DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS AT THE HEART OF THE RAY RICE ISSUE

Janay Rice’s attempt to put her husband’s assault behind her is understandable  in terms of wanting to keep their private lives private, but it only conceals how serious this type of abuse is where more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends, EVERYDAY.

photo is from Patrick Semansky/AP/file

photo is from Patrick Semansky/AP/file

Ray and Janay Rice in court last May dealing with his assault on his wife in February this year

The public outcry that has surfaced following the release of the video of former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice’s assault on his wife has had two essential reactions. 1) Rice losing his million dollar job with the Ravens and more importantly 2), the pubic debate about spousal abuse becomes energized again, as it should.

The act itself was brutal as the video of the assault attested to.  But some people question whether Rice should have lost his livelihood and source of income for this domestic violence which appears somewhat to be provoked by a lack of anger management on Janay’s part.  If prosecuted in a court of law the answer would of course be yes if found guilty because the abuser would likely spend time in jail and he now becomes a person with a criminal record.  Few employers would be able to justify to themselves and others the value of keeping someone like this on their payroll.

But Rice wasn’t prosecuted because his wife not only didn’t press charges against the man who knocked her unconscious during an altercation between them last February but stood by her man in the face of public outrage and married him the day after he was indicted.  They have a small child between them so most people would reasonably argue that depriving the husband of his source of income could have a lasting negative impact, not only for their child, but for the wife too since many marital arguments revolve around economic issues.

But a million dollar contract with a pro sports team is not like any other job.  People like Ray Rice get paid handsomely as public figures who, for right or wrong, become role models for younger people.  The expectations for being a professional athlete come with the assumption that their character in part be of the nature that inspires impressionable kids to achieve something worthy in themselves.  It is after all allegedly America’s game.  Such things then as using drugs or punching out weaker people are therefore not in line with this expectation.

Someone who works an assembly line or sales insurance doesn’t get this exposure.  When domestic violence occurs with these people perhaps only their immediate families and a few co-workers may become aware of it.  Not that their own children won’t suffer later in life from such poor role modeling but this pales in comparison to the millions of young children who want to emulate their perceived heroes in sports.  For Ray Rice to continue his role as a public figure that will be watched with great interests by enthusiastic children risks perpetuating the domestic violence so many suffer from in this country.

Rice’s job loss with the Ravens and his indefinite suspension with the NFL may be a career ending consequence of his actions but it is not a life ending one.  How he deals with this and moves forward will determine if the character we expect, not only from sports figures with lucrative incomes but with all men, will be a testament to whether or not this one act caught on tape was an anomaly or something inherent in his behavior that will only get worse over time.  Once this has been established then and only then should he be considered worthy of rehire or be forever banned from the one thing he worked all his young life to achieve.

What is at the heart of this issue however is not whether it is fair or unfair that the NFL cut ties with this one man for this one known act but that it reflects a serious illness in our society – domestic violence.

Men who beat their wives – and their children – are prevalent in this country as they are in others, especially where there is a strong patriarchal tradition that covertly at least accepts the right of the father figurehead to physically discipline his wife and children.  It’s an intolerable act that goes on far too long before the wife leaves and takes the children with her or someone gets killed before the courts and society intervene.

Janay Rice’s decision to stay with her husband is typical of women early in their relationship with abusive men.  The feeling that they can change them and that the love they once shared before the violence occurred will prevent a re-occurrence is a codependent response that refuses to accept that their man has a serious problem dealing with conflict.  But abusive men are not born that way.  They are conditioned from an early childhood who likely experienced abuse personally or where such behavior was a deep part of their culture that signaled its acceptance.

To believe as many do, especially men, that this was or will be a one time incident since both have reconciled publicly, is naive at best.  In all likelihood, if Rice continues in pro sports, the fame and pressure to sustain his performance in a violent sport will add to the possibility that at some future date, when Janay feels rejected or Ray becomes full of himself or even depressed, sparks will fly and Ray Rice’s inability to contain his physical responses will waylay Janay, and likely from more than one blow next time.

According to statistics domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women that occurs every 9 seconds in the U.S.   Roughly 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually and $4.1 million is spent each year for direct medical and health care services by victims of partner violence.

It may or may not be justifiable that Ray Rice lost his job from the Baltimore Ravens for this violent incident and time may prove that he is capable of rising above it by demonstrating  he no longer reacts in such a violent manner.  I have my doubts however.   But it is clearly never justifiable that any woman should be cold-cocked the way his girlfriend-turned-wife was in that elevator.  NEVER.

Men who can’t accept that may themselves be in need of rehab for abusive behavior or at a minimum, admit themselves into anger management classes.

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12 responses to “DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS AT THE HEART OF THE RAY RICE ISSUE

  1. Something is wrong here:

    Rice slugs his girlfriend…. loses his job. Good.

