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Wife beating education for sports fan and everyone else

September 9, 2014

Do you know what I am doing this morning? I’m glued to ESPN talk radio, which is 98.7FM in the NYC area, although it is a national station and can be streamed online as well.

Here’s a statement you might be surprised to hear from me. In the past decade, sports talk radio has become the best, rawest, and most honest source of information about how our culture condones and ignores violence against women, not to mention issues of race and homophobia. True fact. You are not going to hear this stuff from politicians or academics.

Right now I’m listening to the Mike & Mike program, which has guest Jemele Hill, who is killing it. I’m a huge fan of hers.

The specific trigger for the conversation today is the fact that NFL football player Ray Rice has been indefinitely suspended from playing now that a video has emerged of him beating his wife in the elevator. Previously we had only gotten to seen the video of her slumped body after he came out of the elevator with her. The police didn’t do much about it, and then the NFL responded with a paltry 2-game suspension, after which there was such a backlash (partly through sports radio!) that the commissioner promised to enact a stronger policy.

Questions being addressed right now as I type:

  1. Why didn’t the police give Rice a bigger penalty for beating his wife unconscious?
  2. Why didn’t the NFL ask for that video before now? Or did they, and now they’re lying?
  3. What does it say about the NFL that they had the wife, Janay Rice, apologize for her role in the incident?
  4. What did people think it would look like when a professional football player knocks out a woman?
  5. Did people really think she did something to deserve it, and now they are shocked to see that she didn’t?
Categories: news
  1. September 9, 2014 at 8:18 am

    I don’t listen to radio. But as far as the knockout punch is concerned, why don’t the cops arrest him now, put him on trial, and give him the jail sentence he deserves? eff the NFL! Where is the justice system?


    • September 9, 2014 at 8:29 am

      It’s a great point. Here’s a quote:

      Rice and Palmer married on March 28, one day after a grand jury indicted Rice on an aggravated assault charge. Rice avoided jail time by entering a pretrial diversionary program.

      Wouldn’t it be great if the NFL could count on the police to actually deal with this?


  2. Aaron
    September 9, 2014 at 9:13 am

    1. They thought it would go away.
    2. They thought it would go away.
    3. They thought it would go away.
    4. They didn’t think.
    5. Yes.


  3. lindapbrown2013
    September 9, 2014 at 9:51 am

    I’m worried about the wife, Janay, right now. Who do you think Rice blames for the fact that he lost his job?


  4. Rehsab Thgir
    September 9, 2014 at 10:43 am

    TIL there is a guy named Ray Rice who beat his wife.

    Having just reached my 18th wedding anniversary, I have to say that it takes very little effort not to abuse one’s spouse physically or emotionally. In fact, it takes so little effort that I’ve been able not to do it my entire marriage.

    Abusers suck ass at energy conservation.


  5. cat
    September 9, 2014 at 11:39 am

    For those who haven’t seen the video I’ll describe what I saw.

    The video shows Janay slapped Rice after some words were said in the lobby, but he didn’t respond with violence at that point. They were alone in the elevator and he invades her space and it appears the argument escalates as she slapped him which is followed by him slapping her.

    He then moves out of her space and she then leaves the corner and he punches her and she falls and hits her head on a railing, its hard to tell which caused her to stay down as both the blow and hitting the railing could have caused her loss of consciousness. Time passes and she revives and slaps him again as they leave the elevator. The last slap is very ineffective as I assume she’s still groggy.

    I don’t think its unreasonable to think he was about to get slapped again as she left the corner. He didn’t use as much force as he could have to defended himself, but he still used to much given he’s trained athlete in a violent sport.

    The video shows Janay is just as comfortable using violence against her partner as Rice is. Since most people believe domestic violence only has one mode seeing one of the different dynamics of domestic abuse means all people are going to see is Pro Athlete punching wife rather then violent and abusive partner escalating argument with their violence and abusive partner.

    So to answer your questions:

    1. After watching the tapes they saw this was one of those grey areas where both partners were actually responsible and it could be argued it wasn’t the punch that knocked her unconscious but her hitting her head and he had to punch her because she was coming at him again and he couldn’t walk away since they were in an elevator. And lawyers, and NFL, and please just make all this go away so we can go back to work.
    2. They are lying.
    3. You don’t think people who slap their partner during a verbal argument have anything to apologize for? There is a spectrum of acceptable responses to verbal abuse, violence isn’t one of them.
    4. No, This is not what I’d expect a video of an NFL player trying to knock someone out looks like. There are no broken bones in her face or his hands.
    5. The narrative was she attacked him and hit her once to defend himself. Without them including the abusive relationship from the start it it now looks like another excuse since he played as much a role in escalating the argument as she did so nobody is going to buy self defense.

