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April 21, 2005

Women's Lives Aren't As Important As Gamecocks

Update: I Like *Nice* Men has also commented on this sordid business.

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I had read about this in e-mail this morning, but Sheelzebub also wrote to me to tell me about her post on this infuriating subject. In South Carolina, at this moment, cockfighting and beating women are both misdemeanors. However, a bill just passed that now makes cockfighting a felony. A bill that would have made beating women a felony was tabled. So, you will get five years in jail for cockfighting, but beating a woman remains a misdemeanor that will get you only thirty days in jail.

Over the past few years, "South Carolina has either led the nation or ranked in the top six in the rate of women killed by men." The domestic violence bill was introduced by Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Dist. 66-Orangeburg). It would have "increased the penalties for domestic violence offenders and required judges to complete annual training in domestic violence issues. Advocates said they had offered amendments to remove sections that committee members had objected to, such as one that expanded the definition of "physical cruelty," a grounds for divorce. But the amendments never got introduced. Instead, advocates said, committee members joked about the title of the bill and then tabled it with little discussion."

There has been plenty of outrage over Rep. John Graham Altman's (R-Dist. 119-Charleston) comments about the domestic violence bill.

Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Dist. 66-Orangeburg) says of the two bills, "What we have said by the actions of the Judiciary Committee is we aren't going to create a felony if you beat your wife, partner. But now, if you've got some cockfighting going on, whoa! Wait a minute."

Rep. Altman responds to the comparison, "People who compare the two are not very smart and if you don't understand the difference, Ms. Gormley, between trying to ban the savage practice of watching chickens trying to kill each other and protecting people rights in CDV statutes, I'll never be able to explain it to you in a 100 years ma'am."

The problem is that now if a man participates in cockfighting, he can get five years in jail. If the same man beats his wife, he'll get only thirty days. Where are you priorities, Mr. Altman?

News 10 reporter Kara Gormley asked Altman, "That's fine if you feel you will never be able to explain it to me, but my question to you is: does that show that we are valuing a gamecock's life over a woman's life?"

Altman again, "You're really not very bright and I realize you are not accustomed to this, but I'm accustomed to reporters having a better sense of depth of things and you're asking this question to me would indicate you can't understand the answer. To ask the question is to demonstrate an enormous amount of ignorance. I'm not trying to be rude or hostile, I'm telling you."

Answer the question, Mr. Altman. Telling a reporter she's "not very bright" is avoiding the question. Yes, with the tabling of the domestic violence bill, it's clear that women's lives are not important to some legislators in South Carolina, especially when they crack prejudicial jokes about it. Especially taking into consideration your dreadful comments about abused women you make later in this article.

Gormley, "It's rude when you tell someone they are not very bright."

Altman, "You're not very bright and you'll just have to live with that."

Yeah, she's just another bitchy women whining about wife-beating.

In the follow-up interview, Rep. Altman commented, "I wanted to offend that snippy reporter who come in here on a mission. She already had the story and she came in with some dumb questions and I don't mind telling people when they ask dumb questions."

Rep. Cobb-Hunter says, "The reality is the law says domestic violence regardless, first, second or third offense is a misdemeanor, and what they passed yesterday says cockfighting is a felony."

And the question remains unanswered - why does South Carolina value a gamecock's life over that of an abused woman? Mr. Altman, there have been lots of angry communications from people who are offended and outraged over your comments, the jokes, and the fact that the domestic violence bill has been tabled.

Rep. Altman spoke about domestic violence, "There ought not to be a second offense. The woman ought to not be around the man. I mean you women want it one way and not another. Women want to punish the men, and I do not understand why women continue to go back around men who abuse them. And I've asked women that and they all tell me the same answer, John Graham you don't understand. And I say you're right, I don't understand."

Now we get down to it - he's another guy who blames abused women for returning to their abusers. He's not very bright. Doesn't he know that most women leave their abusers, but it takes them a few tries to get out of the relationship? It took me three tries. I had a child to worry about, I had nowhere to go, and I had no social or financial support to leave the first two times. By the third time, I had support groups and my friends behind me. I also finally had financial resources to get out of that hellish situation. Women often love the men, and believe them when they say they'll never do it again. That's called the Honeymoon Period, and anyone who has worked with abused women should know that. The abuse doesn't automatically stop once the woman leaves, either. It usually escalates because the abuser realizes he's losing his power grip over his victim. He ups the ante. It escalated in the months after I left, plus he used the court system to continue to abuse me. This clown would blame me for not leaving for good the first time. He isn't very bright when it comes to the realities of the hell abused women go through.

