Patterico's Pontifications

10/15/2010

Is Charlie Wilson a Wife Beater?

Filed under: 2010 Election,General,Media Bias — Aaron Worthing @ 8:50 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; this is adapted from a couple posts at The Blog that Cannot Be Named (aka Allergic to Bull****)]

Now, first, this is not the man made famous with the movie Charlie Wilson’s War, but a Congressman running for reelection in Ohio.  And so far it does not look good.  A few days ago, Big Government produced a copy of the trial brief filed in his divorce and it states that Wilson actually admitted to beating his wife in depositions.  Now you might say, “well, yeah, that is the word of a lawyer.”  And while lawyers are not typically more honest (or more dishonest, for that matter) than anyone else, the thing is most bar associations would seriously discipline any lawyer who made such a claim without factual basis, and it might even justify sanctions before the court.  If a lawyer says that a person admitted to unlawful conduct, and cites a specific page in a transcript, it had better be true.  So it gains credibility if only because he could get in trouble if he is lying.  But you can decide for yourself and hopefully Wilson will be asked about it very soon.

Jim Geraghty wonders why there is so little coverage of the story so far.  Frankly, one purpose in writing this post is to hopefully raise the story’s profile so we can get to the bottom of things.  As of this writing, a google news search gets a pitiful number of hits, and most of them involve the more famous Charlie Wilson.  But there is a defensible reason for the media being reluctant to report it.  If they are doing their job (I know, big “if”), then they might want to verify the account.  This might especially be the case if these non-lawyers do not realize that the allegation is credible, because the lawyer would get in such trouble if it was false.  So they might be trying to get old records to verify, and given that the case is around two decades old, you have to assume it is in off-site storage.  So I would excuse up to one week of delay.  But anything beyond that, and they are clearly not pursuing the story.

Of course that begs the question of whether it should be pursued.  Is this relevant?  Well, here I have to confess potential bias.  I have had someone close in my life whom I helped to escape an abusive marriage.  I won’t name this woman out of a respect for her privacy, but I will tell you she and her daughter had a basically happy ending.  So you might think this means I have a biased hatred toward wife beaters.  Or you might say I have an appropriate sense of outrage on the subject.  It’s all a matter of perspective.  I believe it’s the latter, but that is your call, not mine.  Myself, I think there is no place for such a man in Congress unless there is powerful evidence of reform and redemption.  Besides the fact that we are depending on this man, Wilson, not to discriminate based on sex, I believe that people who hit their wives also have poor impulse control making them generally unfit for offices of high trust.  But as Dennis Miller says, that is just my opinion, I could be wrong.

And if I learn more, I will keep you posted.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

46 Responses to “Is Charlie Wilson a Wife Beater?”

  1. I think you’re being too circumspect in your writing.

    He’s not going to be pulled off the ballot because he’s an abusive slimeball, but the voters absolutely have a right to know this when they head to the polls.

    Christoph (8ec277)

  2. As one who thought it was a dirty trick to use records of ____ Ryan’s divorce proceedings, I guess I’m not eager to see someone else’s divorce proceedings made public either. Any police reports suggesting domestic violence would be fair game. But yes, just because there is criminal activity with abuse doesn’t mean to gets brought out to the police for various scenarios. I’ve been involved trying to help in a few instances, not working well as the boyfriend’s intimidation factor still held sway, so I too have little love lost for someone who is abusive.

    I agree that impulse control is important and can present in multiple areas.

    The fact that it was 2 decades ago is something. I guess if I was the reporter, I would want more from the ex-wife and others about the last 15 years before I would put it out in public.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  3. Aaron:
    Why this:

    Myself, I think there is no place for such a man in Congress unless there is powerful evidence of reform and redemption.

    instead of this?:

    Myself, I think there is no place for such a man in Congress.

    m (8137dd)

  4. a dirty trick to use records of ____ Ryan’s divorce proceedings

    Yes, that was a very low blow, MD. And what Ryan was accused of was very serious, IMO. AFAIK, Ryan didn’t actually admit to the claims, and divorce accusations are not reliable, which is only part of what that was so unfair to our election process.

