My interest in professional football is now limited to occasionally watching a game on Sunday, less so since the stories about concussions came forward in the last few years. Until the story broke last winter about Baltimore Raven Ray Rice being suspended for assaulting his fiance, I’d never heard of him.
The story originated with a grainy video showing Mr. Rice dragging the body of his unconscious fiance, Janay Palmer, out of an elevator after he allegedly struck her and knocked her out. He was suspended for two games and given a stern talking-to by the NFL.
Now we’re all hearing more about the story. Yesterday a video came out that showed the actual act. It’s brutal, and while I’m not a lawyer or a police officer, they’d probably call it assault and battery, which is a felony.
But what’s more disturbing is the reaction by all quarters on this: the NFL, the sports community, and the fans have all been outraged, which of course they should be, but it seems like the only reason they are is because we now have the video that shows the actual act instead of the original video that showed the aftermath. So the two-game suspension was based on the theory that it’s not nice to drag an unconscious person face-down out of an elevator, but how she got in that condition… well, that’s not relevant.
It’s also disturbing that the whole discussion seems to be about Mr. Rice and his actions, but Ms. Palmer, now his wife, is being ignored and in some quarters being vilified as the cause of all of this. I don’t even want to get into that dark corner, but yes, there are those who are saying that she bears some responsibility for his actions.
And finally the whole idea of domestic violence somehow being a private matter between the parties and it’s none of our business; let them work it out. No, hell no. There are too many people who are damaged and destroyed by domestic violence to let it be something behind closed doors. It goes far beyond a “women issue” and “men’s rights.” It is a scourge and symptom of indifference in a society that should be looking out for the abused and the deprived.
The only good thing that comes out of this is that it’s out in the open. The sad news is that like school shootings and police brutality, it will soon be wiped off the front pages by some other distraction until it happens yet again. The cycle will repeat, the victims will still be suffering, and we’re basically back to where we started.