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Court Falls for Old Philosophical Trick

© Peter Zohrab 2014

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Introduction

I remember learning about the fallacy of High Redefinition when I was studying first-year Philosophy in 1967.  If someone is losing an argument, what they sometimes do is retreat to a position which they think will be easier to defend.  They create this more defensible position by treating a term that is central to the discussion as having a meaning which is narrower than the meaning which it started off having.  For example, if someone is arguing that all birds can fly, and their opponent points out that ostriches can't fly, then the first person may cope with that objection by retorting, "Yes, but ostriches aren't really birds!"  To have a rational discussion, you have to stick to the same definition of the term which you are talking about.  Being able to fly is not an essential part of the definition of a "bird" (although the Concise Oxford English Dictionary 2002 does say that birds are "typically" able to fly), so it is a separate, empirical matter whether or not all birds can fly. 

A similar tactic was used by a so-called "Expert Witness" in the case R v Jessica Lee Keefe.  She was the sole defence witness, and the woman defendant was acquitted of murdering her male partner, so we must assume that the Court (it was a jury trial) took the witness's testimony very seriously indeed!  The witness, Alison Towns, is a Feminist domestic violence specialist, and what this actually means needs a bit of explanation.

Once Feminists acquired the habit of looking for "evil" things that "awful" men did to "innocent" women, some of them latched on to topics that were -- or could be made into -- part of the criminal law, such as child abuse, rape and domestic violence.  It was Feminists who made these matters the front-page news and political footballs that they now are -- but this was always on the assumption that women would appear to be the good guys and men the bad guys.  This anti-male orientation of the Feminists is what drove the founder of the first women's refuge, Erin Pizzey, to stop being involved with them.

As Wikipedia points out, she was unpopular with Feminists because she claimed that "most domestic violence is reciprocal, and that women are equally as capable of violence as men."  As Robert Sheaffer points out, Feminist writings "invariably depict (Domestic Violence) as violence by a man against a woman."  Feminist so-called "research" into domestic violence involves restricting the research subjects to women who claim to have been victims of it and men who admit to having been perpetrators of it.  The problem for Feminists is that there is nowadays a vast amount of (non-Feminist) research that shows that women are just as violent towards men as the converse -- see Professor Martin Fiebert's Annotated Bibliography of female domestic violence.

 

The "Expert" Witness

This is the problem that Alison Towns attempted to solve by using high redefinition.  In cross-examination, she was asked by the prosecution lawyer (Mr. La Hood) whether females as much as males could be perpetrators of emotional and psychological violence.  Alison Towns replied as follows:

There's two forms really of violence in intimate relationships.  One is called common couple violence and that's generally not referred to as domestic violence.  That's the sort of push shove that can happen between people in a distressed relation -- in a relationship where there's distress.  It doesn't produce fear and in the work on community samples and around, you know, big population community samples where there's no fear the violence is quite equivalent between men and women and that's what we would refer to as common couple violence.  Domestic violence is where there's fear involved and in that situation the, the offending is more likely to be from a man against a woman. (Notes of Evidence, page 560, line 29)

Since, according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (2002), "domestic" means "of or relating to a home or family affairs or relations" and "violence" means "behaviour involving physical force intended to hurt, damage or kill", one would tend to assume the following definition:

Domestic violence: Behaviour of or relating to a home or family affairs or relations which involves physical force which is intended to hurt, damage or kill.

In fact, that is precisely how most people understand the term "Domestic Violence."  Alison Towns and other Feminists have the problem that they cannot credibly ignore all the evidence that women are just as violent as men in domestic situations -- yet they want desperately to maintain women's special status as innocent victims of evil men.  Alison Town's solution, as outlined above, appears to rely on fear as the distinguishing feature, so her high redefinition of "Domestic Violence" is contrasted with a concept of "Common Couple Violence", which I set out as follows:

Domestic violence: Behaviour of or relating to a home or family affairs or relations which involves physical force which is intended to hurt, damage or kill and also involves fear.

