Alright, so I’m not really here to talk to you about Hot Topic today. Shame, that. What I do have for you today, however, is a topic that happens to be hot.
This is an issue that will hit awfully close to home for both feminists and the MHRM: when do we get the right to defend ourselves from violence and abuse?
At first glance, you might expect MRAs to jump for joy and cheer with a “booyeah! Take yer own medicine biyatch!” kind of approach. I’m sure there’s a handful out there who were stricken with a profound sense of schadenfreude, but this feeling was largely crushed by a much worse one – “Oh gawd, they’ve made this nonsense so common even a man can get away with it without having to play the pussy pass.”
Here’s the fundamental fear that we, as MRAs, have: the original intent of the laws that allowed this kind of thing to happen were set up specifically so that a woman could murder her boyfriend or husband if he had been abusive in the past, without needing any immediate threat of danger. If she just felt like killing him, it’d be okay because head for an eye “justice” is totally in these days. Strangely enough, we actually don’t want to see this happen. When your feelings override your judgement, that doesn’t excuse you of your behaviour; it just means you’ll perpetuate the same behaviour again the next time you’re emotional, especially since it’s been reinforced via positive feedback as being acceptable behaviour.
This has come to a point where we specifically warned that this day would be coming, and that the laws which had been being passed would lead to this kind of aberration becoming the new norm for society, where someone can walk up and murder someone on a whim, and then be let off the hook because they were emotionally distressed.
Or… is that what really happened?
We advocate for personal responsibility; it’s one of the key cornerstones of the movement: if you do something, you get both the credit for when things go right, as well as the responsibility to clean up the mess or pay for the damages if something goes wrong. If someone fucked up, they should rightfully be nailed to the wall, and there’s no issue with that. However, we also advocate for using reason and a fair judicial process, so jumping to conclusions can’t be allowed, not even by us.
Universality of principles is a harsh mistress, and sadly, it means that even if we’d like to jump on the bandwagon and go “LOOK, LOOK, We’re good too! We hate the guy who shot his de facto wife!”, well… we can’t until we know if he really deserves to be hated.
And this was starting out to be such a nice, short, to the point article. Oh well, strap on the hip waders; there’s a veritable lake of bullshit out there, so walk with me a moment.
First and foremost, we need to identify what would and would not constitute adequate reason for us to get pissed off. These definitions absolutely must be in place before we even examine the problem so that we can’t shift their definitions at the end to fit what we want to be the answer to whatever we find out. Yeah, we’re not allowed to fire blindly and move the target so it hits, go figure.
In terms of what would be reasonable to be upset about, we must clearly state that the idea of someone being emotional over previous wrongs being cited as proof of no wrongdoing is more than enough reason to be in opposition to this case, if it happens to be true. It doesn’t matter what someone did to you previously, only what immediate threat they present. If you or someone else is not under immediate, imminent threat, then you don’t get to kill someone. Having a bad feeling or stating that someone did something bad in the past isn’t self defense; it’s vigilante justice, and we have courtrooms for a reason – vigilantes tend to not bother fact checking and fuck shit up without having adequate reason to do so in most cases. This leads directly into the mentality for witch hunts, lynch mobs, and other nasty parts of our history we’d just as soon not repeat.
On the flip side, if it turns out that there was an immediate, pressing threat, and enough evidence to heavily implicate the one who was shot as being a clear and present danger, either to the one shooting, or someone else in the area, then it’s well within reason to state that the shooter was justified in preventing harm coming to another individual. We can bicker over whether it’s alright to kill someone who would simply cause severe physical harm, but that’s an argument for another time and will distract us from the current issue. Since we’re talking about Aussieland, and their laws state you don’t have the right to use more force than is presented against you (you’re not allowed to escalate someone slapping you in the face with murder kinda dealie), we’ll run with that for the purposes of this article.
So… what happened?
No one’s 100% sure, to be blunt. Even the shooter himself was far from of sound mind at the time, the only witness didn’t actually see what happened, forensics isn’t perfect in this regard due to the spot they were standing on being paved rather than dirt, which obscures things like footprints which would show where everyone had been standing and their movements leading up to the event.