    What Wilson’s trial brief claims is a very serious pattern of abuse showing a severe character problem. I’m glad you’re ‘keeping me honest’ by bringing up Ryan, because those were serious allegations too.

    You and Aaron are right that this needs more investigation. Although this really isn’t how I prefer to see elections decided.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  5. not working well as the boyfriend’s intimidation/perverse sexual attraction factor still held sway

    There. I corrected it for you.

    Sad but true that that is often the case.

    Christoph (8ec277)

  6. Wait a second….

    Wilson (supposedly) admitted to grabbing her by the arms and shaking her ONCE, and grabbing her around (near?) the neck ONCE, both of which caused bruises in the same single incident.

    Assuming all this is true and assuming there’s no context which exonerates him (e.g., self-defense), it’s condemnable.

    But we are only talking about ONE incident that he admitted to, and the conjecture — without ANY basis — in this post and this was a chronic problem (i.e., he routinely beat her, the marriage was abusive, etc.)

    Perhaps this isn’t getting widespread coverage because those who ARE talking about it are overselling it, are less interested in the ACTUAL truth, and are more interested in the smear.

    Kman (d25c82)

  7. Wilson (supposedly) admitted to grabbing her by the arms and shaking her ONCE, and grabbing her around (near?) the neck ONCE, both of which caused bruises in the same single incident.

    My impression was that he (supposedly) admitted to more than one incident, Kman. The Big Government link shows this brief. Have you read it? There’s no hint of this being ‘self defense’. I don’t even understand how you could think someone is grabbing his wife around the neck in self defense.

    It is the wife’s lawyer who wrote that, so I should take it with a grain of salt, but it paints a picture of a pattern of abuse, abated by submission to the husband.

    Who is overselling this issue? Aaron’s asking for more investigation.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  8. “I don’t even understand how you could think someone is grabbing his wife around the neck in self defense.”

    Dustin, while you’re right in this case, there are many instances where grabbing someone around the neck in self defense could happen.

    Christoph (8ec277)

  9. Dustin

    I respectfully disagree that the ryan thing was not fair game, here: http://allergic2bull.blogspot.com/2010/10/why-wilson-wife-beating-story-is.html

    and even if you don’t want to read, no straight male can hate the first picture. Resistance is futile.

    But its always a sh-ty thing in a democracy when one of your choices is so bad that you aren’t really given a choice. I mean a few years back David Duke ran for governor against edwin edwards, a well known crook, who last i heard was serving time. It is not a proud moment in a democracy when you see bumper stickers showing up that say “vote for the crook, its important.”

    And that exactly illustrates the problem. Its much like the rule of the jungle: you don’t have to be faster than the lion, just faster than the guy next to you. At this point Wilson’s opponent doesn’t have to be a good candidate, just better than the guy he is running against, to win my vote. If enough Ohioans feel the same, then they will feel they have no real option in the election, which is obviously bad.

    Its an imperfection in our system, that i frankly have no ready answer for.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  10. Let’s just ignore Cristoph’s martial arts expertise, which is apparently based on yet another dumb strawman with absolutely no relevance to this situation.

    Kman, I believe that a man doesn’t grab his wife’s neck if he’s defending himself. He would be shielding himself or grabbing her arms. but I also don’t want to let Cristoph divert the subject from my actual disagreement with you.

    I was under the impression this was not an isolated incident. Am I mistaken?

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  11. “and even if you don’t want to read, no straight male can hate the first picture. Resistance is futile.”

    It’s natural to engage in extra-pair copulations (i.e., cheat), even when your spouse is attractive. It’s related to the Coolidge Effect.

    Christoph (8ec277)

  12. and even if you don’t want to read, no straight male can hate the first picture. Resistance is futile.