Common couple violence: Behaviour of or relating to a home or family affairs or relations which involves physical force which is intended to hurt, damage or kill, but does not produce fear.

 

Fear

As I pointed out in my book, Sex, Lies & Feminism, the 1996 New Zealand National Survey of Crime Victims (commissioned by the Victimisation Survey Committee, comprising representatives from the Police, Ministry of Women's Affairs, and other government agencies) was slanted – possibly on the initiative of the Ministry of Women's Affairs – to make it appear men hit women more frequently than the other way around.

The questionnaire (from Table 2.13) did not ask men and women simply whether:

Any partner ever actually used force or violence on you, such as deliberately kicked, pushed, grabbed, shoved you or hit you with something; or

Any partner ever threatened to use force or violence on you such as threatened to kick, push, grab, or shove you; or

Any partner ever deliberately destroyed or threatened to destroy your belongings.

 

Instead of those straightforward question, the questionnaire asked whether:

Any partner ever actually used force or violence on you, such as deliberately kicked, pushed, grabbed, shoved you or hit you with something in a way that could hurt you; and

Any partner ever threatened to use force or violence on you such as threatened to kick, push, grab, or shove you in a way that actually frightened you; and

Any partner ever deliberately destroyed or threatened to destroy your belongings in a way that frightened you.

 

These questions were obviously slanted in order to elicit a greater positive response from women than from men.  Men are generally stronger than women, and women are not brought up to make light of physical injury, in the way that men are, so a man hitting a woman is more likely to produce a sensation of being hurt than a woman hitting a man.  Women should not be able to get away with hitting men just because men are generally stronger and less sensitive to physical hurt! 

Fear is not the only possible negative reaction to attack or to damage to one's belongings; one could also feel shock, hurt feelings, humiliation, anger and depression, etc..  Women probably are more inclined to react with fear to such events, since men are brought up to be tough and to protect women.  For example, I remember seeing news video of some schoolchildren running away from an erupting volcano in New Zealand in about 2013. which showed that some or all of the girls were screaming, while the boys remained silent.  This screaming seemed to have no practical function (I'm sure it did not stop the volcano erupting, for example), but I suppose it has evolved as a way for women to call men to come to their rescue.  However, there is no reason to prioritise fear over other emotions in the context of Domestic Violence -- other than as an attempt to privilege women over men.

 

"Expert" Witness Incompetence

It is vital not to be over-impressed with academic qualifications.  Alison Towns has a PhD in Psychology, but she is not intellectually competent, in my opinion.  To get a good university qualification, you need to be able to get on with lecturers -- and most lecturers nowadays are Feminists.  Have a look at her "definition" of "Domestic Violence" in detail:

A (Towns): ....  Domestic violence is where there's fear involved and in that situation the, the offending is more likely to be from a man against a woman.

Q (Prosecutor): More likely to be but it's not unheard of for it to be -

A (Towns): No, it's much lesser percentages, a very, very low percent of men that would experience violence from a woman that is controlling and involves a pattern of control.  (Notes of Evidence, page 561, line 4)

Here Towns has switched from a definition of "Domestic Violence" where the crucial factor is the presence of fear to a definition where the crucial factor is violence perpetrated as a "pattern of control".  In fact, she has no consistent or scientific approach, but reverts to the "Power and Control" Model (a.k.a. "Duluth Model"), for which there is no evidence.  If you google "evidence for the Power and Control model" and "evidence for the Duluth model", all the hits you get originate from my statements that there is no evidence for it!!

 

Conclusion

Universities -- especially in the Humanities, Law and the Social Sciences, are little more than toxic uranium towers, dedicated to male-bashing.  The more highly qualified a person is, relative to that system, the more attuned their thought processes are to male-bashing, and the less seriously their views should be taken, particularly in relation to male-female relations. That is the reason women outnumber men in higher education nowadays.

( See also:

 

 

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