Letter to Editor – 8/16/08

Purple Ribbon DV

In August of 2008 I was taken aback by a letter to the editor in a local paper regarding a domestic violence-driven murder-suicide. The letter writer scoffed at the suggestion that handcuffs and hardcore porn found in the suspect’s possession had anything to do with the murder. They claimed that such “sensationalist journalism” would start a witch hunt for people who enjoy porn. Ignorance about crime and domestic violence needs to be solved, even in the form of one letter to the editor at a time…


I found ____’s August 16th letter to the editor to be far more sensational, insensitive, and ignorant than the claims she is making against the police department. On one hand she seems appalled about the murder, and then on another vehemently defends the murderer’s modus operandi.

_____ implies that she knows how a killer thinks better than the police, including what tools they would use to harm someone and take their life. But she did not provide qualifications as to what makes her views more credible than theirs. I have an education and professional background in criminal justice, and I am also a domestic violence survivor who has lost a friend to a similar homicide.

First, fuzzy handcuffs are the most easily obtainable type of handcuffs. Joseph Batten was unlikely to arouse suspicion purchasing that type of restraint, as opposed to metal handcuffs. They may have also been readily available to him. It should be noted that you still need keys to get out of the “fuzzy” version—obviously their purpose is to control and restrain another person.

Second, some genres of hardcore porn are practically a how-to guide on how to restrain someone. While some people may find it harmless, such graphic images can be gasoline on the fire of an already deviant mind. Also, porn is frequently disrespectful towards women, so for Ms. _____ to defend hardcore porn while condemning domestic violence seems contradictory. Violence against women is never okay.

Downplaying the relevance of the tools a murderer had at his disposal demeans the victim and detracts from the seriousness of the crime. People can be harmed and killed with just about anything. Please, do not make light of such a serious incident just because the killer’s thought processes are different than yours. Instead, there should be absolute outrage about this crime, and we should channel that righteous anger into preventing future acts of violence in our community.

“Crime of passion”, at face value, may imply a heat of the moment mentality. But given the weapons and materials Joseph Batten had in his possession when he committed the murder, it is clear that this was a premeditated crime. I am appalled at Ms. _____’s implication that a statement from the police department would appear to sanction homicide by “stupid people”. Some of the most successful and violent criminals are also the most intelligent.

I am certain that the police spokesperson did not intend to downplay or sensationalize any element of this crime. I understand Ms. _____’s concern about the choice of words, but I know from experience that all police employees have a tough job to do, and we don’t always have time to perfect our statements when the public is waiting for answers. That is one inescapable fact of working in criminal justice—you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t, and can’t make everybody happy all the time.

I would encourage all readers to join the fight against domestic violence by supporting the domestic violence advocacy programs in our community. Domestic violence is an epidemic that affects men, women, and children of all walks of life, and until we as a society condemn this sick, selfish, barbaric behavior, it will continue to erupt even in the most unexpected places.


©2010 H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com.

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