On Fire but Blacked Out: The Thomas Ball Story

Imagine, if you will, that a 16-year-old girl is denied an abortion and tries to get justice through the court system. She is jerked around and told "tough luck honey" a number of times and finally becomes distraught and sets herself on fire in front of the courthouse. Now, imagine what happens next in the media: The story becomes a firestorm. MSNBC and CNN have the incident scrolling along the bottom of the news every hour while the New York Times interviews feminists who pontificate about this brave "political move" and its implications for women's individual freedoms.

Now, on to what really happened. A 58-year-old New Hampshire man by the name of Thomas James Ball set himself on fire in front of a courthouse because he was “done being bullied for being a man” by the family court system. And despite his horrible and public death, he got little media attention. Just a few activists on the web and a few news outlets such as International Business Times and the Keene Sentinel picked it up. Even Wikipedia took his page down.

Basically, Ball's last act was treated by the traditional news media as that of a lone nutcase with no political significance whatsoever. The difference in these two cases comes down to what the American media finds relevant: girls and women, they're important; men and boys, not so much. Christina Hoff Sommers was right: the war against boys and men is still going strong.

And Thomas Ball knew it. He left a long letter to the Keene Sentinel explaining his grievances with the court system and with the society that devalues men. When often is the case when men complain, his grievances were seen as whining rather than as real problems.

As one of my commenters pointed out in a post I put up on the case, when a woman burns her husband to death in his sleep, it's seen as a major wake-up call regarding violence against women, and is immortalized in an award-winning movie starring Farah Fawcett titled The Burning Bed.