Free Harry!

By Mark Charalambous


February 1, 2000

On February 12, all being well, Harry Stewart will walk out of the Dedham County House of Correction. Having paid his debt to society, Stewart will once again be a free man. Or will he?

Harry Stewart, like thousands of other men, has been adjudged by our criminal justice system as something known as an "abuser." His crime was violating a domestic abuse prevention (Massachusetts ch. 209A) order. The loose writing of the law allows men such as Stewart to be found guilty for innocuous technical violations of the no-contact provisions of the 209A order even though the trial judge instructed the jury that Stewart did not commit "abuse." Specifically, Stewart had been charged over the past few years with several no-contact violations, all stemming from his exercising visitation rights to his children. The charge that eventually nailed him was one of several for simply leaving his car to help his son return to his mother's home following a visitation. The terms of his abuse prevention order required Stewart to stay in his car when exchanging the children.

You might think that Stewart was a dangerous man with a history of violence, and that the protection order was necessary for the safety and wellbeing of his "victim," his ex-wife. But this is not the case. Stewart is a non-violent man, a lay minister in fact, and claims that he was the victim of several violent assaults by his wife.

All Stewart is really guilty of is being a father who refuses to become one of the legions of throwaway dads. He loves his two sons, and he refused to just go away quietly. That is his real crime. Charging men with "domestic abuse" is but one of several legal ways that loving fathers are forcibly separated from their children.

The ugly fact is, for the thousands of fathers like Stewart, our nation has become a veritable police state. For fathers, divorce has become a process of criminalization.

While politicians wax on about getting tough on deadbeat dads and the domestic violence "epidemic," those who have been adversely affected by divorce know the reality behind the rhetoric.

Domestic violence is real. But "domestic abuse" is an invention of the victim-feminist gestalt an amorphous and evolving code that magically shrink-wraps any man who contests custody of his children.

Domestic violence, predicated on "domestic abuse," has become a political crime. And like political crimes in police states, no solution is too draconian. Civil rights and due process considerations are forgotten in the rush to judgment of the men accused. Governor Cellucci has proposed legislation to increase the penalty for subsequent violations of 209A orders to five years in jail. Under Cellucci's vision, Stewart could have been sent to jail for 17-and-a-half years for his "crimes." This is more than a convicted rapist or violent criminal would get.

In Massachusetts, the domestic violence regime is fueled by over $24,000,000 of state government money alone. It is a complex web of social services, district attorneys offices, victim-witness advocates, battered women's shelters, supervised visitation centers, batterers intervention programs, and the court infrastructure that serves as their gateway. But this is just part of the story. The total funding for the industry is unknown. According to a report in Massachusetts News last year, the Governor's Commission on Domestic Violence refused to divulge how much money is involved, despite repeated calls.

The DV industry also funds a reeducation program. Children of both sexes are taught early on about the evils inherent in the male sex. Girls are being taught to fear boys. Boys are taught that they are the flawed sex, in need of repair by education, therapy, medication, and finally, by correction.

The DV industry spits out studies and pamphlets on the inherent evils of the "batterer sex" by the bushel load. Yet since research first began on domestic violence in the 1970's, one quiet truth has remained constant: Domestic violence is not a manifestation of the "oppressor class" using violence when necessary to retain control over women. Stubbornly, all the studies show that women are just as likely as men to perpetrate domestic violence. If anything, it appears that women may be more likely to resort to violence in their intimate and family relationships. Studies that examine domestic violence in the lesbian and gay communities reveal that of all types of relationships, it appears that lesbians may be the most prone to violence of all. If this is true, it stands as a denunciation of the victim-feminist worldview.

February 12 is Lincoln's birthday. Lincoln freed the slaves, but who is going to free the thousands of fathers, like Stewart, who are imprisoned for the political crime of loving their children and refusing to go away quietly in the night?

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