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Saturday, July 2, 2011

“If a man sets himself on fire in front of a courthouse...”



1. The author does NOT advocate self-immolation, arson, murder or other acts of violent protest. The author DOES advocate non-violent civil disobedience to raise awareness of Fathers Rights; in fact, the author believes organized, non-violent civil disobedience is absolutely essential before there will ever be any progress in Fathers Rights.
2. Permission is granted exclusively to Fathers Rights advocates to reproduce this document in whole or in part, without the DISCLAIMER.
3. Any reproduction other than described in (2) must include the entire DISCLAIMER.
4. Reproduction of this document is expressly forbidden to entities considered either hostile to Fathers Rights or “feminist,” for example the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald.


Read Tom Ball's Last Statement 


"If it bleeds, it leads.” A self-explanatory axiom of TV journalism. TV news is a business, and as such it competes for viewers and the resulting advertising revenue. A gruesome murder in your vicinity grabs attention better than any news of real import.

One would think that a self-immolation in front of a New Hampshire courthouse would merit the TV equivalent of stop-the-presses: a teaser news blurb before the local news airs. “Coming up on News Center 5, a man kills himself by setting himself on fire in front of a Keene, NH courthouse. Details at 6...”

But for some strange reason, this actual event which happened June 15 went completely unreported in New England news media, with the exception of the local newspaper, the Keene Sentinel, which published a terse paragraph or two along with the full content of a 15-page suicide statement which the man, Tom Ball, sent to the newspaper ahead of time.

Investigating how rare self-immolation is in the U.S.,  I discovered a reference to just one: in 1963 a Quaker set himself on fire in front of the Pentagon to protest the Viet-Nam war. “Self-immolation” and “Viet-Nam War” will usually turn up in the same searches, because it can be argued that the self-immolation of the Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc  actually launched the protest movement in the US that eventually ended the war. In Viet-Nam, four other monks and a nun followed Quang Duc before the American Quaker, Norman Morrison set himself on fire.  

So, clearly, self-immolation is a big deal. It ended a war, for Chrissakes! And it hasn’t happened over here in nearly half a century. One would think that Tom Ball’s self-immolation would be at least... newsworthy?

Clearly, the non-reporting of this astounding news story begs serious investigation. What could possibly trump the newsworthiness of a self-immolation? After all, as we all know, “if it bleeds, it leads.”

I have not yet heard the rationalizations from, say, the Boston Globe, the newspaper of record in these parts. However, due to past experiences sparring with Globe reporters about other “non-news” that they neglected to cover, I can predict their explanation.

Tom Ball’s suicide letter is essentially an explanation of what caused him to do the desperate act. It culminates in his calling for further acts of violent protest. It is there that the Globe and other mainstream media will find their justification for non-reporting, aka their censorship.  “The Globe will not publish suicide letters that incite violence and acts of terrorism,” they might argue. “It is not in the public’s interest, just as television sports coverage will not broadcast a fan running onto the field, as this is just what the individual seeks,” they might continue.  “If he is not shown, others will be dissuaded from similar behavior,” they will likely conclude.

Well, you can make a case for that, but it is a weak case considering the enormity of the actual event.

Would the Globe hesitate to cover a local act of terrorism by an Islamic Jihadist? A contemporary equivalent of Norman Morrison protesting one of our current wars? How about a self-immolating right-wing survivalist?  None would be ignored by the media, and in fact all of them would be front-page news on every major national newspaper and the event would be the topic of the cable news talking heads for several days at the very least.

So, quite frankly, no, that is not the real reason why the media didn’t cover the story.

Tom Ball’s suicide letter is a very important document. It is at times sardonic, witty and brilliant. He describes the sequence of events that led to his downfall, that is, to his involvement with the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court; specifically to the domestic violence and child support regimes that wreak havoc on the lives of innocent fathers.

