This week it was announced that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice will serve only a 2 game suspension for domestic violence. In February, Rice was involved in an incident in an elevator that left his then fiancée Janay Palmer unconscious in Atlantic City. Rice and Palmer are now married and the league is now dealing with his violation of the personal conduct policy. According to police reports Rice punched is wife to be in the elevator which knocked her out. The lenient sentence handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is a mirror of how we as society tend to look at violence against women.
Since Roger Goodell has been in charge of the country’s most popular sport he has been known to drop the hammer down on rules violators. The two cases involving women as victims it seems that the league’s sheriff has a soft spot. When Ben Rothelisberger got his 6 game suspension reduced to 4 games for violating the league’s conduct policy. That was when Big Ben was accused of rape in Georgia but the charges went away because of some suspicious evidence handling. Now player who have been caught smoking marijuana have served equal or greater suspensions. While Rice was getting 2 games for swinging on his wife, the Eagles Lane Johnson was suspended or 4 games a day before for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
So is Roger telling us that smoking some weed or getting a DUI is doing greater damage to the league than spousal abuse? Maybe even that consider that last week Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer hit with a 3 game ban for making homophobic remarks. I am not saying that these offenses should not be punished but there are definitely not equal to violating the safety of another human being. After doing a little reading it appears that Goodell is following the guidelines that have already been set by our society. In the larger world there are many young men and women serving time for having a little marijuana while domestic abusers are getting slaps on the wrist.
This topic of Rice’s suspension has sparked some debate in the sports talk world. While a lot fans, columnist and radio show host do feel that the punishment was too relaxed there are others who think it might be a bit much. What I have noticed that there is a large number of men and women who have a fractured view of how people should treat each other. We are raising a society of people who do not value one another and especially is cruel to women. ESPN host Stephen A. Smith is making headlines because he did a little victim blaming in this incident. To infer that a woman provoked a man to hit her is not an uncommon opinion. Smith’s ill-advised words sting a little more coming from a national platform but this is not a view that is alone on.
There are a lot of men going out of their way to defend the actions of a woman beater. It almost makes you have to look at those men and wonder about them. One of the keys is that their brethren who do not share those views have to be more vocal in denouncing that ideology that woman somehow brings these situations on themselves. These same men must also correct women when they hear them speaking that same ignorance. It is a sign that we are passing a dangerous sense of behavior down to the next generation. That flawed way of thinking will create silent victims who will not feel that they have a safe place to speak against their attackers. They will grow up feeling that they did something wrong.
The reality is that no one should ever feel the right to put their hands on you. Right now unfortunately we are dealing with a state of entitlement where somebody feels like they have the right abuse someone else’s body. We have to do better and think about how we want our daughters, sisters and mothers treated. The conversation around this lately is showing that as a society that we are not taking these things seriously.
Keith B. Holt
Follow on Twitter @Kholtjr