    You win this one (shakes fist)!

    And that exactly illustrates the problem. Its much like the rule of the jungle: you don’t have to be faster than the lion, just faster than the guy next to you.

    That is so true in almost every case. voters have to be very focused to overcome this and think long term (which has little to do with this type of scandal).

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  13. Dustin:

    Who is overselling this issue? Aaron’s asking for more investigation.

    Well, that’s fine. But I don’t know why anyone is wondering why there isn’t more coverage. There’s not much to “cover” except speculation.

    I mean, sure, there are some media outlets that think that asking the question, no matter how speculative, qualifies as “news”. But real news is getting the actual facts and story. And right now, we don’t know the facts. So it should come as no surprise that there isn’t a lot of coverage.

    SIDENOTE: I love dangling modifiers. Aarons’ “Wilson admitted to beating his wife in depositions” prompted me to think “Well, perhaps she should stop attending depositions with him then.”

    Kman (d25c82)

  14. SIDENOTE: I love dangling modifiers. Aarons’ “Wilson admitted to beating his wife in depositions” prompted me to think “Well, perhaps she should stop attending depositions with him then.”

    LOL. That was pretty good.

    You’re absolutely right to keep us honest, btw.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  15. Dustin said- divorce accusations are not reliable

    My suspicion is I would think that is true, and I still say that sealed divorce documents should not be made public for the sake of an election. I may be wrong, but my undertsanding is that in some divorces the goal is to make the spouse out to look as bad as possible, and you’ll end up with two people saying bad things about each other with little documentation to prove it.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  16. I find reading the trial brief more disturbing and nauseating than reading Worthing’s summary of it, so I’m not sure what you’re on about, Kman.

    This is acceptable to you?

    Christoph (8ec277)

  17. “I may be wrong, but my undertsanding is that in some divorces the goal is to make the spouse out to look as bad as possible, and you’ll end up with two people saying bad things about each other with little documentation to prove it.”

    Yeah, but in this case, we also have undisputed testimony from her MD. I don’t understand all the medical lingo — you will — however it it looks pretty bad to me.

    Christoph (8ec277)

  18. I may be wrong, but my undertsanding is that in some divorces the goal is to make the spouse out to look as bad as possible, and you’ll end up with two people saying bad things about each other with little documentation to prove it.

    Hard to argue with that. Kman’s right that the disturbing content of these briefs have not been proven.

    As an aside, it is very important for men and women who are abused to press charges. Too often, their endgame is getting out of the situation, which isn’t fair to society. I’m being obtuse to the other factors in a divorce. She may have gotten a sweet deal negotiated in order to drop the issue. If these allegations are truthful, that’s not OK.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  19. “Too often, their endgame is getting out of the situation, which isn’t fair to society.”

    Huh?

    Correct me if I’m wrong here, but as free people — as individuals — I thought we had a right to look after our own interests. What is wrong with the “endgame” of a weaker spouse, being abused, removing themselves from the situation?

    Sure, I see the societal value in prosecuting abusers, but the vastly higher priority thing is to get the hell out of Dodge.

    Besides — often people who are abused (raped, etc.) are traumatized and really want to just remove themselves from the situation to limit the damage to themselves.

    Christoph (8ec277)

  20. Let me put this another way: Should Charlie Wilson’s wife also be politically damaged by this if she ever chose to run because she wasn’t “fair to society”? Should her reputation be lessened because she didn’t put her husband behind bars and instead removed herself from the marriage?

    So have both Charlie Wilson and his wife done something wrong (unfair) to society?

    I don’t buy that. She’s the victim and blameless. It would have been an extra measure of courage if she’d stood up for any future spouses of Wilson by having him charged, say, but it is one huge leap to say that she, a victim of abuse, is being unfair to society by just getting the hell out (testifying in court on her way out).

    If the prosecutor in her jurisdiction felt so strongly as you do, I suppose he could have subpoenaed her. But instead he just let her move on with her life as should we all.

    Let’s hold Charlie Wilson’s fault against him and none against her.

    Can women be at fault? Hell yeah. But this is not a good example.

    Christoph (8ec277)

  21. “Yeah, but in this case, we also have undisputed testimony from her MD. I don’t understand all the medical lingo — you will — however it it looks pretty bad to me.”

    How do you know her MD’s testimony is “undisputed”?

    Anyway, it DOES look pretty bad. But that’s the divorce lawyers doing their job.

    The point is, you’re only getting half the story. Probably not even that much.

    Kman (d25c82)

  22. Huh?

    Correct me if I’m wrong here

    You’re wrong. You’re welcome for the correction.

    If you know someone out there is habitually violent, you should bring that to the attention of the police. Oh wait, you acknowledge this. It’s interesting that when you complain about a comment, you often include a disclaimer essentially noting you’re completely wrong.

    I’m not sure what you’re talking about when you note the ‘priority’ is getting out of the situation. It’s almost as though you are claiming I didn’t already recognize that.

    At any rate, Kman has you nailed. You said this was undisputed. What is your basis for that claim?

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  23. Okay, okay, fair enough. The fact that I haven’t seen any dispute of the MD’s testimony doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Point taken.

    Christoph (8ec277)

  24. “If you know someone out there is habitually violent, you should bring that to the attention of the police.”

    Why?

    Are we serfs or freemen?

    Christoph (8ec277)

  25. Why?

    Morality.

    Sure, I see the societal value in prosecuting abusers

    Explain your understanding of this value, and pretend I said that.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  26. I know of various cases where men have been violent toward me, or threatened violence, or what have you. Am I duty bound to bring that to the police?

    Sure, I can do so and I may … but am I under a moral obligation to?

    Christoph (8ec277)

  27. I see the value to society of prosecuting a violent person, sure. But I don’t think a person has a moral obligation to do this.

    I believe we’re free.

    I believe our moral obligations consist of not harming others. In essence, respecting others rights.

    I don’t believe we’re slaves obligated to report things to the government, at least where we are the victim.

    Christoph (8ec277)

  28. I have clients that are continually in conflicts of similar nature and when you remove the alcohol and drugs, the beast is subdued. I think there is much in this story that isn’t revealed, but it isn’t germane to this article anyway. Just wanted to say that we can’t judge on limited knowledge.

    Addiction Analyst (9a596e)

  29. Ryan v. Wilson….
    Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention, but I seem to recall that the Ryan divorce proceedings were sealed, and it was the subsequent un-sealing (Thank You, David Axelrod!) that produced a great deal of controversy and brought this to everyone’s attention; was this also true of the Wilson proceedings?

    AD-RtR/OS! (e59e99)

  30. AD, that is a major difference (no, this anti-Wilson trial brief was not sealed).

    Obama won a lot of elections in the courtroom. No doubt, 2008 would have been a fiasco had Mccain won more votes than Obama. It would have made Florida 2000 look like Love Connection.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  31. If a battered wife presses charges, the husband has a police record, available to the next girlfriend/fiancee. If he is in jail, the less time to get another victim.

    No charges, no police record, no evidence for prospective girlfriend to do background check on.

    I guess that’s one way of looking at it.

    BTW, Can Axelrod get Obama’s records unsealed, too?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  32. No charges, no police record, no evidence for prospective girlfriend to do background check on.

    I guess that’s one way of looking at it.

    Yes, and that’s true, but I’m not sure how much emotional energy and effort a person in a relationship is supposed to put into the years-down-the-road theoretical well-being of future potential romantic partners of their current romantic partner.

    While in a relationship, healthy or otherwise, and certainly while in an abusive relationship, people are understandably (well, hopefully!) looking out for their own best interests … with possible future lovers’ of their lover a distant second.

    Christoph (8ec277)

  33. If a battered wife presses charges, the husband has a police record, available to the next girlfriend/fiancee. If he is in jail, the less time to get another victim.

    Exactly. The administration of justice doesn’t have to be perfect for people to do what they can to seek some justice.

    It’s wrong to just walk away, knowing someone else likely will be abused. If the big government summary is accurate (that this is a man who abused unless submitted to, over a period of time), this is one example of a common problem.

    There is more to my view than this banal morality claim, actually, but it’s striking when someone goes ‘huh?’ to something so basic and obvious.

    I also think that when someone alleges a serious crime in a civil case, but has not made that allegation to the police, that should (and often is) a huge strike against their credibility. There are financial incentives to making these allegations in a divorce proceeding. Waiting until then to level them just doesn’t sit well.

    She claimed she suffered physical damage from at least two batteries. That’s evidence that should have been photographed by a police analyst of some kind. If the claim is fabricated, there should also be penalties. I believe if every abuser is confronted with this evidence, we’d see less abuse.

    At the end of the day, what I’m saying is that we are talking about a serious criminal allegation, without the serious investigation that could bolster or undermine the accusation, warn others, protect the accused, etc.

    But there’s also that basic morality issue of not letting him beat the crap out of the next girl.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  34. “It’s wrong to just walk away, knowing someone else likely will be abused. If the big government summary is accurate (that this is a man who abused unless submitted to, over a period of time), this is one example of a common problem.”

    So you’re a collectivist, basically. I didn’t realize individuals had an obligation to turn to the police. I thought police had a general duty to enforce laws within a community, but I didn’t realize each and every instance of serious misdemeanor/felony-level lawbreaking was a moral challenge with the correct decision turning to the the cops, always.

    They’ll be busy.

    Personally, I decide when to go to the cops. If I’m obligated to (child protection, where I’d feel morally obligated to do something to help another person anyway, I do). And I often would to help others, directly, a victim. After all, my city’s cops are generally good people.

    But I still retain to myself the right to decide to, or not to, go to the cops in any case where I am the victim, thank you very much.

    Man country western movies would have sucked if everyone had your “morality”. It doesn’t sound American.

    Christoph (8ec277)

  35. Addiction Analyst

    in my experience, addi[c]tion and abuse are two hydra heads of the same beast: the lack of self-control. Its the lack of self-control that is the real problem that causes both the addiction and the hitting, when they come together.

    [edited by me, Aaron, after the fact.][D’oh!]

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  36. So you’re a collectivist, basically.

    Nope. You’re just burning another straw man. You refuse to actually have a discussion. You have to constantly change your POV, deny your POV, change other people’s POV, and rely on insults like ‘twit’ and ‘yahoo’.

    You might as well call Jesus a socialist if you can’t see the gulf between a basic ‘ought’ and ‘collectivist’. You’re grasping, not because you disagree with me (you already admitted that you do, after all, and I quoted you on that).

    You say you retain the right to choose when to be a moral person. You know everyone agrees with that, but because you don’t have the capability of winning an argument without burning a strawman, you burn a strawman.

    You’re even calling me unamerican for my moral views. I figured you would get more hostile and say more radical things if I ignored you, but I didn’t realize how quickly that would occur. Why not, for just one day, try to have an argument honestly. Stop telling people who is or isn’t a yahoo, or American enough for you, and stop lying about people’s arguments when you’re unable to answer them. I realize, sometimes, you’ll have to say “You’re right” or “I’m wrong”. Honestly, I wouldn’t have pegged you as an American because of how bad you are at this basic sense of responsibility.

    in my experience, addition and abuse are two hydra heads of the same beast: the lack of self-control. Its the lack of self-control that is the real problem that causes both the addiction and the hitting, when they come together.

    Comment by Aaron Worthing

    That’s so well said. And it goes beyond drugs and choking women. It goes directly to the most relevant aspects of trusting someone with power in our government.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  37. Dustin, you’re running away from my last comment because you don’t like it. Because it is critical of your position, you dismiss it.

