Usher Review: PBS Documentary “Breaking the Silence”: Evidently a Conspiracy

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, children criminals, children legal status, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Feminism, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, Liberty, Marriage, motherlessness, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome on July 10, 2009 at 9:50 pm

Sunday, December 18, 2005

PBS Documentary “Breaking the Silence”: Evidently a Conspiracy

In October, PBS released a scandalous documentary about domestic violence titled “Breaking the Silence”. Despite studied science on the issue, the producers of the show intentionally censored all information contrary to their partisan mission, which we know now was to go to extraordinary lengths portraying fathers as batterers who take custody of children as the final act of abuse.

Breaking the Silence pretends that the system “routinely penalizes women who are victims of domestic violence by favoring their abusers in battles over child custody”. Anyone who knows about how domestic violence laws are routinely applied knows that when a woman files any allegation of abuse, or even fear of abuse, the father is immediately thrown out of the home and has little chance of custody and even visitation.

The tactical purpose of the documentary is to synthesize an epidemic of unrestrained male batterers who seize children from completely unprotected abused women. Perhaps if this documentary were about life in Sudan, they might have a point.

The producers walked into their own trap. One of the supposedly-abused women, who was attempting to seize custody of the child from the father, was found responsible for multiple acts of child abuse in court. Despite being informed of this fact in advance, the producers filmed the documentary according to the prefabricated story board, while refusing to include any perspectives from fathers with legitimate cases.

CPB and PBS Ombudmen Agree That Breaking the Silence Is Flawed

A tsunami of equalitarian organizations and activists rose to the occasion, taking PBS and CPB to task. Glenn Sacks, Carey Roberts, Wendy McElroy, Cathy Young, the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, Mark Rosenthal, Fathers and Families, and a cotillion of others called PBS and CPB out on the carpet.

It did not take long for ombudsmen from PBS and CPB to agree with us. Ken Bode, the CPB ombudsman found that “there is no hint of balance in Breaking the Silence”. The PBS Ombudsman, Michael Gettler opined “My assessment, as a viewer and as a journalist, is that this was a flawed presentation by PBS. I have no doubt that this subject merited serious exposure and that these problems exist and are hard to get at journalistically. But it seemed to me that PBS and CPTV were their own worst enemy and diminished the impact and usefulness of the examination of a real issue by what did, indeed, come across as a one-sided, advocacy program.”

PBS published an article in Current, glossing over the major flaws in the documentary. The focus is quickly shifted away from the core issues we raise –- which are that the documentary is deeply unbalanced, partisan, sexist, and a fakery of science. Current conveniently changes the subject, pretending that the brouhaha is merely over whether parental alienation syndrome (PAS) exists or not.

Whether or not parental alienation is a diagnosable psychological disorder is not an issue we have raised. We are interested in the fact that parental alienation often takes in divorce and custody situations, most often disrupting the child’s relationship with the father. It should be noted that even the leading critics in the “syndrome diagnosis” debate agree with us that parents often alienate children in divorce and custody situations. The issue we raise is the maltreatment of fathers, science, and facts surrounding divorce, child abuse, domestic violence, and parental alienation that masqueraded as documentary on domestic violence, intended to ensure that men are not afforded equal standing to be custodial parents in the event of divorce.

Censorship, Multiple Abuses of Science, and Absence of Journalistic Ethics

Dr. Richard Gardner defined parental alienation as ”any constellation of behaviors, whether conscious or unconscious, that could evoke a disturbance in the relationship between a child and the other parent”. Breaking the Silence is, in itself, an act of parental alienation aimed at all fathers. It is intended to cover for or rationalize-away the alienating behaviors of mothers — even mothers known to be abusers – and generate irrational public fears and discrimination against fathers in public policy and law.

Dr. Murray Straus, the leading authority on domestic violence objected strongly to misuse of his research cited out-of-context in the NNEDV Guide to “Breaking the Silence”. The intent of the guide was to create an illusion that fathers are responsible for the substantial majority of spousal and child abuse.

Lasseur flatly justified censorship of all fathers perspectives (reasonable or otherwise), on the insupportable grounds that the fathers perspective is generically “destructive”. Read: when you are getting paid a half million dollars by radical feminists to do a partisan documentary, you only cite liturgy from the feminist “bible”.

Lasseur’s alternate (and equally indefensible) excuse for his decision to entirely censor the father’s perspective pretends that censorship is somehow more balanced than giving the father’s perspective short shrift; ”If we had featured the stories of one man and five women who had been victims of domestic abuse, statistically we would have overstated the problems of men in this area. Nevertheless, we recognize that men are also victims and men are also sometimes victimized by family courts, but the fact is that many more women are victims”.

