What a difference a video makes.
One month ago, somebody told you that Ray Rice assaulted his fiance. The reaction? “Oh man, that sucks. He should probably be punished. Hmm, what should I eat for lunch today?”
Flash forward to today, when you see the video clip of what happened: “Get this thug out of the NFL.”
If that was your reaction, then you got your wish. Just after 2 p.m. today, the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely — a stark contrast to their controversial initial punishment, a two-game suspension, issued in July. The Baltimore Ravens also terminated his contract.
This news has been the center of most conversations today, ranging from regular folks on Twitter voicing their reaction to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest issuing a statement during his daily briefing.
The elevator footage depicts Rice striking his fiance — and now wife — Janay Palmer at full force in the head, knocking her unconscious. He struck her so hard that he’s lucky he didn’t kill her. Unfortunately, he’s not the first man to assault a woman, but he’s a high profile professional athlete, in a league that gets enough criticism as is for the off-field behavior of its players. And it’s all on video.
Watching the news coverage today was pretty brutal. ESPN, for example, is a male-dominated company, whose woman employees serve mostly as anchors. Therefore, you often had woman asking men — who are really only qualified to discuss sports — of their opinion on domestic violence. It did not feel right.
I’m not saying that the general public picks and chooses which crimes to become more outraged with, but it’s only natural to understand that people will be more angry when the victim of the crime is not really capable of defending themselves. See: Michael Vick. He killed dogs. People love dogs. So Vick was blacklisted from society for a few years, went to jail, and then worked to rehabilitate his image and made a comeback.
Time will tell if Ray Rice can do the same, but right now it’s not looking good. For one, he won’t repay his “debt to society” by being incarcerated, since Palmer refused to testify against him. So that won’t help. But that’s not to say he can’t try his best to fix the situation. How he goes about doing that is his problem to figure out. No public relations specialist in the world could help him at this point.
There’s no point making any other observations about the cruel nature of domestic violence, or pose any judgments on his wife for standing by his side and what message it sends to future victims of such assaults. But if there’s anything we learned today, it’s that seeing something with your own eyes leaves a much more lasting impact than simply hearing about it.
Although, remember when video surfaced of Snooki from Jersey Shore being punched in the face by a guy in a bar, and no one cared?
That’s the one exception.