To the Irish Times

To the editors:

"You have 30 minutes to pack everything you own. If you can't

carry it on your back, it will have to stay behind. Look around

one last time because you may never return home again."

This came from a fundraising letter by an international relief

organization about the plight of Kosovo refugees. Do you think

this couldn't happen in a free, peacetime society?

Guess again.

Today, most anyone can be forced from his or her home simply

on the accusation of spousal or child abuse. No trial, no judge, no

jury. No notice. The police come knocking in the middle of the

night and you must leave. No excuses. No looking back. And the

nightmare is only just beginning.

If we are truly intent on solving family violence and abuse, we can

no longer rely on hyperbole or hypocrisy. We need to fix the problem,

not the blame, and it needs to be done by counteracting political

pressure and campaign contributions that encourage gender profiling

of the victims and perpetrators of family violence.

Our civil liberties and civil rights have been eroded under false

banner of solving human problems with political solutions. The

following issues are of great concern:

1 mandatory arrest policies and arrests made without warrants;

2 court orders issued without the defendant present (ex parte);

3 false allegations of abuse and false imprisonment;

4 illegal and inequitable child custody arrangements; and

5 imprisonment for debt, a practice outlawed decades ago.

Government agencies and private charities are funding a radical

political agenda rather than rational solutions for family violence

prevention and treatment programs. This denial of civil rights and

the police-state tactics used today in the name of quelling domestic

violence are more dangerous than the problem.

Most of society, for the sake of civilization, wants to preserve

families, not tear them apart, but this is completely at odds with the

agenda of taxpayer-funded radical feminist groups whose ideology is

anti-male and anti-family. Perhaps the worst thing any parent can

suffer is to see his or her child damaged or abused at the hands of a

system that is supposed to protect families. Yet concerned citizens

around the globe are powerless to correct even the most obvious

infractions. Some parents are petrified of having their names made

public because they fear the retribution of the court system!

What can justify thousands of men being forced from their homes

and children with nothing more than the clothes on their backs when

many such actions are based on nothing more than hearsay or

unsubstantiated allegations? These men are often also denied the

right to confront their accuser, and it is often impossible to obtain

witnesses in one's defense because of protective orders.

Proponents of common-sense domestic violence laws say dialogue

is long overdue. They want an objective examination of the issue, one

that avoids closed-door legislative and judicial maneuvering. But

domestic violence is now big business, providing significant revenue

for attorneys and law enforcement, social services and judicial

agencies. The system hides behind a stereotype of heinous abusers,

but the reality is a myriad injustices.

Men are errantly labeled as primary aggressors because police and

courts treat men that way. As a result, abusive women who need

treatment view society as condoning their violent behavior, creating

further risk for men and children. This approach also ignores long-

term contributing factors such as psychological and emotional

abuse by a woman against a man.

Domestic violence laws are publicized to fit the classic definition

of recurring violence involving physical injuries. The reality is that

today's laws are so wide ranging as to encourage injustices and

false charges. The statistics that tell us women are being violently

abused in great numbers in secret are coming from places that are

closed to public overview, such as shelters, crisis centers and

hotlines.

David Brown, senior editor for the Ottawa Citizen in Ontario, Canada

(which has the most draconian of domestic-violence laws), recently

noted that hospital workers and emergency personnel cannot verify

the publicized number of battered women. "How is it that where the

'front-line workers' are open to approach, there's not a whiff of the

great numbers emanating from shelters? How is it that, with the lines

of communication I have developed into the community after 35 years

of writing a city column, not one of them signals a secret epidemic

of violence?" Brown wrote in a December 8, 2001, column.

"The media has to accept much of the responsibility for turning

unsubstantiated statistics into facts but, like everybody else,

we're caught in confusing battle lines. How can high-profile

corporations say no to buying a table at a fund-raiser when the

promotion says it's to protect women from violence? Newspapers,

including the Citizen, buy tables at these events, giving them

legitimacy through financial support and the corporate name

on the table," Brown stated.

It is far past due that the international media expose and correct

these terrible injustices to which they are a party. It will require a

brave and diligent effort by good-hearted and fair-minded people.

I hope that such individuals exist within today's media but the

evidence to-date has been sorely lacking.

Mike Spaniola

Vail, Colo. USA

Irish Times Home: http://www.ireland.com/