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Agenda Over Fact
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October 17, 2001, 05:00 AM
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PCR 10-17-01 CS abuse

Three years ago I concluded a sixteen-year stint as a Business Week columnist with the observation: "As the growing emphasis on feelings crowds out reason, facts will play a smaller role in public discourse."

That was the safest prediction any economist ever made. Respect for facts has a tenuous hold on the allegiance of public policymakers, journalists, academics, and many others with agendas unsupported by the facts.

Recently, a history professor wrote a book citing sources that don`t exist. What was important to the professor was not truth, but making a case against gun ownership.

To further their agendas, other professors have fabricated life stories for themselves. A professor in Maryland passed himself off as a Vietnam veteran and told stories about events that never happened. Another at Columbia created a history of himself as a Palestinian refugee. One woman won a Nobel Prize in Literature for a fabricated biography. Even some scientists have made up global warming scenarios in order to achieve their environmental objectives.

In a civilization in which so much depends on adherence to fact, it is a scary thing to experience fact playing second fiddle to emotions. If fact becomes dispensable, what becomes of law, crime and punishment, trials, contracts, insurance, finance, technology, science, and identity?

Almost anywhere we look, we can find examples of propaganda crowding out truth. Consider the issue of domestic violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. The premise of domestic violence is that it is something men do to women. A current issue of National Review, for example, has a two-page add sponsored by the tobacco company Philip Morris. One page has the face of an attractive young woman. The other page is text designed to arouse anger at men:

"He said he beat me because I deserved it. Now I know I deserve better." "`He tried to strangle me last night.` Melissa cried as she wrote these words, eight months pregnant and seeking an order of protection from her husband. Their high school romance had seemed like a fairy tale, but when the honeymoon ended the beatings began."

There are shelters for battered women, domestic violence coordinating councils, and magazine and newspaper articles and advertisements that encourage women to report their husbands to the police just as they would report any other criminal.

Seminars warn women that a raised male voice constitutes abuse and is a prelude to a beating.

Feminists believe that the percentage of men who are abusers is far higher than arrest records indicate. From this belief they conclude that hoards of abused women are sufering in silence.

How many times have you read: "In the U.S. a man beats a woman every 12 seconds"? Have you ever wondered where these statistics come from or how often women batter men?

In his book, "The Revolt of the Primitive," Howard S. Schwartz shows that the one-sided portrait of men as abusers of women is constructed out of fabrications and selective reporting of real studies.

The most extensive data base on domestic violence is the National Family Violence Survey, funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health and supervised by Murray A. Straus and Richard J. Gelles. Their conclusion that women are as likely to be violent and to initiate violence as men is one of the best replicated findings in all of social science.

A 1999 Canadian study by Brad Evenson and Carol Milstone, reported in the National Post, found that "women are just as violent to their spouses as men, and women are almost three times more likely to initiate violence in a relationship." The National Post noted that the study "deals a blow to the image of the male as the traditional domestic aggressor."

Dishonest feminists created the image to fit their agenda by selectively reporting and emphasizing only instances of male violence. The feminist claim that 12%-!5% of men are abusers comes from a survey, which reported that10.8 percent of the men committed minor acts of violence and 2.5% committed more severe acts. The same survey found that 12.4% of women committed minor acts and 4.7% committed major acts of violence. Moreover, 67% of the women said they had initiated the violence. Only 26% of the women blamed the male.

Ironically, it is mainly uninformed males, such as Dan Rather and Philips Morris executives, who spread the feminist propaganda. When Dan Rather termed Super Bowl Sunday "a day of dread for American women," he was giving credibility to the feminist claim that wife beatings shot up 40% on the day of the big game. This feminist hoax was finally exposed by Ken Ringle in the Washington Post.

When confronted with their false reporting, feminists say that they trust their feelings about men more than "gender-biased statistics." Like others, they are not interested in information that gets in the way of an agenda.

Paul Craig Roberts is the author (with Lawrence M. Stratton) of The New Color Line : How Quotas and Privilege Destroy Democracy

COPYRIGHT 2001 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.