Despite the torrent of valid criticism of the documentary, Dominique Lasseur, the producer of Breaking the Silence, clings defiantly to his indefensible film. He states in the Current article, “we believe that the comments and concerns that have come in so far [concerning the documentary] are often not based on the full and complete content of the program”. The reverse is true: the content of the program was intentionally not full or complete, as the producer has admitted in his prior two statements. We strenuously object to the fact that the producer intentionally censored information and perspectives that do not explicitly adhere to the radical feminist propaganda he attempts to transmogrify into social policy and jurisprudence.

The Current article also features an evasive exculpatory statement by the producers, but nothing by anyone legitimately criticizing the film. Here, the producer cites the long-debunked feminist myth “while women are less likely than men to be victims of violent crimes overall, women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner”, as his excuse for committing an hour of journalistic hate crimes.

Lasseur has generated a number of nebulous statements in defense of his film. None of them would win in debate class because he has never directly rebutted the points of our remonstrance.

Evidence Of Conspiracy

Our complaint is now much more serious than before. I have uncovered evidence that the producers of Breaking the Silence were aware that it was not an honest film.

Lasseur is planning another documentary aimed at establishing judicial accountability when judges do not acquiesce to the demands of radical women’s organizations. He is apparently working with Meera Fox, an attorney and executive Director of Abuse Solutions located in Berkeley, Ca, who among other things works the issues of domestic violence and child abuse as a trainer and presenter for public policy symposiums. Fox is evidently working with street-level women’s operatives, including the Mothers Research and Resource Center (MRRC), located in Gilbert, Arizona.

As is the case with most non-professional street-level feminist advocates, MRRC is rather loose-lipped about what it is doing, revealing feminist Schadenfreude that can often be witnessed when internal information accidentally falls into the public eye. The MRRC website demonstrates what the entire chain of actors was really thinking and doing behind-the-scenes of Breaking the Silence.

Both Meera Fox and Dominique Lasseur are apparently aware they are fabricating yet another false documentary, and that collecting supportive anecdotal footage might not be an easy task. The MRRC website contains an apparent confession [emphasis added]: “Dominique is passionately interested in continuing his work in this area, as he can see how raising the public’s consciousness about this problem and indeed, creating a public outcry about it, will be key to achieving the reforms we seek in Family Court …. I know you will all agree that this is a project that would be worth its weight in gold if he [Lasseur] can pull it off. He envisions marketing a series on Family Court failure to Court TV, Frontline, America Undercover, or all three, if we can get him enough information, footage and support. The reason he met with me about this project is because I know all of you and he was hoping I could rally you troops to help him with his project.”

The phrase “worth its weight in gold” likely reveals Meena Fox’s end-goal as a feminist attorney in steering courts to liquidate fatherhood, seize family assets, and children. Is there any other substantial benefit she could possibly be chasing? We think not. “Pulling it off” is a term commonly used in planning bank robberies, political subterfuge, and other illegitimate activities. The statement that Lasseur is actively pursing the same target, and driving the execution of it all, suggests that he is on the same page.
We have archived this web page for future reference, since it will probably be deleted by the time you read this article.

The business relationships between the Mary Kay Foundation, the producers, PBS, and feminist activists appear to constitute a profitable conspiracy against men in marriage and society. The actors used the profits of cosmetics to finance a false and inflammatory documentary, transmitted via the federally-supported public television network, thus allowing feminists the largesse to easily end marriages behind the closed doors of courtrooms for arbitrary and even irresponsible reasons. This can be done successfully only if radical feminists can project all family problems on the husband, thus seizing chattel control of family, assets, and income.

Breaking the Silence plays into the larger multi-billion-dollar conspiracy of the “no-fault” divorce industry, that has bilked about half the fathers in America out of their earnings, savings, and social position as husbands and fathers. Divorce hurts far more women than it helps. In fact, divorce has left more women and children in poverty, without health insurance, and at risk than any other event in American history. CPB does not understand that it can help more women and children by helping spouses work through the normal problems and processes of marriage and aging than it does by perversely magnifying feminist agenda into a cause celebre for mass divorce.

Dissembling Science to Suit Feminism

Both MRRC and Meera Fox repeatedly refer to mothers as being the “protective parent” {archived copy]. In their usage, “Protective parent” means that motherly interference with the father-child relationship is expected to take place on ideological grounds alone. Read: parental alienation is “protective” when committed by a mother, but destructive and to women and children when committed by the father.

The conversion of parental alienation into a label with two vastly disparate meanings based solely on gender of the actor, and the tactical reason for using this label, has certainly been discussed with Lasseur given the fact that it is core terminology for Fox and MRRC.

In their review of Breaking the Silence, CPB and PBS must take note that “Protective parent” is a clearly fraudulent substitute label for parental alienation. This leaves Lasseur with no foundation in credibility to now justify the legitimacy of his recipe applied in Breaking the Silence.