According to Mr. Ball, an unfortunate event in 2001 set things in motion. He struck his 4-year-old daughter in the face because she was misbehaving. Though the details of what follows are somewhat sketchy, this led to an argument between he and his wife (who must’ve been understandably very upset). He left the house, and then two phone calls were made, the second to the police. Ball was arrested the next day at work. He was charged with domestic violence. Not believing that what he had done was illegal, he did some research which confirmed his suspicions. Corporal punishment of a minor child is not illegal. This was Ball’s entry into the Kafkaesque world of the domestic violence regime.

Ball gives no details of the subsequent breakdown of the marriage over the next six months only stating that it culminated in a filing for divorce.  However he does recount that he only learned of the first phone call made that night two years later, when his then ex-wife told him that she had called a mental health professional who warned her that if she didn’t call the police, she, presumably as a mandated reporter, would call the police to report the incident and that both she and Ball would be arrested. According to Ball, his wife called the police that night because she felt she had no choice: if she didn’t, the police would be called by the mental health professional and both parents would be arrested and that would mean the state would have to take custody of the children in some manner, for some period of time. In Ball’s words:

“So my wife called the police on her husband to protect the children. And who was she protecting the kids from? Not her husband, the father of these children. She was protecting them from the State of New Hampshire.”

Ball says that he had a court date at the end of the month (June, 2011), and that he owed either $2,200 or $3,000, “depending on who you ask.” He states that he was unemployed for the last two years, and that, yes, he could’ve hit someone up for a loan, but after 10 years of such travails, he was just fed up with it, and didn’t want to fight anymore. In his words, “I am done being bullied because I am a man.”

Yet the persecution of fathers via the divorce/domestic violence/child support regimes (henceforth: ‘D/DV/CS’) is the biggest non-reported story of the past forty years, ignored by media pundits from right-wing John Stossel-type libertarians on Fox News channel to bleeding-heart "social justice” advocates on the left alike.

It is a stinging indictment against the entire fourth estate that the only people reading Tom Ball’s suicide letter or this document who will understand what this is all about are those who have experienced it either firsthand or second-hand through a family member of close friend. It is not taught in any sociology or law classes. It doesn’t exist. What is contained in Ball’s letter is nothing less than the true third rail of American politics.

Within the 15 pages of Ball’s letter are details of how the D/DV/CS regimes work, how it worked in his case, and a somewhat sketchy mathematical accounting of how it is a direct cause of massive homelessness—not just of the men afflicted, but also of whom he calls the collateral damage: the ex-wives and children of these men. It culminates in nothing less than a call to arms. He urges men to burn down the government buildings that house these various state entities—yes, specifically the courthouses themselves—and instructs them in the techniques of a successful arson.

This is, obviously, serious stuff.

What men like Ball are going through often makes them literally wish they were dead. Many, like Ball, do indeed elect to end their misery, though this is the first time that someone has gone to the extraordinary length of self-immolation to rouse awareness and action. And no, there are curiously no studies of divorce-related male suicides from crusading, "progressive" social science scholars.

If you think this is vain hyperbole, think again. Recall the 2003 trial of Clara Harris, the woman who killed her husband by repeatedly running over him with her Mercedes after confronting him over an affair. In her televised closing arguments, prosecutor Mia Magness told the jury:

“For heaven's sake, if a man is cheating on you, do what every other woman in this county does -- take him to the cleaners. Take his house. Take his car. Take his kids. Take his respect in the community and you can make him wish he were dead. But you don't get to kill him." 

There was no shock or outrage at this admission: that a woman has the power to make a man “wish he were dead” by going after him in divorce court. It’s simply an accepted fact of life. Because it’s a universal truth. Magness didn’t even need to mention the really heinous things women do in divorce, like accusing their husbands of sexually abusing their own children, or rape, sexual assault or battery.

