They're at it again.
Last year, a New York State senator was charged with domestic violence and, before he even went to trial, the New York State affiliate of NOW was calling for him to be removed from office by the senate. At the time I was moved to reprimand them for their shocking willingness to ignore basic due process of law. NY NOW exhibited not the slightest awareness of or respect for the concept that those accused of crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Perhaps worse was the anti-democratic nature of their demand. After all, the man had been elected by a majority of the voters in his district and could be unelected if they found his behavior worthy of his removal from office. That's how democracy works, but NOW was having none of it. To them, accusations before proof should trump the will of the people.
Well, as I said, they're at it again. As this article
says, it's not NY NOW this time, but a local NOW chapter and the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence that have decided that Arizona State Senator and Majority Leader Scott Bundgaard is unfit to remain in office, irrespective of what his constituents might want (The Republic
, 3/11/11). Why? Because he was involved in an altercation in his automobile with his girlfriend, Aubry Ballard on February 25th.
Because he's an elected official, he's immune from arrest and so he wasn't, but she was. Ballard was booked into the Maricopa County lockup and charged with one misdemeanor count of assault stemming from the incident.
Unlike his New York counterpart, Bundgaard has all along staunchly proclaimed his innocence. This article
gives a pretty good idea of his description of events (Arizona Indymedia
In an earlier statement Saturday, Bundgaard said he has "never inappropriately touched a woman and never would. Period," he stated. "I was not intoxicated. There was no 'domestic violence.' Such conduct is offensive to me as it should be to all people. I waive any and all 'legislative immunity.' If I did something wrong, charge me. I did not."
Bundgaard said his friends and family are surprised by the matter. They know "it's just not my character." He apologized "to any and all for what has taken place."
He is sorry that Ballard was hurt. "When I physically removed her (from the car), if she has scrapes on her knees, I'm sorry about that," he said. "But when you're being punched in the face and she's trying to jerk the wheel and exit, that's a dangerous situation."
As of this past Tuesday, Bundgaard had not been charged with any offense. His legislative immunity is from arrest, not prosecution.
The events leading up to Ballard's arrest are roughly as follows. The pair attended an event entitled "Dancing With the Stars, Arizona 2011." It was a fundraiser for the charity the National Kidney Foundation.
Apparently Ballard got drunk and, on the drive home took exception to Bundgaard's dancing partner. Among other things, she started throwing his clothes out of the moving car, and he says she was punching him while he drove. When he stopped to pick up his apparel littering the expressway, she attempted to commandeer his car. He went to the car, pulled her out and she fell to her knees, scraping them. Onlookers called the cops, he was briefly detained; she was arrested.
Well, I wasn't there, but so far no one has come forward to rebut Bundgaard's version of events which, in any case agrees with known facts. For example, this article
contains a photo of Bundgaard with a black eye (Daily Mail
I don't know who started it or who hit whom, although I certainly have my ideas.
The point is that the the local NOW and the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence have decided on the basis of no evidence that the will of the people means nothing. They show a similar disregard for the rule of law and the concept of due process of law.
Of course, given that Bundgaard isn't even charged, it's unlikely he'll be convicted and so there won't be much chance for due process to work.
But just consider: the two groups believe that a man should lose his job and voters should lose their representation based on the following: his drunk girlfriend attacked him while he operated a moving vehicle, tried to steal his car and, when he tried to stop her from doing so, skinned her knees.
Disdain for democracy, gender equality, the rule of law and common sense doesn't get much clearer than that.
One more thing. Notice that one of the organizations charging, trying, convicting and sentencing Bundgaard is called the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Notice too that the only one charged in the incident is not the man, but the woman. According to Bundgaard, she punched him and unquestionably she's the one charged with assault.
So who does the ACADV hold responsible? Not her, but him. It's a curious approach to domestic violence. Punishing the innocent (if he is) and letting the guilty (if she is) go free doesn't seem calculated to strike a blow against domestic violence. In fact, it seems to promote it.
But that's pretty much been the approach of the DV industry lo these many years. It's been perhaps the greatest failure of the DV industry and DV policy that both prefer to ignore female perpetrators. That surely explains in part why domestic violence policy has done so little to curtail DV. When you ignore, as a matter of policy and principle, half the perpetrators and half the victims, it's hard to be very effective.
We'll see what happens.