    Janay and Rice are terrible people who nobody should be in relationships with, but Rice is more dangerous to their partner due to his physical prowess.


    • September 9, 2014 at 11:46 am

      Wow. Now, I’ve heard it all. Justifying a knockout punch! He got slapped, so he had to knock her out! What a defense! Sorry, I’m not buying. Maybe he ate too many twinkies. Yeh, that’s the ticket. If I’m cynical, it’s because there is NO justification for a football player to punch his fiancee or wife. None, whatsoever!


      • cat
        September 9, 2014 at 1:09 pm

        You’ve not heard it all, because I clearly said “he still used to much [force] given he’s trained athlete in a violent sport.”

        Your are putting words into my mouth. You owe me an apology.


        • September 9, 2014 at 1:28 pm

          Disagree, no apology needed. You are justifying this and nobody’s buying it except you.


        • cat
          September 9, 2014 at 1:46 pm

          I am not, I am pointing out there are two villains here. Both of them need to be charged. The fact Rice hit Janay doesn’t absolve her from hitting him first.
          You both seem to condone Janay slapping Rice in the lobby which makes no sense.
          There is no justification for the use of violence by anyone towards their partners.


        • September 9, 2014 at 1:48 pm

          It’s a difference in scale. If she had slapped him, then he had slapped her, there would have been no police involved and they both would be ashamed and apologetic about their behavior. Instead, he punched her and knocked her out, which is where the felony comes in. She does not need to apologize for “the incident” because “the incident” is the knockout punch.

          On Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 1:46 PM, mathbabe wrote:



        • cat
          September 9, 2014 at 2:48 pm

          “It’s a difference in scale. If she had slapped him, then he had slapped her, there would have been no police involved and they both would be ashamed and apologetic about their behavior.”

          I’m sorry, but I have to disagree. The domestic violence laws are very broad on purpose, to unintended consequences occasionally, so a simple push to clear your partner from your personal space, grabbing them if they try to walk away, or restraining them as they destroy things all things that get you arrested.
          You are not allowed to put hands on your partner against their will, period. This is how it should be and thankfully its enforced most of the time.

          Her first slap in the lobby and his first slap in the elevator were more then enough to get them both locked up. His punch was assault or self defense. Its ludicrous a punch is treated differently because of who you hit.

          to recap:
          Rice should have been banned from the NFL for the just slapping his partner. He should have been tried for assault and let a jury decide if it was self defense or not.
          Janay should have been charged with domestic violence for the slap in the lobby. I’m not sure getting punched is going to deter her from hitting her next partner and its not fair to them that we let her off.


        • September 9, 2014 at 5:28 pm

          I believe you believe what you’re saying but I don’t agree. We see people slap each other all the time and we don’t call the cops.


        • ScentOfViolets
          September 9, 2014 at 9:30 pm

          I think you’re spot on here. Both need to be charged with assault. The defense that the other guy gets a freebie even though they were the first to commit assault because they’re smaller and weaker is very definitely special pleading.


    • Bobito
      September 10, 2014 at 4:05 am

      This is such nonsense. The difference between being slapped by a woman and hit hard by a big man is enormous. They are qualitatively different events.

      There is no symmetry in domestic violence. Speaking roughly, the average adult male human is 50% bigger by weight than the average adult female human. He is also proportionally more muscular and typically more aggressive. The damage he can inflict is substantially greater than the damage the woman can inflict, and their fight is very far from symmetric. All these differences are exaggerated in the case the male is unusually large and a professional athlete.

      If women could defend themselves physically against abusive men there would be no problem of domestic violence. That they cannot is an empirical reality.

      Finally, in practice cops hardly ever treat a slap as an assault, but sometimes they treat a knockdown punch as an assault, particularly if the recipient is clearly at a physical disadvantage relative to the giver.

      Maybe it’s sexist to turn a blind eye to women slapping men, because maybe it’s predicated on seeing women as weaker and less violent, but they are weaker and less violent than men and empirically it almost never occurs that a woman does damage to a man with her fists (maybe she hurts his delicate psyche sometimes), while the contrary is unfortunately not at all true.


      • ScentOfViolets
        September 10, 2014 at 7:04 am

        So the smaller and weaker of the two always gets a pass? No. That’s why it’s important to discipline your little dogs the way you do your big ones.

        And yes, it is sexist. Very sexist. Not about equal treatment at all.


  6. Zathras
    September 9, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    ” In the past decade, sports talk radio has become the best, rawest, and most honest source of information about how our culture condones and ignores violence against women.”

