The media shitstorm that’s developed in the wake of the Ray Rice/domestic abuse/laughable penalty/Stephen A. Smith/”she provoked it” brouhaha has brought out the worst in many of us. If you’ve been blessedly avoiding the news, here’s the summary.
Ray Rice (who plays for the Baltimore Ravens) beat his fiancée (now wife) to the point of unconsciousness. There’s video. The NFL imposed a penalty of two games, so Rice will lose more than $470,000 out of his $4,000,000 salary. This caught the attention of the media because the penalty in the NFL for testing positive for taking a banned substance is four games and for getting caught smoking pot twice is a full year. Regardless of its intentions, the NFL sent the message that it considers beating people to be less offensive than taking banned substances.
For whatever reason, Rice’s fiancée/wife released a statement after the news that he beat her came out. In the statement, she apologized for the role she played in him hitting her. And then Stephen A. Smith took to the airwaves of ESPN and said that while it’s important for us to recognize the role of men in beating women, women should also consider what they
should be doing to avoid getting beaten.
The world of social media went crazy. People on one side said that Smith embarrassed himself and ESPN and should be punished. People on the other side expressed gratitude to Smith for speaking truth to power. Each side escalated the battle, and it wasn’t long before people (probably mostly women) suggested that men who feel the way Smith does should be bound and beaten or even killed or at least not surprised when the next woman he and his sympathizers beat has a gun (I have no proof that Smith and his collaborators have ever laid a hand on anybody).
I fell into that camp. No, I didn’t advocate death for Smith and his ilk (and congratulations to all of them for having the courage to post anonymous opinions in the comments sections of the news articles, which is where you’ll find all of today’s heroes). I thought to myself that maybe vigilante justice wasn’t such a bad thing, especially because I read too many stories of how the system fails women when men victimize them.
My thought was wrong, and I’m grateful to my friend Doc for pulling me up short and reminding me of the fatal flaw underlying this line of thinking. (This is why I think it’s so important to listen to people who have opinions different from ours.) When we take the position that Smith and his troglodyte allies should be maimed or harmed because of their opinions, aren’t we saying that they deserve to be abused because of something they’ve done? And isn’t that identical to the opinion that brought us to this point in the first place?
Here’s another question. Why are any of us hitting each other? We are ADULTS. We should be using OUR WORDS.
Somewhere along the line, we learned that we should fight fire with fire, and because of this, the entire world is burning down. We have to figure out how to fight fire with fire extinguishers, or there will be nothing left except skeletons mineralizing into fossils, and the scientists of the future will wonder what asteroid hit the planet and killed us.
We need more fire extinguishers. People like Smith aren’t going away. I don’t have faith in whatever reeducation ESPN has in store for him (if any at all). He and his troglodyte friends will go underground with their opinions until it’s time to save one of their bros from the crazy girlfriend who asked to get beaten because she made him mad. We need more fire extinguishers, and I can’t think of a single, effective one. Which makes me just as responsible for the fire as the men who disgust me.
I wanted to say thank you taking the time to listen to the things I have to say. I rewrote the post you referred to several times, honestly I often fret greatly over the best way to capture the thoughts bouncing around inside my skull and frame them in a coherent way. Expecting someone to listen to me ramble and try to interpret it seems like a lot to ask. So thank you and I am honored that you feel I helped you see something from a different perspective.
I know you get discouraged, but I admire how hard you fight for what you believe to be right and true. Thank you for making sure I see the whole picture, especially when I’m blinded by righteous indignation.