Libdem Cllr says some see benefits of domestic violence


2:50 pm - September 21st 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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A councillor from south London has dismissed another councillor’s reaction as “emotional” when asked to account for his views on domestic violence.

Libdem councillor Columba Blango, from Simon Hughes’ constituency in Southwark, told a council meeting a few weeks ago that:

[Domestic violence] is like smacking. Some people see the benefits of smacking. Some don’t see it.

He was challenged by Labour Councillor Rowenna Davis who asked him to apologise and retract his comments. He refused.

Today, when Southwark News contacted him for a comment, he dismissed Ms Davis as getting “emotional”.

She told Political Scrapbook:

I have constituents who suffer from domestic violence. The vast majority of Lib Dems would be appalled by Cllr Blango’s comments.

But what does Simon Hughes think of his colleague and a supposed community leader propagating this kind of attitude?

Davis is furious and will keep pressing Blango to retract his comments. We’ve contacted Simon Hughes’ office for a comment.

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Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Appalling comment, but why force him to retract something he believes in. Just get rid of him

I also think its misleading to print a picture of Simon Hughes, because he didn’t say it. It wouldn’t really be fair to post a picture of say Sunny, next to a few quotes from Sally.

Given the serious nature of the allegation I dont think you should have published without at least checking to see if Mr Blango admits or denies saying this. We all know how rumours can spread.
I am trying to establish the facts myself but of course everyone is in brighton & will be ludicrously busy so I dont expect any quick resolution.

The Lie Dems have become a party of fruit and nuts.

Awful comments. Completely untrue and so old fashioned, because they suggest men are in ‘power’ over the women they abuse… which is rubbish.

5. So Much For Subtlety

Libdem councillor Columba Blango, from Simon Hughes’ constituency in Southwark, told a council meeting a few weeks ago that:

[Domestic violence] is like smacking. Some people see the benefits of smacking. Some don’t see it.

I am sorry but is this the moment that I get to go “That’s Waaaacist” because it does not respect the full spectrum of views in the modern multicultural paradise that is Britain?

Views held by a few White middle class women do not necessarily represent everyone in this council area, much less the whole of Britain. Remember we have a large and vocal minority that tends to have extremists who do claim there are benefits in smacking. So wouldn’t that make saying otherwise Islamophobic?

Still you have to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Britain’s women have put Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels into four of the top five positions on the best seller list. And we are having a debate about whether some people can see an up side to smacking? Come on.

Still you have to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Britain’s women have put Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels into four of the top five positions on the best seller list. And we are having a debate about whether some people can see an up side to smacking? Come on.

This statement illustrates that people who don’t understand BDSM, don’t understand BDSM. For an even more brilliant failure to grasp the nuances of BDSM I recommend getting hold of the copy of Cosmopolitan (Aug 2012 for those who are actually going to bother looking into it) that featured ‘sexy tips’ gleaned from 50 shades. Other phrases in place of ‘sexy tips’ that might be used by actual BDSM’ers for what Cosmo urged it’s readership to do typically range from ‘domestic violence’ to ‘battery’.

Paul #2 – I spoke to Ms Rowenna Davis today and she confirmed the exchange had taken place.

8. So Much For Subtlety

7. Sunny Hundal

Paul #2 – I spoke to Ms Rowenna Davis today and she confirmed the exchange had taken place.

No she didn’t. She can only confirm that she is alleging the exchange took place. She is the one making the allegations. You need an impartial third party, or the man himself, to confirm that the exchange took place.

6. Cylux

This statement illustrates that people who don’t understand BDSM, don’t understand BDSM. For an even more brilliant failure to grasp the nuances of BDSM I recommend getting hold of the copy of Cosmopolitan (Aug 2012 for those who are actually going to bother looking into it) that featured ‘sexy tips’ gleaned from 50 shades. Other phrases in place of ‘sexy tips’ that might be used by actual BDSM’ers for what Cosmo urged it’s readership to do typically range from ‘domestic violence’ to ‘battery’.

And this statement illustrates what we see with “community leaders” in Britain. Somehow, some idiots have managed to convince the world that they are somehow representative of the communities they claim to speak for. When actually they are just the people who promote themselves relentlessly. In the same way, people have been going around beating each other for centuries. Perhaps even longer. But a bunch of Americans meet on the internet, decide they will claim that BDSM is whatever they say it is and off they go. For some reason some other people take them seriously.

@8 Community leaders? Where on earth did I mention them? I just happen to have a few friends who are kinksters and into BDSM, one couple I know even has a ‘dungeon’ with a sex sling. (Personally if I had a room to spare I’d just have a games room but well YKIO,IJNMK) The most important word for BDSM is the one that isn’t in the acronym – consent. Beating someone who isn’t a masochist, and hasn’t consented to being beaten, is just battery plain and simple.

