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An Open Letter to PBS
January 4, 2006
by Nicole Perry

Dear Sir/Madam:

Most viewers consider your station's/PBS's programming a cut above the networks in terms of quality of information and content. At least I do -- or DID.

But PBS stepped over the edge for me by airing "Breaking the Silence" thereby taking on the political hot potato of Domestic Violence in this country without verifying facts. "Assuming" that a few people with an agenda (especially during the time that Washington is getting ready to vote on the next VAWA) were telling a true story is absurd. Journalists check their facts before they go to the public with a story. The story you aired was full of falsehoods -- but left the impression that the facts presented were true -- a great disservice to your viewers.

Here are a few facts for you to consider: NO ONE is keeping comprehensive (national) and accurate statistics on domestic violence in this country. Therefore, groups who want to move their agenda forward can pick and choose what they want to use. Much of what they use is baseless as far as research is concerned. For example, they rely on personal interviews. But who "picks" the interviewees? Those trying to "make" a finding? If selected without a statistical basis, nothing discovered by this method can be projected onto the population in general. It only holds true for the few that were interviewed.

A couple of years ago, the Boston Globe ran a story on how homicide rates among pregnant women were higher than rates of mothers who died during childbirth. Sounds ominous. However, when one looked at the "stats" one discovered that the conclusion was reached on a sample size of 30 women who had died over a period of ten years -- in other words, on average, 3 women per year. On average, only 1 - 2 women died per year as a result of childbirth. So the conclusion was in essence true (for that particular group). It made headlines in the Globe. However, in the state of Massachusetts, there are 80,000 live births per year. So, 3 out of 80,000 died as a result of homicide (and they weren't always sure who had killed them although everyone now assumes that it is a man). Meanwhile 1-2 died in childbirth. Did it deserve the big headline in a major paper? The one that read something like "Homicide is the Leading Killer of Pregnant Women" (I don't remember the exact wording but something like that). Or was the real story that medical advancements had significantly reduced the number of women who die while giving birth? This is what's called a "spin" and it is unethical on the part of reporters and disastrous to the men in this country.

Another example of how these special interest groups present data is they rely on the number of phone calls coming into the women's shelters. But these calls are anonymous. Anyone could be calling to up those numbers -- including employees of the shelters themselves. Why would they do that? Because there is a great deal of MONEY involved -- billions -- because Domestic Violence and all the peripherals (counseling services, anger management seminars, shelters, etc.) are federally funded. The bigger the "need", the more money allocated. This is a self-perpetuating business. That's why DV is being "marketed" to the public which then supports the legislation that then provides the money continuing the loop indefinitely.

Am I opposed to helping women (or men) who are being abused? Certainly not. I was a social worker with the State of Michigan mainly working with single mothers. There is abuse. But not of the magnitude presented. Nor is every man an abuser by nature of being male -- which is the message that is being broadcast. Women abuse as well. They not only abuse their boyfriends, husbands, and lesbian partners but also their children -- their male children.

I will not be happy until PBS gets on the right track with this issue. If you are going to present it -- then you have to do it fairly. Otherwise you become nothing more than an Info-mercial for the women's advocacy groups like NOW.

And I will treat you as such. I'll change the channel.

Because I'm as dedicated to seeing the truth come out -- or more so -- than the people putting out this junk-journalism in their effort to escalate the gender war going on. I fought for women's rights in the seventies because we were oppressed then. If I believed that domestic violence was anything like it is being portrayed, I'd join in. But I've seen enough of NOW's tactics and have researched the issue of DV enough to know that DV is NOT what NOW, some women politicians, and now PBS are portraying it to be.

Others who believe as I do agree -- PBS needs to present a retraction to undo the damage their lapse of journalistic ethics did when they broadcast Breaking the Silence. And air it on the same channels.

Nicole Perry

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