[sixties-l] [Fwd: Why men are violent]

From: Jerry West (record@island.net)
Date: Tue Jun 27 2000 - 10:52:12 CUT

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    In light of some of our discussion recently I thought that this piece
    that came in on the newswire might be of interest.

    Jerry West
    On line news from Nootka Sound & Canada's West Coast
    An independent, progressive regional publication

    attached mail follows:

    June 16, 2000


    Bone chilling stories like the one about Doug Holtam--a B.C. man who bludgeoned his pregnant wife and six year old daughter to death and left his eight year old son for dead three years ago--leave you wondering how could a man do this?

    In his newly released book, The Beast Within, Why Men Are Violent, SFU criminologist Neil Boyd argues that biological rather than environmental factors are at the root of why men are historically ten times more likely to commit violent crimes than women. Boyd also contends that biology and genetics can be as important as environmental factors in assessing why some men are more violent than others. "As a society we've tended to believe that socialization and exposure to bad experiences are the main reasons why people are violent. It goes against our cultural ideology to give much weight to biological factors," explains Boyd.

    The well known criminologist says he at one time subscribed to the same bias. However, four years of researching evolutionary theory, the biology of sex differences, testosterone, and rethinking his own research on male homicide changed his mind. In a simple story telling fashion Boyd brings that research to bear in making his case; he uses gripping case studies, like Holtam's, to drive home his points and demonstrate that there are often no female counterparts for male perpetrators of violent crimes.

    Boyd examines the striking parallels in violence among men and male chimpanzees; the universally observed correlation between testosterone and adolescent violence, and corresponding increased crime among young males; the sex differences between men and women and genetic predisposition to criminal behaviour.

    "One of the most startling series of research studies demonstrates that children of adoptive parents are more likely to have a criminal record as adults, regardless of their adoptive experience, if their biological fathers committed crimes," notes the criminology professor. No stranger to taking a controversial stance on high profile crime-related topics, Boyd has authored books condemning current mandatory minimum sentences for homicide and capital punishment-The Last Dance-and advocating the decriminalization of illegal drugs-High Society: Legal and Illegal Drugs in Canada. In The Beast Within, Why Men Are Violent, Boyd takes issue with mainstream criminology's failure to consider biological interpretations of crime. He suggests that the perpetuation of the view that biology and genetics have little or nothing to do with violence among men has led to "misdiagnoses and wrong-headed solutions".

    As examples, he cites our tendency to blame others for our mistakes rather than a willingness to see ourselves as a complex amalgam of genes and environment. Boyd is also highly critical of wrongful convictions based on evidence obtained through repressed memory therapy. "Our culture of victimization has directly contributed to the absurdity of these claims," says Boyd. "Because we often don't see men as having a predisposition to violence, we don't put enough time and effort and thought into how, as a society, we should respond to these unfortunate limitations."

    Official launch of Boyd's new book by SFU and Greystone Books, Wednesday, June 21, 5 p.m.-7 p.m., Segal Centre, Harbour Centre campus -30- CONTACT: Neil Boyd, 291-3324, 604-947-9569 Carol Thorbes, media, pr, 291-3035

    ********************************************** June Venables SFU Media and Public Relations phone 604-291-3928 fax 604-291-3039 Web address http://www.sfu.ca/mediapr/ **********************************************

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