Gormley, "So it's their fault for going back?"

Altman, "Now there you go, trying to twist that too. And I don't mind you trying. It's not the woman's fault, it's not blaming the victim, but tell me what self respecting person is going back around someone who beats them?"

That's right. Blame the stupid bitch for going back. You don't have one word to say about why these men are allowed to continue to abuse their wives and girlfriends.

Bourus says there a number of reasons, "She may have children with that person, and she may fear that it will harm them to live without their dad, or she is majorly financially dependent on his check to feed her children."

Bourus adds another reason women sometimes stay, "After an incident a violent incident, quite often the batterer will say I'm so sorry, it will never happen again."

Rep. Altman has worked with abused women, and in a second interview with a lowcountry station he said he tells them not to go back, and when he does, "They listen to me, they don't don't go back."

When asked whether he was sure, he said, "At least not while I'm representing her."

Here we have another man thinking he can tell women how they should conduct their lives. How does he know they never went back? He doesn't. Chances are they did a couple of times, and on the last try to get out they stayed out for good.

During the same interview, he responded to the reporter's question, "You seem to be drawn to this fixation that women have to go back. I don't think that speaks highly of women. I think women can think and be responsible for their own actions. Woman are not some toys out there, drawn back to the magnet of the man a lot of these men are bums and creatons and they have to be punished but I think women are independent enough to not go back to the men who beat them. And we have a lot of men who are abused by women, but they are too ashamed to admit it."

He's the one who doesn't have a very high opinion of women. He's so full of himself that he thinks every woman he had ever "helped" never went back. Women are responsible for their own actions. They go back because the available alternatives at that time were not much better. He acts as if women can't think for themselves. Despite his claim that he has "worked" with abused women, he doesn't understand them. He goes as far as to ridicule them. And notice he had to tack on the "abused men" business there, too. The bill's name is "Protect Our Women in Every Relationship (POWER)". Mr. Altman had wondered why only women were mentioned, and not men. This isn't about abused men. It about abused women because the vast majority of domestic violence victims are female.


One of the jokes committee members made had to do with the title of the bill. Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Harrison wanted to change it from "Protect Our Women in Every Relationship (POWER)" to "Protecting Our People in Every Relationship" Act, or "POPER." A voice on the tape can be heard pronouncing it “Pop her.” Another voice then says, “Pop her again,” followed by laughter." Harrison said the advocates for abused women were "overreacting" and the comments weren’t intended to diminish the gravity of domestic violence. "If you take it that way, you're overly sensitive," he said.


Geez, you dumb bitches, can't you take a joke? No wonder South Carolina has one of the highest rates of abused and murdered women in the nation.

Rep. Cobb-Hunter explained her bill, "The question that needs to be asked is this. Should a woman because she decides to go back for whatever the reason to return to an abusive relationship, does that mean it's Ok to beat her, to kill her, for her to lose her life, for her children to witness the violence they witness?"

Rep. Altman, "I know you are after a story. And it's kind of a nice story, that we've tabled a CDV bill. Because then you can talk about the insensitive man, the insensitive legislator, but it's not the case. But I don't know why a woman, there would ever be a second offense."

So, if an abused woman returns to her abuser and is beaten again or killed, and if her children witness more violence, it's her fault for returning? Doesn't Mr. Altman know that the most dangerous time for an abused woman is immediately after she leaves her abuser? Leaving alone doesn't guarantee that she and her children will be safe.

Cobb-Hunter admits there was a lot of information in the bill, which she co-sponsored, but she is already working on breaking it down, "One of the things I've learned, having been here as long as I have, is that if at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

Rep. Altman spoke out against a number of items in the bill, including dealing with restraining orders and training judges, "Clearly this bill is drawn by people who don't know what is going on out there."

I couldn't find any news reports that explained what his problems were with restraining orders, but I suspect it has to do with that myth that women frequently make false allegations of abuse. As I have repeatedly proven here, that is not true.

Rep. Altman doesn't agree with the training, "What are you going to tell a family court judge that a family court judge doesn't already know about domestic violence?"

Vicki Bourus helped draft the bill, and what she calls a key item in it, the training of family court judges and magistrates, "There is very little if any training in domestic violence for them on a mandatory basis."

Bourus says, "You may know that many magistrates are not trained as attorneys so they wouldn't even have that piece of it that attorneys might get."

Judges and magistrates are often uninformed about the dynamics of domestic violence, and they need to be educated. It's clear that Mr. Altman is in dire need of education.

