Saturday, June 08, 2013

And Yet More on The Ezekiel Gilbert Case in Texas

When I wrote my first blog post on this topic, I expressed a bit of cynicism about the idea that Texas could actually acquit someone on the shooting death of an escort,  based on the right to retrieve stolen property.  But then I got carried away with the flow of articles on the topic.

Now Bridget Dunlap at Rheality Check has written a piece about the case which clarifies some issues:

First, the defense used two arguments, one of which was the Texas law about retrieving stolen property.  The second one was the argument that the accused aimed at the tires of the car in which the victim and her driver were seated, and therefore did not intend to kill.

We cannot tell which of those arguments (if the jury chose one over the other) was used as the basis of the acquittal decision.  Thus, the outrage shouldn't have been aimed at the jurors but at that particular Texas law which the defense used.  And perhaps at the judge in this case.  Dunlap writes:

One would expect the jury to find that shooting at a car with an AK-47 is at least “reckless,” in which case he could have been convicted of manslaughter. But the prosecution didn’t charge him with manslaughter, only murder. Manslaughter is a “lesser included offense” of murder and the judge is entitled to instruct the jury if the evidence supports that charge, but it appears she did not. The jury can’t convict on a charge that isn’t before them.
I think Texas’s defense of property law is abhorrent and my gut reaction was that it was a reprehensible defense. This reaction suggests, that you should think twice before hiring me as your defense attorney, sadly. As Professor Michael W. Martin of Fordham Law’s Federal Litigation Clinic reminded me: “If the law allows the defense, the lawyer must use it, if it is viable, unless there is a good strategic reason not to. Otherwise, it is ineffective assistance of counsel. If the lawyer feels like he is ethically barred from using a legal, viable defense, he should ask to be relieved.”

I'm glad about this additional  legal information.  I feel a little less like someone suddenly waking up in an alternate reality.

You're Doing it Rong. John Pilger Explains What Feminists Should Do.

In a Truthout piece titled "There Is a War on Ordinary People, and Feminists Are Needed at the Front."  By ordinary people Pilger means the poor and perhaps the middle class.  His argument is a class argument, though it's more than that, as I will discuss further down.

But for the time being it's enough to note that John Pilger wants feminism to be about class concerns and not about gender.  I guess the term "feminism" has so many definitions (lots of them  reviled and hated, many of them contradictory, quite a few of them unknown among the larger public) that it's no longer regarded as odd for someone to argue that feminism shouldn't be about gender.  But it's like saying that anti-racist movements shouldn't be about race.

There have been many,  many nights where I have lain awake, staring into the darkness while asking myself if I AM a feminist.

That's because of the many and very complicated debates that are ongoing within various circles interested in either explaining women's roles and economic lots in life or working to improve the status of women.  My mind runs around a squirrel wheel, going from "yes, but" to "on the other hand" and back again.

So far I think the important distinction when comparing and contrasting various groups of people in the Oppression Olympics is this:  Whatever our own activism,  we need to understand that  the underlying theories about why certain groups don't fare as well in the society are not interchangeable.  It matters to understand where misogyny comes from and it matters to understand where sexism comes from.  It matters to understand poverty and attitudes towards poverty, and it matters to understand the roots of sexism.  One single theory cannot account for all of those.

It also matters that feminists can be classist and racist, that anti-racists can be sexist and classist, and that those who fight classism issues can be at least sexist, if not racist (the latter depending on the country).

Back to John Pilger who will teach me more about what feminists are all about and what we should do.

He begins rather wonderfully, by arguing that the UK Daily Mail is a feminist publication.  It's an inauspicious opening if he wishes to persuade feminazis of my kind, because I have studied that publication intensively in the past, and here are the kinds of things the newspaper's Femail section, intended for women, gives us in the archives for searching the word "feminism":

Feminism was going to liberate both sexes, but instead it destroyed a generation of men

How feminism destroyed real men

Has feminism killed the art of home cooking?

Why I loathe feminism... and believe it will ultimately destroy the family

Feminism has turned men into second-class citizens, but have women's victories come at a price?

