I’ve tried to remain silent about this Ray Rice incident and how the NFL and law enforcement have chosen to handle it, until I finally let loose on my poor sister exclaiming that I was totally pissed off at the media and how they were crucifying this man and his wife in the court of public opinion. Before, I go on I must first yell that, I IN NO WAY CONDONE HOW RAY RICE TREATED HIS WIFE; and I have much empathy for victims of domestic abuse, as a child I witnessed domestic violence first hand, and can relate to the pain and dysfunction this causes. Rice was wrong for putting his hands on his wife and should be disciplined for it; initially, he was, the league suspended him for two games – law enforcement chose not to act.
My primary issue is that this incident based on the video evidence is a matter of law, an assault – why was he not charged with a crime? Did law enforcement even investigate the matter? Were they aware of or did they view the video footage of the incident inside of the elevator or did they make a decision based on what happened as the couple exited the elevator? The questions are endless, but one thing seems apparent is that law enforcement dropped the ball big time on this one or they in fact did an investigation and are not making the report public.
With that, my secondary issue is that the NFL and the team have been forced to handle a personal matter under the scrutiny of a hostile public. The initial punishment was a 2 game suspension – now that more details of the incident have surfaced, the team released him of his duties and the league has suspended him indefinitely. I understand that the team and the NFL both have an image to protect, and that image, quite honestly is the only reason they have acted at all. Domestic violence is nothing new as it relates to not only professional athletes, but society as a whole. How often does someone’s employer care if they are a perpetrator or even a victim of domestic violence? How many times has the NFL or any employer so harshly disciplined a perpetrator of domestic violence? It’s rare, and I can only think of a few times but the punishment and backlash was nothing like what is happening with Rice, because most issues of domestic violence are private and rarely become a public spectacle as has this Rice situation.
Right now, the San Francisco 49ers are dealing with defensive tackle Ray McDonald’s domestic violence incident waiting to see how law enforcement is going to handle his matter. Being that law enforcement has an active investigation happening, I applaud the team for not giving in to public opinion that has been exacerbated by the mishandling of Rice’s situation by making a rushed disciplinary decision concerning McDonald. http://www.mercurynews.com/49ers/ci_26497579/49ers-jed-york-ray-mcdonald-is-not-ray
Another high profile domestic violence case in San Francisco involved Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi; who was charged with domestic violence battery, child endangerment, and dissuading a witness after a New Year’s Eve altercation with his wife. He pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment; and was suspended from his position pending an ethics investigation. After months of in-fighting, Mirkarimi was re-instated to his position and has since moved on with his life. http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Ross-Mirkarimi-shunned-by-many-political-insiders-4880455.php
A few other highly public domestic violence matters that come to mind include: former Arizona Diamondbacks player, Bobby Chouinard who was charged with felony aggravated assault after being arrested for pointing a gun to his wife’s head on Christmas night. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/dbacks-chouinard-arrested/ There didn’t appear to be much backlash from the public in Chouinard’s matter, but he was released from the team not long after the incident; former Phoenix Suns guard, Jason Kidd, accused of slapping his then wife in the mouth during a dispute was arrested and pleaded guilty to domestic abuse. Kidd attended anger management and counseling but was still traded shortly after the incident. Jerry Colangelo, CEO/Managing Partner of the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks during the time of these incidents had a zero tolerance policy when it came to players exhibiting bad behavior. This in no way is an exhaustive list – and not meant to be – of domestic violence issues concerning professional athletes, merely a few of the ones that I recall being public hot buttons.
My third issue is the court of public opinion where there are people – mainly women saying that his wife is stupid for staying with him and still marrying him after how he treated her and are happy that the Ravens released him and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. This really angered me because my thought is this – why are these women judging his wife so harshly when they do not fully know the details of this relationship or why she chose to stay with this man; all they know is what the media is telling us and what they saw months ago in video footage of what happened as they exited the elevator and more recently, what actually transpired while they were in the elevator – with no audio, and one vantage point. We can all point the finger and play the blame game from now until dooms day, but the real issue here is domestic abuse and how it is viewed and handled in society. There are many women (and men) who have fallen victim to domestic violence – they suffer in silence because quite often no one knows, not even those closest to them. The issue of domestic violence is a complicated one, because no one really knows why an abuse victim will often choose to stay with the perpetrator. Could this be why these women are so happy about the back lash and punishment of Ray Rice because in their psychological reasoning, the punishment coming down on Rice is in fact the punishment that should befall all domestic violence perpetrators; and more importantly their own abuser?! Is this secretly why so many women are ecstatic about how the team and NFL have handled him? Do they somehow see themselves in this unfortunate story? Or maybe they’re comparing notes and their story ended differently and they were left feeling slighted?
Regardless, I DO NOT agree that he should have lost his job and surely not be suspended indefinitely from the NFL because there have been many professional athletes (and others) before, there currently are, and perhaps will continue to be those who feel they can resolve their issue with physical violence. This precedent sends the message that key decision makers will cave under pressure and make brash decisions to calm the public. This might temporarily make people happy, but does it get to the root of the problem – men and women who have an issue resolving conflict without resorting to physical violence. Instead, the league should have mandated counseling and anger management for the couple. Teaching them to maturely resolve their conflict will do more for the cause of domestic violence and their future legacy than the team and league washing their hands of the problem.
I am being vocal and expressing a minority viewpoint about a sensitive issue that I myself can relate to being that I was a child who witnessed domestic violence; and know first-hand the trauma and anxiety it causes in children. Like always, I am marching to my own beat on this issue and am not afraid to stand alone, but I must put my observations – a slightly different perspective out there.