who he says terrorized the entire family and hit her husband frequently. The true impact of the violence, he says, was more than physical and eclipsed his petite mother’s ability to inflict serious injuries. Rosenthal wants to see an appreciation for women’s nonphysical abuse incorporated into domestic-violence policy. “It’s not about size,” he told an audience at a law enforcement domestic-violence training. “It’s not exclusively about physical attacks. However, it is about a pathological need to control others, and women are as prone to this as men.”
RADAR and other MRA groups base their battered men arguments largely on the research of a small group of social scientists who claim that domestic violence between couples is equally divided, just unequally reported. Most notable are the studies conducted by sociologist Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire, who has written extensively on female violence (and who Dawson saw distributing RADAR flyers at an APA conference).

Straus’ research is starting to move public opinion. A Los Angeles conference this July dedicated to discussing male victims of domestic violence, “From Ideology to Inclusion 2009: New Directions in Domestic Violence Research and Intervention,” received positive mainstream press for its “inclusive” efforts.
While some men certainly are victims of female domestic violence, advocates say the number is closer to 3 percent to 4 percent, rather than the 45 percent to 50 percent RADAR claims. Jack Straton, a Portland State University professor and member of Oregon’s Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force, argues that Straus, critically, fails to distinguish between the intent and effect of violence, equating “a woman pushing a man in self-defense to a man pushing a woman down the stairs,” or a single act of female violence with years of male abuse; that Straus only interviewed one partner, when couples’ accounts of violence commonly diverge; and that he excludes from his study post-separation violence, which accounts for more than 75 percent of spouse-on-spouse violence, 93 percent of which is committed by men.
All in all, advocates say that cherry-picked studies from researchers like Straus, touted by the MRAs, amount to what Edward Gondolf, director of research for the Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research and Training Institute, calls“bad science.” Statistics suggesting gender parity in abuse are taken out of necessary context, they say, ignoring distinctions between the equally divided “common couple violence” and the sort of escalated, continuing violence known as battery—which is 85 percent male-perpetrated—as well as the disparate injuries inflicted by men and women.
“The biggest concern, though, is not the wasted effort on a false issue,” writes Straton, but the encouragement given to batterers to consider themselves the victimized party. “Arming these men with warped statistics to fuel their already warped worldview is unethical, irresponsible, and quite simply lethal.”
  
In this, critics like Australian sociologist Michael Flood say that men’s rights movements reflect the tactics of domestic abusers themselves, minimizing existing violence, calling it mutual, and discrediting victims. MRA groups downplay national abuse rates, just as abusers downplay their personal battery; they wage campaigns dismissing most allegations as false, as abusers claim partners are lying about being hit; and they depict the violence as mutual—part of an epidemic of wife-on-husband abuse—as individual batterers rationalize their behavior by saying that the violence was reciprocal. Additionally, MRA groups’ predictions of future violence by fed-up men wronged by the family-law system seem an obvious additional correlation, with the threat of violence seemingly intended to intimidate a community, like a fearful spouse, into compliance.
MRA critics say the organizational recapitulation of abusive tactics should be no surprise, considering the wealth of movement leaders with records or accusations of violence, abuse, harassment, or failure to pay child support. Some advocates call MRA groups “the abuser’s lobby,” because of members like Jason Hutch, the Buckingham Palace fathers’ rights “Batman,” who has been estranged from three mothers of his children and was taken to court for threatening one of his ex-wives.
Contrary to RADAR’s claims, domestic-violence advocates say that not only do abuse accusations not automatically win custody cases for women; there are a rising number of custody decisions awarded to abusive fathers, as judges see wives eager to protect their children as less cooperative regarding custody. More than half the time, studies have found, wives’ accusations of domestic violence are met with counter-accusations from husbands of “Parental Alienation Syndrome”—a medically unrecognized diagnosis that suggests mothers have poisoned their children into making false accusations against their fathers.
 
In one recent case, Genia Shockome, a Russian immigrant, was fighting for custody of her two children with her ex-husband, whom she charged had beaten her so severely that she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and who had told her she “had no right to leave” since he’d brought her to the United States. The judge in the case sided with her husband’s counter-claims of Parental Alienation Syndrome and awarded him full custody (and later sentenced Shockome to 30 days in jail while she was seven months pregnant).

When her attorney, Barry Goldstein, co-author of the forthcoming book Domestic Violence, Abuse and Custody, criticized the judge in an online article, the judge retaliated with a complaint, and Goldstein was given a five-year suspension. Goldstein says the sanction represents a chilling pressure on attorneys, who may now fear penalties for criticizing a court’s gender bias that will interfere with their duties to their clients and that could result in women deciding not to leave abusers out of fear they won’t get a fair trial.
If cases such as Genia Shockome’s are the fodder of mainstream fathers’ rights advocates like Glenn Sacks—who ridiculed her claims and loss of custody as an uncredible “cause célèbre” for feminist family-law reformers—what Sacks calls the movement’s “lunatic fringe” is more vitriolic yet.
Within the ranks of the men’s rights movement, vigilante “resisters” are regularly nominated and lionized for acts of violence perceived to be in opposition to a feminist status quo. In a few quarters of the movement, this even included George Sodini, the Pittsburgh man who opened fire on a gym full of exercising women this August, killing three and leaving behind an online diatribe journaling his sense of rejection by millions of desirable women.
Sodini’s diary was republished widely, including on the website of a popular men’s rights blogger, “Angry Harry,” who added his assessment of the case. “MRAs should also take note of the fact that there are probably many millions of men across the western world who feel similar in many ways, and one can expect to see much more destruction emanating from them in the future,” he wrote. “One of the main reasons that I decided to post this diary on this website was because the western world must wake up to the fact that it cannot continue to treat men so appallingly and get away with it.” In a phone interview, Angry Harry said, “Of course there will be more Sodinis—there will be many more,” likening him to Marc Lépine, a Canadian man who killed or wounded 28, claiming feminists had ruined his life, or Nevada father Darren Mack, who murdered his estranged wife and attempted to kill the judge in their custody battle. (Also among this number is John Muhammad, the “D.C. Beltway Sniper,” whose involvement in a Washington father’s rights group and history of abuse is described in his ex-wife Mildred’s newly-released memoir, Scared Silent.) Perhaps, Angry Harry mused, that as the ranks of online MRAs grow, “the threat” of their violence “may be enough” to bring about the changes they desire.

Glenn Sacks dismissed Angry Harry as an “idiot” without real power in the movement, and yet he cautiously defends him. “I want to be careful in wording this,” he says, “but the cataclysmic things I’m seeing done to men, it’s always my fear that one of these guys is going to do something terrible. I don’t want to say that, like, I condone it or that it’s OK, but it’s just the reality.” The movement seems eager to supply more martyrs. After Sacks wrote about a San Diego father who shot himself on the city’s courthouse steps over late child-support payments, numerous men wrote Sacks, telling him, “They’re taking everything from me, and I want to go out in a big way, and if I do, will you write about me?”

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  1. […] Get Honest Men’s Rights, Women’s Right, or plain old WHAT’s Right?The SF-Oakland Bay Bridge and Family Court systems.Like slavery, Domestic Violence costs some and […]


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martinplaut

Journalist specialising in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa

Let's Get Honest! Blog: Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

'A Different Kind of Attention Develops Sound Judgment' | 'Suppose I'm Right Here?...' (posted 3/23 & 3/5/2014). Over 680 posts, Public-Interest Investigative Blogging On These Matters Since 2009.

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