10. Chaise Guevara

@ 5 SMFS

“Views held by a few White middle class women do not necessarily represent everyone in this council area, much less the whole of Britain. Remember we have a large and vocal minority that tends to have extremists who do claim there are benefits in smacking. So wouldn’t that make saying otherwise Islamophobic?”

No. No more than saying you don’t enjoy the music of System of a Down makes you Chaise-Guevara-ophobic. You’re allowed to disagree with people.

We have this problem with people discussing racism and bigotry without understanding what the concepts mean. You seem to be one of them – or at least you’re posturing as one to make a fallacious point. So here are a few pointers:
*It’s not racist to disagree with someone of another race.
*It’s not racist to dislike someone of another race.
*It’s not racist to point out that certain things are more prevalent in one race or another, assuming that it’s actually true.
*It’s not racist to find different races more or less attractive.
If you get into a fight with someone of another race, that doesn’t automatically make one or both of you racist, although at least one of you is probably breaking the law.
*It IS racist to make unwarranted assumptions about people based on their race.

Does that help?

11. Roger Mexico

Far be it from me to be picky, but can anyone explain what is wrong with Cllr Blango’s statement. It seems to be a simple statement of fact. He doesn’t say that he agrees with domestic violence, smacking or indeed the music of System of a Down. He is simply pointing out that there are different opinions on the matter. Indeed it could be that he was pointing out that the acceptability of domestic violence to some is a considerable part of the problems in dealing with the issue.

Now it may be that Cllr Davis has irrefutable proof that all 7 billion people on the planet are completely opposed to domestic violence and so the statement is untrue. She may have statements from Cllr Blango that he thinks domestic violence is a jolly good thing – though it seems odd not to mention them, having raised the topic, especially given that Cllr Davis is a professional journalist. Otherwise it just looks like a case of “Miss! Miss! Columba’s said a rude word Miss!”.

The description of Cllr Blango as a “supposed community leader” is a bit odd as well. He obviously is a community leader, that’s pretty much a definition of a councillor and he’s been one since 1998 unlike Davis who was elected last year. But if the political parties involved were different you can imagine that someone with Cllr Davis’s sensitive ear would take this to be a reference to Cllr Blango being black and would take it to be coded racism.

It also seems to be odd that if Cllr Blango’s words were so outrageous when said “a few weeks ago”, Cllr Davis managed to contain her anger till the eve of the Lib Dem Conference. But there you go.

12. Chaise Guevara

@ Roger

“Far be it from me to be picky, but can anyone explain what is wrong with Cllr Blango’s statement. ”

Fair question. To be honest, it’s hard to know without context whether there was anything wrong. The statement is factually correct, and for all we know he’s been quote-mined.

If he said it on its own – like that was his entire position on domestic violence – then there’s several problems. Firstly, he’s brushing off domestic abuse as “potato, patahto”. Secondly, it sounds like he presupposes that there IS a benefit (what the hell could that be?) and some people just can’t see it. Thirdly, he seems to be equating it to smacking children. Two issues with that last one: firstly, smacking is an entirely different kettle of fish to domestic abuse, and secondly, a husband and wife should not be in an adult-child relationship. Husbands do not need to disciple their wives, or indeed vice-versa.

13. Chaise Guevara

Reading back, I want to amend one of the “rules” I listed for SMFS, bearing in mind past conversations on this site. So, rule #3 should now read:

“It’s not racist to point out that certain things are more prevalent in one race or another, assuming that it’s actually true, unless you make a point of bringing it up all of the time, regardless of whether it’s relevant, and using its to insinuate things you don’t have the guts to say plainly.”

Update your Bibles accordingly.

It seems suspicious to me that no context at all has been given here or in the link. If his next sentence was “But let there be no mistake, both to me are violence and are equally wrong” then the worst he could be accused of is being excessively against smacking.

15. Chaise Guevara

@ 14 Tom

“It seems suspicious to me that no context at all has been given here or in the link. If his next sentence was “But let there be no mistake, both to me are violence and are equally wrong” then the worst he could be accused of is being excessively against smacking.”

Likewise. The comment as presented is so ridiculously offensive as to be suspicious. I was wondering whether it was just a botched argument against smacking too.

#12 Chaise

I think you have to be careful if you go down the “but he should have also said x” road. Otherwise you’ll end up in Whataboutery Central demanding that he should have denounced Hamas for attacks on Israeli settlers.

Also while not equating anything to anything, I do have to point out that, however else you describe smacking, it is certainly violent and it is usually domestic.

