The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Brown to Rihanna: "I'm going to kill you."

Chris Brown beat up Rihanna? Sent her to the emergency room? Where is vigilante justice when you need it? This guy is going to sleeze his way out of going to jail, in all probability. Considering no one mentioned any wounds or bruises on him, I see no way that there is any slightest justification for this behavior. I think an eye for an eye would work just fine here. I hope he's thrown in a jail cell filled with 300-pound Rihanna fans with a fondness for anal rape. But that's just me.


The NAACP Image Awards are tomorrow. Tananarive is nominated for two awards, and I'm up for one. Black tie--I've got my tux on order. I don't know whether to be excited, or to maintain max control. I don't like having my heart jerked one way and another, but on the other hand, adrenaline is fun. Well...I'll try to maintain balance, and then let myself get swept away just a little.


How many of you guys are on Facebook? Truth is that I kind of like it. MySpace never did it for me, but for some reason, Facebook impresses me. Just feels "warm" some how. Anyway, I'm there, and I'd love to make friends with any of you who are there as well.


A warning for those committed to forward progress. When it comes to meditation and other stress relief, it is odd that the more stress you are under, the less likely you are to get massages, take soaks in the spa, stretch, meditate, or whatever. What happens is that your Sympathetic nervous system gets overheated, and it wants to believe that only more action will take care of the situation. That's the ego, killing you slowly. Growth requires rest and nutrients. If you are in a life situation demanding growth, continued massive action may SEEM like accomplishing something, but in essence you are guaranteeing that you will break down and never reach your ends.


The ego, which would "die" if you kept going forward, is laughing at you. You have to get quiet enough to hear it.


Edwin Voskamp said...

My work got me heavily into a range of communities last year that are also richly represented on-line.

I'm on FaceBook: I sent you an invite. Otherwise you can find me easily enough by searching: I'm the only "Edwin Voskamp" there and my profile has my picture on it.

Kami said...

Steve, I just saw the cover on your latest book, Shadow Valley. That is hauntingly beautiful. It made me want to cry (in a good way.) Wow.

I'm on Facebook too. Next time I'm on my page I'll friend you.

Michelle said...

The Brown/Rihanna thing pisses me off. Why do some guys think this okay? Why do some women? I hope she has the strength to get away from him.

I'm on facebook. I'll have to look for you.

Master Plan said...

Hey, good luck to you and Tananarive on the awards tip!

Anonymous said...

Yes, but WHICH Steven Barnes are you?

Pagan Topologist said...

I am on Facebook. I will send you a friend request. I also like it, although it is a bit too much of a procrastination tool for me.

steve-vh said...

Wow Steve, Congrats on the nominations! I think that's just fantastic!

Dave said...

"Steve Barnes" gave me seven pages of results. Help. :(

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

You could try searching on his email address instead of his name.

I'll attempt a friend request myself when I'm next on Facebook (probably this evening).

azrael said...

Does it matter that Chris Brown is only 19? By matter, I mean can we wish him some punishment that is less than anal rape? Rehabilitation, maybe? There are restorative justice programs out there. Does anyone know how well they work and who they work for?

FWIW, I grew up in an abusive home. At 17, 18 I use to hit my then boyfriend. Often. With intent to harm. For no reasons other than the that I was a really troubled young woman, I knew he was a safe target, and he was there. Now I was 5'3, 125 pounds to his 6'4" 185. And, it was still abusive.

I also had some idea that it wasn't right, never sent said boyfriend to the ER, went though therapy, took a 40 hour domestic violence course on my own, and haven't hit anyone since then.

So, I wonder if there is a way for society to offer batterers effective treatment without trying to justify or condone the abusive behaviors.

Anonymous said...

"Does it matter that Chris Brown is only 19?"

Nope; young adult male, deadliest thing extant.

"By matter, I mean can we wish him some punishment that is less than anal rape? Rehabilitation, maybe?"

You may wish to be merciful but not because of his youth, IMO.

"There are restorative justice programs out there. Does anyone know how well they work and who they work for?"

People who don't have testosterone raging through them like a storm, I suspect.

"I also had some idea that it wasn't right, never sent said boyfriend to the ER, went though therapy, took a 40 hour domestic violence course on my own, and haven't hit anyone since then."


"So, I wonder if there is a way for society to offer batterers effective..."

Some of them, maybe.

