Classic Elam: Killing for Equality (2014)

Last year in West Footscray, a smallish suburb just a stone’s throw outside Melbourne, Victoria Australia, Phillip Bracken pushed his common law wife, Helen Curtis, to the ground. As she lay helpless he took the rifle he was holding and put two rounds in her head.

The next two bullets punched into her abdomen. Finally he fired the fifth and last round, boring a hole through her wrist.

Last week, at the end of his murder trial, the verdict was delivered.

Not guilty.

It was not because the accusations against him were not proven. Bracken admitted to the acts, precisely as described above. He was acquitted on the grounds that his domestic partner, known in Australia as a defacto wife, had physically, emotionally and psychologically abused him during the relationship. That abuse rose to a level characterized in Australian law as “intimate terrorism.”

It was also brought out at trial that Curtis had made threats to murder Bracken’s father, which he feared she would follow through with.

The only charge that remains against him at this point is the possession of an unregistered weapon, for which he is out of jail under his own recognizance.

This story puts an interesting twist on recent news coverage of University of Ottawa law professor Elizabeth Sheehy, who has asserted in her new book, Defending battered Women on Trial, that women not only have the right, but the moral obligation to kill their abusers. She contends that women who kill under these alleged circumstances should not be charged or tried for murder.

So, using the rationale of that university law expert, Phillip Bracken is a social justice hero, who has just been recognized as such by the nine women and three men who sat on the jury that gave him a pass.

This is despite the fact that Bracken had nearly countless options in front of him at the time he snuffed the life out of Helen Curtis.

At the point he was in possession of a loaded weapon, and she was on the ground before him, he had a range of options. He could have walked away. He could have trained the weapon on her and summoned police. He could have unloaded the weapon to ensure that it was not used by either party to deliver lethal force.

Instead he riddled her with enough bullets as she lay on the ground to kill her four times over.

I have little doubt that Curtis was every bit the abusive monster that Bracken claimed her to be. In fact, given that what was presented to the jury of her behavior and character was sufficient for them to issue a pass to a male for her murder, I would venture to guess that she was record breaker of a harridan.

And if we are to accept that Philip Bracken had a legal or moral right to kill her, then we forego the right to criticize the likes of Elizabeth Sheehy. Unless, of course, our only real objection to Sheehy’s ideas is that they are gender specific; if we are ok with murder as a way to deal with abusive partners as long as it affords men and women equal rights to kill.

Who actually thinks this way? So far, it has only been feminists (without the caveat of equality), and I hope above all else that it remains that way.

What happened in West Footscray, Australia is a natural consequence of feminist jurisprudence and governance. Like the occasional women who wind up severed from their assets and their children in a corrupt family law apparatus, now some women will simply be rubbed out by husbands who they may be abusive toward.

The resultant actions of the justice system will be to give killers a pass because the people left standing, most notably the killers, said they had it coming.

I feel no more and no less repugnance for this verdict than I do when it happens to male victims. Murdering someone when you don’t have to is vile. And so is the criminal justice system that finds excuses for it.

Perhaps, however, this particular kind of tragedy will serve some purpose in the end.

Ladies, welcome to the legal margin.

Thanks to the feminist insistence on our absolute reverence for “victims” (aka those who don’t have the good sense to get away from abusive people), the tide is turning, and not in your direction.

The courts are going to start regarding those of you who put the “bad” in bad relationships, or who have been accused of such, as something less than human. With this ruling, and the precedent it establishes, there will surely be others who line up for their slaps on the wrist after taking you out.

Who knows? Maybe when enough men walk away from murder charges after killing women they did not have the sense to leave, someone will notice the stench of what is going on.

In the meantime, ladies, enjoy an emerging equality of which I am sure you never dreamed.

And sleep well.

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