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April 21, 2005

Cocks relieved, women wary

This just in from Evan at Alternet's PEEK: Republicans protecting America's cocks.

Happily, the brutal "sport" of cockfighting may soon be a felony in South Carolina, but domestic violence will remain a misdemeanor. The anti-cockfighting bill passed the Judiciary Committee, but legislators tabled the "Protect Our Women in Every Relationship Act."

Both cockfighting and domestic violence are currently misdemeanor crimes, punishable by 30 days in jail. If the bill passes, cockfighting will become a felony, punishable by five years in jail. Domestic violence crimes will remain a misdemeanor. [Wis10]

Rep. John Graham Altman is a full-throated supporter of the cockfighting ban and an opponent of the domestic violence legislation. He bristles when asked how he reconciles his bold stance on cock rights with his solicitude towards first-time domestic abusers:

"People who compare the two are not very smart and if you don't understand the difference, Ms. Gormley, between trying to ban the savage practice of watching chickens trying to kill each other and protecting people rights in CDV statutes, I'll never be able to explain it to you in a 100 years ma'am."

Altman argues that there shouldn't be a second offense in a domestic violence case because no woman should go back to her abuser. So, it's unclear why he opposes a law that would have made first offenses felonies. (He did warn us that his position is hard to explain.)


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Reactions from the Blogosphere on Rep. John Graham Altman, cockfighting and criminal domestic violence. [Read More]


I don't understand how the cockfighting thing is relevant.

Is the implication that the domestic violence law is "more important" than the cockfighting law? Cockfighting is an incredibly cruel act that victimizes creatures that lead surprisingly rich emotional lives; this is not a trivial matter by any stretch of the imagination.

I'm not saying that the cockfighting law is more important; I'm just saying that male-on-female violence and cruelty to animals are both horrific crimes, and I'd hate to seen one trivialized for the sake of the other.

I wholeheartedly support the cockfighting ban. What's bizarre is the disproportionate penalties for two classes of criminals. Domestic violence isn't a felony but cockfighting is? Both are very bad and they're bad for more or less the same reasons--inflicting suffering on innocents.

The most charitable interpretation of Altman is that he doesn't believe that domestic violence deserves any special legal protection over and above any other kind of assault. That's what seems to be behind his argument that there shouldn't be a second offense. To him, it seems, the first offense is just a common assault and not necessarily a felony. But if a woman comes back and gets hit again, her abuser doesn't deserve additional punishment because she's complicit in her own abuse.

It's clear that the law needs to respond differently to domestic abuse. Why? Because abused partners are more enmeshed in their circumstances than other victims of violence. Abused partners don't have the same freedom to disengage from the situation.

Wife/husband beating a felony? Are you insane? Why not just make it legal for people to jail their spouse at will. Most are fights gone too far, NOT random assaults. Lindsey needs to put a skirt on fix her hair, (she ain't gonna catch a date looking like that) and retire to a kitchen somewhere.

Dadahead, I revised the post to reflect my contempt for cockfighting. Thanks for the suggestion.





You mean Lindsay is never going to catch a date with an idiot like you looking like that.

People who don't care so much what they look like are cooler and more laid back.

I'm gay, so I don't care so much, but I'd guess that the sort of guy who is drawn to a plastic housewife in a kitchen is not the sort of mate Lindsey would want to attract anyway. See, she sees through the bullshit where the Family Research Council and advertisers on TV provide an undesirable and unobtainable family model that everyone crucifies themselves trying to replicate. Those people who fit so firmly into societies roles are never happy. The closest they can get is a feeling they call love that is actually possessiveness based on what your mate means for your social status. Besides, the thing about people who don't care quite so much what they look like is that they are more disinhibited. So, sex is a lot better.

And, what Jeff said.

In a sort of defense of Kinja:

1. It is true that most cases of domestic violence are fights that have gone too far.

2. Most often, the victim was the individual that escalated the situation. Usually pushing the other "over the edge". (I remember reading a lengthly article on it, but do not ask me where. I remember it saying something like 75% of domestic violence is instigated by the victim, usually a woman. But do not hold me on that).

Think of it this way.
Few instances of domestic abuse probably count as the sort of assault that we would think would count as a felony (one person who randomly attacks the other during the relationship, who probably has a history of violence).
Most instances of domestic abuse are arguments that have gotten out of hand("this has never happened before" cases). These should probably only count as misdemeanors.

Perhaps it is better to give domestic abuse the classification that is accurate for most instances (misdemeanor), then to classify it based on the exceptions (felony).

Among other questionable things Kinja said was this: "she ain't gonna catch a date looking like that"

Given the annoyingly high number of male posters trying to flirt with Majikthise in the comments section I would argue that Kinja is wrong.