Anonymous said...

its is hard to evaluate how well restorative justice programs work. I believe confronting the offender with the results of his actions has some value for the victims if not the offender. i believe this is usually tried with non voilent offenders. As a rehabilitation tool it is going to work for joe six pack who loses it with his significant other ect..not going to do anything to the wannabe gangbangers or the sociopaths or the super predators. langdon (former corrections officer)

Marty S said...

Good luck Steve on the awards and I'm on facebook too, but need a clue on how to find the right Steve Barnes

Dan Moran said...

"Does it matter that Chris Brown is only 19?"

Nope; young adult male, deadliest thing extant.

It's just barely possible he's capable of learning better, because of his age. But that's got zip to do with how this should be handled. Full weight of the law should drop on the boy. I don't wish anal rape on him, but I do wish jail time -- assuming he's guilty, which certainly appears to be the case.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

Someone from my high school and someone I knew in college also got nominated for NAACP Image Awards this year, but luckily everyone's nominated for a different award, so I can root for all of you in good conscience :-). Good luck to both you and Tananarive.

Anonymous said...

Wow-Steve. I felt your post about Chris Brown was so out of line.

First and foremost, I am not a CB fan and I am a female.

Why would anyone advocate rape of any sort?

The only time I would advocate domestic violence is if you are defending yourself-i.e. Someone attacks you and you have to fight them off to save your life or the life of a member of your family. Other than that-people need to keep their hands to themselves.

WITH THAT SAID-it is known that CB comes from a home that is a product of domestic violence, he never sought any help to deal with these issues, there is no prior history of domestic violence by CB to Rihanna or anyone else, and this is his first offense. If he was pulling an Ike Turner, he needs to be put under the jail. He is still young and can learn the error of his ways.

For someone to claim to be so socially astute, and playing father figure to the fatherless, I am quite surprised that came out of you. Then again, I don't know you like that and maybe your rhetoric (about how you and respect women) is just that.

Should CB get his ass beat? Most likely. But should he be anally raped? No. What you said is disgusting.

elsie said...

I'm in the "which Steven Barnes are you?" school - I'd love to friend you on Facebook, but I can't find you ... :)

Josh Jasper said...

I'd like to see Brown's entire fortune taken away forever, his yearly income forever capped at, say $40,000 a year (I'm not cruel. He can live a middle class life) and everything beyond that spent on domestic violence awareness.

Much more long term and useful than just sexual violation.

mjholt said...

Hi Steve, I am rather shocked by the ending of your post on Chris Brown, but sometimes the gut has to speak. I was surprised at how old Chris Brown (18) and Rihanna (19) are. Sounds like her parents just sent her off to make money, based on the amount of time authorities said it took for a family member to reach her. He should be locked up.

Be excited. Being nominated is a huge honor, and you are in great company. Congratulations to you both!

I am on Facebook. I will invite you. I like Facebook a lot. I am on several other community networks, and FB works the best for me. I think Twitter would be good, too, but I am unwilling to pay the approx $100/mo bump in the cost of my cell phone to get an iPhone G3 (which I really really want--dang that self control). I may link my Amicus Agraria blog, and FB. I am with you on MySpace.

Dan Moran said...

For someone to claim to be so socially astute, and playing father figure to the fatherless, I am quite surprised that came out of you. Then again, I don't know you like that and maybe your rhetoric (about how you and respect women) is just that.

Anyone can say something silly. No, you don't know Barnes, but I've known him over 20 years. (And there are people here who know him better than I do, to be sure.)

People can say whatever they like about themselves, but all you have to do is look at the relationships around them to know the truth. I've had four major relationships in my adult life -- friends w/all four of them. Two nearly grown daughters, friends with both of them. Steve got divorced from a very nice lady who he's still friends with, married another very nice lady, has an adorable daughter, and is a perfect gentleman. The brutes of the world don't (can't) associate with the caliber of women Barnes has around him.

Josh Jasper said...

Steve's response a visceral response, and one men are encouraged for having, and shamed for if they don't have.

Mark Jones said...

I think jail is the appropriate punishment for Chris Brown (assuming, of course, that he did what he's accused of doing). Yes, even at age 19. Even if it was the first time he's ever done it.

It's impossible for him NOT to know that physically assaulting another human being is a crime. He's a legal adult. He assaulted another human being. End of story.

