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Friday, October 28, 2016

Apologies for the blunt language, but can we please cut the crap?

Meaning: can we stop pretending we know something now that we didn’t before about what Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice did to his then-fiancée in the elevator of that Atlantic City casino? Can we stop pretending new information has come to light?

Granted, the surveillance video released Monday by TMZ is graphic and disturbing: Rice is seen slapping Janay Palmer, who rushes at him, whereupon he uncorks a left that hits her like a hammer. She bangs her head on a railing and crumples, senseless, to the floor. But we already knew this had happened. We knew it from the initial video, released shortly after the February 15 incident, which shows Rice dragging Palmer out of the elevator like a sack of flour, like a piece of lumber, like me-Tarzan-you-Jane.

How did we think she got that way? Did we imagine she was overcome by his cologne?

For criminy sake, he said it himself: He slugged her. And the Ravens knew this when they did their Tammy Wynette imitation, singing choruses of “Stand by Your Man.” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell knew it when he “punished” Rice by suspending him for just two games. Ravens fans knew it when they gave the cowardly woman-hitter a standing ovation as he trotted out for a preseason game.

So as the NFL responds to the new video by suspending Rice indefinitely and his team shreds his contract, it is galling to hear Ravens Coach John Harbaugh claiming the clip “changed things.” And it is the height of backside-covering bovine excreta for an NFL flack to tweet that the increased penalty was a result of “new video evidence.”

There is no new evidence — just a video that makes visceral what some of us were content to pretend we didn’t know.

Yet even now, some folks don’t get it. “I think the message is, take the stairs,” said Brian Kilmeade of Fox “News.” Meantime, Dr. Ben Carson warned against “demonizing this guy.” Yeah. Because Rice’s feelings are what matter here.

Full disclosure: I am the child of an abusive father. I’ve written previously in this space and in my book, Becoming Dad, of how my old man used to get tanked up, then come home whaling on Mom and us kids. Twice, he held us all at gunpoint. So, unlike Brian Kilmeade, I tend not to see the lighter side of domestic violence. Indeed, I tend to be rather humorless about it.

Nor am I impressed that Palmer went ahead and married Rice and has condemned his increased punishment. I don’t know this woman, but I do know abused women and I know their judgment is often suspect. Sometimes they blame themselves. Sometimes they are too forgiving. Sometimes they convince themselves they can change a bad man. Sometimes they think hitting is normal. Sometimes they think hitting is love.

According to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, 1 in 3 women has been raped, struck or stalked by an intimate partner. More than 75 percent of women who are victims of intimate-partner violence were victimized previously by the same person. Yet Psychology Today has reported that up to a third of women who are in abusive relationships never leave them.

So this is not just about Palmer, but about all our mothers, sisters, daughters, lovers and friends and the violence against them that is still too common and too commonly ignored.

The NFL essentially ignored what happened to Palmer. She did, too. But the camera didn’t and as a result Ray Rice finally gets what he should have gotten seven months ago. Shame on him. But shame, also, on the NFL and the society it reflects, that justice took this long and had to go to this length.

That video did not tell us something we didn’t know. It just forced us to face what we already did.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via email at [email protected])

AFP Photo/Rob Carr

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  • Bill Thompson

    This is nothing new, athletes at this level have been pampered their whole life. They’ve always be told how wonderful they are and never disciplined in anyway. It has become a rarity to find a professional athlete with humility.
    In so far as the leagues go they are there to promote the teams and not rock the boat. In baseball it was steroids everybody knew steroids were running rampant but nobody wanted to do anything because the homeruns kept flying out of the ballparks and the attendance kept going up. As was mentioned above the video of this woman abuser was there for all to see for those that cared to look. Unfortunately professional sports have many on their teams and in their ranks that are little more than gangster thugs that the youth continues to look up to. Leagues need to look beyond the money and be more selective and more disciplined about who goes on television.

    • JPHALL

      You and others are missing the true point. It is not just athletes. Police and military types have the same problem. For rich men, poor men and in between it is the same.

      • RobertCHastings

        Great point. However, recently, the cops have been catching hell, all over the country, for shooting unarmed black men. Finally, Ray Rice is catching hell for hitting an unarmed black WOMAN.