Question: How is it that this potential for using the courts with deliberate malice exists, and yet there is no punishment or even disincentive? Answer: The legal system has been hopelessly corrupted by so-called “feminist jurisprudence,” of which the domestic abuse regime is a cornerstone.

Question: How is it possible that this goes unknown, except to those that experience it? Answer:  Look no further than Tom Ball’s self-immolation. A conspiracy of silence by the media. 

Now there is another murder trial that has captured the nation’s attention: The Casey Anthony murder trial, who is accused of murdering her infant daughter. The news coverage on this one is wall-to-wall. A mother accused of murdering her infant daughter. Inhuman! Though the tide of opinion seems to be very much against the mother, as the circumstantial evidence appears to be overwhelming, nonetheless some commentators look for a way to avoid the obvious. Indeed, when women commit heinous acts of a domestic nature, the first recourse is often to look for the nearest man to blame. It is not unusual for the defense to make a claim that the defendant was sexually abused by her father. Indeed, Casey Anthony’s legal team floated just such a trial balloon: some vague insinuation that Casey Anthony’s father, George Anthony, is the real villain. Take your pick: he either sexually abused Casey which somehow mitigates her culpability, or he himself was responsible for the death of his granddaughter.

Hey, it’s just standard operating procedure when women stand accused. Doesn’t cost anything to run it up the flagpole and see if some sympathetic, victim-feminist indoctrinated juror salutes.

Ball speaks extensively of the “second set of books” that is employed by state agents to circumvent the “first set of books”, i.e., the real laws of the land, the US Constitution and state laws. This is made up of court and police policies and procedures, which are often difficult to find. Ball claims that he found all of the relevant ones save one: the judges’ domestic violence training manuals. That is ironic, because when I first encountered the D/DV/CS regime, that particular “second set of books” was actually the first one I found. One of these judicial DV weekend seminar training sessions was coming up and I went to the government office and obtained a set of the training materials. My object was to introduce some material I had collected to counter the DV propaganda. I produced a nice packet but of course it was rejected. However, I did obtain the training materials. It chilled me to the bone. Judges were being taught that if a man commits an act of “domestic abuse”-- a rather wide range of activities--unless there is court intervention he will eventually kill her. Since that time some twenty years ago, victim-feminist anti-male propaganda has become the law of the land, infiltrating both the “second set of books” with things like so-called “primary aggressor” arrest polices at domestic disturbance calls (which provide for the arresting of the man even if police actually witness the woman striking the man)  and no-drop restraining order polices, as well as the real, bona fide first set of books, such as the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the never-ending “refinements” of state abuse protection laws such as Massachusetts' notorious Ch. 209A.

Ball’s lucid, penetrating expose of the D/DV/CS regime must not be swept under the rug as his defiant act of self-sacrifice has been buried by the media. Rather, his essay should be required reading for every man and teenage boy.

In the days immediately following Ball’s death I was contacted by some friends in the Fathers Rights movement who wanted to brainstorm a response. One individual got an interview with a Globe reporter. Despite feeding the reporter a plethora of information and further contacts, no story has appeared.  I’d like to think that Tom Ball’s objective wasn’t to get a few lines of ink in the Boston Globe; rather, it was to wake up the countless men in his situation, to rouse them into action. You can start by reading his Last Statement.

# # #


After this blog was written I discovered that the news censorship of Tom Ball’s suicide was not as thorough as I described. Tom Ball’s suicide was, indeed, reported on some local TV news programs in New Hampshire. Ironically enough, it was reported on a real ‘News Center 5” news show. The few TV news reports can be found on youtube. Search on “Tom Ball Keene.”   -- July 5, 2011 

Addendum - 2

One new addendum plus one correction. The Boston Globe did finally publish an article on Tom Ball's suicide, on July 10, three-and-a-half weeks following the event. Here is the link.
Correction:  Tom Ball's divorce case was not in the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court system, it was in the New Hampshire Family Court Division.  -- July 15, 2011

Copyright 2011