In eight horrific days in our remote section of the world, six people died as the result of domestic violence.
On June 6, in Winslow, Maine, Nathaniel Gordon chased his wife, Sarah, down the street before shooting her in front of the neighbors and the couple’s two kids, aged eight and nine.
On June 14, in Dexter, Maine, Steven Lake killed his wife, Amy, and their two kids, Coty, 13, and Monica, 12.
Both men shot themselves when confronted by police.
Meanwhile, America was obsessed coast to coast with the circus that was the media “coverage” of the Casey Anthony trial.
I don’t have to tell you who Casey Anthony is — you know. She’s the young woman from Florida with the less-than-charming personality and a penchant for lying, who may or may not have killed her child.
I bet, though, you didn’t know who Nathaniel Gordon and Steven Lake were.
In 2008, the last year that statistics are available from the U.S. Census bureau, 1,502 children under the age of 18 were killed in America. That’s four or more a day.
In 2007, some 530,564 women were the victim of a violent crime by their partner. In that year 1,185 women were murdered by their partners in the U.S. (For those of you who believe the finger of shame is too often pointed at men in domestic violence, the same document shows about 82,000 men were the victim of violent acts by their partners and 382 men victims of homicide.)
Shortly after the crimes in Winslow and Dexter took place some stand-up men in Waterville, Maine, held a rally and press conference begging men to be involved in the solution to domestic violence, which is too often – in fact, almost always – considered a “women’s issue.”
Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey said stopping domestic violence is everyone’s problem and men have to get involved in solving it.
“I call on the men individually, collectively. You need to step up to the plate,” he said.
But the best quotes from the rally came from a woman, Karen Heck, a co-creator of the group Hardy Girls, Healthy Women.
Forget best quote of the rally. She had one of the best quotes of the year. Maybe the decade.
“I'm sick and tired of waking up in the morning to news that more women and children have been killed by men who were supposed to have loved them.”
She added that “we must commit to changing the discussion from ‘why doesn't she leave?’ to ‘why does he abuse?’”
And finished with, “Let me be clear: men who love the members of their families do not kill them. No matter how clearly I say that though, our culture chooses not to listen to the voices of women.”
It was powerful stuff, covered heavily in the two newspapers, the Morning Sentinel of Waterville and the Kennebec Journal of Augusta. (Full disclosure: I work for both).
About 75 people attended, which most agreed was a good number.
The next morning, there was a memorial service for the three victims of Steven Lake.
About 1,000 people attended. It was covered on statewide TV, and several other out-of-state TV stations.
Lots of tears, lots of outrage.
Who knew Amy, Coty and Monica had so many friends?
And meanwhile, millions of Americans across the country were glued to their TVs, railing against Casey Anthony.
I don’t have to remind you who she is — the annoying young lady from Florida who lies, likes to party and may or may not have killed her young daughter.
Casey Anthony was found not guilty of killing her child July 5.
Last week, nearly a month after the verdict, news made national headlines that Casey Anthony, according to a poll, is the most hated woman in America.
The Lake and Gordon cases faded away pretty quickly, even here in Central Maine.
Two men who gunned down the mothers of their children in cold blood, and in one case, the children themselves, will not go down in history, even in our little corner of the world, as “most hated.”
Sure, people who knew and loved their victims will be scarred for life by it. And no one will blame them if they carry that burden of hate.
But for everyone else, It’s pretty much too bad, so sad.
It was a lot of fun going to the memorial service. Vigils are great. We can all cry and talk about the children and feel that self-righteous indignation. So next time something like this happens, and there will be a next time, we’ll get out the vigil candles and the sad faces and look for the TV cameras.
Rallies about the problems that lead to these happening? Not so much fun. Borrrrring. A bunch of stiff people spouting statistics. Yawn.
Karen Heck’s quotes, which were more insightful, to the point and powerful that probably 99 percent of the idiotic verbiage that clogged up the airwaves and Internet before, during and after the Casey Anthony trial, made the front pages of a few tiny newspapers and then were done.
It’s just not that interesting, right?
I know, I know. The last thing people want is one of those pompous “care about this, not that” screeds. Don’t read People, read The New Yorker. Don’t buy a Snickers bar when children are starving. Blah blah blah.
We’ll feel strongly about what we want to. The fun things.
We’ll reserve our strongest emotions for the next time Nancy Grace or some other TV talking head that’s part of the huge multi-billion dollar entertainment conglomerate designed to keep Americans from thinking for themselves tells us it’s time to hate someone again.
But just take the time for a minute to consider this:
Hate for another human being is never a very useful emotion. It saps a person’s energy without ever making a situation better.
When it’s for a human being you don’t even know, who has nothing to do with your life — for instance, Casey Anthony — it’s not only useless, it’s ridiculous and self-indulgent.
Imagine what could happen if all that energy that this country spent hating Casey Anthony — in fact, is still spending despite the fact that there was no evidence against her and the prosecution couldn’t prove its case and she was found not guilty — could be channeled into actually addressing the issues that lead people to kill their children.
And the mothers of their children.