Domestic Violence Often Starts With Pet Abuse

As I was writing this morning, I came across an article on that made my blood boil.  The article was reprinted in The Washington Post on January 22, 2010 from an original article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Its title – “Police Say Georgia Mom Forced Son To Kill Hamster.”  You can link to the article here.

According to the article, thirty-eight year old Lynn Middlebrooks Geter, pictured above, determined that the appropriate punishment for her son’s bad grades was to force him to kill his own pet hamster – with a hammer.  Geter faces one charge of animal cruelty, child cruelty, and battery.

This is a blog about civil rights, and animals certainly have rights under federal and state law in the United States.  However, I decided to post an article of my own about the Geter case because of a different civil rights issue – the right to be free from domestic violence.

In the United States today, many experts (though not all) accept some version of what is known as “The Cycle of Violence” theory.  First introduced in the 1970s by researcher Lenore Walker, the “Cycle of Violence” theory attempts to isolate patterns of abusive behavior in relationships by a cycle of predictable stages.  In Walker’s formulation, those stages are referred to as:  the “Honeymoon” phase, the “Tension-building” phase, and the “Acting Out” phase.

Over the years, “The Cycle of Violence” theory has had additional stages added to it, so that a common graphic illustrating “The Cycle of Violence” theory today looks something like this:

What neither Walker’s formulation nor the one above recognizes, however, is that pet abuse is a common form of domestic violence.  If not coexistent with abuse of a person, pet abuse is often a precursor to more serious forms of abuse.  This is what makes the Geter case so troubling, aside from the obvious animal cruelty.

According to the group (which stands for – An Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection), of 50 women’s shelters surveyed, 85% reported that women in their shelter talked about pet abuse, 63% of children talked about pet abuse, and 83% said that they had observed the coexistence of domestic violence and pet abuse.  Further research indicated that 70% to 75% of women reporting domestic violence also reported that their partner had threatened and/or actually hurt or killed one or more of their pets.  The link to above also contains links to the original research, so it is well worth checking out if you are interested in this issue.

The lesson to be learned from this research is clear.  Even if you have not been targeted by an act of violence by a spouse, partner, or someone with whom you have a close or intimate relationship, you should take a threat of violence or act of violence against your pet as very serious.

Cases such as the Geter case – a parent forcing a child to kill their own pet as a punishment – are atypical and, unfortunately, I am aware of no concrete research into statistics of such cases.  What I am certain of, however, is that Geter committed a heinous act of domestic violence upon her child, who is 12 years old, and I would not be surprised if evidence uncovers additional acts of domestic violence in the Geter household.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Hypocrisy Alert! Senator Coburn Calls For Prayer; Hatch & Co. Say Health Care Bill Unconstitutional

With all the rancor swirling around Capitol Hill over the health care bill (or fiasco, if you prefer), it is not surprising that our elected representatives are saying and writing the most peculiar things.  Two Senators’ words, however, are just so hypocritical and, frankly, ridiculous that they deserve special attention as being CIVIL WRONGS:

The first of these Senators is Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.  On December 21, 2009, during floor debate in the Senate over the health care bill, Senator Coburn stated that Americans should pray that some of the Senators not be able to make the vote (referring to those Senators expected to vote for the health care bill).  Coburn did not specify what he meant, but at least one implication was that the other Senators suffer some mishap or setback.

This comment by Coburn drew the ire of Senator Durbin of Illinois, who called on Coburn to return to the Senate floor and explain his comments which Durbin stated “troubles me.”  Coburn did not respond.  I have downloaded a copy of the video exchange on the Senate floor for you in the Box.

Sen. Coburn is quite the loving, God-fearing soul.  Before he became a Senator, Dr. Coburn was a medical doctor in Oklahoma.  Approximately 13 years ago, a patient accused him of sterilizing her without her consent.  During Coburn’s hotly contested race for the Senate, the young woman, by that time 34, came forward to stand by her charges against Coburn.  You can link to an article discussing the medical malpractice case against Coburn here.  The article was written in the Washington Post, not exactly a bastion of the liberal media.

