I am not going to participate in this event, but it is an issue I feel strongly about and there is a connection to Laurens County.
I turn 65 on the 29th of this month and, increasingly, I realize I have less and less time left. Domestic violence, certainly, will live on without me - but there is the hope - always the hope - that this severe human problem can be addressed constructively.
The Hope Walk Against Domestic Violence will be Sept. 15 on the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston. South Carolina’s most recognizable bridge plays host to many walks, but none more significant than this one. I grew up on the Isle of Palms, and like many Charlestonians of an age, I have history with “the old bridge.” Now that we have “the new bridge,” our state has not only a transportation connector, but a staging area for fitness and community enhancement activities.
That’s what’s happening Sept. 15 but, oh, so much more needs to be done.
We need to make strangulation a Felony in South Carolina.
We need to be sure that when a white, male college athlete is “caught red-handed” he is not considered to have “suffered enough” simply by his appearance in a criminal court. This broadens the issue from domestic-partner abuse, to sexual assault in general - still, a major mental illness and entitlement problem in our society today (see Brock Turner, 2015).
We do not have enough room in our prisons for domestic violence and animal cruelty suspects when they are convicted. So, prosecutors must cut deals, and judges are getting creative in their sentencing. At least two people who pleaded guilty to domestic violence in the most recent term of Laurens County criminal court received probation, not prison time. They already had served some time in jail (awaiting trial) so they got credit, and were sentenced to stuff like working on litter pick-up crews. They pick up trash a few times and they have “served their sentence” - and go right back home. Not passing judgment here - it’s just a fact of life.
Make no mistake, though, criminal domestic violence is not a crime we can take lightly. Just like animal cruelty, it is a signaler of mental illness and the possibility that the abuser will “just snap” and take the life of the object of his/her abuse. And with strangulation, you might never know that someone you know is being tortured.
We can’t save everybody, I know that. We can’t walk “against” everything, I understand. We can, however, try our best, educate our young people, lock up people for their own good, and hide away, for a “cooling down period” or maybe even forever, people who are trapped by the vicious cycle of domestic violence. To the people who do this every day, my heart aches for you.
There are laws we can pass - and if it takes making an end-run around one senator, well, so be it. Enough is enough - enough of South Carolina being portrayed in the New York media as the place where people starve their dogs and shoot up Bible study groups. We have surplus money in our state’s budget; and if we can get out from under the huge debt of nuclear power, we can have even more money. Then, the only walking we’ll need to do is to Columbia, to tell the men and women there - help us.
Save the lives of South Carolinians. We demand it.
(Vic MacDonald is Editor of The Clinton Chronicle. Reach him at 833-1900 or firstname.lastname@example.org)