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An unlikely tipping point in California's fight on domestic-violence shelters? Moby.


Wednesday, the California Legislature voted to restore $16.3 million in funding to the state's domestic-violence shelters previously cut by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger during the latest round of apocalyptic budget crises. To many, those cuts seemed like a particularly callous solution to California's funds dilemma, given the small amount of money involved and the vulnerability of those who use the shelters' services.

The restoration of those emergency funds -- which are allotted for only one year and must be paid back to the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Fund -- still awaits Schwarzenegger's signature. But it is nonetheless cause for celebration. Many of the shelters faced impending closure without that money. But there's an unexpected pop musician whose late support might have been the needed final push to get the money back: Moby.

Two weeks ago, the New York-based electronica artist embarked on a publicity campaign to donate all profits from the California leg of his current tour to the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence and embattled shelters, and he became a visible talking head rallying support for the effort to restore the shelters' funds.

"It was such an insignificant amount of money, it felt like somebody was going out of their way to be mean-spirited," he said, from his dressing room before his show Wednesday night at the Wiltern. "The people that use their services are the most disenfranchised of the disenfranchised. If these shelters are open, people's lives improve, and if they close, people die. There's nothing abstract about it."

 Moby, long an outspoken vegan and leftist gadfly in activist circles, cited his own mother's past involvement in abusive relationships as one of his personal rallying points in this effort. In a time when musicians are struggling to articulate the depth and breadth of our political problems, such specific aims may be a more manageable and productive pursuit for activist artists.

"This was a specific problem as opposed to, say, ending all war," Moby said. "There was a clear end game here, and we got there."

While the funding cuts were one of many pockmarks on a dismal Sacramento budgeting season, the relative speed with which they were restored surprised even the activist working to those ends. Moby hopes that the effort's success may be heralding a new attitude in the way we talk about social services and the people who use them in America, a shift in tone that might prove as valuable as needed funds.

"When Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan talked about the drain of welfare moms on society, it was so obvious that neither of them had ever been to a women's shelter," he said. "It's so easy to make flesh-and-blood people abstract. So often, people in government think they can pass laws while no one's paying attention. This was one time where people told them that yes, we are paying attention."

-August Brown

Above: Photo by Estela Silva / European Pressphoto Agency. Below: From left, the writer and Moby. Or maybe it's the other way around. It's hard to tell.


Comments () | Archives (4)

Dear Judge,
What iffy you ask a Judge what could you go to prison for? Judge did you say a potty word in court today? Judge go to jail. What iffy could you go down for? Judge go to jail for 2 years for that thought. Go to prison for 10 years for that thought. Go on probation for 10 years then go to prison for a life time or double lifetime for your thoughts. A year, 1 year in jail is like a lifetime. Two years in jail is like double lifetime. Three years in jail is like triple lifetime. Four years is like infinity and 5 years is like capital punishment. Does anyone feel guilty about 5 years feeling like capital punishment? Many people do not believe in capital punishment, but is it not capital punishment when locking someone up for a lifetime? Lets get a standard set around the world or globe that nobody is to be held in prison for no longer than say maybe a maximum of 5 years worldwide . Some people will bid 10 years maximum some will bid 8 years maximum and some will bid 5 years maximum. Now lets see what the judges will bid guessing 5 years maximum prison sentencing around the crazy world. If they get out do another crime they go back to jail but the maximum will still be up to 5 years maximum prison time worldwide.

George E. Howe
Po box 25893
Fresno ca 93729

Someone needs to tell Moby that not all victims look like his mother, and that men are victims too. He refers to the shelter as a "women's shelter," but the California Court of Appeal in Woods v. Horton held last year that state-funded shelters have to help men too and must at least give them a hotel arrangement. Many of them still don't. Male victims and their children suffer from the budget cuts too, especially with how few resources they already have.

A major national study funded by the Centers for Disease Control recently found half of heterosexual domestic violence is reciprocal and women were responsible for and initiated more than half of the reciprocal and non-reciprocal violence, while both sexes suffered significant injuries.

This is supported by more than 200 other studies and growing, which also show men suffer one-third of the injuries (even though men are less likely to report it, which makes crime data unreliable), as California State University Professor Martin Fiebert demonstrates in his online bibliography at http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm

Schwarzenegger is bad news. It is the government's duty to protect citizens and to ensure their well-being. Schwarzenegger is not doing this. The funding priority for battered women shelters (BWS) should be the same as for prisons, because human life is at risk. Prisons keep the criminals and the murderers in, and BWS's keep the good people in, and the criminals and the murderers out. The Governor's illegal budget cuts, with the backing of big oil (Chevron Corp. of San Ramon), are very dangerous for women amd children, who are victims of domestic violence, and it is sub-human. During a recession, with its higher unemployment, government funding for BWS's should be increased, not eliminated. Obviously this budget picks-on the most vulnerable and it endangers children. If a battered wife is murdered in front of a closed-down BWS, then, Schwarzenegger and his oil industry tyrants should be charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment.

Schwarzenegger should sign the domestic funding bill immediately, and not when he feels like it, to stop a battered woman from being killed. How can a 97 lb. woman, who is seven months pregnant, defend herself from a 300 lb., muscle-bound terminator?


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