17. Chaise Guevara

@ 16 Roger Mexico

“I think you have to be careful if you go down the “but he should have also said x” road. Otherwise you’ll end up in Whataboutery Central demanding that he should have denounced Hamas for attacks on Israeli settlers.”

It’s totally different to whataboutery. That’s an attempt to accuse someone of not caring about something just because they don’t bring it up every time they say something. Whereas the quote above needs qualification, because as a standalone comment it would utterly disgusting. I’m not finding excuses to blame him; if anything, I’m deliberately leaving room to not blame him.

“Also while not equating anything to anything, I do have to point out that, however else you describe smacking, it is certainly violent and it is usually domestic.”

Yeah, but commonly used terms are more than the sum of their parts. When someone says “domestic violence”, they mean serious assault, and blurring the line with smacking on a linguistic technicality is not helpful. Speaking of going down roads, this is the one that leads to people insisting that “homophobia” means “fear of the same” because of the etymology.

Some background in the minutes:

http://moderngov.southwark.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=25356

I’m guessing that Cllr Blango makes his entrance at 7.20; this (at 7.21) provides context that isn’t very favourable to him, if it is:

“The member commented that some perpetrators might not be able to prevent themselves – it might be a spur of the moment reaction as part of a row between a couple; for example a slap or similar.”

@Chaise #17:

Yeah, but commonly used terms are more than the sum of their parts. When someone says “domestic violence”, they mean serious assault, and blurring the line with smacking on a linguistic technicality is not helpful

I beg to differ. DV is most commonly used as between the adult partners in a home, and it may be valid to draw a distinction between that form of DV and “disciplining” children; but I am very comfortable with describing a smack delivered between those adults as DV.

20. Chaise Guevara

@ 19

TBH I’m having trouble working out what a smack between adults would imply, outside of the obvious Maggie-Gyallenhaal-in-Secretary context.

@Chaise #20:

An open hand violently delivered to the face accompanied by the words “Shut up you silly bitch”?

22. Chaise Guevara

@ 21 Robin

See, I’d call that DV when used against kids as well. When I say “smacking” I mean a very light hit that doesn’t actually hurt as such. What I used to get if I was naughty as a kid. It’s not the same as a slap across the face.

Perhaps the benefits of dv could be listed – and then we’ll have something to debate. Otherwise the comment raises concerns in me that this is a councillor who has been entrusted to represent his community.

What justifiable reason is there for someone to hit another person, especially in situations surrounding power?

#18 Robin

Thanks for the link. I’m not sure that it proves anything about Cllr Blango (if he is the member first mentioned in 7.20) other than he was was trying to make a point about the range of domestic violence – that it could be spontaneous as well as part of a pattern.

7.21 […]The member commented that some perpetrators might not be able to prevent themselves – it might be a spur of the moment reaction as part of a row between a couple; for example a slap or similar.

It’s worth noting the gender-neutral language here. After all I believe women have hands too, and may even have been known to use them to deliver the odd slap.

What the minutes do show is the rather odd reaction from another councillor:

7.22 The member went on to ask about violence that happened outside the home. Another member commented that she did not think it mattered if the violence was a one off issue or a pattern of abuse; if someone is not in control they should be in a mental institution. She felt that the member should apologise to the officer

Assuming this was Cllr Davis, maybe the piece should be re-titled Labour Cllr says women who slap their husbands should be locked up in mental institutions.

26. Chaise Guevara

@ 25 Roger Mexico

“Assuming this was Cllr Davis, maybe the piece should be re-titled Labour Cllr says women who slap their husbands should be locked up in mental institutions.”

It does seem like a pretty low bar for incarceration. If we’re going to lock up anyone who’s ever offered violence in anger, we’re going to have pretty quiet streets.

@Roger Mexico #25:

With respect, you don’t seem see what treating a slap as a normal “spur of the moment reaction as part of a row between a couple” says about the member who said it. the member didn’t suggest that “other people” might think that – s/he was describing his/her own attitudes.

A slap – whoever delivers it – is not and should never be a “spur of the moment reaction as part of a row between a couple”. Such a slap is DV.

28. Roger Mexico

Robin

You appear to be confusing describing an action (or discussing how it arises) with approving that action. Saying that “some perpetrators might not be able to prevent themselves”, doesn’t mean that they lose responsibility for their actions or any consequences.

And as for saying:

A slap – whoever delivers it – is not and should never be a “spur of the moment reaction as part of a row between a couple”. Such a slap is DV.

Why can’t it be both “spur of the moment” and domestic violence?

It seems you and Cllr Davis are denouncing someone based on what you expected them to say, rather than what they did say – at least as reported. Whether you based your assumptions on gender, political or racial stereotypes, I don’t know, but there’s nothing here to support you.