    Vick tortures dogs, drowning them, shooting them, electrocuting them, hanging them from trees…. and get’s paid millions to continue playing.

    • Excellent point. What’s the expression about how you can judge a society by how it treats its animals.

      For the record though, I see Rice playing football again but perhaps not until next season. Football fans have short memories especially when it is someone who they think can help their team W-I-N.

  2. You get it perfectly…It’s because he is a public person representing his employer that makes it different from the average guy and his job. I’m more troubled at this point that the Vikings have reinstated a man who has been indicted for child injury and continues to believe and claim that he did nothing wrong. This culture of beating on kids (believe me I know people who believe it’s okay) is what needs to change as well. No study supports any kind of physical discipline as effective–just the opposite. This child needs protection and nobody seems to get that as so many other African American men and women come to his defense. Just because it’s a “cultural” behavior doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to stop. And I agree. Vick shouldn’t be playing nor should that jerk from the Steelers Rothlesburger or whatever…

  3. “People like Ray Rice get paid handsomely as public figures who, for right or wrong, become role models for younger people.” -Woodgate

    For wrong!!!

    When are we going to stop this idiotic bullshit? Athletes are among the WORST POSSIBLE role models. They’re right up there with Charles Manson and CEOs of major corporations.

    First, as a group, they aren’t very bright. Most aren’t that bright to start. But to be fair, after all those hits to the head, neither their IQ nor their behaviour ain’t gonna improve! For example, despite pulling in several million a year, an overwhelming majority are bankrupt within 2 years of retiring. http://www.si.com/vault/2009/03/23/105789480/how-and-why-athletes-go-broke

    All go to college, but the few that do graduate have degrees that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Some can’t even read their diplomas. Yet because they can throw a ball, or run with it fairly quickly, they are showered with money and privileges, sometimes starting as early as elementary school. No, that won’t affect your character!

    Fights? Stealing? Rape? Abuse? Drugs? “Sure, but can you rush for 1,000 yards?” As long as they can play, they glide through life as “heroes” no matter how despicable a human being they are. And even while protected by their stardom, so many of them have continuing run-ins with the law. Even when caught, they’re instantly forgiven. (Cough: Mike Vick!!!)

    They also are specifically encouraged by everyone along the way to be as “aggressive” (aka violent) as they can be. It’s the solution to everything. Imagine the surprise when they commit violent crimes.

    Win at all costs. Hurt people. Break the law. Don’t worry about your education and still get rich. Do whatever you feel like and all will be forgiven. Excellent message for the kiddies all around! Any parent who allows their kid to worship athletes, especially members of the National Felons League, are bad parents and certainly NOT the role models for their kids that they SHOULD be.

  4. This story bugs me on many fronts. Here are the first few to come to mind.

    1) Since there’s video, the most immediate thing is the role of surveillance. We now live in 1984. EVERYTHING you do, say, write and think is recorded by somebody and saved for forever to be used against you in a court of law, a court of public opinion, or a kangaroo court of amusement. The range of potential use of this data includes: manipulative marketing, info selling, revenge, blackmail…even an all expense paid vacation to Gitmo. Rarely are we aware we’re being monitored and NEVER do we have any control over it. All power is in the hands of the unseen forces watching you.

    Ray Rice is a stupid sack of shit, but even the few decent human beings left on this planet can’t withstand this level of constant scrutiny. Just because Rice “gave up his right to privacy” because…uh…because a bunch of Sunday afternoon drunks know who he is and want to pry into his personal life doesn’t change the fact this is a Springfield style lynch mob. Rice may deserve this, but it’s no way to run a civilized society.

    The only thing between any of us and the digital era lynch mob is the anonymity of the herd. But that’s a false sense of security. These days, no-talent nobodies rise to global fame in mere minutes. All it takes is a whiff of something interesting, or some vulnerability, for you to become the target. (See: The Twilight Zone’s: The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street.) Thanks to the Interwebs, Maple Street now has 7 billion residents.

    2) Did we really “need” EITHER video? This incident happened in a very public place with who knows how many witnesses. At least one hotel employee was right there when the doors opened. They were alone in the elevator. What else could have happened? Did he have bad breath that caused her to pass out with fist sized bruises on her face? There’s NO mystery here, Scooby-Doo!

    That’s why the cops charged him (& her for bruising his hand), why a Grand Jury indicted him and why he copped a plea. This happens hundreds, if not thousands, of times a day. All of this was public information 6 months before anybody gave a shit. But somebody leaks (Sells, surely?) a video of a key Ravens player right at the start of the NFL season and suddenly everyone gives a fuck? Curious timing.