Still, we have a fair bit of evidence, so let us look at what we have:
– The man in question (Phillip) is described as being pretty much a pacifist in regards to Helen (his de facto wife), where he was the perfect, flawless white knight: she’d kick him, scream at him, beat him, and he would do nothing but try his best to please her, accepting all the abuse. (1)
– Helen is described as being highly abusive, to the point of being classified as an intimate terrorist. (2)
– Helen, then, drove to Michael’s house, and brought the gun used in the incident with her, presumably to murder Michael with. (4)
– Helen entered into Michael’s home, threatened to kill Michael and his wife, then stepped outside. (4)
– Phillip was aware that Helen had threatened to kill Michael, had gone to Michael’s house, and brought a gun. Specifically, she brought a gun that was not properly locked and in a protective case, as per Australian law, which is intended to prevent accidental firing. A cloth sheet over the weapon is not legal in the area of Australia that they’re in for transportation, and implies her intent to use it. (1) (5)
– Phillip took Helen’s gun from Helen’s own car, and shot her with it five times. Whether this was a 5-round clip, or if he fired more and missed several shots, we don’t know. A crime of passion and/or self defense usually involves emptying the clip, however, and this would be consistent with a 5-round clip or a missed shot from a 6 round clip. (2)
Well, great. This makes it kind of murky as to whether this can be truly considered self defense or not. Phillip had been abused in the past by Helen, so had every reason to believe that she really would try to kill his father, Michael. Helen drove to his father’s house, with a gun, that wasn’t secure, and verbally attacked his father. He follows her, finds the gun in her car, and sees her coming out of the house, presumably to get the gun from his perspective, and at that point he shoots her, probably emptying the clip (but we’re not sure on that part.)
We stated previously that if it was simply a matter of “feelz” or that there was no clear and present threat, it’d be his fault. Unfortunately, we’re now stuck with a problem: there’s a clear threat, though it would’ve required her to get the gun out of her car, which he already had. Taking the gun apart would’ve been just as effective as shooting her, as would removing the gun from the premises, or simply removing the ammunition. On the other hand, this would be a temporary stop-gap measure at best, and she’d be very likely able to quickly find another weapon, though not necessarily a gun.
Regardless, it’s more murky than we’d like it to be. What we do have to work with is that it’s alright to state that his previous abuse gives him reason to believe she would intentionally carry out her threat as she had in the past proven herself to be violent and to carry out similar threats. What this would not provide, however, is past abuse being reason alone to kill her.
There’s a good reason the jury took five days of deliberations to figure out what to do with this mess. (2)
In the end, we’re going to have to work with the understanding that the jury had more evidence and both lawyers and a judge to provide legal information on the specific questions they would have had, and we simply don’t have access to that.
So… what does this tell us in relation to the feminist/MHRM controversy that will invariably be brought up?
It tells us precious little in and of itself, due to the rather murky legal sticking points, but it does open up the dialogue for us to discuss the broader matter as a whole, and to emphasize that we don’t condone crimes of passion – they’re still a crime. From the MHRM’s side of things, we can’t allow anyone, male or female, to have a “right” to murder people they don’t like, regardless of what their reasoning for not liking someone is. Revenge is not a valid reason for murder, and vigilante justice is a misnomer at best. When we go from eye for an eye, to head for an eye, we’ve not only lost the path of civilization, we’ve run so deep into the woods we’re not even sure which direction civilization was any longer.
While this case doesn’t help much in the way of providing a strong, clear cut case, it does let us use it as a staging platform from which to express these concepts. It’s unfortunate someone had to die, and from the looks of it, there really wasn’t any need for it to play out that way; personally, I would’ve probably stated guilty with the limited information we currently possess, but I don’t know the full story or all the details that the jury was given. What I do know, is that we should certainly not be jumping for joy that a woman died, even if she was an abusive piece of shit excuse for a human being; it’s not our right to decide who gets to live or die.
In the end, the point still stands that no one gets to kill another person simply because they dislike that individual – even if that individual previously killed someone close to the one pulling the trigger. We simply have to accept that, universally, our reason must prevail over that of our emotions in situations such as these, otherwise we’re merely left with a crime of passion, which, by definition, is still a crime.
A bit about the Author:
She is a writer, a video game writer, an animator, transgendered, Lithuanian, female, bisexual, and, interestingly enough, legally blind without her glasses. And none of that matters. What matters is she’s passionate about men’s and others’ human rights.