If he can't control his own behavior because it's the right thing to do, then maybe he'll think twice before doing again when he knows--he KNOWS--that he'll go to jail for it again. And if not, well, at least he won't be able to assault anyone else outside the jail while he's there. Sometimes that's the best we can do.

Anonymous said...

Dan- yes you know him much better than I but I also know one thing- Steve is a very brilliant writer and has a great command of words. As such, he should know better than to say something "silly" like that. Rape is not something silly and to throw around like a "joke" if that is what he intended it to be.

You don't wish rape on anyone.

Anonymous said...

'You don't wish rape on anyone".

I don't substribe to the "eye for an eye" school, but I can envision how being raped might be "therapeutic" for a rapist. The emotional component of rehabilition appears to hinge on the perpetrater aquiring empathy for their victim, which in turn enables them to feel shame and remorse for their transgressions. What better way for a rapist to feel such empathy than to suffer the experience themselves? Rationally, is there truly ANY more effective means that enables victimizers to feel guilt?

Nancy Lebovitz said...

When I hear about prison rape, I see it as rapists getting away with it not any sort of justified punishment.

Also, if you want any sort of orderly society, punishment shouldn't be delegated to criminals and largely dependent on whether people can physically defend themselves.

Josh Jasper said...

Anonymous # 2 - You're wanting it to be something that produces empathy doesn't make it so. People who were born into abusive households tend to be abusive themselves.

Steven Barnes said...

"With great power comes great responsibility." With wealth, fame,and physical power comes the ability to influence public opinion. Anything close to a slap on the wrist for Brown is an encouragement to young men who look to him as a role model. ALL my sympathy is with the victim. The victim, and the children watching and wondering what behavior is appropriate. Yes, I have a visceral reaction to such behavior. I think people react more strongly to suggestions of rape than suggestions of murder, and I find that bizarre. I would like his sense of manhood taken from him completely, and for young men to see THAT as the price for abusing women, not something that many thugs have come to actually glorify: prison time, or "going out in a blaze of glory." But that's rationalization: you saw an emotional response, and it was an honest one. If you think that reflects some ugliness inside me, you're probably correct. Never claimed to be perfect. If you're looking for a Buddha, look elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous- i don't prescribe to that method of "therapy". There are those who don't need to have an eye for an eye situation happen to them to learn what they did is wrong. I mean, did the death penalty lower murder rates? No.

Like Josh said-most abusers come from abusive household.

Steve - Firstly, young boys are not looking up to Chris Brown. You mention the word "victim"-did it ever occur to you that Chris Brown is also a "victim" since he is the product of an abusive household and he is still young enough where he can correct the error of his ways? Yes, the law should get in his ass because assult is assault but it should not just start and end at JAIL. He needs some powerful male role models to let him know you don't put your hands on anyone unless you feel your life is threatened.

"Never claimed to be perfect. If you're looking for a Buddha, look elsewhere."

Never said you claimed to be perfect. Also, you talked so much about how you are "there" for young boys, giving father figure input as you said. I figured you would be more in tune with helping young men understand the implications of their actions, and possibly teach them that manhandling your woman doesn't make you a man. But then again, talk is talk. SO i guess a woman told you that her son had smacked his girlfriend in the heat of an arguement, you'd recommend she turn him over to the authorities, so he can be taken to jail and raped in his ass. WOW-some "father figure input".

And as far as looking for Buddha comment, please. I don't believe in Buddha to look for him. And trust, if were looking for any sound, rational advice, i know where not to look.

Steve Perry said...

Don't believe in Buddha? If we are talking Siddhartha Gautama, he's pretty much an established historical entity. You might not agree with his philosophy, but he was there.

He never claimed to be any kind of deity, and any gods brought into Buddhism came from other sources. He was just a guy offering what he thought was a path to end suffering.

There are some good lessons to be had from Buddhism, at least as good as those to be found in many mainstream religions. And a whole lot of what is humanism can be lifted right out of what Gautama had to say ...

Josh Jasper said...

Buddhahood, or a state of ultimate enlightenment, doesn't even need to exist for the Buddha's training to be useful.

Buddhism has some incredibly advanced concepts about the nature of consciousness, perception, and morality. If anyone is looking for "sound rational advice" it's irrational to dismiss it without looking into it.

Steve, you're still attacking the branches of the tree, and not the roots. Even if there's a painful and humiliating penalty for rape, people still do it. Your response is one that addresses your anger, not the actual problem. You want punishment to work, in part, because you have a desire to cause harm and hurt because you were offended, not because it'll help the victim, or fix the situation.

