Sunday, April 10, 2005


Igor Pecherksy is a Russian-born (St. Petersberg) Israeli computer programmer who works in the molecular genetics department at the Weizmann Institute. The administration at the Weizmann Institute is threatening to fire poor Igor. His grievous sin? He expressed his political opinions quietly by wearing a small pin on his lapel. The pin is about the size of one of those AIDS ribbons the PC profs often wear. But it shows a small orange Jewish star. It is the symbol of the movement to support the Jewish "settlers" in the Gaza Strip and expresses opposition to their expulsion under the Ariel Sharon-Amram Mitzna "Disengagement Plan".

Doctor Igor wears the pin when he comes to work. Some leftist busybodies on campus complained that the pin is interfering with their ability to do their work. Now, if you saw exactly what Igor looks like in his pin, you'd agree he's not exactly Hulk Hogan threatening the leftist secretaries. But that pin is interfering with the work of campus lefties. Leftists at Weizmann, of course, always park their cars with the "Expel the Settlers" bumper stickers on campus parking lots, but that is protected academic free speech.

Doctor Igor is now under threat of expulsion and dismissal from his job for quietly expressing an opinion.

More here


Who hasn't heard of "battered woman syndrome"? Who hasn't heard the heated arguments about its use in criminal cases and courtrooms? Now how many can say they know the term "intimate partner battering and its effects"? Get used to it, because California is poised to lead the way in getting rid of, once and for all, that outdated, misleading term "battered woman" or "battered wife" syndrome that has not always served victims well. Because, of course, not all domestic violence victims are women. They're not always married. They aren't necessarily heterosexuals. And they certainly aren't sick or afflicted with some weird malady, as if being beaten and abused is somehow their fault.

This week, in a bill that follows up on a successful measure last year by former Democratic Sen. John Burton, another Democratic lawmaker has moved California closer to getting the language right. Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, has proposed a bill that would change the language in all sections of the California Code from "battered woman syndrome" to the more accurate "intimate partner battering and its effects." AB 220 is more sweeping than last year's bill by Burton (and co-authored by Leno), which only amended the term in the Evidence Code. Leno's bill, which passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee this week, finishes up the job. "We know that language is enormously important," says Leno. "... Just by changing some simple wording we can change the conversation about the very serious phenomenon of domestic violence." First, the outdated usage of "battered woman syndrome" ignores the full range of domestic violence victims, he said. "And the term 'syndrome' with reference to women gives the impression and continues to perpetuate a destructive myth there's something about the woman that causes this to happen," said the lawmaker.

Advocates for battered women have long argued that the language needs to change, to more accurately and fully reflect what we now know about domestic violence. The term "battered woman syndrome" was first coined in the late 1970s by psychologist and author Lenore Walker, who wrote a book of the same name. "It really took off, and it was helpful at that historical moment," said Andrea Bible, coordinator of the San Francisco-based Free Battered Women group, which supports the bill. But as it was used in more cases, she said, it also began being used to undermine domestic violence victims. "The focus really started to become, 'Does she have battered woman syndrome?' rather than looking at the abusive, controlling behavior by her partner," she said. " It was something that was never a clinical diagnosis, but it was treated that way, and people tried to diagnose women."

Whatever it ends up being called in California, at least one lawmaker still isn't buying the concept. Republican Assemblyman Ray Haynes of Murrieta, the only "no" vote on the judiciary committee, told me he "never agreed with this theory of battered woman syndrome ... that you get to go kill somebody because they've been beating you up over a period of time." It also bothers him to see the concept extended to same-sex couples, in which "physically, the parties are (often) in a similar relationship," he said. "You don't have one dominant physical partner usually in those kind of cases."

But Bible points out that so-called "battered woman syndrome" is not a defense to murder, a common misconception. Instead, she says, evidence of battery and its effects often are presented in conjunction with traditional defenses in a murder case - that the abuse victim, for example, had acted in self-defense.

Haynes, a lawyer, still doesn't buy it.


Swedish sexism: "Sweden, where almost half of all MPs are women, is on the verge of striking a fresh blow for sexual equality as a newly formed feminist alliance is now tipped to unseat the Prime Minister. The Feminist Initiative, launched earlier this week, is already eating into the support of the ruling Social Democrats and their Green and Left Party coalition allies. And, of those backing the group launched to fight for women's rights, more than one in three are men."

No comments: