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Did Domestic Violence attitudes kill Mrs. Hartman?

 


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At 6:40 this morning, comedian Phil Hartman's wife shot and killed him, according to stories on MSNBC and CNN. CNN reports that after the police were on the scene, Mrs. Hartman shot and killed herself.

I'll make a couple of predictions on the news coverage. First, the words "domestic violence" will never be used. Second, there will be an outpouring of sympathy and compassion for Mrs. Hartman, and speculation as to what drove her to do it. This will include a discussion of how Phil Hartman treated her. In these ways, coverage will vary significantly from the coverage if Mr. Hartman had shot and killed his wife.

Did domestic violence attitudes and police policies kill Mrs. Hartman? Consider this. According to the AP story in the paper the next day, police had already been upstairs and discovered the body in the master bedroom where Mrs. Hartman later killed herself. If Mr. Hartman had killed his wife and police arrived on the scene, is there any doubt but that Mr. Hartman would be handcuffed and closely guarded? If the police had treated Mrs. Hartman like a man, she would be alive today.

Next story: The Death of Phil Hartman-How it Won’t Be Analyzed, by Philip W. Cook, author of Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence (order on-line)

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