You've got what you want, girls, stop whining: Has feminism made women unhappy? (well THIS certainly will)

'Quit work to help your husband', says a controversial new book that has infuriated feminists

And so on and so on, for 407 references. 

Pilger goes on in his article in a way which suggests that he has been personally hurt and angered by feminist writings about gendered violence, feeling accused himself and feeling powerless to affect the debate, which he believes has been kidnapped by feminists:

This is now standard media practice. "Most weeks some lovely, caring berks tell me I am a man-hating witch," wrote Suzanne Moore recently in the Guardian, "so let's get it out there. Sometimes I am. The acceptable kind of suck-it-up feminism (I love men really!) is hard to sustain after yet more abuse stories … Do I think all men are rapists? No. Do I think all women can be raped. Yes?"
How quickly the broad brush of blame is applied to a rash of dreadful murder and kidnap cases. Throw in an abduction in Cleveland, and the arrest of "yet another TV personality," and, according to Cynthia Cockburn and Ann Oakley, this represents "the profound, extensive and costly problem of male sexual violence."
Part of the problem, another commentator insinuates, is that men don't care as much as women because they don't use Twitter enough to express their abhorrence of rape and kidnap. This all adds up to a "crisis in masculinity," requiring men to join in a "conversation" about their social and moral deficiencies on terms already decided.
The problem with media-run "conversations" on gender is not merely the almost total absence of male participants, but the suppression of class. It is tempting to say real politics are missing, too, but bourgeois boundaries and prescriptions are real enough. Thus, gender, like race, can be presented in isolation. Class is a forbidden word, and gender subordinate to class is heresy. The Daily Mail model is built on this.
One might argue that feminists "kidnapped" this topic because it was an orphan nobody else wanted at all.

But I can understand Pilger's hurt feelings.  Generalized guilt on the basis one's sex, race or ethnicity is not a terribly productive start for solving any types of problems in the society, as we should have learned from recent discussions of Islamic extremists, just as generalized prejudices about one gender or race are bad.  Still,  Pilger may be skipping stages there, by assuming that the "crisis in masculinity" is about men as biological beings or about something that cannot be changed, rather than about socially defined norms of masculinity, especially among teenagers, athletes and other groups which build their own sub-cultures based on the approval of others in those sub-cultures.

Whatever,  Pilger is  clearly angry and clearly not on the same side with feminists.  That's what makes his argument that feminists are not on his side interesting.

His side is classism, roughly.  But here's the deeper problem about Pilger's arguments:

Feminists have, for many years now, used the lens of intersectionality to gender issues, by noting that those issues intersect with race, income, ethnicity and religion.  Likewise, there are many, many feminists organizations which work on the issues of immigrant women in the US, on the issues of race and gender, on the issues of poverty and gender, on the issues of LGBT and women, and on and on and on.  Pilger probably didn't think of using Google to  research all that.

May I now say that I think Pilger is mansplaining a bit?  Giving us a hastily written and angry first draft, rather than doing the additional research that was needed?  Hmm.

Finally, there are problems with the assertion that feminists should stop caring about violence and other issues and focus on poverty and class issues.  First, many feminists are already focusing on poverty and class issues.  Second, if feminists don't talk about the gendered aspects of violence, then nobody will, pretty much.  And third, obviously there are feminist activists who are not into class issues, just as there are class activists who equally obviously are not into gender issues.


Friday, June 07, 2013

More on Ezekiel Gilbert And The Right To Use A Weapon To Retrieve Stolen Property in Texas

I wrote about this case yesterday.  A man hires an escort, expecting sex (note that this expectation was not based on a written contract, say,  given the illegality of the trade).  The escort comes into his house, is given the money but the sex doesn't happen.  She leaves, or at least goes out, and he shoots her, paralyzing and ultimately killing her.  He is sued for the act but the jury acquitted him, based on a law which gives Texans the right to use a gun to retrieve stolen property "after nightfall."

It was the money ($150) that was viewed as stolen property by the jury, which interpreted the trade the way the accused did:  He should have been given sex or his money back.  Thus, the jury regarded an illegal trade (in Texas) as one that the john had the right to enforce.

