Ray Rice 2012
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Let me start by saying that what Ray Rice did was reprehensible and should be correctly denounced by society at large. That said however, can we ease off the "I know better than you" reactions in this country? Can we at least have an honest conversation about this incident without the constant Monday morning quarterbacking from every pundit with a microphone. Can we do without the tearful commentary from people who don't know what to tell their kids? I say this only because all of it is misguided. There are only two points of frustration (outside of the incident itself obviously) that should be focused on. You can be upset that the legal penalty for Rice was basically counseling and a year of good behavior. You can be upset that the punishment for Rice from the NFL was only two games. That is it. Everything else is misguided at best and self serving at worst.
Let us not lose sight of the facts. Ray Rice was prosecuted by the law in this country. The law allowed for a first time offender, and let us not lose sight that is what Rice was, to have his record expunged if he enters counseling and is clean for a year. You can disagree with this being allowable. In fact, one New Jersey State Senator is seeking to investigate if that law needs to be modified. But disagreeing does not change the facts. By the law, Ray Rice was prosecuted.
Fact number two is the initial suspension from the NFL was an embarrassment. The NFL had a chance to stand up for women and say "not in our league." As a first time offender, the new automatic six game suspension should have been the starting point. Perhaps a full year suspension. Send the message that this behavior simply will not be tolerated. Instead, they handed down a sentence two games lighter than if Rice had smoked a joint. The tone deafness was staggering in its incompetence. You would think a ten billion dollar industry would have hired some PR folks to advise them before making such a stupid ruling. That aside, they ruled. I have no problem with either argument that the legal remedy or the NFL remedy were severely lacking. The problem I have is the constant barrage against Rice, who had paid the allowable price under the law and the ruling of his employer. More disgusting however is the barrage against his wife Janay.
That is because fact number three is that Janay Rice was not married to Ray at the time he knocked her out yet she still decided to marry him anyway. To hear the pundits talk about Janay, they seem to think they know better than her. They seem to think she is just a poor old battered woman who doesn't know any better. They do not know these things of course. They do not know or seemingly care that Janay has known Ray since they were teenagers. That they have been together for over 10 years. They do not seem to care that she still decided to marry Ray one day after he was indicted for the assault. Now, maybe Ray Rice has a history of domestic violence. Maybe Janay is every bit the helpless victim the media portrays her to be. I honestly do not know. Here is the difference. I am not arrogant enough to go on national television and pretend I do know. All of the advocates and experts waxing poetically about how poor Janay needs their help. Exactly how does it help Janay Rice to ensure her husband cannot work his trade anymore and must forfeit the 35 million dollar contract he had? How is that in her best interest? It isn't and it reduces this dialogue down to a political conversation. In this scenario, Janay is abused again; this time by the people claiming to want to help her.
It was announced today that Ray Rice is going to appeal his indefinite suspension. Not only should he do that by the should sue the NFL and the Ravens for breach of contract. Not that his behavior is in anyway justifiable. That is not the point. The point is that the NFL and the Ravens got caught with their britches down after the weak two game suspension and were hoping for a way to right that mistake. Then the second elevator video surfaced. It provided nothing new or exculpatory to this case. It confirmed what everyone has known, what Rice admitted to and was prosecuted for. It showed that he punched his then fiancee and knocked her out. Did they think it was a love tap? The first video showed she was clearly unconscious. No. it is quite obvious that the NFL and the Ravens used the second video as an excuse to do what they failed to do the first time around. They may also be lying about having never seen it. Someone certainly appears to be lying.
I understand the outrage. The video displays something we all never want to see. But let us take a step back. We were not in that elevator. We are not in the details of the lives we seem to have no problem weighing in on. Janay Rice is not a poster child for domestic violence. She has never indicated there has been any incident beyond that fateful night in Atlantic City. If we want to be rightfully upset at the prosecutors or the law, fine. We have remedies for those problems in society. If we want to be rightfully upset with the NFL for a ridiculous ruling and then trying to cover up their mistakes, fine. We have remedies for that as well. But can we leave the punditry about matters we are woefully ignorant of alone for now? Everyone has gotten their pound of flesh from Janay Rice. Can we let her go back now and sort out what we have left of her marriage?