Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Topeka, Kansas Celebrates Domestic Violence Awareness Month by Changing Name to The Republic of Gilead

I've been on the road lately. A lot. So much so that I'm starting to feel like Johnny "I've Been Everywhere, Man" Cash.

All this driving gives one lots of time to think of blog posts - and I have 'em (taps head), but precious little time to write 'em.

But I could not let what happened on Tuesday night in Topeka, Kansas go by without giving you, as this blog's motto states, my two cents on sale.

This here video from MSNBC explains why I'm all fired up.

You see ... Topeka, Kansas is hurtin' for cash. (Yeah. Join the damn club.) I get that. So, what do the brain trusts of that fine city do?

They decide to "decriminalize domestic violence cases."

Read that again.

Basically, "decriminalizing domestic violence cases" is a nice way of saying that this crime (and mark my words, no matter what anyone says, IT IS A CRIME) doesn't exist. Poof.  Gone. Vanished. Abusers, start your engines. Topeka is rolling out the red carpet (stained with the blood of every person who has been physically and emotionally beaten or killed because of domestic violence) just for you, sweetcakes.

I mean, you really have to wonder what the fuck is going on in Topeka. Because, the people there?  Are just downright NUTS. (Some of you know that I know this for an absolute fact.) Topeka's the home of Those Freakin' Wackos From that Crazy-Ass So-Called Church That Shall Remain Nameless as to Not Give Them Any More Publicity.  You know the ones I'm talking about.  The ones who will probably be showing up at my funeral because of this very post. (Bring it, baby.)

Topeka's the city that once changed its name to Google, Kansas. (That wasn't that long ago.  How much did that publicity stunt cost the town, and how much did they get back in return?)

And now, they're the city that thinks domestic violence should be perfectly legal.  Because, even though the decision to cut the prosecution of these cases was made as a result of finger-pointing and machinations of who should be responsible for paying what and when and how, the reality that can't be denied is that this measure passed 7-3.

Those 7 people scare the freakin' bejeezus out of me because ... well, because TOPEKA scares the bejeezus out of me.

(Apparently, District Attorney Chadwick Taylor has manned up and had a change of heart. His office is going to make do with a little less cash, and start prosecuting domestic violence cases again.)

Whatever.  The point is, the damage has been done. Every single person who has been a victim of domestic violence - in Topeka, in Kansas, in the entire country - has been re-victimized again because of this stance. Because we who know the domestic violence field know the statistics.  We know how many cases go unreported.  We know that it is so many factors - the fear and the stigma and the shame - that make people afraid to report this, afraid to leave, afraid to talk about it.

The irony is that this decision happened in October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which - in another irony - was noted by our own Vice President Joe Biden.  His Facebook status today was this:

Preventing domestic violence has been a cause close to the Vice President’s heart throughout his career. Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October is an opportunity to bring attention to violence against women and families, highlight the progress we’ve made, and evaluate the work that still needs to be done.

It appeared in my News Feed right after another link to the Topeka story (which, I strongly believe, Biden should comment on, but I'm not getting the big bucks to be his PR advisor).

The point is, Domestic Violence Awareness Month becomes just bullshit PR-spun crap when years of work, of education, of advocacy and awareness can be a pen-stroke away from oblivion.  For that's exactly what happened in Topeka on Tuesday, when millions of victims were trampled upon with this decision.  The work of countless of domestic violence activists was acknowledged Tuesday night in Topeka by the equivalent of a middle finger, a spit in the eye, a declaration by the powers-that-be who might as well have said "your life is worth shit and is something to scrimp on because YOU DON'T FREAKIN' MATTER TO US."

What does that say about us as a society?

I think it says that in Topeka taking two figurative steps backwards, it feels like we've also taken one literal step forward ... toward the future, one that looks a helluva lot like the Republic of Gilead as described in Margaret Atwood's novel, The Handmaid's Tale. 

Because that was the first thing I thought of when I heard of this situation.  Maybe that's because Margaret Atwood's novel is so fresh in my mind from recently re-reading it, but I think that things like this decision in Topeka confirm that Atwood's fictional Republic of Gilead is not far off in the future.

In America's heartland of Topeka, Kansas, it's already here.

"The newspaper stories were like dreams to us, bad dreams dreampt by others. How awful, we would say, and they were, but they were awful without being believable. They were too melodramatic, they had a dimension that was not the dimension of our lives. We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white pages at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories." 

"The Handmaid's Tale", by Margaret Atwood 

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


nomadreader said...

As someone who grew up in Topeka, it's hard to see the beating it takes from so many. Obviously, the domestic violence idea was asinine, but I hate that the conversation is always peppered with Fred Phelps. Topekans have vilified him for years. It's a small extremist group and has nothing to do with the city itself. I know many ridiculed changing the name to Google, but I thought it was a smart decision to try to lure a much-needed technology to an increasingly struggling city. I'm angry and saddened about decriminalizing domestic violence, and I feared for my remaining friends and family in Topeka, but just as with Fred Phelps, I don't think the ideas and actions of a few should tarnish the rest of the city.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

I think there is goofiness all over the heartland but this is the worse I've heard of.