Here in San Francisco domestic violence has been in the news for all of 2012. The abuser just happens to be our sheriff. I’m bringing it up because it’s a public case that documents many of the strategies employed by misogynist shitlords when they’re confronted by distaste from decent people.

Ross Mirkarimi was elected sheriff of the city and county of San Francisco in November of 2011. Over New Year’s Mirkarimi and his wife Eliana Lopez got into an argument that became physical. Lopez went to a neighbor who was a fundraiser for Mirkarimi’s election campaign. Lopez showed the neighbor bruises and made a video to document the abuse. Lopez told the neighbor that she wanted to document the abuse because of fears that Mirkarimi would take their children away from her. Lopez indicated that she had been telling Mirkarimi that they “need help.” The next day Lopez contacted the neighbor and implored her not to contact the police about the abuse. Two days after that, on January 4th the neighbor did call the police. The investigation became public on Friday the 6th — two days before Mirkarimi was due to assume his duties as sheriff. Under a cloud of controversy – but with no charges formally pressed — Mirkarimi was sworn in as sheriff on January 8th.

On January 12th the police contacted another neighbor who reported that Lopez had told them about the New Years abuse, displayed her bruise, and said that this was the second time in a year that Mirkarimi had assaulted her. Lopez ended this conversation with the second neighbor by saying that she didn’t know what to do because Mirkarimi had warned her that he was “a very powerful man.” At the end of this conversation Mirkarimi arrived with their son who told the neighbor that Mirkarimi had caused the bruise on his mother’s arm. The next day Mirkarimi was arrested and charges with domestic battery, child endangerment, and dissuading a witness.

Mirkarimi plead not guilty to the crimes, but over the course of the preparation for the trial and his attempts to discount the evidence against him failed he ended up copping a guilty plea to a charge of false imprisonment in exchange for the more damning charges being dropped. He was sentenced to three years of probation, 100 hours of community service, 52 weeks of domestic violence classes, a $400 domestic violence fine, as well as parenting and family counseling.

SF mayor Ed Lee gave Mirkarimi a chance to quit or be fired. When Mirkarimi refused to quit Lee began proceedings for a misconduct trial to have Mirkarimi removed, saying bluntly:

“I think that as one of the top law enforcement officials for the city, he ought not to have engaged in the beating of his wife…. I just think that the violence against a spouse was not appropriate for occupying that office.”

The misconduct trial is ongoing at the time of this writing, but here are some interesting thing I want to touch on. The details surrounding this that may right familiar when you deal with shitlords in your life.

  1. Mirkarimi had an established history as “a tyrant”.” In other words people knew he was a jerk, just didn’t know how big a jerk he was capable of being. You see this time and time again. Those people who keep sticking their foot in their mouths and getting pridehurt about being accused of sexism? They are often (though not always) the ones who have shocking and dismaying behind-the-scenes behaviors.
  2. Mirkarimi initially tried to say that him abusing his wife was “a family matter” and therefore weren’t appropriate for anyone to even be discussing. Compare this to the tendency of anti-feminists who say that talking about harassment, abuse, and sexism have nothing at all to do with skepticism so STFU already.
  3. When domestic violence activists staged a protest outside Mirkarimi’s office he sent the following text: “Unbelievable! Beverly knows that I’ve always been a fervent supporter of the dv community. am I really guilty until proven innocent … we know of the political forces at work here and yet, I’m advised to say nothing” Compare this to the frequent claims from sexists, homophobes, racists, etc that “I’m an ally, how dare you point out my bad behavior!”
  4. Mirkarimi’s few supporters have taken to painting him as the victim of a smear campaign by bullies. Compare this to the ridiculous #FTBullies tag on twitter and the frequent claims that Rebecca Watson and the Skepchicks are callously abusing people rather than themselves being subject to a campaign of bullying and angry threats.
  5. Mirkarimi has most recently taken to using the “Ed Lee is a liar and he lied and I’m still a victim” strategy to derail the campaign for San Francisco to not have a domestic abuser as sheriff. Compare, again, the the frequent ridiculous claims that feminist skeptics and atheists make shit up that happen when the antis in our community run out of logical fallacies to hurl at us.

Now to be clear in case any of the antis are reading this, I am not saying that the people who are so amazingly hurt by feminists talking about feminism in their sandbox are actually domestic abusers. What I am saying is that the bigoted shitlord mentality is one shared by abusers like Mirkarimi and the antis trying to tear apart our movements. Not only do they share a mentality, but they share many of the same tactics when under pressure and out of options. Food for thought.

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squirrelywrath2August 9, 2012 7:16 am

There seems to be a trend in general among more conservative groups to not want to talk about unpleasant things. This tendency often has the consequence of trying to silence people who disagree with them or are talking about some sort of problem. You see this with sexism, domestic violence, gun control, religion, and many other hot button issues. You also see this more from people with authority. That is how I usually take a lot of the public reaction to these kinds of things.

I am more concerned with those people in the background trying to avoid conflict than I am with people like this guy. Everyone knows that spousal abusers are bad people, but its those background beliefs of the general public that give people like this fertile ground in which to operate.

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