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Why the Men’s Rights Movement needs to stop making excuses for violence

The aftermath of a gunman's rampage at an Arkansas courthouse

In June, a man named Thomas Ball took his own life – literally lighting himself ablaze – outside of a Keane, New Hampshire courthouse. He left behind a manifesto protesting his treatment by the family court.

But Ball wanted to do more than protest what he felt were injustices against men. He hoped to inspire other men to take the law into their own hands; in his words “we need to start burning down police stations and courthouses.”

He wasn’t speaking figuratively: he was talking about real violence.

[T]he dirty deeds are being carried out by our local police, prosecutors and judges. …  Collaborators who are no different than the Vichy of France or the Quislings of Norway during the Second World War. … And they need to be held accountable. So burn them out. …

Ball went on to offer specific advice on how to construct the most effective Molotov cocktails to lob at courthouses and police stations.

Nor did he seem overly concerned that people would be killed:

There will be some casualties in this war. Some killed, some wounded, some captured. Some of them will be theirs. Some of the casualties will be ours. …

I only managed to get the main door of the Cheshire County Courthouse in Keene, NH. I would appreciate it if some of you boys would finish the job for me.

Ball has been treated as a martyr by many Men’s Right’s Activists online; his manifesto – including those parts that explicitly call for terrorism – has been reposted on a number of MRA sites.

Why am I bringing up Ball? This is why:

On Tuesday, an Arkansas man reportedly entered the office of the judge that had presided over his divorce and custody hearings, and opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle. Amazingly, no one died as a result of his rampage, aside from the gunman himself, James Ray Palmer, who was taken down by police in a gun battle outside the courthouse, according to news accounts. The judge, fortunately, was not there, and the gunman’s rifle apparently jammed.  Before heading to the courthouse, authorities say, Palmer set his own home on fire with timed incendiary devices.

Was Palmer inspired directly by Ball’s manifesto? We don’t know. The judge in this case was by no means the first to be targeted by a man angry at the outcome of his divorce or custody case.  Judges were receiving death threats – and in some cases actually being murdered – long before there was such a thing as the Men’s Rights movement online.

But talk of violence is common on Men’s Rights sites. Opponents of the Men’s Rights movement are denounced as “collaborators,” while others talk plainly about fighting a “war” against feminism. Angry Harry, a British MRA revered by many of his ideological compatriots on this side of the pond, has offered an explicit apologia for violence against family court judges.

Even if Palmer himself was not directly influenced by the MRM online—as of yet, we don’t know —  it is only a matter of time until some unbalanced person steeped in the violent rhetoric of the MRM online decides to “finish the job” started by Thomas Ball. It is only a matter of time until those espousing such rhetoric have real blood on their hands.

If the MRM truly aspires to be a real civil rights movement, rather than a reactionary hate sect more redolent of the KKK than of MLK, moderate MRAs need to step up and speak out against the bullies and the would-be warriors. They need to stop canonizing violent-minded men like Ball. They need to make clear that violent rhetoric – not to mention specific threats or calls to terrorism – have no place in the movement.

Do I expect this to happen? No. I think instead we will get more excuses, more evasions, more apologias for violence — and more threatening talk.

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captainbathrobe
10 years ago

Yes, I predict that we’ll be hearing the usual refrain about women using the power of The State to to steal men’s money and sperm, so of course men have no alternative but to take up arms, blah blah blah. I think the comparison with KKK is quite apt, though at least the Klan has silly costumes. The fact that MRAs constantly call feminism a “hate movement” is probably the purest form of projection to be found in the natural world.

Rutee Katreya
10 years ago

Nah, they don’t have to do that, because a feminist somewhere that no other feminist liked said maybe men should rot in prison. Therefore all future violence against all feminists is justified.

Well, that’s the logic that’ll be coming soon.

blitzgal
10 years ago

And yet these are the same people who say that feminists are terrorists, because some of them hacked up some paintings and broke windows and stuff.

blitzgal
10 years ago

And before the MRAs come in here to explain how this guy is a victim — his wife left him because of his violence. He attacked her and set their couch on fire in 1999. The fact remains that in the vast majority of these cases, these guys were violent long before they lashed out against court representatives.

Holly Pervocracy
10 years ago

I think it’s a game to a lot of them. They’re like kids who figure they could be commandos because they’re so good at Call Of Duty. I don’t think they have the personal experience to know what violence is really like (or even, on some level, to understand that it really happens), so they toss out violent scenarios like a kid going “and then I’d totally use my grenades KAPOW on all the teachers and then I’d never have study hall again!”

This still isn’t behavior becoming of a serious social justice movement, or of adults in general, but it’s not sincere violent wishes, I think.

Unfortunately, there’s a couple guys mixed in there for whom it isn’t so theoretical. And the armchair-commandos have absolutely no conscience about egging them on. Either they don’t understand that violence is real for some people, or… they don’t care. They’re too cowardly to do it themselves but they’re plenty evil enough.

Regardless of different MRAs’ different levels of seriousness, it’s horrible bullshit that they’re willing to tolerate any of this kind of talk at all.

Nobinayamu
Nobinayamu
10 years ago

This post dovetails in an interesting way with Dude Antebellum one.

karak
karak
10 years ago

I find the idea of random violence alarming, but also on some level amusing. I’m not sure what a lot of these men expect to happen in this “war”. They talk about casualties–but not THEIR casualties.

I mean, on one hand they argue that women are violent, insidious, brilliantly manipulative cruel monsters who rule the world through a giant shadow conspiracy, with an iron fist, and on the other hand a few shots will totally topple this. Suuuure. If their gynocracy or whatever was real, they’d disappear in black bags before they got a shot off. In reality, they’re probably going to get piled on and held in place by bystanders until the police arrive.

