— FOX 5 DC (@fox5newsdc) September 9, 2014
A reader is worried:
My first thought on hearing that the Ravens finally cut Ray Rice was that his wife is now in even greater danger. How long before he works himself up into a rage over his lost career and blames her? And what will he do to her then? If the Ravens and the NFL had acted immediately, and if strings hadn’t been pulled to allow Rice to avoid jail time, maybe Janay Palmer would have gotten the counseling she needs and found the courage to leave her abuser while he was at least temporarily unable to inflict more pain on her. As it stands now, as the Ravens and the NFL concentrate on “moving on” and the media eventually segues to the next Big Story, Palmer is in worse jeopardy than before – a lot worse.
I think that #whyistayed and #whyileft are really powerful and valuable ways of helping people understand the victims’ perspectives. I wonder if a #whyiabused or #howistopped conversation would also be possible. (Certainly, anonymity would be required, as admitted abusers would be vilified.) I don’t want to suggest that the two paradigms are equal, but I think that a critical part to ending the cycle of abuse is to get the abusers to understand where their rage comes from and how to deal with it.
Another zooms out:
The Ray Rice video not only highlights the horror of domestic violence, it also shows the sanitizing effect of words alone.
We should have been able to deduce what had happened in the elevator, but many chose not to. The reasons are many and varied but the results were the same, denial of the intensity of the attack. The video eliminated that ability.
The same thing was true of the Abu Ghraib photos. The sanitizing slogan of “enhanced interrogations” could no longer hide the horrors that were going on. Seeing what stress positions actually meant was shocking.
Our ability to dismiss actions as not as bad as they sound, seems also to be effected by how much we support the perpetrators. Look at how many supported Ray Rice or his version of events until this video came out. Fans, teammates, coaches, all offered support until now. Look at how many still support George Bush and Dick Cheney. Let’s use the latest Ray Rice video not just to discuss domestic violence, but apply its lessons to broader aspects of public life.
Another is roughly on the same page:
I appreciate the mimetic appeal of sports as warfare, but must the NFL leadership – namely Commissioner Roger Goodell – do their best Donald Rumsfeld impressions as well? To me anyway, the parallels are uncanny. When chronic prisoner abuse and torture turned up in pictures from Abu Ghraib, Rummy and the Bush administration expressed shock and outrage. They claimed to have no idea about the violent misbehavior of “rogue individuals” but promised to get to the bottom of it with promises of harsh justice and zero tolerance. Of course, only the small fry unlucky enough to find themselves caught in the picture frame were punished. Execute a “find and replace” search of “Rumsfeld” for “Goodell” and “Lynndie England” for “Ray Rice” and voila, you hardly have to rewrite the story.
Then, of course, there is the deplorable way both institutions serve the needs of ex-soldiers and ex-players with traumatic brain injuries. In February, 41 senators voted against a $24 billion dollar VA funding bill to create 27 new facilities (in particular, satellite centers to deal with TBI). And now,only two days ago, NFL lawyers filed a motion to narrow the class of petitioners eligible for the league’s $765 million dollar TBI/Concussion settlement (see ya, NFL Europe players). They also moved to lower by 75% payouts to those who also suffer strokes. In years past, the NFL illegally administered Toradol, an anti-inflammatory, to its players. Toradol has been linked to strokes (it would not surprise me in the least if they sprayed Agent Orange on the gridiron to kill weeds).
I can’t think of a better way to end this two-step than to fire Goodell and hire Robert Gates to clean house. Without a Congress to gum up the works, Gate’s moral decency and competence might just save the NFL from itself.
The reader follows up:
I did a Google search to see if anyone else had noticed the similarities in style between Goodell and Rumsfeld. I didn’t find anything, but I did discover that Goodell’s father, Senator Charles Goodell, was good friends with Donald Rumsfeld. They along with Gerald Ford and others staged the Young Turks rebellion against the Republican House leadership in the early 1960s. Goodell, Sr. was a good Rockefeller Republican, an anti-Vietnam enemy of Nixon, who lost his seat to James Buckley. Rumsfeld survived by learning to keep his own counsel and evolve; seems Roger learned that lesson as well. (THIS aspect was covered in a Grantland article.)