    3) Which leads to the so-called punishment. Something worth remembering is that the NFL did NOTHING after the plea deal. It was just another one of their growth hormone enhanced pieces of meat committing a crime. There are so many NFL-ers getting arrested these days, it’s hard to keep track, unless you visit this website. http://www.utsandiego.com/nfl/arrests-database/

    Everybody knows about the actually-worse-than-doing-nothing punishment the NFL handed out after the 1st video aired. Followed by the “Oh, we might have to do something now because there’s a more graphic video.” This is one of the major problems with today’s NFL. Nobody can make a damn decision anymore without 2nd, 3rd and 57th guessing it! Everything is decided by endlessly agonizing over every frame of endless instant replays! An assault conviction is an assault conviction. The legal system’s refs even break the severity of assaults down into degrees for you. The reality is that the NFL needed less than 10 seconds worth of thought here. If they had an actual policy, it would be: 3rd degree assault = X punishment. As the above link shows, there is more than enough NFL players engaging in criminal conduct to merit pre-set policies on dozens of crimes. So why don’t they? Because they don’t want to do anything that would keep their pieces of meat off the field.

    4) “But some people question whether Rice should have lost his livelihood and source of income for this domestic violence which appears somewhat to be provoked by a lack of anger management on Janay’s part. If prosecuted in a court of law the answer would of course be yes if found guilty” -Woodgate
    What everyone misses is the outcome of the justice system, the part that actually matters. It was court mandate counselling, a complete fucking farce! Even the NFL’s original 2 game suspension was FAR more consequential. That’s the real outrage here. Even with all the “almighty video evidence” at their disposal, Rice suffered NO legal consequence for this beating. That’s more concerning than what the NFL does or doesn’t do.

    So, why is his employer being held responsible for punishing him? Why are they even able to punish him? I am one of those people you mention who question this. It’s not because I have ANY sympathy for this lowlife, or any other lowlife who assaults people. It’s because employers should not have the right to interfere with the personal lives of employees.

    Dictating what employees can & can’t do on their own time is a horrible trend that’s gaining steam. It started with employees in “safety related” fields pissing in cups. Now it’s becoming commonplace for people to be hired/fired/punished for things they write on the Intertubes. I know a guy who was followed around for weeks by the management of his workplace, just so they could find out what he was doing when he passed on call-ins for unscheduled shifts. This is how emboldened employers have become. Personal conduct codes, secrecy clauses, personality tests, loyalty oaths are the stepping stones to bonded servitude, if not slavery.

    Just because people care about what Rice does because he gets paid millions to run around with a ball doesn’t mean his employer should get to punish him for something he did on his own time. It’s also unnerving that a public lynch mob should drive this. When Rice is drummed out of the NFL, will he get this same treatment when he applies for the only other job he’s qualified for, flipping burgers?

    I’d rather Rice just be released by the Ravens for “demonstrating a lack of discipline key to performing well in games.” But then the NFL would have to ask itself what it values, discipline & intelligence or “aggression” (aka violence). That would make this discussion even more uncomfortable for the NFL.

    • Oh, and I forgot…

      5) Janay’s actions. Here’s a guy who knocked you out cold in a public place. So public, footage of your limp body is basically on a media tape loop right now. And in it, Ray doesn’t seem too regretful about knocking you out cold. So, you don’t just stay with him, you run right out and marry him??? And then you go on to look like an imbecile by publicly defending him???

      It all seems a cold, calculating, move to me. She obviously married the guy so she couldn’t be forced to testify against him in a court case. Her lack of testimony was meant to keep him on the field in 2014 and allow him to earn his $6.5 million salary with a possible $1 3/4 million in bonuses, if I’m not mistaken. So, the difference between dumping him now and divorcing him a year or two from now is about $4 million bucks a year.

      Suddenly, the quickie marriage and her public defence of him makes sense; twisted, sick and greedy sense. By getting beaten in public, she gained leverage and used it to earn millions. Unfortunately for her, public opinion scuttled her payday. Rice’s lucrative contract has been cancelled by the Ravens. I guess they found another guy who could run around with a ball. Imagine that!

      • “Suddenly, the quickie marriage and her public defence of him makes sense; twisted, sick and greedy sense.”

        Not sure she’s a gold digger Sedate. Again, she’s displaying behavior typical of woman who get abused by their husbands but still can’t rationalize that leaving them is the correct action, even those who don’t stand to gain financially from staying and taking the abuse

      • Yeah, I could be wrong about that part, but I somehow doubt it. Either way, there’s certainly no shortage of women like that these days. Money & status is like catnip to them and landing an aspiring athlete is more realistic for common folk than landing your average shielded-from-birth 1%-er.

        But I just had to turn and look away from this carwreck to give her a fair shake.

  5. Good points Sedate and about all I can respond with concerning surveillance in today’s world is – Welcome to Orwell’s world.

