October 11th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
A charge of domestic violence can mean many things beyond the factual allegations. It can mean that the man charged may no longer live in his house even if it’s his separate property. It can mean he may no longer possess the great majority of the personal property that is his. If he has children, he may not see or communicate with them, not they with him. It means he may not possess a firearm and, if he’s a police officer or a member of the armed services, may lose his job. If that’s his lifelong career, he may need to find a new one.
So, apart from the charge against him and whatever sentence may come from a conviction, there’s a whole array of other consequences that follow from a charge of DV as from few other allegations. Perhaps the most pernicious of those is the claim, made by domestic violence advocates everywhere, that elected officials who are charged with domestic violence, must resign from office prior to the adjudication of the offense. Sometimes that’s effective and sometimes it’s not, but regardless, the claim is above all anti-democratic. Gone entirely from the rhetoric of DV activists is the concept that the voters are the ones to decide whether, on all the evidence, they want the accused to continue representing them. No, to DV activists, We the People should not have that choice, it should be taken from us by the single person who leveled the charge.
And so it was with San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. Read the latest here (CBS News, 10/10/12). Last December, he and his wife, former Venezuelan telenovela star Eliana Lopez, had an argument at their home. Apparently, she tried to leave the room and he grabbed her upper arm, preventing her from doing so. His hand made a bruise on her arm. He was charged and, despite Lopez’s stringent efforts to get prosecutors to drop the whole thing, Mirkarimi eventually pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of false imprisonment (for not allowing her to leave the room).
But, as seems always to be the case, the actions of the criminal justice system weren’t sufficient for domestic violence extremists for whom no punishment is too harsh for DV. They called for Mirkarimi to be fired by the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco. Again, as they see it, the voters are not to be trusted. By now, every sentient being in the city knows what Mirkarimi did, the circumstances around the event and Lopez’s take on it. That is, voters are informed on the issue and can decide for themselves whether Mirkarimi should continue to represent them when the next election comes around. But to domestic violence extremists, that’s too big a chance to take. After all, what if voters re-elected him? That would suggest that everyday people don’t think one spouse’s grabbing another’s arm is such a serious act that it should permanently bar him/her from holding public office. And if word got out that people generally disagreed with the DV industry, that could be a serious blow to the industry and, in the long run, maybe even its funding.
So, best to get Mirkarimi and any other male perpetrator of DV out of office without a vote.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Brave New World. The Board of Supervisors met, heard arguments for and against discharging Mirkarimi, and decided to let him keep his job. Another funny thing was that hundreds of people attended the hearing and many of them spoke.
Deputy City Attorney Sherri Kaiser said Mirkarimi committed an act of domestic violence that should not be ignored.
“It wasn’t a mistake on Dec. 31. It was a crime, a very serious crime,” Kaiser said, bringing a chorus of boos from the crowd…
[Mirkarimi and Lopez] sat together during the hearing Tuesday, as more than 100 people spoke, an overwhelming majority in favor of Mirkarimi — some wearing “Stand with Ross” buttons.
Relatively few called for the sheriff’s ouster. Beverly Upton, executive director of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, told board members that Mirkarimi’s crime requires disciplinary action on their behalf. “I know today will take leadership and courage,” said Upton, the anti-domestic violence advocate. “The facts matter. The world is watching.”
However, Brenda Barros, of San Francisco, said many people don’t entirely agree with the anti-domestic violence advocacy groups regarding Mirkarimi. “Don’t make the assumption that all women agree with these women, because we don’t,” Barros said to loud applause.
Actually, the disagreement of ordinary folks with the domestic violence establishment is a lot deeper and broader than just the Mirkarimi case. In the United States and Canada, for example, the vast majority of domestic violence incidents are never reported to the police or any other authority. Why? The Canadian government asked that question and the answer is telling. There, some 72% of all DV cases go unreported, mostly because the people involved don’t trust the legal process to deal with the situation properly.
Most people view the type of thing that happened between Sheriff Mirkarimi and his wife to be a matter for the couple to deal with, not the police, not the courts and most of all, not DV activists. Their take on the matter is in line with social science that finds such incidents to be usually situational in nature, i.e. neither habitual nor chronic. But to the DV industry, every physical or emotional action by a male intimate toward a woman that can be seen as unpleasant or in any way confining to her liberty, cannot be a rare or one-time thing. To them, it’s necessarily a pattern of behavior aimed at keeping women barefoot and pregnant. That such behavior is in fact quite rare and limited to a relatively few abusers who can be male or female, is completely ignored and even denied outright by the DV industry.
So the people answering the survey by the Canadian government were right – the system doesn’t deal properly with the problem of DV as it usually exists. By treating all DV, regardless of how trivial, as a pattern of abuse that can only grow worse over time and by taking away the basic rights of the accused, the system overreacts to relatively minor cases like Mirkarimi’s, while virtually ensuring that serious cases won’t be reported. As one study by a Harvard researcher indicates, that increases the probability of serious injury or death to women. You’d think that fact would spur the DV industry to change its ways, but no. Time and again we see it: their ideology is more important to them even than the protection of women.
And that’s what the people at the Mirkarimi hearing were saying. The system we have for dealing with DV is about as incompetent as it’s possible to be for the simple reason that the assumptions on which it’s based are now and always have been wrong.
“Don’t make the assumption that all women agree with these women, because we don’t,” Barros said to loud applause.