Monday, December 8, 2008

Abusers and their punishment

A woman in my town stabbed her husband. He had been abusive for years, and was, if I read correctly, in the process of physically abusing her again when she grabbed for a large knife (moral: don't beat your wife in the kitchen) and stabbed him. Whereupon he died.
She was arrested, tried, convicted of some sort of murder or aggravated manslaughter and sent off to spend time in jail.
The judge said that he intended to "send a message."
Hmmm. What sort of message could he be sending? Let's see -- how about, "All you uppity women need to mind your husbands, and if they smack you around a little, that's their prerogative." Did you know that the phrase "rule of thumb" came from an old statute that a man couldn't beat his wife with a stick that was larger in diameter than his thumb? I kinda think that's where the judge was going for his precedents.
Those who applaud the judge's decision will say, "Well (huffy). She could always leave him." Or, "Well, she could have sought help." Those are the simple-minded answers of people who have options. Folks, I've seen this woman's picture, and I don't really believe that any options were open to her except the one she took. She was just a drudge who'd been beaten on for years and finally snapped.
You could respond, "Well, abuse is very bad and all that, but it's not worth killing over, is it?"
Sure it is. A decade or so of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse is easily worth the life of some scummy sonuvabitch with the IQ of a houseplant and the empathy of a salamander (Sorry about that, salamander lovers).
Here's what I think. First, that the judge is dumb enough to take a three-dollar bill in change for a five. Second, that anyone who abuses a spouse deserves whatever comes to him or her. That's the kind of message I'd like to see sent out.
I think Billy-Bubba Pussgut might treat his wife a little better if he knew that she could blow him away with the family 12-gauge as he slept -- and get away with it.


bekkieann said...

What you're saying here is very important. Our prisons have so many inmates whose cases are just like this one. Ironically, prison probably provides them the most safety they've felt in years.

I think you said it all when you said this woman had no options.

This judge is remarkably lacking in discernment, exceeded only by his own self-importance. Sending a message, indeed!

Jacqueline said...

Such a simple theory: If people know there truly are consequences for behaving badly, they will be less likely to misbehave".

Why is the concept of "consequences" so difficult to grasp anymore? Imagine the numerous crimes that never would be...