Phyllis Schlafly had an interesting article last week over at Towhall.com about domestic violence laws. Turns out, it’s very easy to abuse these laws in most states. Here’s a recent example:
“It brought to mind the title of the George Gershwin song ‘They All Laughed’ when a Santa Fe, N.M., family court judge granted a temporary restraining order against ‘Late Show’ host David Letterman to protect a woman he had never met, never heard of, and lived 2,000 miles away from.
“Colleen Nestler claimed that Letterman had caused her ‘mental cruelty’ and ‘sleep deprivation’ for over a decade by using code words and gestures during his network television broadcasts.
“That ridiculous temporary restraining orders was dismissed in December, but according to a report released this week by Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting, or RADAR, the case was not a judicial anomaly but ‘the logical culmination of years of ever-expanding definitions of domestic violence.’ RADAR is a Maryland-based think tank that specializes in exposing the excesses of the domestic violence bureaucracy.
“The New Mexico statute defines domestic violence as causing ‘severe emotional distress.’ That definition was met when Nestler claimed she suffered from exhaustion and had gone bankrupt because of Letterman’s actions.”
That’s more than ridiculous, folks. It’s redonkulous. The core of the problem is the broad language these laws use, which invites abuse. Schlafly explains:
“RADAR reports that only five states define domestic violence in terms of overt actions that can be objectively proven or refuted in a court of law. The rest of the states have broadened their definition to include fear, emotional distress, and psychological feelings.
“The use of the word ‘harassment’ in domestic violence definitions is borrowed from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s definition, which is based on the ‘effect’ of an action rather than the action itself. In Oklahoma, a man can be charged with harassment if he seriously ‘annoys’ a woman.”
Read the full article here.
Reading the article reminded me on a similar problem on college campuses: overly broad sexual harassment policies. I wrote about the ridiculous sexual harassment at Gettysburg College (a school where you could be accused of harassment for giving your girlfriend or boyfriend a hug if you don’t ask permission first) a few months ago. At many schools, the policies are written so poorly from a legal perspective that they get used to restrict speech that has nothing to do with actual harassment. It’s an issue that will be at the core of the IWF campus program this fall – do stay tuned for some cool stuff.
In both cases, women deserve better. We deserve policies that protect us from harassment, that protect us from domestic violence. Overly broad policies distract us from the core issue: protecting women.