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The Office on Violence Against Women gets a new (scary) director

November 29, 2006

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a tremendous feminist success story. The legislation, which was passed in 1994 and reauthorized in 2000 and 2006, allows for $3.9 billion in funding to help survivors of intimate partner violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Feminists were the driving force behind the drafting and passage of VAWA–it’s our baby.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I found out the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) (where VAWA lives) is going to be run by yet another wacky Bush appointee.

Mary Beth Buchanan, US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, is set to be OVW’s Acting Director.

Buchanan’s claims to fame?

She’s an enthusiastic cheerleader of the Patriot Act. (It preserves civil liberties, she says!)

She spent $12 million on “Operation Pipe Dreams,” taking down 55 people for selling bongs. This included actor Tommy Chong–in the courtroom, Buchanan introduced his fictional pot-smoking characters as evidence of his “frivolous” attitude towards drug laws.

She’s an anti-obscenity crusader, prosecuting people for written stories on the internet and going after any and all porn. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of violent porn and the like, but Buchanan strikes me as more interested in enforcing morality than the law.) The legal director for the Pittsburgh ACLU once called Buchanan “the vanguard of [former U.S. Attorney General John] Ashcroft’s attempt to impose his morality on others.” Yikes.

So basically, this sucks. I can see it now…VAWA funds being diverted to conservative anti-obscenity groups under the rhetoric of protecting women. I am completely freaked out.

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