But reverse this.  Suppose an escort has sex with a client in Texas, and then the client refuses to pay.  It's after nightfall, they are in the escort's house.  Based on this acquittal, she has complete rights to kill her client dead, to retrieve her stolen property.

Based on this Vanity Fair article, my interpretation should work, because the law used in the case was all about the right to use guns.  But I very much doubt that the jury would have acquitted an escort for the reverse crime.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Fox And The War on Women

Andrea Tantaros of Fox News gives the usual (for Fox)  alien-from-outer-space statement about the appointment of Susan Rice as National Security Advisor:

For those who cannot watch the video, Tantaros states that the Obama administration appoints women as human shields, possibly in the Republican war on women! 

Isn't that precious?  I never have so much fun with the lefties or the muddy middle.

A war on women would mean that men are used as the human shields.  Or possibly children.  But not women, because women are that enemy, see?

Whatever.  Tantaros implies that to avoid being blamed for waging war against women the Republicans cannot criticize Democratic female politicians at all.  Not at all.

I love that, and wish that rule to be immediately applied on this blog.  Nobody can criticize Echidne because then you are waging a war against a goddess.   Send chocolate or I will be thunderous.

But criticism is a requirement in politics.  We have to keep our elected and appointed servants honest and their noses to the grinding wheel, and polite but cogent criticism is the way to go.  So yes, Andrea, Republicans can criticize Democratic women in politics. 

But if they wish not be viewed as sexist asshats, that criticism should not be about the women's  looks,tits,  butts or how those women somehow in general exactly replicate the worst aspects of all those billions of people in the group: women.  Just keep your criticism on the issues and you will do fine.

Could it be that this is  a novel idea in the land of Fox News?  That distinguishing between the two types of criticisms is just beyond those folks?

More on Fox News' difficulties with that weird and awkward half of humanity can be found here.

Only in Texas?

The Google doesn't have a lot about this story, so you may wish to take that into account in judging it.  But the outline is this:

In 2009 a man, Ezekiel Gilbert,  contacts a woman working as an escort, Lenora Ivie Frago,  via Craigslist,  and gives her $150, in expectation of sexual services which are not forthcoming.  Rather, the escort leaves the man's house with the money.

He shoots her, paralyzing her. Ms Frago  dies several months later from the consequences of the shooting.   The case goes to court, and the jury acquits the man in her shooting death:

The verdict came after almost 11 hours of deliberations that stretched over two days. The trial began May 17 but had a long hiatus after a juror unexpectedly had to leave town for a funeral.
During closing arguments Tuesday, Gilbert's defense team conceded the shooting did occur but said the intent wasn't to kill. Gilbert's actions were justified, they argued, because he was trying to retrieve stolen property: the $150 he paid Frago. It became theft when she refused to have sex with him or give the money back, they said.
Gilbert testified earlier Tuesday that he had found Frago's escort ad on Craigslist and believed sex was included in her $150 fee. But instead, Frago walked around his apartment and after about 20 minutes left, saying she had to give the money to her driver, he said.
That driver, the defense contended, was Frago's pimp and her partner in the theft scheme.
The Texas law that allows people to use deadly force to recover property during a nighttime theft was put in place for “law-abiding” citizens, prosecutors Matt Lovell and Jessica Schulze countered. It's not intended for someone trying to force another person into an illegal act such as prostitution, they argued.

Can this really be true?  If it is, why is a transaction that is illegal in Texas (selling sex) given this type of property rights protection?  If I hired someone to kill another person in Texas, and the hired killer ran off with my money without doing the agreed-upon murder, could I then kill him or her and not get punished for it at all?  Or is it the case that Mr Gilbert will get a separate punishment for being a john?  Is that even illegal in Texas?  (I'm too lazy to research it.)

Then there's the sum of money which is deemed adequate to cause someone's death, 150 dollars.  Is that the worth of a life?

The story is hard to believe.  I'm also concerned about the jury thinking that being an escort automatically means selling sexual services, when that is not written down anywhere at all.  My concern is because similar one-sided interpretations could spread to all sorts of exchanges, and juries appear to be ready to favor the "buyer's" interpretation here.