Speaker David Wilkins issued the following statement Wednesday regarding this story, "Criminal Domestic Violence (CDV) and animal cruelty are both critical issues that this body takes very seriously. The House is working diligently to improve the language on the CDV bill and pass meaningful legislation. That is our goal. In its present form, the bill has a number of legal and technical problems that would have made it very difficult to pass. We intend to fix those problems and get a bill to the floor of the House."

While Bourus doesn't agree with what Graham Altman has to say, she is happy that people are starting to talk about the issue of domestic violence, "Is Graham Altman alone in his way of thinking? Oh, no, no, no. I think he's a very vocal rep, resistent to really seeing domestic violence as the serious crime that it is, but we know that sentiment is runs throughout the House and Senate as well. But we also know there are some very valiant allies."

Wednesday, Rep. Altman told the lowcountry television station that he didn't mean to offend victims of domestic violence, but had no apology for the interview.

Cobb-Hunter plans to reintroduce the bill in January. If you want to voice your opinion on these bills, you can call the House Judiciary Committee at (803) 734-3120. Rep. Altman's office phone number is (803) 734-2947 and you can contact Rep. Cobb-Hunter's office at (803) 734-2809 or you can email Cobb-Hunter at gch@scstatehouse.net

Posted on April 21, 2005 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

Comments

OY. Sounds like some cockfighting of a different sort by some Gamecock governments officials continues. I tell myself I couldn't be more surprised by what I see. Then I wake up. Another chapter in the same book. Did I say oy? Oy

Posted by: The Heretik at Apr 21, 2005 3:40:52 PM

Jesus. This is some sick sick shit. It's especially sick that they were laughing about "pop her." What century is this? What country is this? Oh wait ... we're talking about the same state that only recently stopped flying the confederate flag on their statehouse, and only after a huge national outcry. Dicks.

Posted by: FemiKnit Mafia at Apr 21, 2005 4:10:42 PM

The guy that was against this bill, no surprise, is also against gay marriage and and in favor of "Choose Life" plates. Everybody who voted for this fuck needs to apologize right now and repeal the bastard.

Posted by: ginmar at Apr 21, 2005 5:07:19 PM

Do you think these bastards are against abused women defending themselves physically against their abusers (ie: with a gun)? Probably. After all, they said "pop her" as the article stated, and I doubt they intended that to mean abused women can also do the same against their abusers. What shitheaded assholes. And some of these pricks are married?! Those women need to get away from these guys!

Posted by: Pseudo-Adrienne at Apr 21, 2005 9:30:11 PM

What a sickening bastard this Altman jerk is. I couldn't even finish the interview because reading his spew was making me literally nauseous. How the H*LL did he manage to become Rep in the first place?!

Absolutely disgusting. He's a mysogynist to the Nth degree, and probably abusive to boot. I hope he dies and is reincarnated as a woman in an abusive home--with all his former memories intact. Yuch.

BTW--Check italics HTML, hon! We're all whispering!

--TwoDragons

Posted by: Denita TwoDragons at Apr 23, 2005 4:01:17 PM

Further statement--this fuckstick is the kind of Conservative who gives us a bad name. Folks, PLEASE understand that we're NOT all like this jackass!!!

Gag, I need a shower after reading his verbal vomit...

--TwoDragons

Posted by: Denita TwoDragons at Apr 23, 2005 4:03:32 PM

Denita: "BTW--Check italics HTML, hon! We're all whispering!"

I know. I think the open tag is in trackbacks, and I can't figure out how to fix it. So I guess we all get to whisper. ;)

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Apr 23, 2005 4:23:57 PM

Hmmm...let me try something in the Comments--it's worked before...

Testing...testing...

--TwoDragons

Posted by: Denita TwoDragons at Apr 23, 2005 4:36:29 PM

...damn, didn't work...Ah well.

We'll just pretend we're all in a library for now. *grin*

--TwoDragons

Posted by: Denita TwoDragons at Apr 23, 2005 4:37:48 PM

I think I have an idea what you were trying to do, Denita. I tried it too, and it didn't work.

Time to pretend we're in a movie theatre. ;) If the kids in front of you talk too loudly, just kick their seats.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Apr 23, 2005 6:24:07 PM

Oh darn. Just kick their seats? You mean pouring ice-cold Dr. Pepper down their backs is out of the question...? *evil grin*

--TwoDragons

Posted by: Denita TwoDragons at Apr 23, 2005 9:58:48 PM