    But though there are disadvantages to this invasion of our privacy it does have its merits and somehow we are going to have to learn to live with it. It raises the axiom about character – true character is something you display when people aren’t looking.

    Will this make people think twice before being an asshole? For some it may while many others won’t give a rat’s ass at the time of their madness. Most harsh behavior are impulses that get released after being pent up over time. Perhaps this is something the court of public opinion needs to weigh before they persecute the Ray Rice’s of this world.

    That being said however, it is hard to ignore the fact that partner abuse is a serious problem in this country and it always starts with one small act that many, including the victim, are willing to overlook without considering that this could become something bigger and more harmful, even deadly over time

    Regarding my comments about someone losing their job over this – I agree that our employers are not the ones who should punish us for our private acts. But once they become public and the courts pass their judgments then some employers may feel obligated to cut that individual loose simply because share holders and even some people who work with them may demand it.

    You’re input is well thought out and I appreciate it even if we may not always agree completely. That’s the way it should be in a civil democracy.

  6. “You(r) input is well thought out and I appreciate it even if we may not always agree completely. -Woodgate

    Relax, Woodgate. You’ve got to be wrong once in a while, if only to prove you’re human. Mildly disagreeing with me once or twice a year is probably the best way to achieve that. (Heh-heh.)

    I’m more split on this Rice thing than I appear. I just don’t want my desire to punish one rich imbecile to make things even worse than they are for everyone else stuck here in 19842014. Unlike Rice, most of us can’t afford to be drawn & quartered for our human weaknesses.

    “True character is something you display when people aren’t looking. Will this (the death of privacy) make people think twice before being an asshole?” -Woodgate

    Absolutely to the former and, to the latter, absolutely not! Few too many people think once, never mind twice, before doing anything.

    Virtually every crime committed in a public place is committed by a person who’s high, chemically dependent, mentally ill, or just plain stupid to care, video or not. (Shit, kids these days are so eager to be seen as “gangsta thugs”, they post videos of themselves committing crimes on the Intertubes using their real names!) Such folks are temporarily, or permanently, unable to think clearly about the consequences of their actions. That’s why they commit crimes in the first place and why prisons are overflowing with them. Sure, no right thinking person would commit a crime on video. Then again, no right thinking person commits crime in the first place. (Well, apart from the Wall Street crowd. But nobody would ever point a camera at them, seeing as they never get punished for anything, even when caught red handed.)

    As for assholes…People are stupid and self centred, perhaps more now than ever. Everyone is the Good Guy in their own narrative. Their egos allow them to justify anything they do, no matter how many mental back-flips required. How many times have I seen some idiot on national TV justify criminal or assholian behaviour by blaming the other person? “Yeah, I fucked her mother, twin sister, brother & best friend, torched her car and got her fired from her job. But she dissed my new outfit on Loserbook in front of the whole world!”

    Or how about this one, “When the President does something, it’s not a crime.” Remember, Woodgate. Even now, there are tens of millions of Republicans, teabaggers, climate deniers, etc, out there who carry on in utter denial of well established facts and expert opinion. Yet, they’re absolutely convinced they’re right. We live in a post-FOX world were facts & truth mean nothing and are easily cast aside to fit our purposes.

    Public opinion is like an alcoholic Irishman on St Patty’s Day. It staggers around aimlessly, is easily mislead, and is always looking for somebody to beat the shit out of for no particular reason. This is why we have laws, courts, human rights, labour boards and all the “needless bureaucracy” that prevents us from getting shitfaced on St Patty’s Day and annihilating some poor sap because it will make us feel good about ourselves. Yeah, the legal system absolutely screwed the pooch with regards to Ray Rice. That’s the real problem here. He didn’t need a suspension from the NFL. He should have been rendered unavailable to play by the justice (Ha!) system. That’s what needs fixing.

    No half-assed, slap-dash, “What should we do with this one?” NFL policy will fix anything. The NFL’s problem here is that they knowingly, uncaringly and routinely hire ignorant, violent, simpletons with no self-control. (The NFL criminal database link I posted earlier proves it.) The NFL doesn’t care if you rape puppies, put them in blenders and force feed them to children, as you can gain 50 yards more a season than the other guy. Bad values lead to bad choices. It’s possible this kerfuffle might lead to less horrible NFL policy. But it won’t fix the NFL’s real problem (common among corporations); the fact they don’t give a shit about anything other than their profits, even their own customers & employees.

    While bad behaviours need appropriate punishments, the lack of intelligence, clear headed thinking, self-control and respect for others is common problem throughout society. We need to stop trying to catch genies and put them back in bottles and start producing fewer genies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-BZNSAyNk8

    • “Public opinion is like an alcoholic Irishman on St Patty’s Day. It staggers around aimlessly, is easily mislead, and is always looking for somebody to beat the shit out of for no particular reason.”

      Ha,ha. That’s a pretty apt description

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