As for my personal views on cock-fighting... Well, I suppose I really would have to say that I have a hard time caring about chicks. The ones with feathers that is. IF chickens have any sort of mental life or experience (which, having spent some time on a farm I doubt) then surely they suffer when made to fight with barbed spurs. That said, the experience of a factory farm is almost surely worse (would you rather be a gladiator or a galley slave?). Yet I still eat chicken, beef and pork.

I freely admit that this is a moral dillema I am trying to resolve. I want to care, but honestly I just don't.

A question to those of you who oppose cock-fighting: does that opposition extend to eating meat produced on industrial farms? In other words, are you vegan, vegetarian, or "free-range/organic" meat only?

ps - check this out, a chicken vaccum(!)

Brendan's got a point, but it leads rather directly to an argument for harsher penalties for a second incident of domestic violence, something Altman clearly rejects.

sidenote: Altman's quotes from the WSItv report really make him sound like quite the dick.

Perhaps it is better to give domestic abuse the classification that is accurate for most instances (misdemeanor), then to classify it based on the exceptions (felony).

Most murders are probably arguments that get out of hand, too. Escalation and provocation are red herrings. If the victim actually assaulted her assailant before getting the shit kicked out of her, that might change the situation. In that case he would be entitled to press counter charges or plead self-defense. But the idea that mere provocation is exculpatory is absurd.

Domestic abuse is chronic, so most instances of domestic violence aren't first offenses. Most victims are assaulted many times before they press charges. Most batterers have a history of violence in intimate relationships and in other contexts.

The proposed South Carolina law already allowed discretion in the laying of charges. The default was to assume that a domestic abuse charge was a felony, but the rare squeaky clean first offender could ask for permission to be charged with common assault.

TomK, sorry to hear about your psychotic affliction, I figured perhaps I should offer a little bit of thought for you. I noticed you claimed/implied that those who tend to look out of the ordinary may be better in the bedroom. Well I hope this comes as an epiphany for you; Sexual gratification is in the mind. Not the Jeans or GENES. If sex wasn't in the mind, rape would be great for all those involved.

I am not to hip to the thinking of the common homosexual, if there is one... but which do you think is the reality... is your condition the product of behavior or defect?

Damn, Lindsay, for some reason you managed to attract the MRA weirdos. Ignore them--it's your best bet. My guess is it's because you're pretty and you don't hide it. For some reason, that pisses them off--it brought them all over to feministing, too.

2. Most often, the victim was the individual that escalated the situation. Usually pushing the other "over the edge". (I remember reading a lengthly article on it, but do not ask me where. I remember it saying something like 75% of domestic violence is instigated by the victim, usually a woman. But do not hold me on that).

So, they had it coming, then. That's really what you're saying. They had it coming.

Could someone please provide a reference for this notion that most domestic violence situations are fights that got out of control?

And can we all please think about the idea that that would somehow make it ok to beat the crap out of another person?

I have little empathy with chickens, male or female. A rich emotional life, as someone above opined? I've raised the beasts, and they are amoral mindless birds with the intellect of an insect. A spot of blood one one hen? The others peck it to death! Quite an emotional life, with the main emotion being intolerant aggression.

To compare a chicken in any sense, legal or otherwise, with a human is just appallingly stupid.

1. I never said it was ok to abuse someone. I said that we might think that different levels of punishment are due depending on what the circumstances are in cases of abuse.

2. I did not say they "have it coming". I said that circumstances leading up to abuse can change how we view the situation(namely, what sort of punishment we think is due). Abuse is wrong, and me saying that people instigating abuse changes how we look at the abuse does not entail me thinking such instigation JUSTIFIES the abuse.

3. Provocation is not a red herring. A killer could use provocation to try and get a weaker sentence. After all, if A kills B, then A might be guilty of murder or manslaughter.

(1) Suppose A kills B, and planned doing so ahead of time. A gets murder in the first.
(2) Suppose A gets angry at B at a bar and kills him. A gets manslaughter.

Just as there are different ways of punishing a killer, (1) and (2), I am suggesting that there might be different punishments that are due in the case of domestic abuse:

(1*) A routinely beats B (A having a violent history), and finally B goes to the police. This seems like a felony.
(2*) B pushes A over the edge, and A, who has no violent history, abuses B. This might seem to warrant a misdemeanor charge.

Obviously (1*) and (2*) are not exhaustive.

I claimed that given some things I have read (which might be horrible sources for all I can remember), domestic abuse is most often a case of (2*). And since domestic abuse apparently has to be a felong or misdemeanor, then we should classify it given what the majority of cases are. Therefore, it should remain a misdemeanor.

If Lindsay is right that most abuse is Chronic (and I am sure her evidence for this claim is better than my evidence was to the contrary), then my argument does not go through. Most abuse cases are instances of (1*), thus domestic abuse should be a felong.

"thus domestic abuse should be a felong."

Felong, DF: a fusion of a footlong and a felony. I hate unrestricted mereological composition.

