20 January 2008

The Importance of Being Honest

The news stories about Jennifer Horne, which this blog has attempted to document, have generated a bit of concern amongst people in Halifax. They express their concern over the explicitness of the reporting of what people did to her, saying that their sensibilities are offended at having to read such graphic recounting of a horrific and violent incident, particularly in the pages of the Daily News. I recall seeing at least one letter or submitted comment on the matter, and I'm sure that there are many others who feel the same way.
However, there is something very important about this type of concern that deserves discussion. Of course nobody with a conscience likes to read about a woman being sexually assaulted and murdered in gory detail. But in our desire to protect our feelings, are we obscuring reality by shunting the hard truth off to a corner and trying to impose upon the media to make it more reader-friendly? All of this begs the question: what should offend us more: reading about a sexual assault & gruesome murder, or knowing that a person or people actually committed a sexual assault & gruesome murder?
In my view, the latter is what should serve as our motivation to outrage. It was a serious act of male violence that inspired me to join the White Ribbon Campaign and get something established here in Halifax, something which I learned from reading in the paper. I was deeply affected by the horrific assault at the Dartmouth Ultramar, not by the words a scribe used in the next day's Chronicle-Herald to report the assault. We should be outraged when we read a story like that, or like ones about Jennifer Horne, or stories documenting the latest child pornography bust. We should demand that the people--usually men--involved be held accountable, and seek out ways to educate other men that if they commit that type of action, they will meet with full retribution under the law. We should be motivated to have a year-round campaign that seeks to reduce violence against women, children, and other men. It should not come from the top down, it should emerge from a groundswell of anger and resentment that this has gone on for far too long. We should not have to read daily stories of men raping women, of men cutting women's throats, of men killing women, of men exploiting children in child pornography. Yes, yes, I know, men kill other men and women commit violent crimes too. But let's not focus on the minority of violent crime perpetrators, let's be honest with ourselves and with each other: the majority of serious violence in Canada is committed by men. It is important to always remember that all people commit violence, but we are deluding ourselves and shuffling accountability when we try to put violence committed by men against women and children and violence committed by women against men on a par, either moral or statistical. When women commit significantly more than 8% of spousal abuse, I'll be more inclined to discuss women abusing their husbands; as it stands, 92% of reported incidents of spousal violence are committed by men. Let's be honest, and face the grim realities that exist before us, because until we do that violence is going to continue at the present alarming rate.

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