Family Law

Topeka! Now the Best Place to Beat Your Wife.

It might be a bit of a hike, but now there is one city in America where you can go to teach your woman a lesson. And by “teach your woman a lesson,” I mean share a book with her, like, upside her head and stuff.

Sadly, I’m not joking. Topeka, Kansas has just effectively decriminalized domestic violence. Now, it would be one thing (a horrible thing) if the people of Topeka just decided as a matter of public policy that home beatings were a good thing. But the people of Topeka aren’t even standing on principle. Instead, their argument is that they have so many wife-beaters around town that they can’t even afford to prosecute them all.

So, they’re not going to….

I don’t mean to sound sexist or patronizing, but a society that cannot or will not allocate funds to protect its women from being beaten is disgusting. From the New York Times:

Three arms of government, all ostensibly representing the same people, have been at an impasse over who should be responsible for — and pay for — prosecuting people accused of misdemeanor cases of domestic violence.

City leaders had blamed the Shawnee County district attorney for handing off such cases to the city without warning. The district attorney, in turn, said he was forced to not prosecute any misdemeanors and to focus on felonies because the County Commission cut his budget. And county leaders accused the district attorney of using abused women as pawns to negotiate more money for his office….

By a vote of 7 to 3, the City Council repealed the local law that makes domestic violence a crime.

The move, the councilors were told, would force District Attorney Chad Taylor to prosecute the cases because they would remain a crime under state law, a conclusion with which he grudgingly agreed. The Council also approved negotiations to resolve the impasse.

Now that this has garnered national attention, expect the Topeka City Council to start backtracking, well, five minutes ago. It’s an Onion headline, and the politicians will figure out that whatever they thought they were fighting for doesn’t matter as much in the face of this public ridicule.

But before Topeka rectifies this outrage, let’s take a second to remember something: they wouldn’t have repealed misdemeanor ordinances about robbery. The wouldn’t have decriminalized drugs. They wouldn’t have messed around with funding the prosecution of something that they really cared about.

But women, and the beating thereof? Oh, let’s make a political point about fiscal responsibility with that. They would have seen the problems with headlines claiming Topeka was a drug haven or the storefront robbery capital of the world. But when they contemplated becoming Disneyland for wife-beaters, they were cool with it.

I don’t care how broke your city is. I don’t care if you need to find money for pothole repair and to get a new traffic light at the corner of Nowhere and Main. If your city can’t afford to prosecute people who beat women, even for a day, you deserve all the ridicule you get.

Facing Cuts, a City Repeals Its Domestic Violence Law [New York Times]

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