        • JPHALL

          But the true point is that Ray Rice is not the only NFL player facing domestic violence charges. What about all the others plus those in other leagues?
          Subject: Re: New comment posted on Rice Abuse Video Revealed Nothing We Didn’ t Know Already

          • RobertCHastings

            At least a decade ago, Ray Carruth, of the Carolina Panthers, planned and executed a fatal assault on his girl-friend. At present, a defensive end for the same team is under charges of domestic abuse. The Carolina Panthers do NOT pose an unusual dilemma for the NFL, nor do the Ravens. You are absolutely right. While MANY professional athletes present a public image that we want our children to emulate, many others are far from deserving public adoration.

  • joe schmo

    Good Riddance. I have no use for this type of behavior by ‘ballers.’ I think that every time a ball player is shown to act negatively in the face of the public, their contracts should be shredded, I don’t give a crap how at the top of their game they are. Owners, commissioners, and associations should hold the highest of standards. Something a kid can look up to and aspire to be. In this way, these high-paid idiots will think twice about the game going to their heads, literally.

    • tdm3624

      I have no use for this type of behavior by anyone, not just ‘ballers’.

    • JPHALL

      Police and military types also have the same problem. For rich men, poor men
      and in between it is the same.

    • RobertCHastings

      Jerry Sandusky from Penn State was protected for years for what he was doing to lower classmen on the football squad. Paterno did what was contractually required of him and caught the heat for the failures of his superiors, who, eventually, also got caught standing in front of the fan. The Catholic Church is today spending millions on satisfying complaints, that they had previously spent millions on quashing or concealing.

  • adler56

    Let’s see them try to wiggle out of that.

  • FT66

    Something is quite wrong to human nature or rather human behavior. This incident happened back in February, no one was hurt (except them). No one died. BUT it has drawn a lot of attention more than that one of those more than four thousand who their lives were lost in Iraq war. What about anyone questioining human capability of thinking????

    • marriea

      Didn’t you know that it is human nature to bring another human down a knotch. If one is living that is. But seriously, when a woman or man, or some at least is abused, a part of them is killed. I’ve been there, but when I was hit, it only knocked off those rose colored glasses and then I got mad. Literally and figuratively

  • Prof_Cochise

    Yeah, yeah… the NFL finally takes a stand and Leonard Pitts makes the old “it should have been sooner. .” criticism. No wonder the NFL hasn’t taken a strong stand before – they are still going to be publicly kicked because it didn’t meet some self-righteous granny’s standard of perfection.

    • mah101

      Abusive behavior should be met with zero tolerance, not least among those so privileged as to have $35 million contracts and occupy the public spotlight. The NFL failed and has earned its criticism. Don’t blame the messenger.

      • marriea

        Don’t think that football player didn’t abuse their wives before it became taboo not to. It has become a problem now because it now the NFL and NBA are mostly black. I’m sure that in baseball their are players who slap their mates around. But in their quest to portray blacks as violents ‘creatures’, these players are targeted. Of course many players bring the attention on themselves, but still.

    • JPHALL

      What standard of perfection are you talking about? Wrong is wrong no matter who does it. The problem of domestic violence is society wide at all levels. Now days we do care more about it. However, it was not that long ago that it was nor considered a problem or a crime.

  • charles king

    Why? Microsoft disrupt my “Comments” When? I Do (Critical Thinking) about the Country’s Democracy, are they part of the obvious that somethng is wrong in America. Soon as I start talking about Plutocracy and What? Plutocracy Is all about my machine start acting up, shut down, miss step on the typing, a lot of interfrence. What? the hell is going on, stop the crap an get off my station. I am going to talk about Plutocracy because the American citizens are not aware of this type of govern, the People are thinking Democracy When? instead Plutocracy is running your States government. I hope our Federal
    government are ran by Democracy. The State of Pennsylvanis is governed by Plutocracy and I suggest folks check Webster’s Dict. and find out fr yourselves What? does Plutocracy mean. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I Love Ya All. Mr. C. E. KING

    • RobertCHastings


      • charles king

        Mr. R. C. Hastings, WOW! Keep informing the People because the country is in big time Not knowing What? the hell is going on in America. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I LoveYa All. Mr. C. E. KING

  • Mikey7a

    Forgive me for what I’m about to say, but it is honestly how I feel.
    Does anyone here, think that Don Sterling is the only Racial Owner in The NBA? NO! The problem is, Donald went off his peanut of a brain, and had a taped conversation with someone, and got caught red handed.

