Friday, July 21, 2006

From The Queue

Some weeks are so full of events that I get only a small fraction of them into posts. Then other weeks nothing happens, but I can't write about the old events because nobody wants to talk about anything not oven-hot. That's the bad thing about blogs and also the good thing about blogs. I really want to write about income inequality and about the Bible belt failing and dropping the pants of marriage (divorce!), but the news won't sit still for long enough. You might point out here that I shouldn't try to write about everything under the sun because it just shows off the depth of my ignorance, but I like to write about everything under the sun and unless I get paid to shut up I will continue to do that. And call this blog a feminist one, too. The idea is to show that feminists are just like regular people and talk about other things, too. The real idea is for me to have fun writing, of course.

Then to the item from the queue of topics, the backlog that I'm trying to clear out. It's about a court case:

A substitute judge hearing the case of an illegal immigrant seeking a restraining order against her husband threatened to turn her over to immigration officials if she didn't leave his courtroom.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Bruce R. Fink told Aurora Gonzalez during last week's hearing that he was going to count to 20 and that if she was still in his courtroom when he finished, he would have her arrested and deported to Mexico.

The judge didn't want to make the woman's life any more difficult, you see. She is in the country illegally, and that is worse than any husband she might fear. Or that's how I interpreted the story at first. But then I read further:

"I'm going to count to 20, and if you people have left this courtroom and disappeared, she isn't going to Mexico forthwith," Fink said, according to the court transcript. "One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. When I get to 20, she gets arrested and goes to Mexico."

After Gonzalez left the courtroom, Fink asked Salgado if he wanted to stay, and he said yes.

Fink then dismissed the case: "Well, she brought the proceedings, and if she's not here to go forward, I guess all of the requests are denied."

On Wednesday, Fink, who has been a family law attorney for 35 years, insisted he was seeking what he thought was an agreeable solution for both parties.

"What I saw was nothing more than some yelling and screaming between a husband and wife," he said.

"I also saw that they really didn't want to not be together anymore."

If he had issued the restraining order, Fink said, "we'd wind up with exactly the opposite of what these people wanted."

"The cure could be far worse than the illness," he said.

I'm trying to decide if Fink would have diagnosed a case in a similar manner if it was the man who appealed for a restraining order. It's hard to tell, but only because there is a common sexist assumption that men don't need restraining orders against women, women being too weak to threaten anyone successfully or men being too brave to be bothered by such fears. If you set that consideration aside I'd say that Fink engaged in patriarchal thinking here. He decided that he knew what the woman appealing for a restraining order really needs, and that this was not a restraining order at all but a return to the marital union. And he did this on the basis of some mind-reading.