Let's flip this over.  Suppose that Ms Frago had had sex with Mr Gilbert and Mr Gilbert then refused to pay her.  Would she have been within her rights in Texas if she had then killed Mr Gilbert?  As far as I can tell, that should be the case.  But I very much doubt the jury would have acquitted her.
Via Gawker 

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Stuff To Read, June 5, 2013

Or speed-blogging, if you wish.

First,  the Republican-led Wisconsin legislators don't like the idea that journalism students learn investigative journalism:

At the conclusion of a marathon overnight session, Wisconsin legislators early this morning added a provision to the state budget that would expel the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, a nonprofit investigative journalism institute, from its offices at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The measure also prohibits university employees “from doing any work related to the Center for Investigative Journalism as part of their duties as a UW employee.”
With the budget now cleared by the Joint Finance Committee and poised for final approval soon, journalists and educators are scrambling to preserve what is widely regarded as a successful collaborative model that both trains emerging reporters and produces high-quality investigations.

There may be more valid reasons for the move.  But investigative journalism is part of our world's total immunity system.  It gives us early warning about dangerous social and political diseases.

Second, the International Monetary Fund now admits that it may have sorta miscalculated when it placed its hand-made stockbroker shoe on the necks of the Greek people:

The International Monetary Fund is to admit that it has made serious mistakes in the handling of the sovereign debt crisis in Greece, according to internal reports due to be published later on Wednesday.
Documents presented to the Fund's board last Friday will reveal that the Washington-based organisation underestimated the damage austerity would cause to the eurozone country, which has required two bailouts in the past three years.
I hope this won't end up as one of those mistakes-were-made-now-let's-move-on debacles which never change anything.

Third, the Smithsonian Magazine has a story on the color pink as denoting girliness and all things icky.  It mentions the relatively late onset of the craziness that is pink, pink and a little purple for girls.  This is the part I especially liked:

Another important factor has been the rise of consumerism among children in recent decades. According to child development experts, children are just becoming conscious of their gender between ages 3 and 4, and they do not realize it’s permanent until age 6 or 7. At the same time, however, they are the subjects of sophisticated and pervasive advertising that tends to reinforce social conventions. “So they think, for example, that what makes someone female is having long hair and a dress,’’ says Paoletti. “They are so interested—and they are so adamant in their likes and dislikes.”
The more I've read about gender-awareness in early childhood, the more I think that this theory is correct:

It's not that girls innately prefer pink to other colors.  It's that girls and boys, possibly due to innate reasons, really want to know what it means to be a girl or a boy, and until they realize the genders are not dependent on stuff such as what one wears or what one plays with, children will gender-police themselves.

On Sexual Assaults in the US Military

A topic on which Powerful People (US Senators) are pontificating right now:

Sometimes one picture really does tell more than a thousand words (unless they are my words, natch.)

I have followed the events, including the worrisome news that the men responsible for programs aimed at reducing sexual assaults  themselves got caught acting like foxes in charge of the chicken coop:

Last week, the Pentagon said the U.S. Naval Academy is investigating allegations that three football team members sexually assaulted a female midshipman at an off-campus house more than a year ago. A lawyer for the woman says she was "ostracized" on campus after she reported it.
In recent weeks, a soldier at the U.S. Military Academy was charged with secretly photographing women, including in a bathroom. The Air Force officer who led the service's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response unit was arrested on charges of groping a woman. And the manager of the Army's sexual assault response program at Fort Campbell, Ky., was relieved of his post after his arrest in a domestic dispute with his ex-wife.

I have also heard that the Senators are not going to hear from many (any?) female victims of sexual assault at these hearings, though that could be incorrect.

The reason I haven't written more about the case is that to say something worthwhile requires the kind of data I can't access. 

A few examples:  The reported cases of sexual assault have gone up:
The Pentagon estimated in a recent report that as many as 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year, up from an estimated 19,000 assaults in 2011, based on an anonymous survey of military personnel. While the number of sexual assaults that members of the military actually reported rose 6 percent to 3,374 in 2012, thousands of victims were still unwilling to come forward despite new oversight and assistance programs aimed at curbing the crimes, the report said.
Do we know how much of this increase may be because there's more encouragement to report than in the past and how much is due to an actual increase in the number of sexual assaults?