Here are the American Medical Association's guidelines for identifying and treating domestic violence (>.pdf). One of the statistics cited therein is that 47% of men who beat their wives do so at least 3 times per year. That alone would strongly suggest that the vast majority of abuse is conducted by repeat offenders.

I don't know what percentage of domestic abuse incidents reported to police are first offenses. But if domestic violence is like other crimes, a small minority of the population accounts for the vast majority of the offenses. It's no surprise that some people are violent and that some intimate relationships are abusive. These facts suggest that a lot of domestic abuse is part of a long term pattern.

Brendan, I think your examples show too much. I suspect that very few cases of battery are analogous to premeditated murder. The abuser typically gets mad and attacks the person he or she is angry at. I don't think the law (or morality) recognizes the idea of a legitimate provocation to bodily force--short violence or threats of violence.

The fact that A hurt B's feelings before he kicked the shit out of her is irrelevant. Granted, the fact that B actually lost it after A said something upsetting suggests that B may not have been plotting the attack all day. But that's not excusing the attack, it's just evidence that it wasn't premeditated. If B just beat up A on whim or an imagined provocation, the same moral and legal standard would apply--not premeditated, but equally wrong with or without a "legitimate" provocation.

Long time listner, first time caller, as they say.

dadahead - you are aware that a cock is a CHICKEN, right? A CHICKEN, not a human being. If you would suggest that there is but the slightest equivalence between the two, I would suggest that you refrain from saying anything else on the subject. I have a daughter and I have a lover. They are both female, and they are worth the lives of EVERY CHICKEN ON EARTH. I would rather that KFC pulled the heads off of every living chicken with their hands than have one drunken redneck beat his wife and walk with a misdemeanor.

I'm sure that you are a kind and gentle person, but this sub-PETA stuff makes you sound like a ditzy moron.

"If sex wasn't in the mind, rape would be great for all those involved."

I am mesmerized by the diabolical convolutions of this sentence.


Re the issue of domestic abuse being arguments that got "out of control." It reminds me of an anecdote related to me by a psychiatrist, regarding a couple he was seeing in couple's therapy. The couple had a history of domestic abuse. The doctor asked the husband why he beat his wife. The husband said, "I lost control." The doctor said, "why didn't you kill her?" The husband said, "I didn't want to kill her."

I'm starting to wonder if it's not time for you to retire your Cash-fuck-you-parody pic. My vote would be for something like this.


You are right that the two sets of cases are not analogous. What I wanted to show was an analogy between was cases of manslaugter, which involve provocation, and cases of domestic abuse that involve provocation.
In so far as A killing B and it is not premeditated, and A abusing B and it is not premeditated, I think the cases are analogous.

Yes, you are not going to find many cases of premeditated domestic abuse. But I just wanted to contrast cases of premeditated abuse with cases of abuse that seem worse (like chronic abuse).
To make the cases more analogous, you might replace murder, with serial murder, which would be more similar to the example of chronic abusers.

In so far as a lack of premeditation gets a killer a weaker charge (manslaughter),then it seems the same is warranted in the case of abuse that was not premeditated (a misdemeanor).

Perhaps the contrast should be this: (a) cases of chronic abuse/killing, which are possibly premeditated, compared to (b) cases of abuse/killing, which are first time offenses and are not premeditated, and probably provoked.

Also, I wouldn't say in (b) cases being provoked is going to be legit. Rather, I am saying that these case, while still quite wrong, are not as bad as (a) cases, and do not seem to warrant the same kind of punishment.

I think that it matters very much if B hurt A's feelings, but this does not excuse his actions. It certainly matters compared to the cases where A hurt B's feelings, then beat B's brains out. It matters for determining intent, what charges should be made, and possibility of future offenses. All these things seem to matter.

thedarkbackward - I think that's why dadahead specified about "I'm not saying that the cockfighting law is more important." It's not an either-or situation, which is why the juxtaposition in this post seems weird to some of us.

Personally, I've been a bit concerned today that so many bloggers are setting up the dichotomy that Lindsay did (although Lindsay actually clarified it better than any other I've yet seen, so thanks for that, Lindsay). The disdain for women's lives and safety shown by these men (not just in the legislation but in their personal conduct, i.e. cracking jokes about battered women) is egregious enough in and of itself, without any comparisions, without any references to unrelated decisions. For me, that's enough reason to want them out of their jobs, period.

I just worry that placing too much emphasis on the whole rooster thing actually detracts from the issue at hand, which is that these people don't seem to care at all about the wellbeing of domestic abuse victims.

So go ahead and pull the heads of live chickens all you want, but it won't help anyone.

Was that enough non-sub-PETA-y, or do I sound like a ditzy moron too? There's plenty of reason for you to be pissed off after reading about this issue, but I think you're directing your anger where it doesn't belong, at dadahead and possibly at a bunch of chickens as well, who, no matter what their intelligence, aren't at fault for any of this.

I remember it saying something like 75% of domestic violence is instigated by the victim, usually a woman

And this was determined how?

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