Put Up or Shut UpTuesday, July 09, 2002
By Wendy McElroy
My last Fox column, "NOW's Court Report Lacks Facts" criticized California NOW's recent report on anti-woman bias in the family court system for methodological flaws and for including no quantitative data.
E-mails filled with potentially libelous accusations and talk of lawyers have buzzed ever since.
The PC onslaught on the critique began reasonably enough. Rachel Allen, director of public relations for CA NOW and a co-author of the report, wrote to challenge me to participate in a discussion with women who had been mistreated by the family court system. I accepted. In a subsequent e-mail, also sent to email@example.com, Ms. Allen stated that the report was being modified, adding, "We ... do not disagree with all your suggestions."
Other PC feminist voices, including a chapter of CA NOW, apparently do disagree.
Cindy Ross wrote to me in her capacity as a California director for the National Alliance for Family Court Justice. According to Ms. Ross, NAFCJ is an international organization that has "worked closely with CA NOW, providing them [and others] with documented evidence."
The alleged evidence purportedly documents:
— "FR [father's rights] groups are affiliated with pedophiles and others who advocate incest and deviant sex ...
— "FR groups are connected to a court kickback/financial corruption scheme ...
— "FR groups are comprised of misogynists, batterers, child molesters, sociopaths and criminals ...
— "FR groups and their allied court 'professionals' are connected to hundreds of cases across the country ... where 'custody' has gone to child molesters ..."
The NAFCJ e-mail accused specific individuals by name but offered no evidence. Ms. Ross demanded a reply from me "A.S.A.P.," which she could circulate "to all of the journalists" and others interested in the family court issue.
In reply, I requested documentation before commenting on criminal charges that could result in prison time for those accused. No documentation was provided. (Since NAFJC has circulated an e-mail to at least one leader in the Men's Movement that describes me as a "propaganda ho," I must assume my request was declined because I am not viewed as a legitimate journalist.)
Meanwhile, an e-mail from radical feminist Liz Kates was jointly addressed to me and to father's rights advocate Trudy Schuett.
"I am a feminist lawyer," Ms. Kates wrote. She took both of us to task for perceived errors in an e-mail written by Schuett and posted online at Men's News Daily. When I asked Kates "why me?" given I had never mentioned her in print, the feminist lawyer advised me, "See that you don't [mention her in print]."
Meanwhile, Schuett received an unpleasant e-mail from Vicki Pierce, writing in her capacity as the president of Cobb County NOW. (I was copied on the e-mail, perhaps for intimidation value, as a warning.) Schuett was told to consult a lawyer for allegedly misstating someone else's name. The NOW e-mail ended by blaming Schuett for the fact that: "children will continue to be abused only to grow up [and] wreak havoc as Hitler did in Europe. Thanks for contributing to the misery of women and children."
But what of NOW's culpability in the misery of women and children? If NAFJC has passed on solid evidence of convicted child molesters who receive child custody, of father's rights leaders who are child molesters, of kickback collusion between judges and fathers, then NAFJC and NOW must provide it to the authorities, to the press, to the public. If not, both organizations are willfully protecting child molesters at the expense of women and children. Speaking truth to protect the innocent is also a moral responsibility and children are the innocents in family court.
The accusations leveled at father's rights activists by PC feminists are damning — so damning that at least one of the leaders of the father's movement named by NAFJC is currently seeking legal advice on libel.
Ms. Ross chose to share accusations that "named names" with me, and therefore, with a major news organization — Fox News. If she cannot document those charges, she has a moral responsibility to retract them in an equally public manner. Indeed, she may have a legal obligation to do so as well.
In her e-mail, Ms. Ross stated her concern "with protecting women and children from [those] who view women and children as chattel and/or are talking about resorting to 'bloodshed' to eliminate women altogether."
In another e-mail — Ms. Pierce also makes serious accusations against an individual by name. It is time for PC feminists to prove their concern by going public with solid proof of criminal activity against children and women — not merely allegations.
If NAFJC and NOW care about abused women and children, they will publicize whatever hard evidence they hold in their hands. Let the "facts" be aired and not just alleged in what appears to be a cowardly attempt to destroy the reputations and lives of people who disagree.
Wendy McElroy is the editor of ifeminists.com and a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. She is the author and editor of many books and articles, including the new book, Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century (Ivan R. Dee/Independent Institute, 2002). She lives with her husband in Canada.
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