I hope you realize that, in part, this sort of thinking is what possessed Brown to do what he did - the idea that, if you're hurt enough, you should lash out and hurt the cause of your hurt back.

Yeah, it's a visceral response to think that sort of thing, but the part where you're lying to yourself is in rationalizing that it would fix things to give into that impulse, that it comes form some place noble.

Marty S said...

Steve: Your clearly very angry and the act itself is does justify a certain amount of anger. But I can't help wondering if a certain amount of your anger at him is simply because of the act, or because he is a Black celebrity and you are angry about the damage you believe this does to the image of Blacks.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

I think people react more strongly to suggestions of rape than suggestions of murder, and I find that bizarre.

As one of those people who has a stronger visceral reaction to suggestions of rape than suggestions of murder, I can explain.

1) Rape is more a part of my ordinary real life than murder. Though I've never been raped, I have: a) lived with admonishments about what I need to do to avoid being raped being a routine part of my life for decades - while I'm aware that I could be murdered, the odds of that aren't high enough that I get constant warnings about it, b) been sexually assaulted (not rape because I was forcibly groped rather than actually penetrated), and c) had multiple friends who were raped, or molested as children, or sexually assaulted, or sexually harrassed, or stalked, without actually personally knowing anyone who was murdered. I have a more visceral reaction to forms of violence that actually happen to people I know than to those that don't. (Similarly, I'd have a more visceral reaction to a realistic imagined murder than to attacks by balrogs or explosive devices set off by Wile E. Coyote.)

2) It's not hard for me to imagine a situation where my choices are to kill or be killed. Or to kill or have someone else I care about be killed. Where I just wouldn't be able to think of a non-lethal means of defense in the time actually available to me. I can't imagine a situation where my only available choice for self-defense involves someone being raped - rape happens to someone who's already helpless. By the time someone's in that position, you always have some other way of putting space between him and the people he might harm. So, though the saintly, admirable, Quakerly choice might be to accept death rather than kill someone, it's still easier for me to imagine myself as a killer than to imagine myself as a rapist.

Also, visceral reactions aside, I think Nancy's probably right about how prison rape actually works. Revenge fantasies aside, it's more likely, given that this is a "punishment" being administered by criminals, that imprisoned rapists are shifting their target, once in prison, to hapless drug addicts than that imprisoned rapists and batterers of women, once in prison, are learning their lesson by seeing the tables turned.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Steve, I don't see this as mostly about what sort of person you are, though I admit to a little of that.

Mostly, I believe it's a cultural nastiness which affects public policy. You didn't think of gloating over prisoners getting raped all by yourself. I'm not sure when it became a publicly acceptable sort of joke-- I'm thinking that it was in the 80s or 90s.

From what I've read, prison rape mostly happens to younger (prettier?) and weaker prisoners. Violent people in prison aren't the public's handy dandy revenge-administering surrogates, who just happen to have exactly the same set of values everyone else does except for being violent prisoners.

The public policy part is that if prison rape is generally accepted as funny and justified, there isn't going to be much effort to prevent it.

Part of the randomness of prison rape is STDs-- this can be a death sentence if the victim doesn't have access to good medical care.

Your point about people getting more angry about suggestions of rape than suggestions of murder is true. Lynn's points are reasonable, but I think the major factor is that there's been a huge effort to make people realize how destructive rape is. This was a reaction to a culture that took rape rather lightly. "It takes two to tango" and "Relax and enjoy it" were standard reactions to mentions of rape mere decades ago. Not all the time-- rape was a crime-- but there was ambivalence.

There's been some work along the same lines about murder, but it hasn't been as intense.

Ximena Cearley said...

I am on Facebook and sent you a friend request.

Steve Perry said...

But Chris is really sorry -- he's seeing his minister and all, and we don't know the whole story, he said. Probably she mouthed off and, you know, deserved it.

He'll walk. Watch.

Steven Barnes said...

My point was never that rape was good therapy. My point was that I was pissed off, and said something from that place. There was no cultural advice there, no serious suggestion: I WAS PISSED. To suggest that if a woman told me her son had struck his girlfriend I would tell her to turn him in so he could be raped is an absurd amount of literalism, to the point I can't believe YOU believe I'd say that, but are merely trying to provoke me. Won't work.