MRRC makes wildly-expansive claims about the results of its “National Protective Parents Survey”, reciting many factoids about divorce and domestic violence known to be either unreliable or false. Elsewhere on the MRRC web site, Meera admits that the survey includes only 157 respondents (apparently all are women). As is the norm for feminist activists, the MRRC website is loaded with anectodal stories, emotion, and factoids; and lacks any evidence of scientific balance or credibility. It is quite clear that MRRC is a highly-unreliable partisan information source that any responsible journalist would immediately avoid, but which Lasseur is apparently actively engaged.

A major thrust of the pending documentary is to create the illusion that abusive fathers seizing control of children is somehow an American epidemic. This is absolutely false. According to The US Census Department, in 2003 single mothers represent 80% of all single-parent households, single fathers only represent 20%. If fathers seizing control of children in divorce is pandemic, the statistics would be reversed. If anything, the statistics prove that mothers seizing control of families is a problem – a fact reflected by the fact that father-absence has become our greatest social problem since 1960.

MRRC and the documentary attempt to create the illusion that men are responsible for all family violence. The vast majority of credible studies and papers prove that women initiate slightly over half of all serious spousal altercations, and are responsible for over 2/3 of all serious child abuse. Breaking the Silence takes a position opposite of these facts by citing a variety of unreliable feminist studies.

When observed from an aerial view, it is not unreasonable to conclude that Breaking the Silence was an act of parental alienation, collectively committed by all parties involved the creation and dissemination of the documentary. This places additional responsibility on CPB and PBS to make a robust and accurate documentary, to undo the damage it has done.

Many Organizations Expect Responsible Decision by PBS

PBS has taken a surprisingly long time to publish the results of its inquiry. At worst, this could be “stonewalling” (as they say in management science parlance). I do not see any justification for further delay. The issues are bright and clear.

There is no evidence suggesting that this documentary is well-founded either in truth, science, or balance. It is merely a question of whether PBS has the simple corporate candor to set the record straight and make an acceptable compensatory documentary to correct the damage it has done to public attitudes towards men.

PBS cannot take the position that it is innocent. At least on PBS affiliate was actively working with local feminist activists to place the film as training material to influence legislation and court decisions. PBS affiliates were also providing free advertising directing women to local feminist activists. CPB and PBS have done great damage by allowing Breaking the Silence to be aired on hundreds of stations, completely unvetted by leading experts on domestic violence and parental alienation.

PBS now has a distinct responsibility to issue a balanced documentary, which should feature balanced, well established scientists on family violence, such as Dr. Murray Straus. It should openly include the situations of fathers who are most often the target of parental alienation. PBS must also implement a stringent pre-release review policy for all programs covering marriage, divorce, domestic violence, and child abuse, since they have often been similarly misrepresented by both NPR and PBS in the past.

Given the seriousness of this situation, I anticipate PBS will respond responsibly. In the event they do not, we are all fully prepared to pursue this issue, using all ethical means at our disposal, for as long as it takes until PBS finds reason to be responsible.

Fathers will no longer sit for being abused by the media. Nine years ago, I organized the first national protest in the history of the men’s movement, over the movie “First Wives Club”. The protest, hastily organized in eight days and held in 26 cities across America, was covered briefly in Time Magazine. A segment was filmed for Hard Copy. Universal Studios immediately cancelled the sequel, which was already in progress, and has avoided these waters ever since.

Our 2001 “Bridges for Children” father’s day informational protest was held in 226 cities around the world. Our movement is much stronger today. The Violence Against Women Act [HR 3402] now requires appropriate funding for services for men living in violent environments. Many women have walked away from radical feminism to advocate for healing and marital responsibility within the legitimate marriage and family-rights movements. Structural discrimination against men in education, home, and family is now common knowledge, and a major issue for forthright media outlets and state legislatures. Times have changed, and so must CPB.

If PBS fails to honor its public mandate, Congress should end all funding of CPB and PBS. CPB is using public funds to broadcast perverse feminist social re-engineering propaganda to illegitimately influence legislation and judicial decisions.

Secondly, if PBS fails to act appropriately, everyone considering membership or making a gift to CPB or PBS, should take note that their monies may be misused to spread hate and arbitrarily destroy marriage, fatherhood, and the futures of thousands of women and children.

David R. Usher is President of the
American Coalition for Fathers and Children, Missouri Coalition

posted by David R. Usher at 12:03 PM

Usher Review: PBS Documentary “Breaking the Silence”: Evidently a Conspiracy.

  1. Thank you for this resource. Fathers’ right to be a meaningful part of their childrens’ lives have been eroded to the point of non-existence. My research suggests that this is a phenomenon consistent throughout the industrialized nations. Children who are alienated from their fathers are more likely later in life to have emotional/behavioral problems, suffer from depression, drop out of school, fail in their jobs, and suffer from other social problems. I invite you to visit my site devoted to raising awareness on this growing problem: http://fathersprivilege.blogspot.com/

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