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On Fire but Blacked Out: The Thomas Ball Story

The war against men and boys continues.

by
Helen Smith

Bio

June 29, 2011 - 12:00 am
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But somehow, when a man like Thomas Ball burns himself up, it is not seen as a wake-up call for how men are treated unjustly by the court system. Instead, some “compassionate souls” see his death as  yet another wake-up call regarding the needs of women. Do men ever matter to these “feminists,” or do they get pleasure out of men’s pain? I am thinking the latter.

There are some pundits and commenters who have said that Ball does not deserve any compassion or that he should hardly be the poster boy for men’s rights because he may or may not have been jerked around by the family court. He did slap his then four-year-old daughter, giving her a cut on the lip, when she refused to obey him after three verbal warnings, etc. This isn’t great, but it doesn’t warrant jail time, arrest, or having one’s children taken away. If it does, there are so many women out there who qualify for the same treatment, I shudder to think about it.

But whether you think Ball is a good man, a bad man, or a crazy man doesn’t really matter. What matters is that Ball’s death — and the reaction to it — should serve as a wake-up call to how men and boys are being treated in a society that devalues their very existence. Males commit suicide at much higher rates than women and no one cares; they are treated unfairly by courts and no one bats an eye. They are abused by the women in their life and people say “tough shit.” So they ratchet up the game a little and start setting themselves on fire to get some attention to their cause and, once again, the media and society react with: “So what?”

Can we really stand by and do nothing about the treatment of men and boys in our society much longer? When I think of the picture of Mr. Ball in flames on the steps of that courthouse, I think the only answer is a resounding, “Hell, no!”

PJM FLASHBACK: Manning Up or Wimping Out: Men Don’t Exist to Serve Women’s Desires

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Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.
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