Tenthers and the problem of violence against women

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, October 18, 2010 23:13 EDT
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So here’s an interesting story from the docket of strange Supreme Court cases.

The woman, Carol A. Bond of Lansdale, Pa., was at first delighted to learn that her friend was pregnant. Ms. Bond’s mood darkened, though, when it emerged that her husband was the father. “I am going to make your life a living hell,” she said, according to her now-former friend, Myrlinda Haynes.

Ms. Bond, a microbiologist, certainly tried. On about two dozen occasions, she spread lethal chemicals on her friend’s car, mailbox and doorknob.

Ms. Haynes, who managed to escape serious injury, complained to the local police. They did not respond with particular vigor. After checking to see whether the white powder on her car was cocaine, they advised her to have it cleaned.

Luckily, federal prosecutors, aided by the post office, were able to prevent Bond from killing Hayes.

When it came time to charge Ms. Bond with a crime, federal prosecutors chose a novel theory. They indicted her not only for stealing mail, an obvious federal offense, but also for using unconventional weapons in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, a treaty aimed at terrorists and rogue states.

She got 6 years. Her attorneys are suing under the 10th amendment, saying that the feds were outside of their jurisdiction. This is an interesting issue insofar as it can give us insight into how the justices view the 10th amendment, and of course there’s lots of blathering about Tea Crackers and their crackpot theories. But I want to point out that this should be interesting to feminists from the angle of looking at the continued disinterest some law enforcement has in domestic violence.

I suppose you could say that this doesn’t seem like the usual kind of domestic violence, and you’re right. But I do think that you have to look at it through the same lens. The victim in this case is the same boat that you often see when women suffer sexual assault or domestic violence, only to have their calls for help ignored by people who clearly think they had it coming. It seems the victim in this case didn’t have a lot of options when it came to protecting herself.

Cases like this point to a need for there to be another layer beyond just the local when it comes to fighting violence against women. It’s so routinely accepted in some communities that you pretty much have to have federal legislation to help women out. Take, for instance, federal laws regarding the safety of abortion clinics. In really conservative areas, you could easily have law enforcement unwilling to stop harassment and violence against clinic workers, and without the federal law, people have no recourse. It’s little ways like this where you really start to see the ugliness behind the wingnut obsession with “states rights” and the 10th amendment. If their ideas really came into play, the basic rights of individuals who happen to belong to oppressed groups would be even less protected than they are now.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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