    I think this incident is very illustrative of how violence against women is condoned and ignored, but I take a different lesson here. When only those in power knew the details about the assault it was buried. When the broader culture became aware of the details, there was a huge outcry, with a larger punishment demanded for Rice. The lesson here is not that culture condones and ignores violence against women; it is in fact that culture is horrified by violence against women. If culture really condoned the violence, nothing more would have happened with Rice.

    If you want to see condoning violence, don’t look at culture; look at the elites. Elites will always protect their own, whether it’s molesting priests or violent football players. In fact, this is a good test of power; a person is in the power elite if and only if they can be shielded from scrutiny without the broader public disclosure.


    • Arthur
      September 9, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      A case highlighting the point about elites involves U.S. Middle District (AL) Judge Mark Fuller. He beat his wife who called police. Fuller was “charged with a misdemeanor count of battery. . . . [He has] agreed . . . to attend a 24-week program on family and domestic violence and undergo a substance abuse assessment to resolve the charges . . . “ (http://news.yahoo.com/alabama-federal-judge-resolves-wife-beating-charges-court-172144654.html).


  7. Tom Church
    September 9, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    It seems that part of the reason for 1) is that “Rice was charged with felony assault in March, but his wife, Janay Palmer, declined to testify. The charges were dropped and court-supervised counseling was ordered.” [1] and “Rice was indicted by a grand jury in March on third-degree aggravated assault but the charge was dropped because Janay declined to testify against him. He agreed to court-supervised counseling.” [2]

    (I understand that your 5 questions were addressed on the radio, not posed to the audience, but people seemed to be wondering nevertheless.)

    [1] New York Times, “After Punch Is Seen, Rice Is Out”, 9/8/14, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/09/sports/football/ray-rice-video-shows-punch-and-raises-new-questions-for-nfl.html

    [2] Reuters, “Ray Rice’s Wife Rips Media as Video Puts NFL on Defensive”, 9/9/14, http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2014/09/09/sports/football/09reuters-usa-ravens-rice.html


  8. September 9, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Just because she slapped him first in this case does not make her responsible for him overreacting by knocking her out. In the same way that sexual assault is *NEVER* under any circumstances the victim’s fault, one cannot blame her for him overreacting. If he had slapped her back, I would buy that she could be blamed but not if he retaliates with a knockout punch.


    • ScentOfViolets
      September 10, 2014 at 7:05 am

      This makes no sense.


      • September 10, 2014 at 8:08 am

        It makes perfect sense.

        You seem to think (earlier in the discussion thread) that when we defend the weaker party, that we would do this to any end. But this is incorrect and silly.

        Had she grabbed a baseball bat and smacked him on the head (which is about the only way she can achieve the power output that is similar to his punch) then we would have considered that as bad as him punching her. Actually, if she actually punched him, we might even reconsider.

        In a similar vein, if he had just slapped her then I would not have been upset and I think most people would have shared my indifference. But a punch is not the same thing as a slap, especially in this context (you can come up with perverse contexts where a slap is worse, like when you are comparing the punch of a five year old and the slap of an adult but that is not relevant to this discussion.)

        Finally, even if he was expecting to be slapped more, he has the power to stop her from slapping him without knocking her out. He could have simply caught her hand (I am sure that is not a challenge for somebody who catches footballs for a living). Of course, there is no reason to parody this argument, has she pulled a handgun out of her purse then nobody (or much fewer) would have a problem with him knocking her out, because in that case it would be the only way he can prevent death or serious injury to himself. But that is not what happened.

        On the other hand, in this scenario once he decided to beat the crap out of her, she had absolutely no way to stop him or to prevent injury to herself.

        Assault isn’t simply touching people when they don’t want to be touched. If I bump into you while passing you in the street, you are very seldom justified to respond to that by knocking me out. In this case, sure slapping people is bad, but it isn’t as bad as delivering a knockout punch.


  9. WT
    September 9, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    Look, as unpopular as this may be to say, it looks like she was the initial aggressor who slapped him, and his punch that knocked her out didn’t look like a deliberate attempt to beat her up. It looked more like an instinctive reaction to someone coming at you to slap you. Lots of people might have that reaction without necessarily being an evil person or having the desire to beat the other person up.

    I’d suggest that if your husband is a pro football player, who is physically strong and has quick instincts to defend himself against aggressors on the field, it’s probably not wise to start being physically abusive towards him — even if he doesn’t mean to, his raw instincts and sheer physical power can have ill consequences in that split second before there’s even time to think.


  1. September 18, 2014 at 8:15 am
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