Then there's the question about who should have the authority to investigate and decide on sexual assaults.  Right now that authority is vested in the complaint-maker's superior officers.  There are several reasons why that is not a good idea, and perhaps some reasons why it might be a good idea:

Dempsey and the service chiefs warned against making the dramatic changes called for in Gillibrand's legislation. Removing commanders from the military justice process, Dempsey said, would undercut their ability to preserve good order and discipline in their units.
"We cannot simply legislate our way out of this problem," said Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army's chief of staff. "Without equivocation, I believe maintaining the central role of commander in our military justice system is absolutely critical to any solution."
But Gillibrand defended her proposal, which has garnered 18 co-sponsors in two weeks. She said victims of sexual assault are reluctant to report the crimes to their commanders because they fear their allegations will be dismissed and they might face retaliation. Aggressive reforms in the military's legal code are needed to force cultural changes, she said.
"You have lost the trust of the men and women who rely on you," Gillibrand said. "They're afraid to report. They think their careers will be over. They fear retaliation. They fear being blamed. That is our biggest challenge right there."

To judge this would really benefit from finding out how often those who commit sexual assaults are in a superior organizational position to those who become the objects of the assault.  If that is frequently the case, then giving all the powers to the superior officer pretty much guarantees that no complaint will be taken seriously.

Let's finish this post with some hilarity.  Well, the healthiest take on this is that it is ludicrous:

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) on Tuesday suggested that the “hormone level created by nature” was to blame for rapes in the military and that all pregnant servicewomen should be investigated to make sure their condition was the result of consensual sex.
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on sexual assaults within the military, Chambliss opined that the Pentagon’s decision to allow women in combat roles was only going to make the problem worse.
The Georgia Republican recalled that “several years ago when we had the first females go out on an aircraft carrier, when they returned to port, a significant percentage of those females were pregnant.”

It's a wonderful tangled knot of both victim blaming (though men, too, are among the victims of sexual assault in the military) and of excusing assaults as just-hormones-gone-wild. I love it when a wingnut remains consistently illogical. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Get Lucky at 35 000 feet

That's the new (late April) Virgin Airlines promotion campaign.  Sir Richard Branson explains how it works  in a video.  The idea is that a passenger can send drinks, snacks or meals to someone else on the plane, with perhaps a message which says "your seat or mine?"  Branson states that the chances of deplaning with someone new are at least 50% after this.

Mmm.  What a great campaign if you want to fly in an enclosed singles bar with no escape hatches.  If, on the other hand, you just want to get to your destination and deplane only with those people you began with, can you turn this whole thing off?  So that you don't get unwanted approaches of any kind?

The campaign doesn't tell us, which suggests to me that if you don't wish to be approached this way you should probably fly with some other airline.

Speed Blogging: On Suicides Among Baby Boomers, On Employed Mothers As the Cause Of All Ills and on The Riots in Turkey

Speed-Blogging, like speed-dating, right?  Short and sweet posts on several topics.

1.  On the increased suicide rates of baby boomers in the USThis WaPo article  asks why the rates have gone up so much, but underplays or omits the most obvious reason for the increased rates:

The collapse of the housing markets and the bad recession of recent years.  If someone in late middle age loses the value in his or her dwelling and then loses a job as well, the stress is much, much higher than for someone who is younger.  There's simply not the time to make up those losses before retirement and getting a new job is harder the older you are.

2.  On Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R) stating that women in the labor market is the cause for the US education problems.  I quote:

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said Tuesday that America’s educational troubles began when women began working outside the home in large numbers.
Bryant was participating in a Washington Post Live event focused on the importance of ensuring that children read well by the end of third grade. In response to a question about how America became “so mediocre” in regard to educational outcomes, he said:
I think both parents started working. The mom got in the work place.

Bryant immediately recognized how controversial his remark would be and said he knew  he would start to get e-mails. He then expanded on his answer, saying that “both parents are so pressured” in families today. He also noted that America seemed to be losing ground internationally in regards to educational outcomes because other nations began to invest more in their own school systems and make progress.