In the REAL Civil Rights Movement, people were murdered; they died in horrible, tragic ways and often the people responsible were never held accountable for their actions. I don’t think these armchair theorists are prepared to do what it takes to start any kind of meaningful revolution.

zombie rotten mcdonald
10 years ago

Yes, I predict that we’ll be hearing the usual refrain about women using the power of The State to to steal men’s money and sperm, so of course men have no alternative but to take up arms,

Captain, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a sockpuppet show up, espousing violence.

cynickal
cynickal
10 years ago

Don’t forget the No True MRA fallacy…

Margot
10 years ago

I think (or at least I really hope) that Holly is right that most of the MRA’s aren’t really thinking about the consequences of what they are advocating for. But, that really doesn’t change David’s point at all. They aren’t children and they aren’t writing fiction. They are writing hate speech and advocating for real acts of violence. I tend to think that so far we have seen already violent and unbalanced people committing most of the crimes for which the MRA’s craft their apologias. But, there are plenty of examples, the KKK being one, of hate groups creating their own internal momentum towards violence.

NWOslave
NWOslave
10 years ago

The only way tyranny can succeed is for good men to do nothing. It is not only the right, but the duty of every citizen to overthrow a tyrannical government.

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” George Washington

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

“They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a moneyed aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.” Thomas Jefferson

“If taxes are laid upon us without our having a legal representation where they are laid, we are reduced from the character of free subjects to the state of tributary slaves.” Samuel Adams

This is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering… And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.” Thomas Jefferson

“All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, nor from want of honor or virtue, so much as downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation.” John Adams

“The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the Bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe.. corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money powers of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed. Abraham Lincoln

Captain Bathrobe
Captain Bathrobe
10 years ago

And Valerie Solanis. She’s bound to make an appearance, thereby justifying all MRA violence.

zombie rotten mcdonald
10 years ago

With regards to the post, you see parallels in the anti-abortion movement and the rightwing movements.

There is a constant refrain using violent imagery and many times actually endorsing violence (“Liberal Hunting Permit” anyone?) until a George Tiller or Gabby Giffords gets shot or a Breivik goes on a rampage or a Murrah Building gets bombed or an airplane flown into an IRS building; then it becomes a “lone wolf” and “no true Scotsman” argument.

I could go on. Depressingly, on and on.

Bee
Bee
10 years ago

And when the MRAs show up to defend this guy by saying it was perfectly reasonable for James Ray Palmer to try to shoot the judge who took his family away from him in the feminist family law court, I say:

Steffeny Palmer initially filed for divorce May 26, 1999, a day after she said her husband “flipped out and told me it was time he bought a couple of assault weapons” before he attacked her in front of their child and then set the couch on fire, according to a petition for a protection order Steffeny Palmer sought in November 1999.

In the same petition, she claimed James Palmer went to her parents’ home on Nov. 9, 1999, and told her father he had four or five high-powered rifles with him and he wasn’t hunting deer, he was hunting “two legged.”

Steffeny Palmer also claimed James Palmer had been “drinking and on drugs” and previously spent time in a mental institution.

From here. It’s sad. But clearly, making sure he stayed away from his wife and kid was a very good idea.

Rabbit
Rabbit
10 years ago

@Bee

But that’s all bullshit because she OBVIOUSLY only said it to screw him over in court.

Hershele Ostropoler
10 years ago

Wouldn’t make a difference, Bee, because first, you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reach through reason, and second, I’m sure they’d just cite that fact that the court believed her as proof of how “feminist-poisoned” the courts are, and say if men were running things, the government wouldn’t be allowed to meddle in a man’s private affairs.

Bostonian
10 years ago

The couch lit itself on fire! As they apparently do, in MRA land.

zombie rotten mcdonald
10 years ago

the couch was asking for it.

Pecunium
10 years ago

Bee: Obviously this was faked, it took the courts believing her, and limiting his access to his. children for him to really do it.

And then he was “smart” enough to go after the evil judge, not the poor deluded woman who believed the propaganda the feminist movement had fed her about domestic violence.

zombie rotten mcdonald
10 years ago

Scroll up to see NWO comparing this guy to the founding fathers.

That was precious.

So keeping a loosely screwed together guy with a propensity toward violence away from his wife and kids, who he has threatened, tyrannical.

I particularly liked, however, the parts about banks, taxes and money power. All good reasons for breaking up banks and restricting the power of institutions controlling large sums of money. And little to do with the violent rhetoric of the MRA sites.

zombie rotten mcdonald
10 years ago

Yes, I predict that we’ll be hearing the usual refrain about women using the power of The State to to steal men’s money and sperm, so of course men have no alternative but to take up arms, blah blah blah

I believe today’s internet is awarded to Captain Bathrobe, for so accurately describing Slaver’s quote-comment.

kollegemesserschmitt
10 years ago

I am so relieved that at least no one got killed (aside from James Ray Palmer).
And I’m pretty sure if it turns out that Palmer did hold misogynist views (which seems likely), the media will mostly leave that part out, like in a lot of articles about Brevik.

Fuck MRAs
Fuck MRAs
10 years ago

Who knows? I imagine many of the “founding fathers” (hah! what a phrase!) were probably pretty gender/sex essentialist. Maybe they would have agreed with the basic MRA premise that women of today are stepping out of our place.

hellkell
hellkell
10 years ago

Ah, NWO. Don’t ever change. Keep on thinking women control everything.

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