Saturday, June 10, 2006

It's Liberal Myth Time ...

It's the World Cup, and I've been on the punchbag in the gym for the last few weeks, ready for the orgy of domestic violence which traditionally accompanies Engerland games.

As you know, we have a decentralised police service, whose Chief Constables have complete autonomy. It's just a remarkable coincidence that the police forces of Derbyshire, Cambridgeshire, Staffordshire ("Injury Time"), Cleveland, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Hertfordshire, Lancashire and for all I know every force in the land are exhorting us to 'show the red card to domestic violence', which apparently is a result of 'increased consumption of alcohol'.

Naturally Amnesty International, fresh from their campaign to establish the univesal human right to kill unborn children, are on the case.

All this can't but remind me of the Super Bowl Myth.

Just three days before the 1993 Super Bowl game, a news conference was called in Pasadena. There Sheila Kuehl, an attorney for the California Women's Law Center, stepped to the podium to report some shocking news: according to a study by Old Dominion University, emergency room admissions of women rose by 40% following football games won by the Washington Redskins.

Media representatives got the warning that Super Bowl Sunday is "the biggest day of the year for violence against women." Soon a media advisory went out warning women, "Don't remain at home with him during the game."

The next morning, Friday January 29, psychologist Lenore Walker appeared on Good Morning America and repeated the same frightening news.

By Saturday, the hysteria had reached a fever pitch. A January 30 Boston Globe article claimed that women's shelter and hotlines are "flooded with more calls from victims than on any other day of the year."

Just before the coin flip for the big game, NBC ran a 30-second spot reminding men that domestic violence is a crime.

Then the Washington Post decided to do a little detective work. Post reporter Ken Ringle called Janet Katz, one of the researchers from Old Dominion University, to verify the claim. "That's not what we found at all," Katz responded. To the contrary, she said any increase in emergency room admissions "was not associated with the occurrence of football games in general."

Ringle's report, "Wife Beating Claims," appeared on the front page of the Washington Post on January 31. This was the upshot of the story: the assertion that watching football games provokes men into a frenzy of wife-beating was actually a hoax.

Within hours, Lenore Walker and the Boston Globe reporter pulled back on their original claims, admitting they hadn't seen the original study. On February 2, the Boston Globe ran a retraction.

UPDATE - that "40% increase" figure, such a feature of the Superbowl fantasy, seems to have taken on the same life of its own as the UK's "one in four" figure (repeated endlessly; based on a dodgy 1993 survey of North London in which "Mooney's definition of violence includes physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse - and each of these categories involves a whole spectrum of behaviour. So under psychological abuse we find 'criticism... jealousy...destroying possessions...and verbal abuse', and - most dramatically of all - 'being forced to do menial and trivial tasks'". Criticism as domestic violence, eh ? Has Ms Mooney ever been in a relationship ? Menial tasks ? I know who cleans the toilets in this house. I digress).

Here are Staffordshire Police, clamping down on domestic violence for Euro 2004.

"Staffordshire Police say they will clamp down on domestic violence fuelled by the Euro 2004 football tournament.
The Pathway Project, the county's only 24-hour helpline for domestic violence victims, reported a surge in calls of almost 40% during the 2002 World Cup."

Note the BBC's use of the "one in four" statistic, on a photo helpfully captioned (move the cursor over it) "Photo staged by actors. Shows: man pushing woman".

Alas the project doesn't seem to have worked. Here's the BBCs 2006 story.

"Violent abusers are to be under extra police scrutiny during the World Cup by a Midlands force. Staffordshire officers are predicting a rise in domestic violence, especially around England's matches, and they will be targeting known offenders.

Posters with the slogan "Now we're into injury time" will promote the campaign.

Assistant Chief Constable Suzette Davenport said during Euro 2004 there had been a 40% increase in cases of domestic violence."

More on a different "one in four" at Spiked.


Blithering Bunny said...

There's some more detail on the Super Bowl "beat-up" (ie. the Super Bowl pack of lies) in Christina Hoff Sommers' book "Who Stole Femisism, at the start of chapter 9.

Martin said...


Without breaking any client confidences, I can reveal that I was the solicitor who presented Dumbarton Sheriff Court's first interdict (injunction) against domestic violence of Scotland's 1998 World Cup campaign.

He didn't react to well to us being beaten by Brazil in the tournament's opening match; and as so often happens, after the first blow-up I received no further instructions.

Amor et libido vincit omnia.

Anonymous said...

Martin, without meaning to go off topic, as a solicitor are you in a position (having worked with domestic violence cases) to shed some light on WHY these women, at the first punch, don't pick up the nearest movable object (lamp, rolling pin, frying pan, whatever) and whomp the hell out of those abusive men? Having once done exactly that... and having never had to repeat it... I truly do not understand why women let themselves be hit.

Anonymous said...

Or, come to think of it, maybe my inquiry to Martin is NOT off topic. The notion that abused women are 100% victims IS a Liberal myth. The only thing standing in the way of self-defense is a state of mind.

Martin said...


The great Scots-Canadian poet Robert Service concluded his poem 'The Harpy' thus: I can offer no better answer to your question -
'Fate has written a tragedy, its name is 'The Human Heart',
The theatre is The House of Life, Woman the mummer's part,
The Devil enters the prompter's box and the play is ready to start.'

Cyrus said...

'Domestic violence claims the lives of two women each week and 30 men per year and it is the largest cause of death worldwide in women aged 19-44, greater than war, cancer or motor vehicle accidents.'

So say Derbyshire constabulary.

Extrapolating from the UK figure would give a worldwide total in the order of 13,000 women a year (in all age groups) killed by domestic violence.

In 2000 there were an estimated 529,000 maternal deaths (from:

The average number killed in wars must surely also be higher than 13,000.

So either the 'largest cause of death' claim is nonsense or the worldwide incidence of fatal domestic violence is vastly higher than that in the UK. Or (as I suspect) both.

This kind of myth-making does no service to the real victims.

Anonymous said...

Martin, thank you for the thoughtful response. I suppose I have a tendency to be a bit reactionary on this topic simply because the one time a man actually hit me, I fell OUT of love with him PDQ. I fell out of love because he punched me. In fact, I put him in the hospital. I think that may be what my sticking point is on this. How can a woman love a man who abuses her?

Fact is, after that incident, no one mistook me for a whimp ever again. I suppose that's the other reason why I'm so reactionary about it all.

Anonymous said...

Yorkshire does not have ONE Police Force but three of which West Yorkshire is the biggest.

Ross said...

In Thomas Sowell's "The Vision of the Anointed" he refers to a videly publicised poll which found that 37% of women are abused by their partners. The definitions of abuse included "a husband's stomping out the room".

Serf said...

There is a logical reason why more women call help lines during the world cup.

Their husbands are too busy to notice. If you are scared of being overheard, what better time then when he is shouting at a loud TV.