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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/19/09

The Chris & Rihanna Saga: What's Race Got To Do With It?

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Message Hargrove Jones
Celebrities are not prosecuted for domestic battery, when the victim doesn't want them prosecuted — that is, unless the celebrity is black.

I am not aware of any white celebrity who was prosecuted over the objection of the person assaulted, but with black celebrities, it's common. Jim Brown; Warren Moon; OJ Simpson; James Brown; Dale Ellis, Scottie Pippen, among others, faced the judge when their accuser did not want them prosecuted.

Now, a 19-year-old boy, who was a victim of domestic violence himself, is emerging as the symbol for spousal battering; and for the second time, the female victim is treated like a proper subject for trashing too. This is the media prescribed approach, to the crisis in Chris and Rihanna's life. Even if it is the right approach, it's wrong, because it's only applied to *Diasporans.

When the LAPD received a 911 call that Jack Nicholson was using both hands to beat Catherine Sheehan about the face; using hair grabbing to drag her about and slam her head on the floor; culminating with hurling her over a hedge, they didn't even bother to show up, and they never filed criminal charges. Catherine was left with the civil law to address the nervous system damage, unrelenting pain, vertigo, migraines, and periodic blindness resulting from the attack; and words like, "I'm going to kill you" "I'll give you a good reason to call the police," weren't called terrorist threats, they were simply ignored.

Christian Slater knocked his girlfriend to the floor, at a party hosted by her friends, beating her about the head with his closed fists, causing lumps and other injuries for which she received emergency treatment. A man who attempted to stop him got him a fist pounding and a serious bite wound to the abdomen. Before it was over, Christian had assaulted four people, including a police officer, whose gun he attempted to take, threatening to "kill everyone." But his words were not described as terrorist threats, and when the charges against him were reduced, they didn't even include the assault on his girlfriend; and despite a prior arrest, all of his charges were reduced to misdemeanors.

Diane Lane was assaulted by her husband, actor, Josh Brolin, and even though she did not want him arrested, the police arrested him for spousal battery, and set bail at $20,000, to protect her in the moment. However, once the dust cleared, words like "the lowest-end misdemeanour charge of domestic battery," were used to describe what Brolin did, and far from fretting about Diane Lane taking him back, we were reassured by her publicist that, "they are home together and are embarrassed the matter went this far." All of the charges were dropped.

Farrah Fawcett was grabbed by the throat, by her then boyfriend, director, James Orr. He choked her and repeatedly slammed her head into the pavement, and kicked her several times in the upper body while she was on the ground. Farrah went back with James for awhile, without media expressed concerns, ultimately deciding to end the relationship and testify against him. But even with her testimony, the charge was only a misdemeanor count of battery, and he was sentenced to a mere100 hours of community service.

William Shatner was observed, during his relationship with his wife, Nerine, gripping her in a headlock, and wrestling her to the floor, a maneuver he has been known to use on others. This maneuver is consistent with the broken neck and bruising Nerine sustained before she was found dead in the swimming pool at their home.

When's the last time you heard of an intoxicated person breaking their neck by falling into a pool? But that didn't arouse any curiosity in the LAPD, not even when coupled with the fact that Shatner had filed for divorce and asked the court not to give his wife alimony; not even when they learned that he did not take her out of the pool until he was ordered to do so, even though he is a certified diver; not even when they learned that he did not administer CPR, despite his expertise in rescue techniques. As a matter of fact, the police took that information as inspiration to lie for him, announcing that he immediately took his wife out of the pool and administered CPR. The media got right in line with the program, withholding readily known facts like the state of the marriage and prior abuse. Shatner went on to marry the woman he was reported to be having an affair with, and when Nerine's family expressed their disappointment at being denied her ashes, he threw handfuls of her ashes at them, taunting, "There's her arm, there's her leg. Are you happy now?"

Phillies pitcher, Brett Myers, pulled his wife, Kim, up and out of her shoes, by her hair, dragging her, by her hair, along a Boston street, while beating her about the face. Kim told police her husband hit her in the face with his fist twice, and witnesses attested to all of it, including Kim yelling, "I'm not going to let you do this to me anymore" But when it came time to resolve the case, the court looked to Kim for direction, and all of the charges were dropped after Kim spoke on her husband's behalf. They exited the courtroom together, and no one told her to leave him.

Then there was Charlie Sheen flinging a girlfriend on a marble floor, knocking her unconscious and confiscating her blood stained clothing and threatening to kill her if she told what happened. No terrorist threats there - just two years probation and 300 hours of community service

Dudley Moore drugging a dancer, who he kicked and choked and forced to take amphetamines, making her dance for him for 20 hours — all charges dropped.

And the list of white domestic infractions goes on: Evel Knievel; David Hasselhoff; Billy Bob Thorton; Richard Hatch; Ozzy Osbourne; Sean Penn;Yanni; Bary Busey; James Caan; Glen Campbell; Eric Roberts; Axl Rose; Mickey Rourke; Steven Seagal ; Paul Gascoigne; Larry Fitzgerald; Santonio Holmes; Tommy Lee; Chris Noth; Vanilla Ice; Rob Lowe and there are more . . .

None of these men's violent words were called terrorist threats, none of them went to jail for the assaults on the women in their lives, and many of them escaped all charge. And there was no one fretting about whether the women involved, would stay with them; and there were no dire predictions that if hit once, you'll be hit again.

Mainstream media has highlighted two Diasporan women as victims of domestic abuse. A few years ago it was Robin Givens, and now it's Rihanna. Robin has come forward to weigh in on Rihanna's experience, explaining that she has something in common with battered women, because of her experienced with Mike Tyson. But what she was not so clear on, was her experience as a black woman, who the media sought to isolate, impoverish and humiliate, as a response to her crisis. She belongs to a category of women whose protection is not supported, to the extent that every attorney who has defend Diasporan women, against white male aggression, has been disbarred.

Mainstream media drives American culture, and for Diasporan women, the direction is always the same, impoverishment, humiliation and isolation. When Robin Givens complained that she was abuse by Mike Tyson, the press gave her a resounding kick in the butt.

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Student of social dynamics, especially as it relates to issues of race and sex.
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