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“Now it’s a war on women? Tomorrow it’s going to be a war on left-handed Irishmen or something.”

—Paul Ryan, three days ago.

“But gosh, to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone — that’s a great idea… We can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence.”

—Mitt Romney, five days ago.

•          •          •

The alleged shooter in today’s mass shooting in Brookfield, Wisconsin is a man named Radcliffe Haughton. Mr. Haughton’s wife left him not long ago, and shortly thereafter someone slashed the tires of several cars in the parking lot of her workplace.

Haughton’s estranged wife believed that he was responsible for the slashings, and thirteen days ago a judge granted her an order of protection against him. Haughton appeared in court three days ago in connection with that complaint, and was ordered to surrender all weapons in his possession to the sheriff’s department.

Today’s shootings took place at Haughton’s estranged wife’s workplace. It is not yet known if she is among the three dead and four injured at the scene.

This is our country’s war on women. This is the crucial nexus between single parenthood and gun violence. It’s real, and it’s an epidemic — half of all women murdered in the United States are killed by a husband, boyfriend, or ex, and they are never at greater risk than when they leave an abusive relationship.

If you want to talk about the social roots of violence, Mr. Romney, this would be a pretty good place to start.

8 pm update | Police have confirmed that Haughton slashed his estranged wife’s tires earlier this month, and that she subsequently obtained a four-year restraining order against him. All three of those killed today are said to have been women, but there is still no word as to whether she is among the dead.

8:15 update | Local media say that all seven of those Haughton shot were women, and that his two daughters (who I’ve seen referred to as his stepdaughters in other reports) have been confirmed safe.

9:20 update | One local television station is now reporting that Haughton’s estranged wife Zina Haughton was one of the three women he killed today. The four injured women are all expected to survive.

10 pm update | Although neighbors remember Haughton as a “good guy,” court records show that Haughton was prosecuted in 1984, 1990, and 1991 on battery charges. Twice he was found not guilty, and once — in 1991 — a domestic battery charge was dismissed when the complaining witness failed to appear.

In the last 21 months he was arrested three times. In January 2011 he was arrested for disorderly conduct, on charges that were later dismissed. In January of this year he pled guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and sentenced to a year’s court supervision. A few weeks ago he was reportedly arrested in connection with the slashing of his estranged wife’s tires.

10:30 update | The January 2011 disorderly conduct charge, like the 1991 domestic battery charge, was dismissed when an essential witness failed to appear.

Earlier this morning, the UberFacts Twitter account posted the following tweet:

I learned about it a little while later because of a weird spike in my traffic — though the story is well documented and has appeared in a number of scholarly works it’s not particularly well known, and a post that I wrote about it earlier this year happens to show up near the top of Google’s searches for various phrases relating to it.

Anyway, like I say, it’s true. The FBI, under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover’s top deputy, sent Martin Luther King a blackmail package in November 1964 along with a letter urging him to kill himself to avoid the shame of the public disclosure of “your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self.”

The letter was timed to arrive shortly before King was scheduled to travel to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the last little while a truly stunning number of Republican officials and candidates have gotten press for making stunningly horrible statements, from the Wisconsin state representative who said “some girls rape easy” to the Georgia congressman who called the big bang a lie “from the pit of hell” to the Arkansas legislator who called slavery “a blessing” to the other Arkansas legislator who pointedly noted that Jesus was okay with slavery before calling President Lincoln a marxist.

It’s been an interesting month. But I think this one takes the cake.

A few days ago it was revealed that Charlie Fuqua, a candidate for the Arkansas state House of Representatives, wrote in a recent e-book that the state should have the legal right to execute “rebellious” children, so long as the kids’ parents agree.

Really.

