Innocence Is No Excuse

The totalitarian mentality of the feminist domestic violence industry was on display recently at the New York Times, where two lawyers outline plans for suspending the Bill of Rights. The Times normally postures as a champion of civil liberties, but when the malefactors belong to politically unfashionable groups then innocence is no excuse. Only the guilty need constitutional protections, and we may as well just string them up.

"When Words Bear Witness" is a more appropriate headline than Michael Rips and Amy Lester may realize, since their own words reveal the brave new world the feminists and bar associations are creating around the trumped-up issue of "domestic violence."

"Domestic violence accounts for up to 34% of all reported violent crimes," they state. Given that government authorities define domestic "violence" as "name-calling and constant criticizing, insulting, and belittling," it would appear that many "reported violent crimes" are not very violent.

"Reported" crimes are also not proven crimes, and strong incentives exist to report violence where none has taken place. Fabricating abuse accusations ensures custody of children and marital property during divorce. The custody battles are lucrative for lawyers, whose bar associations control judicial appointments and promotions, which is why patently false accusations are treated as fact.

This perversion of the justice system is now common knowledge among legal practitioners. Thomas Kasper recently described in the Illinois Bar Journal how false accusations readily “become part of the gamesmanship of divorce." Bar associations and even courts themselves sponsor divorce seminars counseling mothers on how to fabricate abuse accusations. "The number of women attending the seminars who smugly — indeed boastfully — announced that they had already sworn out false or grossly exaggerated domestic violence complaints against their hapless husbands, and that the device worked!" astonished Thomas Kiernan, writing in the New Jersey Law Journal. "To add amazement to my astonishment, the lawyer-lecturers invariably congratulated the self-confessed miscreants." The UMKC Law Review reports a survey of judges and attorneys found complaints of disregard for due process and allegations of domestic violence used as a "litigation strategy."

Since most reports involve no crime, it is hardly surprising that domestic violence, as Rips and Lester claim, "is notoriously difficult to prosecute, because [alleged?] victims frequently drop charges or refuse to testify when their [alleged?] abusers [allegedly?] threaten them with further violence." What is this "further violence"? "One study found that many such witnesses received threats that their children would be kidnapped if they testified," says Joan Meier of George Washington University. Their children kidnapped! These wife-beaters are so sophisticated they have organized child kidnapping operations to intimidate witnesses. Translation: The accusations are concocted to separate the children from their fathers, and the fathers understandably want their children back. Each lie necessitates another.

Rips and Lester continue: "In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the refusal of [alleged?] victims to cooperate in the prosecution of their [alleged?] batterers may have resulted in the dismissal of as many as 70% of all domestic violence cases." The refusal of Rips and Lester to observe the presumption of innocence in their writing is not only standard in feminist literature; it pervades state and federal statutes, including the notorious Violence Against Women Act, for which Congress is now considering appropriations. VAWA grants encourage governments to "mandate and encourage police officers to arrest [alleged?] abusers." It is more likely that the cases were dismissed because there was no evidence, because there was no violence and no crime, and because the objective of obtaining custody was accomplished.

But now we can secure convictions even when there is no evidence, no victim, and no crime: "Prosecutors, police officers, and advocates for domestic violence victims have developed techniques, together known as u2018evidence-based prosecution,' that focus on the use of reliable evidence, like 911 tapes, to build cases that do not depend on the cooperation of the [alleged?] victim." As with the Ministry of Truth, "evidence-based prosecution" is designed to convict those against whom you have no evidence. And since the defendant — excuse me, the "batterer" — can be convicted using hearsay, with no right to face his accuser, it is not really necessary that there even be an accuser, or for that matter a crime.

It is not difficult to see where this is going. In Britain, "special domestic violence courts" allow third parties such as civil servants and pressure groups to use "relaxed rules of evidence and the lower burden of proof" to bring actions against those they identify as batterers, even if no alleged "victim" comes forward (or even exists). "Victim support groups," who say women "should be spared having to take legal action," can now act in the name of an anonymous or purported plaintiff to seize the children, homes, and other property of men who have not been convicted of any crime. Similar "domestic violence courts" are being created in the United States and Canada, where "conviction rates have risen" and "guilty pleas are way up," Mother Jones magazine enthuses. In other words, rigged trials and the certainty of conviction allow prosecutors to extort guilty pleas.

Sending men to jail is apparently now a virtue in itself. In San Diego, Rips and Lester report with glee, suspending due process protections "obtains convictions in about 88% of its cases." Convicting people of crimes — thousands of people of whose guilt or innocence we can have no first-hand knowledge — is now something to be celebrated for its own sake.

Guilt used to be determined by juries weighing evidence in specific cases. But Rips and Lester apparently know that these "batterers" are guilty en masse, and all that remains is removing constitutional impediments to convicting them. Trials, juries, evidence, and the entire apparatus of due process are superfluous because guilt is not defined by whether an individual committed a specific deed. Guilt is a foregone conclusion because the defendant belongs to a class that is guilty by political definition. The New Jersey family court invokes feminist jargon to argue that allowing due process protections to abuse defendants "perpetuates the cycle of power and control whereby the [alleged?] perpetrator remains the one with the power and the [alleged?] victim remains powerless."

My niggling interpolations are no doubt annoying for prosecutors whose careers depend on their conviction rates. They have effectively institutionalized the archetypal loaded question, "When did you stop beating your wife?"

June 17, 2006