- Innocent children like Luke Batty are killed by their cowardly fathers – yet there are those who defend their actions
- By DAVID PENBERTHY
- Contributed by: Twinkletoes ( 19 articles in 2014 )
THERE are many dark places on the internet. One of its bleakest backwaters are the chatrooms and activist sites frequented by fathers who, rightly or wrongly, have lost custody of these kids.
The men gather in these online forums to share their stories of how much they miss their kids, how the court got it wrong, how their vindictive “ex” fitted them up, a bad lawyer let them down.
I’ve got no doubt that some of these blokes are victims of a conniving former wife, an inability to pay for decent representation, or the fact that they simply got ground down by the soul-destroying nature of the divorce process and threw in the towel.
I’ve also got no doubt that some of them are thugs, bullies, negligent alcoholics, in some cases all of the above, and were such habitually poor husbands and fathers that the court did absolutely the right thing in limiting or ending access to their kids.
It’s for this reason that these websites oscillate between being plain sad and really scary.
This is because there is no such thing in these chatrooms as a father who has done anything wrong. Every man, be he a saint or a psycho, is hailed as a victim. A victim of confected evidence, false allegations, police harassment and, most of all, a victim of a feminist conspiracy led by a Family Court hell-bent on ensuring that the mother gets everything, including access to the kids.
This last point is a complete and utter legal fiction. Only in the rarest of cases do men miss out on access to their kids.
As anyone who has been divorced could tell you, the courts have a bias in favour of ensuring that both parents get an even-handed go at rearing the kids. It doesn’t necessarily mean 50:50 down to the last second of each week, but the court’s starting point is to make sure that if both parents are fit and able, they should play a pretty equal role in their children’s ongoing care. It is for this reason that the overwhelming majority of the hundreds of thousands of divorced Australians manage their lives and their kids’ lives with civility and mutual respect.
I write about this today because of the recent murder of Luke Batty, in Melbourne . There are some stories which are so harrowing you wish you never read the details. Luke’s death is one of them and the circumstances do not need another going over.
The thing which caught my attention in the immediate aftermath of his death was the chat in some online quarters about how his father had been “pushed to the edge”, “cracked”, “couldn’t take it anymore”.
There’s a remarkably disturbing theme running through this kind of sentiment. It seeks to rationalise, explain or even flat out forgive acts of such barbarity that they make any normal person feel physically sick.
The same thing happened when Arthur Freeman threw his four-year-old daughter, Darcey, off the West Gate Bridge in 2009. It was a case which broke the heart of the nation.
To some men, though, its most heart-breaking feature wasn’t so much poor little Darcey but poor old Arthur. Rather than offering the rational everyman’s response - that Freeman was a murderous son-of-a-bitch whose actions could never be condoned - a lobby group called the Lone Fathers Association suggested the episode was partly the fault of the Family Court.
Lone Fathers founder Barry Williams had this to say: “It’s a terrible thing what happened to that poor child, in front of the other children, too, but the system is to take blame for some of this.
“The court makes orders of access to one parent, usually the dad in most cases but the minute they walk out of that court, that can be broken and the court has admitted they can’t do anything.”
It is blame-shifting garbage, preventing a child killer from taking full responsibility for an act which goes against every parental instinct.
So, too, now with Luke Batty, whose death has attracted comments from these men not just on family law sites but even on footy sites where discussion threads have been started about the case.
Here’s a guy who signs on with the name caveman72 on the Aussie Rules chat site bigfooty.com on Luke Batty’s death: “The frustration of family court can push you to the limit. Don’t condone what he did, but understand why he did.”
And this on the rugby league site leagueunlimited.com, from a man going by the name “firechild”: “I’m not saying that the judge didn’t get things completely wrong in this instance. In fact I’m saying that the likelihood of mistakes being made are high because so many women make false allegations.”
The foulest contribution came from a website called fathers4equality, penned by some coward who lacks the cojones to put his name to his thoughts, where he opined at length about both the Batty and Freeman cases: “I happen to think that much like the way the Arthur Freeman “girl over the bridge” child murder was portrayed by the media, that this case too, no matter what the mitigating circumstances were, will be portrayed as a case of domestic violence, the kind where only men are the perpetrators. I would suggest that we need understand why this man felt so betrayed, so abandoned, so alone and so angry.”
Yep. Forget the little girl over the bridge or the little boy on the ground at cricket practice. Let’s all hold hands and think about the poor men who did it. Spare me.