    Now, does anyone here, think that Ray Rice is the only NFL player that is abusing his spouse, girl friend, or fiance? If you do believe so, I have a good sized piece of swamp land for sale, here in good ole Florida!

    As with Sterling, Commissioner Goodell knew damn well what happened in that elevator. He, and The Baltimore Ravens both, tried sweeping the whole affair under the rug! Now, using the “we never saw the whole video” excuse, is supposed to let them off the hook? HELL NO!

    Goodell should be fired, and whoever owns The Ravens, should have to try to sell immediately! I also think that The U.S. Attorney Gen, needs to open an unbiased investigation, using Senators from all over the country. Just how deep does this go?

    The women being abused are not going to come forward, either from fear, or greed, or both, just like Mrs. Rice, asked for leniency for her meal ticket, oops, I mean Fiance!

    • JPHALL

      This problem is not just sports. It exists throughout society. Police, the military and simple citizens all have this problem. I

    • marriea

      No she is married to Rice. She married him after the elevator incident. Don’t know why. Maybe the Commissioner and coach did know. But the problem is, she MARRIED him after the incident. No one likes the idea of getting involved with the workings of a married couple.She says she loves him. I suspect that Rice has in the past surrounded her with numerous expensive gifts. Yes, money and greed and prestige causes folks to do many crazy things. Look at how the coach convicted of molesting those kids stayed with/by her man. She says she didn’t know. How could you not know what is happening in your own home. I don’t think it’s more of a racial issue as much a ‘mind your own business issue’. Janae I don’t think even pressed charges against Rice. Did she even file a police report? So what are people to do. Well, Rice is no longer a member of the NFL. That’s his own fault. I can only hope he invested his money well. But also, there is a possiblitly that one day, after all of this has died down he might be reinstated. I just hope that young lady find a way to make her own money one day.

      • RobertCHastings

        The reason she, and so many others in similar situations, CANNOT get out of these situations is something called the Stockholm Syndrome, something identified in the prison camps of Nazi Germany, in which victims (like Janay Rice) will do whatever it takes to please their abusers because, like ALL of us, they have basic needs of acceptance that MUST be met.

        • marriea

          You might be right. Look, as a person once involved in domestic abuse, I understand.I even watched my aunt and mother go thru this type of mess. My aunt didn’t try to fight back. My uncle, (my father’s brother, my aunt, my mothers’ sister) was loving. His brother wasn’t around or interested so he was really a father figure to me. My aunt actually had more time for me than my mother as she married someone else who also tried the abuse thing on her, but she did fight him back. Be that as it my, my husband tried it on me. We fought a lot. I guess since I wasn’t totally dependent on my EX, I refused to take it. I got out. Had to pay for the divorce myself, and considered it money well spent.
          But to this day, although I understand how women can get caught up in that abuse thing, I think that once a man sees that you ain’t gonna put with it, and leave or get the hell out and stay out, one might be OK. But with this woman, she wasn’t married to him. After all this happened, she still married him. Why..??? I still say that I think it was because she envisioned a life in which the riches would continue to flow. That’s why, I hope that she finds a way to support herself or had a prenup in which should they split, she will get something out of the deal. Better yet, I hope she finds a way to support herself besides his money. As for Rices’ part in this, sometimes ignorant men, especially those who ain’t use to anything think that when they buy and give you stuff they own you. Even more of a reason to get the hell out.

          • RobertCHastings

            Ever since this story first broke and we have had the opportunity to see these two together (this past weekend in the stands at a game) She is NOT happy, and is just waiting for that next blow. I am by no means claiming that Janay is among this class of woman, but MANY professional athletes are pursued by women for the purpose of marrying and sharing in their wealth, only, and the guys love having an attractive woman attached to them. Honestly, I think we will hear more of Ray Rice and his now-wife in further abuse incidents. She will find herself in the same situation you have described. Until she can find the will to just leave, she will always be subjected to his abuse.

