Who Owes Faithfulness?/Maggie Gallagher
Lynne’s post reminded me of another key part of marriage norms that we are in danger of losing: not only do married people owe each other a duty of sexual fidelity, but other people also owe “fidelity” to the couple.
In a marriage culture, people understand: You have an obligation not only to be faithful to your own wife, but also (whether married or single) not to have sex with anyone else’s wife. (ditto: husband).
In privatized, contractual schemes of marriage, this element gets lost or downgraded. (If adultery is wrong only because it violates a private understanding of two people, then that’s their business, not any one else’s.)
A judge in New YOrk, in the middle of quite properly punishing a man for killing a friend who had become involved with his wife, was apparently operating on this deep understanding: “Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman noted that Elio Cruz ‘made this selfish, emotional decision to punish Mr. [German] [Dionisio Cabrera], when, in fact, it was his wife doing bad things.'”
JUDGE CAGES KILLER – RIPS CHEATER WIFE
DAREH GREGORIAN. New York Post. New York, N.Y.: Dec 14, 2005. pg. 017
A man who gunned down his cheating wife’s lover in a Chelsea subway station was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison yesterday – as the judge suggested the hubby retaliated against the wrong person. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman noted that Elio Cruz “made this selfish, emotional decision to punish Mr. [German] Cabrera, when, in fact, it was his wife doing bad things.”
“She is the one who was unfaithful,” Berkman said.
Cruz, 34, a room-service waiter, was convicted last month of killing the brash rival for wife Belkys Pena’s affections in February 2004.
The judge noted that even before the shooting, Cruz would vent his anger over the affair at Cabrera instead of his wife – and Cabrera would just goad him on.
Prosecutor Peter Casolaro had asked the judge to sentence Cruz to the maximum of 25 years to life, but Berkman refused, noting he had no criminal record and “was on some level provoked.”
Still, Berkman said, the goading aside, she didn’t understand why Cruz made Cabrera the target of his anger.
“I suppose one might add salt to the wounds of the victim’s family by saying, ‘Gee, he wasn’t perfect.’ He was a young man, and he acted like young people sometimes do,” Berkman said, wondering why Cruz “addressed the victim rather than his wife.”
Well actually it was both his wife and the friend who was (as Ms. Gallagher might put it) “boning her” that were doing bad things, but Maggie gets some sort of visceral thrill about harlots being taken to the rhetorical woodshed for being total ho’s (not that Mags herself doesn’t have a spot on her virginal rapsheet). Nonetheless I think that is beside the point. Somehow I get the feeling that Maggie posted this article as a warning to her husband, as if he hasn’t already been punished enough… being married to Maggie Gallagher.