My bolds.

Now that gave me the first belly laugh of the day!  The reason, of course, is that Finland currently leads the education competitions on this planet,  and employment of women is sorta pretty common and uncontroversial there.  Has been for a long time, actually (Hi mom!  Love you a lot!).

I get why Bryant would say something so inane.  It's because his party doesn't want to spend any money on education at all, so blaming something or someone outside the formal system of education is the obvious alternative.  But at least pick something which international statistics support, please.

Though there IS an odd shadow truth in what he says, in the following sense:  When most jobs were not really available for women in the US, smart women often had to choose to be teachers, one of the handful of socially acceptable jobs for educated women.  So in the past the talent pool for teaching was large and the pay didn't have to be that high to get good teachers.  That changed when opportunities for women in the labor market increased.  Now you have to compensate teachers properly, and Bryant doesn't want to.

3.  On the Turkish Riots:  

This article gives a good  background about the riots.  Turkey has very divided voters, by the way.  Those rioting belong to the more secular middle classes.  Whether their discontents apply more generally is something I don't know.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Today's Evolutionary Psychology Post

It began (via a tweet from Martha Bridegam)  with a now-deleted  nasty fat-shaming  tweet by a professor of evolutionary psychology, though Jay Rosen saved the tweet.

You can follow the discussion about that on Twitter.  The tweeter,  Geoffrey Miller apologized for the tweet.

Miller is also tweeting an enormous bunch of interesting and weird stuff about presumed sex differences in competitiveness, how women become more musically creative when they think of long-term mating (how on earth do you measure something like that????) and how men run so much faster and throw so much better than women and so on.

There's a meeting of evo-psychologists and all this is what they do.  Naturally.

But among those tweets was a link to a 2011 post at Psychology Today, the bargain basement of all psychologyish leftovers, and I read it.

It's about monogamy, and how come we are no longer polygynous (one man with several women)*.  I will quote the explanation we are given, which is based on the idea that monogamous groups can grow larger than polygynous groups so they win all those violent battles for world dominance:

Why can monogamous groups grow larger? Because men want wives, and if you need a lot of men on your team, you must offer them something that they want. In monogamous groups, unlike polygynous ones, high status males cannot hoard large numbers of women for themselves. The more equal distribution of women in monogamous groups means that more men can acquire wives, and fewer men have to leave the group to search for wives elsewhere. And the larger the group, the more men there are to fight in battles and to pay taxes for the funding of wars. Socially imposed monogamy, therefore, emerged in the West as a reciprocal arrangement in which elite males allowed lower-ranking males to marry, in exchange for their military service and tax contributions.

All bolds are mine.  They are used to highlight the fact that this author, Michael E. Price, has a basic theory which assumes that high status males decided on everything and that wives were sorta bought and sold to get the services of the lower-ranking males.

To see what I mean, let's write that same quote with one word changed.  Woman=Beer:

Why can monogamous groups grow larger? Because men want beer, and if you need a lot of men on your team, you must offer them something that they want. In monogamous groups, unlike polygynous ones, high status males cannot hoard many barrels of beer for themselves. The more equal distribution of beer in monogamous groups means that more men can acquire beer and fewer men have to leave the group to search for beer elsewhere. And the larger the group, the more men there are to fight in battles and to pay taxes for the funding of wars. Socially imposed monogamy, therefore, emerged in the West as a reciprocal arrangement in which elite males allowed lower-ranking males to drink more beer,  in exchange for their military service and tax contributions.

Now, that's a possible theory, sure.  But what it really hinges on is the assumption that the only people with any real power in those groups were the high status men and that the women in the group did not respond in any way to the incentives the system provided.   They acted like beer barrels.

There are alternative stories about the role of polygamy in the human past.  Although it is true that the institution of polygyny has existed in many societies and the institution of polyandry is known to have existed in relatively few, the really important question is the numbers of actual monogamous vs. polygynous marriages in any one society.  What I mean by that is this:  Even a society which is formally counted as polygynous may have had very few marriages of that type in any one time period and many more monogamous marriages.

