OR PLAIN PROVOCATIVE
On page 64 of my book, Cleary Independent (1998 HarperCollins),
I wrote the following:
Sadly, the minute women arced up about violence and the manner
it was dealt with in the courts, the apologists were quickly out
of the blocks. In 1994, SBS Television screened an hysterical, revisionist
documentary, Deadly Hurt, which tortuously unravelled the
thesis that the `Women's Movement' was emasculating men, and that
the origins of a tragic murder-suicide could be traced to the possessive
mother of the killer.
Selective editing, the pious monotone narrative of the producer
and ghoulish use of Chinese Cultural Revolution imagery, converged
in a series of thoughts and images which reinforced the misogynist
premises women confronted in the Criminal Justice system. It was
all to familiar. Unfortuantely, the people behind the production
seemed to foolishly think theirs was a dissenter's view.
In reality, Deadly Hurt was the quintessential expression
of the legal orthodoxy which browbeat the families of dead women
when they gathered in court to honour a sister.
Melbourne broadcaster Terry Lane, an ardent opponent of most feminist
proclamations, was almost delirious when Deadly Hurt arrived......
THE AGE ARTICLE - 10 YEARS ON
In the wake of the Ramage murder trial and the discussion about
the law of provocation, Terry Lane wrote a piece for The Age.
He called for the abolition of provocation. Along the way he made
some 'interesting' observations. This is a short response.
It's not surprising that in the face of unequivocal evidence, Terry
Lane, (THE AGE - Provoking the course of Rough Justice - 21/11/04)
can't admit that the law of provocation discriminates against women.
Against overwhelming evidence, Lane has for years scoffed at the
argument that male violence towards women in the home is a profound
The claim that Helen Garner's book about the killing of a man,
Joe Cinque, by his girlfriend, is a 'counter balance to the notion
that laws that excuse murders always favour men' is more of the
same. The law of provocation is misogynist and extinguishes a woman's
rights. That's a fact, not a notion. Furthermore, Garner throws
no light on the hypocrisy of the law as it applies to male and female
killers. The killing of Joe Cinque by his girlfriend creates no
less pain and suffering, and is every bit as serious as the killing
of Julie Ramage. However, it's misleading to suggest these cases
were played out the same in court. Joe Cinque was never accused
of having caused his girlfriend to kill him.
So convincingly was Julie Ramage blamed for causing her husband
to kill her, Lane falls into the trap of saying 'taunting about
sexual performance is no excuse for killing the tormentor'. It was
only alleged that Julie Ramage said sex with her husband 'repulsed'
her. The court was left with no doubt that she was an obedient,
even subservient wife to a bullying husband. Of course, the court
wasn't told that he'd broken her nose in 1991. And if one alleged
derogatory comment in twenty-three years makes her a tormentor,
what hope do women have, with or without the abolition of provocation?