          • marriea

            Yes, but I have to wonder, why oh why did she marry him. She was out, even though she has a kid with this guy, the courts would have had him paying a child support bounty that would make some working women drool. But still, a woman who works and brings in her own income and is or can be independent of ‘her man’s income, is more likely not to put with such nonsense. I suspect that Janay is probably most unhappy because her business in now in the streets, indeed the world and is probably more embarassed that she is being viewed moreas money and fame hungry than abused. As I said, she truly didn’t have to jump out of the skillet into the fire.

  • EnlightenOne

    I think they should call the violence a “distraction.” Which means, again, the scene inside the elevator shouldn’t make a difference in the degree of the crime or punishment!

    • RobertCHastings

      The first video that surfaced, OUTSIDE the elevator, left enough doubt as to what happened inside the elevator that this incident should have been looked at more closely. However, since we have heard that the Commissioners office had the tape from INSIDE the elevator long before he claims he saw it makes ALL of them complicit. This is a clear case of athletes being held to a different standard, and professional athletics being exempt from normal societal expectations of behavior.

  • howa4x

    This is theatre of the absurd at it’s best. Football next to Ice hockey is one of the most violent sports in this country, and the people who play it show hyper aggressive tendencies every Sunday. We watch players being carted off the field every game with a myriad of injuries. So the message we are sending is you can be as violent as you want during the game and its better if you do, but afterward you need to put it away and not let anyone trigger your instinct.
    This is all coupled with the fact that we pay millions to these young adults and always clean up the mess they leave after. Winston was accused of rape in Fla but because he was a star QB the police didn’t do anything. So why is everyone so shocked this happened?

    • marriea

      Speaking of Ice Hockey, it’s going to interesing how the rules are going to change dramatically when more blacks start to play hockey. I used to enjoy football. But I rarely look at it anymore because everything now brings a penalty.

  • a80a

    am I the only one who thinks that Rice was just protecting himself the video clearly show her about to attack him those long finger nails can do a lot of damage even gouging out the eyes coming down the hall before the elevator she was slapping at him I say it was self defense I have been married for sixty years never had to lay a hand on my wife but she has never acted like this woman or tried to spit in my face if she had then I might not be able to say I never laid a hand on her

  • bhaggen

    Must be that “war on women” I’ve been hearing the democrats talk about!

  • RobertCHastings

    The most telling thing about this whole charade is simply Janay’s posture sitting next to him in the picture above. She claims to support him, to love, and has married him. In the photo above, she is scared shitless that he will throw another punch.

  • Ronald Harris

    So I guess you’re doing what Groucho Marx advised you not to do: that is to not to believe your lying eyes. If you did not learn anything new from the video then you are I think severely traumatized. Clearly the tape and audio along with it reveals a very different scenario and mitigating circumstances. This entire issue is not about Ray Rice or Janay Rice. Since when have white folk been concerned about the plight of black folk, unless it can promote some self-serving interest. It took hundreds of years to be concerned about lynchings, denial of citizenship rights, separate and unequal educatrion where black schools usually got the outdated white school’s books to learn from, where is the outrage for the numerous unarmed black men getting shot and killed by police all across this country, and for the California Highway Patrolman who beat the hell out of a black woman on the side of the road in broad daylight and he is still on the job and getting paid without charges. No this isnot about domestic battery of a black on a black. If you cared you should have been up in arms over Mrs. Alexander in Jacksonville, Florida who shot in the ceiling to scare a chronic domestic abuser and she was given 20 years in prison. No where is the outrage and caring. This is about white women like the girlfriend of white NFL player Greg Hardy who beat her mercilessly and is still playing. No protect white at all cost and when you need a sacrificial lamb go to the black man.We have done your bidding and your dirty work since we been in this country for over 500 years. And now you care about a single isolated episode. More so that the “single Isolated” mass murders of whites by whites through the years. No the white woman has been abused for years and now she needs a platform to address her concerns. But she is too cowardly to put her face on it. It is analogous to the sheets of the KKK. No, this video with the audio puts this matter in the realm of understandable automated response to Janay’s actions.