When Scott Dekraai shot his ex-wife and eight others in a Seal Beach salon this week, he may have been angry about the ongoing custody battle over his son. And now, men's rights activists have jumped to his defense.
At the outset, we should note that the AP reports Dekraai actually had primary custody of his 8-year-old child — he had the boy 56% of the time while his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, had 44%. But Fournier was pushing for "final decision-making authority" over his son's education and physical and mental healthcare. In a December hearing, a court-appointed psychologist testified that the current custody agreement was working and should not be altered, and the judge indicated that Dekraai's requests would not be met. Fournier later said Dekraai had called 911 and "advised that he was going to kill himself or someone else." In the weeks leading up to the shooting, he allegedly came to the salon and threatened to kill Fournier and her coworkers. Said her brother of his reaction to the shootings, "The worst part about it was seeing the news and seeing the awning and knowing exactly what happened without even hearing a word."
You might think that people whose stated goal is to allow fathers to care for their children would deplore violence against those children's mothers. You'd be wrong. David Futrelle continues his excellent excavation of the MRA underbelly by highlighting some disturbing comments on the story over at In Mala Fide, including several explicitly advocating violence. Says one commenter:
[E]nough of this type of offensive action might just start making women and their supporters* think twice, especially if they also become targets. (* Divorce attorneys, child services workers and counselors, family court judges, and other enabling cogs in the feminist legal system)
What options other than overt acts of physical violence are there for a man to deal with a shrew ex and corrupt family court system? To those who are horrified and surprised at this one question…. why? Isn't the real question – "How come this isn't a lot MORE common?". And please avoid the "Well… nothing justifies killing blah blah blah" as we've all voted, supported, and tolerated governments who kill over parking tickets much less loss of children. And if keeping your children isn't worthy of killing what is exactly?
Again, the idea of killing one person for the right to nurture another seems completely bizarre. Maybe that's because it's not really about nurturing. Futrelle also links to a debate on Reddit's r/mensrights that sheds more light on the perspective of some MRAs. Says user AnnArchist,
I'm surprised we haven't seen more of this. This is not endorsed behavior but it isn't unexpected either.
To prevent this in the future the solution is clear: Mandate 50/50 custody without any child support as the default.
If you can't afford a kid without support, then you need to give up some time with the child to work.
He later adds:
No one should have to pay the other one. Just because you slept up or down a class it shouldn't mean you have to pay or deserve money for your actions.
When you leave a relationship, you lose the benefits that come with that relationship. Why shouldn't the person who makes more be able to spend their money on the child how they want. Shouldn't the one who makes less be able to spend their money how they want? If so, then they should be treated as equals.
You can provide for a child without income from another person.
If you can't you aren't doing life right. You don't need cable to raise a kid. You just need food, clothing, love and shelter.
Its ok for one home to suck more than the other.
At least from AnnArchist's point of view, fathers' rights aren't just about the right to see your kids. They're also about paying zero child support. I'm sure he'd argue that his proposed system protects mothers' rights too, as moms wouldn't have to pay child support either. But the fact is that much MRA rhetoric is built on the idea that women are constantly trying to cheat their exes out of money — and while fighting for the right to see your kid can be noble, fighting not to pay child support smacks of greed.
It's also rather strange that MRAs are flocking to defend Dekraai, since he already had primary custody of his son. There's no evidence that his ex-wife was asking for more child support from him, or that he wanted to pay less. Instead, he appeared to want more control over his son's life, which given recent events probably would've been a really bad idea. In documents filed in May, Fournier said Dekraai had psychological problems and that "he certainly shouldn't be allowed to have unilateral and unfettered control of any and all medical and psychological aspects of our son's life." It's hard to argue with that assessment now.
This isn't the first time that men's rights activists have rushed to the defense of a killer — when George Sodini killed three women at a Pittsburgh gym, men's rights blogger Roissy wrote, "When men kill women, the underlying reason is almost always an unfulfilled psychosexual need [...] to men celibacy is walking death, and anything is justified in avoiding that miserable fate." Men's rights activists claim to be arguing for their right to relationships with women and with children. If those relationships aren't offered, or are offered but on the wrong terms, the most extreme of their number claim the right to kill. Someone needs to point out that threatening mass murder isn't the best way to get more time with people you love.