Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Discounted Value of Woman's Life

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Discounted Value of Woman's Life

Article excerpt

Warning to American women: The moment you say "I do," the value of your life on the open judicial market plummets. That's one conclusion you can draw from the sentencing last week of Kenneth Peacock, who killed his wife after he found her in bed with another man.

The Maryland truck driver got a mere 18 months for shooting the 31-year-old woman with a hunting rifle in a classic Drove-Me-to-It defense.

Assessing Sandra Peacock like a flawed commodity, which is what both her husband and the judge did, she was worth about two and a half weeks' time for each year of her life.

Her infidelity counted as contributory negligence. Lest you imagine Peacock entering the marital home and losing his head - bang! bang! bang! - at the sight of his wife and another man in flagrante, be advised that his heat of passion survived several hours of argument and a whole lot of hard drinking before he blew Sandra away.

"I seriously wonder how many men married five, four years would have the strength to walk away without inflicting some corporal punishment," the judge, Robert Cahill, said sympathetically.

To appreciate how truly stupid that remark is as a sentencing guideline, you need only reconfigure it thus in the case, say, of a man accused of having stolen money from a patron at a cash machine:

"I seriously wonder how many men earning the minimum wage would have the strength to walk away from a handful of crisp new bills."

The worth of a woman's life is still oddly dependent on the luster of her sexual reputation. Witness the defense in the Robert Chambers murder trial, in which the dating patterns of Jennifer Levin sometimes seemed more central to the case than her death.

When a so-called friend of Nicole Simpson's named Faye Resnick published a memoir of sex and drugs and breast enhancement, Robert Shapiro complained that his client could not get a fair trial.

Judge Lance Ito ordered potential jurors not to read the book or even visit bookstores, perhaps believing that Resnick's contention that O.J. had threatened to kill his ex-wife if he ever found her with another man could be prejudicial. …

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