Congratulations to the National Football League, which recently suspended one of its star players a mere two games for knocking his girlfriend unconscious and dragging her from a casino elevator by the hair.
It’s official: The world is cracked.
Two games? The Minnesota Vikings suspended an assistant coach three games because he made hateful remarks about gays. The NBA slapped a team owner with a lifetime ban from the league and a $2.5 million fine because he expressed racist opinions in a private phone call with his girlfriend. The NFL suspended a player eight games for bullying another player with words, not fists.
There you have it: The three hip causes of the day — homophobia, racism, bullying — but not violence against women.
Smoking marijuana gets a four-game suspension in the NFL. Players can get a two-game suspension for making one too many head-to-head hits during a football game — the same penalty for attacking a woman in a casino. At least the players are wearing helmets.
Professional sports is very much a reflection of the culture, and in our culture words and opinions that aren't sanctioned by political correctness are worse than knocking out a woman. As Foxsports.com summed it up in a headline, “When violence is more acceptable than slurs, we have a problem.” And when violence against women is more acceptable than a football player picking on a teammate who is roughly the same size, we have an even bigger problem.
We might disagree on a lot of things, but violence against women isn’t one of them. That’s cut and dried. You don’t go there. There is no gray area. Which is why I wrote a column two months ago wondering why there was relatively little outrage over the Rice incident, the kind of outrage that occurred when TV host Paul Deen lost TV programs and lucrative endorsement deals and found herself at the center of national debate because, in a moment of candor, she admitted to using the N-word in the '50s when many people did so. Similarly, radio talk-show host Laura Schlessinger stirred up a PC firefight for saying the N-word while discussing the hypocrisy of that term’s use by blacks. Don Imus was fired after making racist comments on the radio.
The outrage and repercussions were swift in all the aforementioned cases. Not so in the Ray Rice business. Sure, he beat up a woman, but at least he didn’t call her a racial or homophobic slur! It took five months for the NFL to act. It wasn’t as if there was no clear evidence — it was caught on video. You can watch Rice on the Internet drag this woman by the hair. All he needs is a club to complete the picture of a Neanderthal man returning to the cave with his woman.
This time President Obama didn’t weigh in, as he did in the Sterling case. There was no talk-show hysteria, no Oprah, no magazine cover stories. There was little reaction from the NFL office, no public condemnation, just silence from a league that has a history of domestic violence among its players. There was more public outrage when former NFL coach Tony Dungy said he wouldn’t have drafted gay football player Michael Sam because he was a distraction, a point that was proven by the distraction and reaction his comments caused, led by ESPN’s arrogant, condescending Keith Olbermann, who called Dungy the "world’s worst person” in sports.
Where was the outrage when Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh was asked a few months ago whether Rice would remain with the team and he said, “I haven’t seen anything that would remotely make me think that he would not be on the Ravens’ roster moving forward.” He said the couple had “issues” to work through. Then there was his reaction to the suspension last week: “It’s not a big deal, it’s just part of the process,” Harbaugh told ESPN. “ I stand behind Ray. He’s a heck of a guy. He makes a mistake, all right? He’s going to have to pay a consequence. I think that’s good for kids to understand it works that way.”
Good for kids? What part of this is good for kids? The part that says if you assault a woman all you have to do is miss a couple of ballgames and everything is fine? The part that says the girl will still marry you and beg the commissioner not to punish her man (which is what happened)? That you’re still a heck of a guy if you hit a woman? The message for kids is to understand men don’t hit women, EVER. There are no exceptions. That’s how it really works.
Domestic violence resources are available statewide, 24/7 at 1-800-897-LINK (5465). In an emergency, please call 911.
Doug Robinson's columns run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Email: [email protected]