Right-wing blogger Jim Bacon casually says in a recent post (in his trash – climate denial, immigrant bashing, etc. – blog, which I refuse to even link):
“I used to live next door to a guy who dropped out of college [and] worked as a check-out clerk at Blockbuster. I judge that his life really sucked by the fact that he frequently beat his girlfriend. One time her screams were so bad I nearly called the police. Looking back, I probably should have. But I felt bad for the guy, a decent enough fellow most of the time, whose life had hit a dead end. I’m sure he felt like a failure. I’m sure he felt tormented.”
Allow me to parse this statement out:
Bacon “nearly called the police” to stop someone from BEATING HIS WIFE, but didn’t because he “felt bad for the guy.” He FELT BAD FOR THE GUY who was beating his wife! He felt worse for the guy who was beating his wife than he felt for the woman who was being regularly beaten up by her husband.
He was “a decent enough fellow most of the time”… except when he was BEATING HIS WIFE. You know who else seemed like a decent guy? Ted Bundy seemed like a decent guy–except when he was kidnapping, raping, and murdering 40 women.
He “felt like a failure…felt tormented.” Well, that’s certainly an excuse for BEATING HIS WIFE. Guess what? Like many victims of domestic abuse, I would guess that his wife also felt like a failure. She also felt tormented. Her life also “really sucked.” And it did so at his hands. And with Jim Bacon’s implicit permission. Wink and a nod, right?
His “life had hit a dead end” because he had a crummy job. Having a crummy job is apparently a valid excuse for beating your wife?!? Perhaps this explains why 1 in 3 women (and 1 in 4 men) have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. Why 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. Because they have crummy jobs. I wonder if Bacon’s neighbor’s wife’s life has hit a literal dead end by now? Dead at the hands of her “decent guy” husband, like over half of all female homicide victims.
Let me be clear. I am all for Bryan Stevenson’s notion that “each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” I strongly support a criminal justice system that is less punitive and more rehabilitative, and for sentences to be commensurate with that. I would hope that Bacon’s neighbor connected with social services and got psychiatric or psychological help. But that most certainly does not mean it’s morally acceptable to turn a blind eye during the commission of violent crimes because you “feel bad for the guy.”