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Category Archives: Spousal abuse

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San Francisco Chronicle, August 19, 1920. As we noted in earlier posts, Jazz Age wives could pretty much murder their husbands with legal and social impunity by copping what’s now called the abuse excuse. Our correspondent here is the rare individual who didn’t find this funny. I don’t see much hope for his plan of redress though. I’d sooner expect to see NOW campaigning for women’s right to register for the draft.

perfect1Chicago Tribune, October 23, 1933. Resuming our series of “Till death does you into parts” domestic dramas, here’s a deluded dude who thought his familiarity with whodunnit fiction of the day would stand him in good stead with the law. This is even lamer than it sounds, given the tea-cozyish artificiality of what passed for a murder mystery in the so-called “Golden Age” of the genre (’20s and ’30s). There’s more practical criminal training in the opening credits of CSI: Miami then in all the combined works of S.S. Van Dine, Erle Stanley Gardner, Ellery Queen and Agatha Christie. Also: does a crime that culminates in living in a relief shelter even qualify as mediocre, never mind “perfect”? Read More »

burn5-29-09Detroit News, May 29, 1931. I think the judge made the right call here.

crossa Detroit News, April 28, 1931. Basically I think the judge is telling her to go through the conventional legal channel of killing the old bastard and having a jury set her free.

Chicago Tribune, November 23, 1922. Acid, typically a weapon of the streets, dissolves an upper-class marriage. Read More »

Detroit News, May 21, 1931. Here’s a creative couple who tried extending the “swear jar” principle to his wife-beating impulses. Somehow this failed to save their relationship. Go figure.

Detroit News, March 23, 1931. Tabloids were deeply preoccupied with outing wife beaters and gloating over their comeuppances (“comesuppance”?). On this count at least, the “lower” standards of tabloid journalism served a valuable social function. But I’m a bit surprised to see the lash and post in service as late as 1931. Apparently it hadn’t yet been deemed cruel and unusual. I must look into that.