If this is the case, it is incorrect to state that humans were predominantly polygynous in the past, as Price suggests:

To answer that, we should examine the types of small-scale societies in which nearly all of our evolution has occurred. When we do so, we find that these hunter gatherer and tribal societies have, throughout the world, historically practiced polygamy. Although most men in these societies strive for polygamy, however, only a minority can achieve it, because maintaining a large family requires an often prohibitively high degree of wealth and status. Further, because it is generally difficult to store and hoard wealth in small-scale societies, even men who do achieve polygamy can usually afford no more than two or three wives. It wasn't until the emergence of large-scale agricultural civilization, a few thousand years ago, that wealth-hoarding became possible and powerful men began accumulating large harems of hundreds or thousands of women. This pattern occurred in similar ways all over the world, as Laura Betzig describes in Despotism and Differential Reproduction. So once the ecological constraints on polygamy were lifted, high status men began accumulating many more wives than they had in small-scale societies.
Bolds are mine.

This quote is confusing to interpret.  First, note that Price's evidence seems to be that polygyny was rare in the distant past.  Then quite recently "powerful men began accumulating large harems of hundreds of thousands of women", and Price interprets this to mean that the ecological constraints were removed.

But if polygyny actually was rare earlier, what caused the presumed evolutionary adaptation in all men to want many wives?  I guess we could pedal back to the story about sperm-is-cheap and the idea that men are more promiscuous by nature. That is not the same thing as supporting multiple wives, however, assuming that the wives had to be supported and were not actually additional labor resources.

And the ecological constraints of the presumed Environment of Evolutionary Adaptations (EEA, the hypothetical place and time in which human gender adaptations are assumed to have been fixed in evolutionary psychology) surely were part of the environment which affected those adaptations?

This matters quite a bit.  The usual assumption is that evolutionary adaptations were fixed when humans lived in small nomadic hunter-gatherer groups.  It is more difficult to explain how polygyny of the support-all-your-wives type Price assumes could have been profitable.  Note, also, that nomadic hunter-gatherer groups in the recent past have been found to be fairly egalitarian, which makes the concept of polygyny as an evolutionary adaptation for high-status men problematic.

Whatever the case might be, Price argues that humans were predominantly polygynous on grounds which have nothing to do with the question whether the numerical majority of humans were in polygynous or monogamous marriages.  Which is an odd argument, in my view.

Those large harems of hundreds of thousands of wives, by the way, were extremely rare.  I'm willing to bet all my chocolate reserves on the assertion that marriages were overwhelmingly monogamous even when one Sultan or pharaoh had humongous harems.

What's the point of this post?  To demonstrate the hidden parts of the theory used here, in particular the assumption that societies were utterly hierarchical in the sense of being ruled by high-status men, even though the groups in the EEA are more likely to have been fairly egalitarian.  And perhaps also to note alternative explanations for the rarity of polygyny among humans.  Those do exist.

For instance,  decreased sexual dimorphism in humans is one offered explanation.  In other animals, large size differences between males and females (with the former being larger) usually denote polygyny, small or nonexistent size differences usually denote monogamy.  Some argue that human females and males have evolved to become closer in size and that this could explain  the increase in monogamy.  What the benefits of this might have been are discussed in the linked article.

A theory off the top of my hat concerns genetic diversity.  Extremely polygynous societies might have doomed themselves to extinction because of lack of such diversity.  This is most likely not such a great theory, but I'm thinking of the impact of over-breeding with one male as the sire  in a few dog breeds in the US.  If that male carries genetic weaknesses, they are spread widely and rapidly.

Finally, from an economic point of view (or perhaps a demographic point of view), societies with extreme polygyny are inherently unstable.  What's to be done with all those spare men who can never find a mate?  They could be kicked out of the group as appears to be done in the old polygynous Mormon sect, but that would only work in a system where neighboring groups weren't equally polygynous.

None of my amateur theories are intended to be regarded as real explanations.  I list them, because they are not considered in the original post at all.
*Strictly speaking, the post discusses a moderate form of polygyny where some men have many wives, some are monogamously partnered and some have no partner.