Posted by irresponsibility
I saw the headline three days ago: Father killed children after losing custody. It’s taken me this long to bring myself to sit down and write about it. I’m still not sure I can; still not sure I can channel the anger and disgust and despair into comprehensible sentences.
To summarise, David Cass murdered his three-year-old and one-year-old daughters before hanging himself in a garage. That’s quite enough to make me sit back and think, fuck, this world is fucked. But I think that every day, for a number of reasons. It’s the subsequent details, from Cass’ former employer, that make my eyes burn and my head ache. “I cannot believe he has done it, he loved those little girls so much,” runs the quote in the Telegraph.
The Guardian has him saying: “He was a doting father – it sounds ridiculous, but he was a doting father.”
You’re right, it does sound ridiculous. By definition, a man who murders his own children cannot be a doting father. In the same way a man who batters his wife, or stalks his ex isn’t doing it because he “loves” her. Incredibly, the sheer lunacy of this statement isn’t challenged. In fact, the Guardian article continues in a tone which takes as read the whole doting/murder paradox.
“The incident has led to renewed calls for a Samaritans-style helpline for fathers locked in custody battles,” it says.
The Times also gets onboard with the whole ‘poor dad’ routine. “Members of the disbanded campaign group Fathers 4 Justice called for a helpline for fathers involved in access battles. Nadine Taylor, who oversaw F4J’s operations, said: ‘We are now seeing first hand the devastating effects of family breakdown.’”
Now, I know we live in a patriarchy, but the suggestion that fathers need help to not murder their children leaves me slack-jawed. Here I am thinking the default setting for a “doting” parent is actually giving a damn about your kid’s welfare. Obviously, I’m wrong. Obviously even “doting” fathers are only ever one disappointment, one bad day away from murdering their offspring. Apparently, this is society’s fault. If only we did a better job of realising how delicate men are. If only we understood just how unfair it is that someone, anyone, should presume upon their property.
Because that unfortunately, is all women and children are in the patriarchy: property. Female children, doubly so. Make no mistake. This horrific murder wasn’t about “love” or “doting” it was about the fact Cass thought he was going to lose control of his property. And, like a playground bully stomping on a toy he’s just been asked to share, he decided if he couldn’t own those little girls then no one could. Mine, mine, they’re all mine, his actions said.
Think I’m taking it too far? Let me put it this way. If man who, say, just lost his job went out and randomly murdered another man do you think you’d have a public outcry about how there should be better counselling available for the newly unemployed? Hell no. There would be a murder prosecution. Because if a man kills another human it’s murder; if they kill their property on the other hand… it’s just a regrettable incident.
It is despicable to suggest Cass’ actions were anything but wholly, purely selfish. To attempt to dignify his calculating cruelty by suggesting it was somehow the fault of the system and/or his ex-partner for not allowing him custody is insulting. Clearly, he had no business being anywhere near those children. The preventable tragedy of this story isn’t that he didn’t have some fucking helpline to call but that he was allowed unsupervised access to his daughters in the first place.