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Letter to Editor

By Pat Friedman, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Oct. 30, 2004

To the editor:

I read with interest your article on the ballot initiative concerning shared parenting (Shared-custody laws urged by fathers in state, Oct.18), which calls for equal and just custody arrangements in cases of divorce. I was dismayed to see Wendy Berg and Deborah Hart's comments included.

These lawyers argue against the initiative because some men are abusive and might use custody arrangements to keep women in fear after the divorce, and some domestic-violence victims might be deterred from seeking help if their children's father is allowed to continue being a part of their lives.

They ignore the fact that the large majority of fathers are not abusive, and that the initiative plainly states that shared parenting arrangements should not be used if either parent is found to be unfit.

If someone were to state that African-Americans should be denied their fundamental rights and due process because some of them are often in trouble with the law, I hope you would recognize this as racist hate speech and would refuse to print it as reasoned argument.

If it were stated that women should be denied rights to their children and due process because some small percentage of them are the primary perpetrators of child abuse, I trust that you would see this as the misogyny and hate speech that it is.

Yet when all men are told that they should be denied the basic right to be equal parents in their children's lives because some few of them are abusers, you print hate speech as if it were judicious reasoning.

Patricia Friedman