(BEDFORD) - Lawrence County Superior Court I Judge Michael Robbins has issued the following message, composed by the Editor of Bob Zaltsberg of the Herald-Times, to the Lawrence County Coalition Against Domestic Violence involving the recent murder/suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs' linebacker Jovan Belcher:
Zaltsberg editorial is as follows:
"A murder-suicide became huge national news last week because the murderer was a professional football player. Initial reports focused on the suicide - the "famous" part of this tragedy killed himself outside of the Kansas City Chiefs' stadium in front of the team's coach and general manager.
Balance to the coverage was restored as the story unfolded. Chiefs' linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, before shooting himself, and the story was more appropriately recognized for being another case of domestic violence, this one more high-profile than most.
But not before so many pictures of the smiling Belcher in his uniform were published, as if he was a fallen warrior. Not before he was described by those who knew him as a great teammate and person.
And not before there was a flap about gun control, with NBC announcer Bob Costas quoting and agreeing with a column by Jason Whitlock of FoxSports.com that said, "What I believe is, if he didn't possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today." Whitlock is a Kansas City-based writer whose first professional journalism job, by the way, was as a sports writer for The Herald-Times.
Of course, other columnists disagreed, saying that if Perkins had a gun, she might still be alive because she could have defended herself.
This tragedy was not really about guns, though, and it wasn't about whether Belcher was or wasn't a good person (he wasn't; he killed the mother of his child). It was about domestic violence, the all-too-common type in which a man decides to kill a woman with whom he is involved and then turns the gun on himself.
Toby Strout, director of Middle Way House in Bloomington, has seen the effects, far too many times.
"It's always just so sad," she wrote in an email. "A woman gone and a child orphaned, and while we expend a lot of ink and breath if the perpetrator is a celebrity, we consistently fail to address the subject of domestic violence in any meaningful way."
One national broadcaster, James Brown of CBS, correctly idenified the need to hold men accountable when it comes to domestic violence. He was quoted at length on CBSnews.com about the need to address the behavior of men towards women.
He acknowledged "how there are some deep-seated attitudes planted in young childhood, devaluing women and not providing men with the proper coping mechanisms.
That's what needs to be addressed, and hopefully, I'm taking a small role in this, trying to engage a number of men in this process, so we can understand this and make a serious dent in this issue."
Those planting these "deep-seated attitudes" are fostering future violent behaviors. Instead, issues of respect, self-respect and equal status for men and women should be taught.
Domestic violence is not just a women's issue, one that women need to understand how to avoid. It's an issue controlled by men, who are the main perpetrators.
Friends of Jovan Belcher have been quoted saying they don't want him to only be remembered for his final act. Sorry. He added his name to a long list of men who violently abused their female partner. Whatever he did before that fades away in comparison."
Judge Michael Robbins
Lawrence Superior Court I
918 16th St.
Bedford, IN 47421
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