    Your basic point is the wife did something wrong, unfair to society, by not prosecuting her husband. I say this is morally her choice to make, but you say her choice was unfair to society / not moral.

    It’s a fundamental disagreement.

    In essence, you are saying people have an obligation to report all serious or repeated violence against them to the police. I’m saying that may be a very good idea, but for any number of good reasons (including personal preference) a person may choose not to do that.

    And not going to the police reporting crimes against you does not make a person morally deficient in some way. You disagree with that. Fine.

    But essentially you are imposing on a person a proactive duty to go to the state and report instances where they are wronged for the good of society (your word). This is collectivist in nature.

    Economically you may not be a collectivist (I am somewhat: I believe in a basic, but low-level, safety net). But in this case … yeah, you’re enforcing some kind of collectivist social obligation on her.

    I say she was acting ethically by looking out for her own interests including not reporting it to the police if she didn’t feel like it.

    Would I report my wife beating me? I doubt it. Could someone else get hurt down the road, one of my wife’s future lovers, because of my failure to report an assault years earlier?

    Maybe, but I still probably wouldn’t turn in my wife and that is my prerogative. Or maybe I wouldn’t want to admit she beat me, or maybe I love her and hope she’ll get better, or whatever. But no, I don’t think it’s particularly American in spirit to require everyone to report crimes against themselves to the cops. I’m sure that many, many, many of America’s founders and original patriots wouldn’t have filed charges so there’s a record sitting around in a filing cabinet somewhere in case someone else has a run-in with this chap down the road. I’m sure lots of them would have dealt with it on their own … aggressively, passively, by running, by conciliating, by intimidating, or however … but privately.

    Christoph (8ec277)

  38. Dustin

    I will point out for the record my self-editing is not half as thorough in comments. :-)

    But now i can fix my mistakes in the comments (see above). I am a comment god, now. Hopefully the power won’t go to my head.

    And substantively that is what i was trying to get at with the main post. It is an expression of a deeper personality flaw, if it all pans out.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  39. The only obligations anyone has are to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Doing justice is doing both.

    “Collectivist”- no, just thinking of your neighbor.

    Dustin, I think we know that Christoph rarely concedes ground, and even when he does, it’s as if he never disagreed in the first place.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  40. “Dustin, I think we know that Christoph rarely concedes ground, and even when he does, it’s as if he never disagreed in the first place.”

    On this thread, conceding ground.

    Christoph (8ec277)

  41. 38.Dustin, you’re running away from my last comment because you don’t like it. Because it is critical of your position, you dismiss it.
    Your basic point is the wife did something wrong, unfair to society, by not prosecuting her husband. I say this is morally her choice to make, but you say her choice was unfair to society / not moral.
    It’s a fundamental disagreement

    Dustin is not running from anything. Before you try to understand a point you’re digging holes with a steam shovel hunting wabbits.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  42. Re #41, do you mean this:
    23.Okay, okay, fair enough. The fact that I haven’t seen any dispute of the MD’s testimony doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Point taken.
    Comment by Christoph

    Fire with fire, “Rarely” does not equal never. One example does not a trend make.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  43. “… even when he does, it’s as if he never disagreed in the first place.”

    Did I say I never disagreed in the first place? No. You know I didn’t. I said in that instance, Kman — whose defense of Charlie Wilson’s behavior I found distasteful — had a good point which contradicted that specific point I had made and I immediately acknowledged that.

    Christoph (8ec277)

  44. But now i can fix my mistakes in the comments (see above). I am a comment god, now. Hopefully the power won’t go to my head.

    Wow. I’m jealous (no, really).

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  45. Such an allegation in a divorce proceeding, with or without supporting testimony from her doctor, is proof of … very little.

    It’s a toxic allegation. There’s no way for him to prove that he didn’t beat her.

    Next salacious bit of gossip, please? Oh, never mind.

    htom (412a17)


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