The First Punch Doesn't Count: How The NFL Condones Violence Against Women & Circumvents The Law
Kiss & Make Up
Wait wait wait... Wait just a humble minute, Homie. The Ray Rice incident is back in the news, and it's for all the wrong reasons.
Everyone considering this 'digital evidence of a kiss,' like its proof of Ray Rice's innocence, or lessened culpability... What are you on, bruh?
Just to explain: some video footage and camera stills have been released, allegedly showing the couple on the evening in question, Ray Rice and Janay Rice (nee Palmer), kissing one another before being placed into separate vehicles for detainment. The media, along with the NFL's legal team, seems to suggest that the Public should see this as 'evidence,' that Rice's wife herself had 'forgiven' Rice. 'The whole thing was all a BIG misunderstanding, 'Sooo, GO HOME, GUY, UR DRUNK! SLEEP IT OFF!'
... No no... no no no (like the breakdown in a 90s R&B jam), no no noooo! You aint right! Baby noooo!
The psychosexual aspects of relationships are some of the most defining, and codified. Not all kisses are kind and compassionate; some are violent, aggressively possessive perhaps not even literally, but as a gesture. This is a gesture of domination, inevitably part of the cycle of abuse. Let us assume the kiss was, indeed, one of 'forgiveness,' that it was indeed affectionate and loving. It is the most powerful tool in the arsenal of an abuser to use sex as a weapon... especially in the form of affection, 'You know I didn't mean it, baby, I love you, let me make it better, etc.' After the initial video footage released, a second, more shocking and complete reel was released.
A victim isn't any less of a victim by suffering from sympathetic feelings towards an abuser. One very well-known example of this phenomenon being Stockholm's Syndrome, wherein the victim in a kidnapping or protracted hostage situation will develop a regard, perhaps sympathetic, heroic or romantic --in nature, for the kidnapper/captor/perpetrators. A victim is no less a victim for having a sense of allegiance to, or sexually submissive relationship with, their abuser. Even in the case that the victims become a perpetrator of crime themselves, the original abuser is no less guilty of abuse. I'm not going to show the video of 'the kiss,' because ITS IRRELEVANT. I don't question whether or not this relationship is psychotic and manipulative and sick.
To me the only thing that the images of ‘the kiss’ revealed, was that even when he is the one bringing violence unto her, she turns to him to soothe herself and comforts him in the process; all signs consistent with the behaviors of partners in an abusive relationship. Almost all domestic abusers will profusely apologize after harming their partners to disassociate themselves from culpability and shame. Often even painting themselves as victims of the ‘annoying’ or ‘aggravating’ and ‘instigative’ behaviors of the abused, ‘You just get me so worked up, you know?’ Abusers cajole a sympathetic response out of the abused in order to self-soothe, justify their actions, and win back the hope and trust within the abused that ‘bad days happen,’ and the scenario will change. Kiss, and make up!
"Kiss and make up," is not simply an idyllic turn of phrase. In some cases, it is psychologically symptomatic behavior, which highlights an underlying problem within a relationship.
'She chose to marry him... She likes the lifestyle too much to let it go!' Nah, that’s not how this stuff works. You don’t stick with someone who beats the stuffing out of you just because they buy you things. This, like all abusive relationships, is most likely nuanced with underlying emotional dependency issues and lots & lots of fear for what a person might and might not be, without their significant other. I am part of that team that puts the victims first. Being married with money in your pocket is not license for violating your partner's rights to life. Inebriation is not an excuse to violate your partner’s rights to life. Being under pressure is not an excuse to violate your partners’ rights to life. Everyone is conditioned to need and want money, it takes most of us a lifetime to be free from that fool’s errand of thinking you’ll be happy with a steady income and certain ‘securities.’ This woman did not deserve to have the NFL brush the abuse she suffered under the rug, simply because she doesn’t have the peace of mind and community support it takes, to admit that she needs help. Moreover, she is suffering, and we have now guaranteed that future women will suffer, because we are too sheepish to make change ourselves. No, she doesn’t have to leave him, maybe they both want to figure out where the love went or whatever, but she doesn’t deserve to uphold the career of her abuser and the integrity of his employers, when they clearly have no concern for her well being.
Does that not strike you as sick that we want to avoid dealing with gender equity so badly, that we would normalize abuse, even romanticize it? ‘All couples have their issues,’ ‘We don’t know the extent of the situation,’ ‘Even she said she was sorry and they are fine…’ These are the pills we are offered. I suppose we are all entitled to opinions as they say, but legally and psychologically speaking there isn’t much grey area here. So, I’m left wondering why people’s opinions are so swayed? Do we not know we have answered these questions already?
Shall we review?