The other Senator worthy of mention is Orrin G. Hatch of Idaho.  Recently, in an op-ed piece he wrote to the Wall Street Journal, Hatch laid out his position as to why the health care bill is unconstitutional.  You can link to the op-ed piece here.

I have to admit that I can see the merit in some of Hatch’s arguments.  I am pissed off that the so-called “public option” is lost, that Joe Lieberman was allowed to play the self-appointed role of “super Senator,” and that Senator Nelson was bought off in a “cash for cloture” deal leaving the Feds obligated to pay Nebraska’s share of the Medicaid expansion into perpetuity.

Indeed, there are serious constitutional questions raised by the Nelson deal, which some states appear poised to pursue.  You can link to an article discussing the “cash for cloture” deal and its constitutional issue here.  Nelson’s vote was treated as being so important that he was referred to in a recent article as one of the four new “kings of the Hill” by CNN.  You can link to that article here.

I am also pissed off that President Obama appears poised to sign this garbage legislation instead of calling the bill (and the process that gave birth to it) exactly what it is – a dirty, money-infested joke!  My dream headline for 2010:  “Obama Vetoes Health Care Bill; Tells Senate To Pull Head Out Of Its [   ] And Get Back To Work!”

That being said, I simply cannot believe there is any real, genuine concern over constitutionality when the argument is offered by a Senator who voted for the P.A.T.R.I.O.T act with no concern about constitutionality.  Moreover, Hatch has little room to act “holier than thou” in the health care debate when he is so favored by big pharmaceutical companies.  In the early 1990s, Hatch created a foundation which has recently received about $172,000 in donations from 5 big pharmaceutical companies and an industry trade group known as Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.  By pure coincidence, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers also employs Hatch’s son, Scott Hatch.  You can link to an article discussing these facts here.

As a matter of fact, the pharmaceutical industry is Senator Hatch’s biggest contributor, donating more than $1.25 million to his campaigns since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

I agree with Mitchell Baird’s December 28, 2009 article in The Huffington Post, entitled:  “The Republicans’ Disdain For The American People Should Be The Story Of 2009.”  Baird points out that the Republicans in Congress care less about the American people than they do with scoring petty political victories, and it seems to me that both Coburn and Hatch exemplify that.

In Hatch’s case, another question came to my mind as I read his op-ed piece – Why now, Senator?  The health care bill has been through committee, conferences, and all manner of back-room shenanigans without any mention (to my knowledge) of any looming constitutional dilemma.  Granted, the Ben Nelson deal came up rather late in the day, but the gist of the health care bill – i.e., that the Feds would require individuals to purchase insurance – was known early on.

Why only after the bill passes do you make these important issues  known to the American people?  Is it the Constitution you are concerned about, or are you more concerned about scoring points with your political base and damaging Obama?  What solutions for the disastrous health care system have you produced other than the same failed policies of the Bush years?

It is also worth noting that Hatch’s co-author, Ken Blackwell, is best known as the Secretary of State in Ohio during the 2004 election.  At the same time as he was Ohio’s chief elections official, Blackwell was honorary co-chair of the “Committee to re-elect George W. Bush.”  Allegations of conflict of interest and voter disenfranchisement led to the filing of at least sixteen related lawsuits naming Blackwell.  Blackwell was again named as a defendant in a 2006 lawsuit related to his office’s public disclosure of the Social Security numbers of Ohio residents.  Far from being Mr. Constitution, Blackwell is an outspoken, staunch conservative who, for example, believes that abortion should be permitted only where necessary to save the life of the mother.  Blackwell’s understanding of the Constitution is about as tenuous as it gets.

You can link to a Wikipedia article discussing Mr. Blackwell here.

Lastly, Hatch’s other co-author, Kenneth Klukowski writes articles for a website, Human Events, calling itself the conservative underground.  Here is a sample of Mr. Klukowski’s one-sided writings from that website.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]