Letters for January 27 

Readers sound off on our review of Avatar, Measure WW, and family court.

"Planet of the Grosses," Movies, 12/16

Open Your Mind

Wow, that was the most ridiculous review I've ever read. Was it a joke? It was a joke. Right? How could even the most shallow and ignorant person fail to find the relevant layers of poignant issues covered in Avatar? I've never seen such a complete and captivating film in my life but in order to find symbolism in it, a person has to be a little bit aware of surrounding conflicts that our planet and society are dealing with today. Open up your mind a bit, or at least get your head out of your ass.

Eric Kirstein, Vancouver, BC

"Measure WW's One-Year Report Card," Eco Watch, 12/23

Actually, Ten Years Ago

RE: "It [Measure WW] was also the first to face an organized opposition campaign."

INSUFFICIENT ATTENTION TO DETAIL AWARD: While it is true that Measure AA in 1988 (the $250 million predecessor of WW @ $500 million) was virtually unopposed, there was substantial bona-fide environmentalist opposition to a 1998 East Bay Regional Park District parcel tax, including folks in the Regional Parks Association and former EBRPD Director Harlan Kessel. Apart from disgust with managerial styles, the critics sincerely believed the commitment to open up acquisitions for development was detrimental to the need to acquire as much as possible before sprawl set in, especially near newer parks on the I-680 corridor.

David Tam, Berkeley

"Learning in Chinese," Feature, 1/6

Applauding Multilinguists

When I was eight we moved to Luxembourg and I was put in the French section of the Ecole Europeen. This was in 1956. The school had a French, German, Dutch, and Italian sections where most of the courses were taught in the section language. I was taught in French and I also took German. By the time I was thirteen I was being taught biology in German and Latin in Dutch. So I am pleased to see the UC finally starting immersion schools even if in a small way. Bravo to the Mitchell family.

Susan Wayne, Oakland

Editor's Note

The Shu Ren International School in Berkeley is not affiliated with the UC system.

"A Father's Quest," Feature, 1/13

A Tragic Situation

My wife and I are co-directors of a large preventive intervention project sponsored by the Office of Child Abuse Prevention in California. The goal is to help fathers, especially low-income fathers, become more involved and stay more involved with their children. It is tragic that while one arm of the state is attempting to encourage fathers' involvement with their children, another arm of the state is making it as difficult as possible. Many kudos to Erin Gilmore for a well-written and sensitive telling of a story with lessons for us all.

Philip A. Cowan, Kensington

A Biased Story

I agree with one thing in this article — the family court system is broken. The status quo of injustice in the family courts is staunchly defended by the very bad actors who cause the injustice and are enriched by it. It's a cottage industry of greedy people who make a handsome living ruining the lives of the innocent victims, mostly children. Whenever I see a reporter resort to quoting a zealous fathers' rights activist like Glenn Sacks, I know for certain the story is going to be biased. I don't know the facts in this particular case ("A Father's Quest"), so I can't comment on the outcome, but I do know that Sacks' claim that courts are biased against fathers is false, and has been proven false in several peer reviewed research studies, as another commenter stated previously.(1)

The fathers' rights legal industry is a big money-making business, but there are no mothers' rights law firms that I know of, and I've been following this injustice for almost a decade. Why? Mothers don't control the purse strings in most families. Even though there are laws on the books that prevent one party from dissipating marital assets in a divorce, and starving their spouse out of a legal defense, they aren't enforced on behalf of women.

One commenter here said something very revealing about what I believe may well be the underlying truth in this story. They said that the father used to have total control over the mother in the beginning. My suspicion, if this case is like thousands of others across the country, is that he is furious that he no longer can control her, and he's using the child to try to control her. Another commenter said something that I've been saying for years — it only takes ONE to wage a custody battle. Now in this case, it sounds like there are two parties tango-ing here, but that is not always the case.

In virtually every custody case that I have reviewed, the father was abusive and controlling in the relationship. He uses the courtroom as a tool to continue to control and abuse the mother.

"In reality, what these women are describing from their ex-partners is better termed Domestic Violence by Proxy (DV by Proxy), a term first used by Alina Patterson, author of Health and Healing. DV by Proxy refers to a pattern of behavior which is a parent with a history of using domestic violence or intimidation, uses a child as a substitute when he no longer has access to his former partner.

"When his victim leaves him, batterers often recognize that the most expedient way to continue to hurt his partner is to assert his legal rights to control her access to their children. By gaining control of the children, an abusive male now has a powerful tool which allows him to continue to stalk, harass and batter an ex-partner even when he has no direct access to her. Moreover, by emotionally torturing the child and severing the bond between children and their mother, he is able to hurt his intended victim — the mother — in a way she cannot resist." (2)


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