'The People are many. You are the People. It’s just, not cool, to beat up the People. Especially the People among the People you love most dearly, and conned into loving you back, i.e. family. Sometimes, some of the People can make you upset. If you are struggling with the People, you should seek professional help to manage your anger and deal with your issues free from fear of prejudice, be you any gender, creed, class, color or form. There is a good reason to deal with those issues. If you transgress and violate another one of the Peoples’ rights, whether or not you are their legal spouse/guardian/representation, YOU ARE violating common law, as enforced at the state and domestic levels, and you are also violating federal law, under the Violence Against Women Act. You are going directly against the aspirations stated in the Declaration of Independence. You are violating a person’s civil rights as provided by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Your behavior is not excusable, lacked mercy and consideration for human life and therefore warrants punishment to the prescribed extents of the law. It should not be up to the NFL to impose a superfluous policy in any form. Their regulations should coincide with the justice system and laws of the United States of America.
Its odd to me that folks aren’t seeing what the NFL did for what it really was. This whole NFL Domestic Violence Policy is a huge part of the reason why this case, and now so many future cases within the league, and perhaps now other national leagues, won’t see justice. To head-off the liability charges and barrage of criticisms bounding toward them, the NFL assembled a crack team of lawyers and set up the Barbie Dream Castle of all domestic violence policies; all fuckery sparkles, and deluxe loopholes, and pretty pedantic language. At this point, neither Ms. Rice nor any future player’s spouse will have many options. Her only option is ending her marriage (not that it seems great to be married to someone who hurts you, but the law can’t decide that for people), and basically losing everything, or, pretending nothing ever happened. She can’t just accuse him of assault and hold him accountable for that because he’s basically facing double jeopardy, where he has to be held accountable by both the laws of the United States and the laws of the NFL. It’s a manipulative measure which puts the wives in a lose-lose position, both emotionally and legally, and could possibly convince the courts the player is suffering enough through suspension to deserve any real legal recourse.
The only folks who don’t lose are the NFL. They have protected themselves on all sides, making it possible to intimidate future complainants, protect their assets/athletes, and safeguard themselves should they simply not feel like putting up a fight for a player, and refuse him in the appeal process. A player remains in the green, that is, only suspended for an unspecified number of unpaid games (1-6), unless he is twice indicted, and convicted, of domestic assault by the same person. This warrants him a ‘lifetime ban.’ Even if a lifetime ban is imposed, the player is afforded the opportunity to, rather, expected to, formally appeal to get his spot back, making lifetime bans and the whole punitive measure, effectively meaningless.
According to USA Today's NFL Arrest Data Base, the NFL has had 157 arrests from 2012-2014, of these arrests 20 were related to charges of domestic violence, child abuse, and assault against women. Of those 20 cases, only 2 were eventually indicted and ultimately 4 charged. All jail sentences were delayed or suspended (meaning no real time was served for anyone). 2 offenders only had to pay a fine, and 6 accepted probation sentences and remained playing without interruption. Of the 22 NFL bans and suspensions from 2012-2014, only 4 are suspensions which lasted longer than 2 games. All of the offenses, however, are clearly against the laws of the United States (the ones we are all supposed to follow) ranging from racketeering and drug use to assault and DUI. There it is, folks. The glaring actuality that the NFL really has managed to sweep the criminal behavior of their employees, under the proverbial rug. That courts and law enforcement have been giving passes at an alarming rate, so many in fact, that it seems to be time for someone to audit this $hady busine$$.
The courts promulgate a culture of impunity, by assuming the players are taking a huge hit from the NFL. The NFL, in turn, has every authority to repeal their original terms of discipline, once the player is out of the scrupulous glare of the court. No punishment by the legal system, no punishment from the NFL, no accountability for the victims of these crimes. The NFL does not care about victims of domestic violence or even the players themselves, should they prove to be more of a burden than a boon. In this case, we are supporting everyone but the victim; We protect the perpetrator, the Ravens, the National Football League, the fans, the stadiums (which your very own beloved tax dollars pay for), all the money that they make one other… And in the end, no one gives a damn about these women.
We are a self-proclaimed ‘modern’ society, with a very critical viewpoint of other societies' treatment of women around the world, where there still isn’t any real legislation on domestic violence. Any legislation that does exist was only drafted very recently, in the 90s, so seemingly unimportant and clearly less comprehensive than what the nation really needs. We are finally accepting the fact that domestic violence is a persistent issue and that we have to be more direct about dealing with it in legislation. Today’s headlines seem to suggest Ms. Rice either ‘deserved’ what she got, or is beyond helping because she seems to ‘condone’ it. Not only does this opinion reflect poorly on progress for women’s rights and suffrage in this society, but in the laws of this nation. Showing, once again, how important it is to light a fire under the House Of Representatives and The Senate, not to let corporations get away with pandering, and playing us. Please don’t be one of those weirdos, who forgets the NFL is just a conglomerate, and the players are just particularly gifted salesmen in tight pedal pushers. Until we call out the NFL for this ridiculous non-response to a serious and recurring problem within their offices, these newly forged loopholes, ‘the first punch doesn’t count’ and ‘you’re banned for life, or until you appeal,’ are left wide open for abusers to continue their behavior. All the while, the NFL literally carries on as if nothing is happening.
