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Ray Rice, the NFL and Domestic Violence (Update)

Ray Rice - A Powerful man

Ray Rice – A Powerful man

First, let’s start with the obvious. Our society has changed. Domestic abuse used to be something that we would “keep in the home.” If you went to tell the police, they weren’t interested. If you told your pastor, he would tell you to pray more and love your husband more. Now, that’s all changed. Domestic abuse/domestic violence needs to stop and it needs to stop now.

If you are a football fan, you know Ray Rice. You have seen him on the field. He is short, stocky and powerful. You’ve seen him run over 250-pound linebackers. You’ve seen him stiff arm a 200-pound cornerback into the ground. He is listed at 5’8″ tall and he weighs 208 pounds. He is all muscle. This is the man who we see in this new video pounding his fiancée into unconsciousness. There is no excuse. There’s no apology that is adequate. And, in my mind, there is no punishment that will make up for beating another human being senseless.

Let’s be honest. The NFL does not really care about Ray Rice or even his fiancée. I wish they did, but they do not. The NFL is a multibillion-dollar business. They care about their public relations and their image. It’s okay to sell a violent product to the public. We expect football to be violent on the field. It’s not okay for that violence to creep into the public eye off the field. That hurts revenue. The NFL understood almost immediately when they suspended Ray Rice for two games, for beating the crap out of his fiancée, that the punishment was inadequate. They instigated a huge PR campaign to smooth things over with the public. There are thousands of women who follow the NFL. They don’t want to lose that audience. A new policy was announced which “reflected the values of the NFL.” This new policy was a zero tolerance policy. For the first offense the NFL player would be suspended for six games. For the second offense the NFL player would be banished from the NFL. Finally, a real policy.

It would be nice if this was the end of the story. Unfortunately it is not. A video surfaced today which revealed Ray Rice beating the snot out of his then fiancée, now wife. The previous video, which almost everyone has seen by now, surfaced months ago showing Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée by her hair as if we were watching an R-rated episode of the Flintstones. The anger, the brutality of this new video is shocking. This is a side of human beings we don’t see much in our “civilized” society. It is ugly. Once this new video surfaced, the NFL moved quickly to indefinitely suspend Ray Rice. But, here’s the question. Did the NFL know of this “secret” video? Currently the NFL is standing by their story that they knew nothing of this new, raw, brutal video. Here’s another question. What’s the difference? We knew that Ray Rice had beaten his fiancée into unconsciousness. We saw him drag her by her hair. Does he really deserve a harsher penalty because now we can actually see him knock her out? In my mind, he deserves a harsher penalty because of his actions. In a civilized society, we truly cannot tolerate domestic violence. It must be eliminated. Even if you’re an NFL football star.

Now, I don’t want anyone to think that I’m picking on Ray Rice. I’m not. He isn’t the only NFL player in trouble for domestic violence. Ray McDonald just got arrested a couple of days ago for the same thing. (No video has surfaced yet.) I have been following the NFL since the late 1960s. There has always been an undercurrent of domestic violence. I guess one of the big questions is whether you play a game as violent as football and be peaceful at home. (more…)

By |2014-09-09T21:42:59-04:00September 8th, 2014|NFL|5 Comments

Sandra Fluke at the DNC

Sandra Fluke was pulled into the national spotlight by right wing reactionaries when she was called a slut. Her strong stance has earned her praise and a spot at the DNC.

During this campaign, we’ve heard about the two profoundly different futures that could await women—and how one of those futures looks like an offensive, obsolete relic of our past. Warnings of that future are not distractions. They’re not imagined. That future could be real.

In that America, your new president could be a man who stands by when a public figure tries to silence a private citizen with hateful slurs. Who won’t stand up to the slurs, or to any of the extreme, bigoted voices in his own party. It would be an America in which you have a new vice president who co-sponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms. An America in which states humiliate women by forcing us to endure invasive ultrasounds we don’t want and our doctors say we don’t need. An America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it; in which politicians redefine rape so survivors are victimized all over again; in which someone decides which domestic violence victims deserve help, and which don’t. We know what this America would look like. In a few short months, it’s the America we could be. But it’s not the America we should be. It’s not who we are.

We’ve also seen another future we could choose. First of all, we’d have the right to choose. It’s an America in which no one can charge us more than men for the exact same health insurance; in which no one can deny us affordable access to the cancer screenings that could save our lives; in which we decide when to start our families. An America in which our president, when he hears a young woman has been verbally attacked, thinks of his daughters—not his delegates or donors—and stands with all women. And strangers come together, reach out and lift her up. And then, instead of trying to silence her, you invite me here—and give me a microphone—to amplify our voice. That’s the difference.

Over the last six months, I’ve seen what these two futures look like. And six months from now, we’ll all be living in one, or the other. But only one. A country where our president either has our back or turns his back; a country that honors our foremothers by moving us forward, or one that forces our generation to re-fight the battles they already won; a country where we mean it when we talk about personal freedom, or one where that freedom doesn’t apply to our bodies and our voices.

We talk often about choice. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to choose.

By |2012-09-07T05:09:50-04:00September 7th, 2012|Civil Rights, Elections, Party Politics|Comments Off on Sandra Fluke at the DNC
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