“The maintenance of civil order in society,” he writes,”rests on the foundation of family discipline. Therefore, a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents.” Quoting a passage in Deuteronomy which calls for the stoning of habitually disobedient children, he continues:

“In other words, the parents were required to take their children to a court of law and lay out their case before the proper judicial authority, and let the judicial authority determine if the child should be put to death. I know of many cases of rebellious children, however, I cannot think of one case where I believe that a parent had given up on their child to the point that they would have taken their child to a court of law and asked the court to rule that the child be put to death. Even though this procedure would rarely be used, if it were the law of land, it would give parents authority. Children would know that their parents had authority and it would be a tremendous incentive for children to give proper respect to their parents.”

This guy isn’t joking. And he isn’t some random crank. He’s a past member of the judiciary committee of the Arkansas House of Representatives. He’s received donations from several members of Congress, as well as financial support from the state party and a “Friend of the Family” award from the Arkansas Christian Coalition.

Oh, and check this out, from the bio on his book’s website: “Charlie Fuqua has worked for the State of Arkansas, Office of Chief Counsel, for 12 years handling child abuse and neglect cases. He has handled thousands of cases protecting children who had been neglected or abused.”

Apparently he doesn’t work there anymore, though. Whew.

As many as forty people were killed early Tuesday morning in a student hostel adjoining Federal Polytechnic Mubi, a college in northeastern Nigeria, and authorities are trying to piece together why.

Initial suspician centered on Boko Hiram, a violent Islamist group whose name literally means “western education is forbidden.” But given the nature of the killings and the reported targets, officials now believe that the massacre may be connected to student elections held last weekend.

The police commissioner for the region told reporters that many of those killed “were executive leaders that were elected” in the Saturday elections, which the New York Times said were “bitterly contested along religious and ethnic lines.” The BBC reports that student union leadership positions in Nigeria are often “stepping stones” to careers in national politics, providing opportunities for economic advancement. The new leader of the Mubi student union is said to be one of those killed.

Nigeria also has a history of university violence in connection with unofficial fraternities which have been described as campus cults. In 1999 eight students at Obafemi Awololo University in southwestern Nigeria, including the secretary-general of the campus student union, were murdered by members of the Black Axe Confraternity.

Federal Polytechnic Mubi is a campus of some fourteen thousand students which opened in 1979 and moved to its current location in 1982. In the last six years its student body has more than quadrupled, and it now has a staff of some two thousand faculty and other employees.

The college has been closed since the massacre, and many students are now evacuating the area.

A big point of contention in the argument over Daniel Tosh’s rape jokes has been how to take his suggestion that it’d be funny if a group of guys in his audience raped the woman who’d just called him out for making rape jokes during his set. A lot of folks, myself included, said that statement opened up the woman to harassment and possible assault, while Tosh’s defenders mostly denied that made any sense. Comedy is comedy, they said, and bad acts are bad acts, and you can’t mix up the two.

But now there’s this.

As my friend Kevin pointed out this morning, Tosh did a bit on his Comedy Central show just three months ago in which he encouraged his male viewers to videotape themselves “sneaking up behind women” and “lightly touching” their belly fat. And a bunch of them did, sending the clips into him and posting them on YouTube.

Now, the whole point of this is that it’s non-consensual, invasive, and public. And though some of the women in the clips appear to be in on the gag, others are clearly pissed off. In several cases the women seem to be strangers to the guys doing the touching, and in one — hosted on the Comedy Central website, complete with a revenue-generating ad — a high school student is shown touching his teacher. (That clip, like many others, cuts out before we’re able to see the victim’s reaction.)

What this confirms is that the whole Tosh thing isn’t about jokes. Tosh isn’t just a guy who tells stories on stage. He’s a guy whose comedy includes actually physically assaulting women, and directing his fans to do the same. And this is the guy who, after a woman challenged his rape jokes, mused aloud about how funny it would be if she “got raped by like, five” of those same fans, right then and there.

“Right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her?”

Damn.

About This Blog

n7772graysmall
StudentActivism.net is the work of Angus Johnston, a historian and advocate of American student organizing.

To contact Angus, click here. For more about him, check out AngusJohnston.com.

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