Obviously the problem with these stories is that the victim, often under a weighty waterfall of media, familial, and financial pressure, makes the decision to handle the situation privately or not handle it at all. Victims of abuse have a hard enough time taking on their abusers with privacy on their sides, let alone in the public eye. Victims don't like being made examples of, celebrity or otherwise. They are traumatized, vulnerable, often isolated by their relationships, cut off from the networks and systems that might help them break the cycle.
In the modern era, we see public testimonies of forgiveness and couples that stay together as symbols of hope and the possibility of reconciliation. We dare not question the sacred clemency that can only be granted from spouse to spouse or partner to partner. We see these 'survivor' couples as symbols of strength. And… Its about time we shifted that paradigm.
Strength is not the opposite of weakness; HEALTH is. Strength doesn't come from 'standing by your man' it comes from facing your mistakes and presenting your best self to your compatriots in life. Best self, not best-dressed, best-accompanied, or best-paid, but the version of you that you love most dearly, and sincerely. This is the self that you can accept, and the self that seems to be growing in love for the things around you. Strength is the result of combining health with stamina. For a relationship to be strong, it has to be healthy first.
I don't know if the Rices will divorce, and truly I don’t think its within the realm of rational concern for most of us, but I know that Ray Rice deserved to be arrested for what he did. I know that, under the law, he deserves to go to jail for what he did. I know that, under NFL personal conduct code, he deserves to lose his job for what he did. I have an educated feeling both of the Rices wish that camera wasn’t in that elevator at all, and that the public would mind their own business but that’s just it… It went that far and got that bad. Bad enough that a public figure knocked his wife out cold… in public (sure it was an elevator, but it was at a casino full of people not at their own private residence)… on camera (we all know most casinos have cameras everywhere). She was out like a light, he just left her limp body there on the floor, stepping widely over it and out, as the elevator doors closed and popped back open, registering an obstruction. He lost his cool in a way that seems to prove a pattern of escalation; there was no bargaining behavior, no attempt to walk away and just let some steam off, there was definitely that punch though!
So yeah… I don’t see a piteous man losing his hard-earned livelihood at all. LOL, please! No, Homie, I have no sympathy for this dude. I am not naïve or romantic about American athletics. This isn’t some boyhood dream shattering, so lets not be a bunch of saps. This is a grown man with a successful and high-profile professional career. He has a legacy as a player from one of the top college football teams, Rutgers; he was a Heisman hopeful; a 2nd round pick; accolades for days; million-dollar signing bonus, blah blah blah… And this is a man who hurts his wife. All I see is a celebrity clown losing privileges to that celebrity, because he broke the law and violated someone’s human rights. If he’s really all about the game, I’m sure he’ll love coaching peanut leagues in a hometown near you! The Human Rights Watch should take the NFL down, now that’s something to get excited about on a Monday night.
I dunno... people can change, I do believe that... but he’s on trial for the crime, no one out here in the interweb can reasonably question the possibility of his remorse. He could be very sorry and repentant, or he could be indifferent to being caught, but we are not helping anyone by denying the fact that Ray Rice knocked out his wife and the NFL doesn’t have enough integrity to have done anything about it. Indeed, the NFL has made smoking pot a higher (no pun intended) offense, than beating your wife (See Josh Gordon, Wes Welker, Orlando Scandrick, Eric Herman, and the list goes ooooooon; all suspended for longer or equal periods for steroids or recreational drugs).
Love, they say, ‘is all you need.’ I’m not down with the type of love that violates the safety, self-worth, physical and mental health of a human being. Abuse victims don’t just stick around for the money, they stick around because of systems like this, that make a new and better life seem hopeless, impossible, and even silly. I think the NFL just managed to write a policy that undermines, not only the rights of victims, but perhaps even the justice system entirely. This new ‘Domestic Violence Policy’ protects their investments, condones violence with impunity, and forever incapacitates the victims of the domestic crimes committed by their players and staff from seeking out the justice guaranteed to them by The Constitution (now and in the future). The NFL is not a nation or a state and should not have the authority to circumvent the law. What the hell else is there to say?
If you have questions about abuse please see The National Domestic Violence Hotline
If you aren't sure but you feel like you are being abused, don't be afraid to ask, Is This Abuse?
And as always, if you have any questions and need to talk to someone, you can call the HOTLINE 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), 24/7.
#RayRice #StopDomesticViolence #NFL #Catch22 #DownWithTheNFL #VictimsRights #Football #Ravens #Kissandmakeup #TheHomieSasa
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