@Roger:

My reading of the minutes is that the member in question is quarrelling with the definition of domestic violence; he seems to seek to argue that the odd slap during a row isn’t really DV.

And I’m sorry, but “I couldn’t help myself” isn’t even an excuse, and certainly isn’t a reasonable explanation, for DV.

30. Chaise Guevara

@ 29 Robin

“And I’m sorry, but “I couldn’t help myself” isn’t even an excuse, and certainly isn’t a reasonable explanation, for DV.”

Define “reasonable”. It might be factual. It does seem like you’re treating Roger’s factual statements (factual whether true or not) as condoning what he’s describing.

31. Robin Levett

@Chaise:

A “reasonable explanation” for domestic violence is one which, having heard it, leaves you saying “Oh, well, that’s all right then, no offence committed” – such as “but officer, she attacked me with a knife, totally unprovoked”.

As I said; “I couldn’t help myself” doesn’t even rise to the level of an excuse, still less an exculpation.

32. Chaise Guevara

@ 31 Robin Levett

That’s why I was checking. “Reasonable explanation” could be taken objectively or subjectively, i.e. it might mean “a logical explanation for what happened”. In that sense, it’s a reasonable explanation. In the sense of “fair excuse”, it’s not.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Kellie Marnoch

    If true, this is HORRIFIC. @lfeatherstone can you confirm or deny? Lib Dem councillor says some see 'benefits' of DV http://t.co/oMMPltpo

  2. beverleydodds

    Libdem Cllr says some see benefits of domestic violence | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/PWmpzmi1 via @libcon

  3. beverleydodds

    "Lib Dem councillor says some see benefits of domestic violence." (@sunny_hundal) http://t.co/o5kk30z0

  4. Sue Haile

    If true, this is HORRIFIC. @lfeatherstone can you confirm or deny? Lib Dem councillor says some see 'benefits' of DV http://t.co/oMMPltpo

  5. ADVANCE

    Libdem Cllr says some see benefits of domestic violence | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/h9SGt21w via @libcon

  6. Yve S

    If true, this is HORRIFIC. @lfeatherstone can you confirm or deny? Lib Dem councillor says some see 'benefits' of DV http://t.co/oMMPltpo

  7. Jane Samuels

    If true, this is HORRIFIC. @lfeatherstone can you confirm or deny? Lib Dem councillor says some see 'benefits' of DV http://t.co/oMMPltpo

  8. Chaley

    If true: appalling & thr should be no place for him in Party. Libdem Cllr says some see benefits of domestic violence http://t.co/RBAl0vnr

  9. Michelle Wells

    If true, this is HORRIFIC. @lfeatherstone can you confirm or deny? Lib Dem councillor says some see 'benefits' of DV http://t.co/oMMPltpo

  10. Navie Kalsi

    Libdem Cllr says some see benefits of domestic violence | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/h9SGt21w via @libcon

  11. Kimbellina13

    If true, this is HORRIFIC. @lfeatherstone can you confirm or deny? Lib Dem councillor says some see 'benefits' of DV http://t.co/oMMPltpo

  12. Kate Walton-Elliott

    I have no words for this… http://t.co/qoaP6EP5

  13. Gwen Forkin

    If true, this is HORRIFIC. @lfeatherstone can you confirm or deny? Lib Dem councillor says some see 'benefits' of DV http://t.co/oMMPltpo

  14. SheffCitizen

    If true, this is HORRIFIC. @lfeatherstone can you confirm or deny? Lib Dem councillor says some see 'benefits' of DV http://t.co/oMMPltpo

  15. Maria Sobolewska

    Libdem Cllr says some see benefits of domestic violence | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/TljLK3rW via @libcon

  16. Elliot Page ?

    Libdem Cllr says some see benefits of domestic violence http://t.co/gSB0eU6u

  17. Pete Mercer

    WTF–>“@Lemon_Byte: Libdem Cllr says some see benefits of domestic violence http://t.co/5IHeebN6”

  18. Steph Johnson

    WTF–>“@Lemon_Byte: Libdem Cllr says some see benefits of domestic violence http://t.co/5IHeebN6”

  19. Becca Vafeas

    Since when has domestic violence had benefits?! http://t.co/2gseV4ER

  20. Amanda Taylor

    Libdem Cllr says some see benefits of domestic violence http://t.co/EyeUYpf8 #seriouslanguageandunderstandingissueshere

  21. Ashlee Halliday

    Libdem Cllr says some see benefits of domestic violence http://t.co/EyeUYpf8 #seriouslanguageandunderstandingissueshere

  22. Anne Joynes

    Libdem Cllr says some see benefits of domestic violence | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/0CjjadMX via @libcon





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