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I am visiting Ethiopia this week and, the news from America on Ray Rice is ubiquitous and embarrassing. Ray Rice is a moron and so are the Baltimore Ravens fanatics who support him. Rice, who landed a left hook to his fiancé’s (now wife) jaw does not deserve support, needs serious psychological counseling, and belongs in jail. The question of whether Rice plays football is secondary, and whether the victim, Janay Palmer, stands by her man, is not relevant. She suffers from abuse and needs help herself-whether she realizes it or not. Rice’s assault on Palmer is without question.
The National Football League’s immediate response to the news (before the full video was released to the public by TMZ) was a two-game suspension. But then-the rest of the story emerged.
The full elevator video highlighted what the NFL and the Ravens owner likely already knew (although they deny having seen the video). Rice and Palmer had an altercation in the elevator of the Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. The graphic video not only showed Rice land a left hook to Palmer’s face, propelling her into the elevator wall, but also showed Rice drag her limp body out into the lobby where she laid face down. She remained unconscious for more time than I cared to count. It was gruesome. (Palmer’s contribution to the altercation is not relevant to me. No woman should be treated as Rice treated Palmer-ever!)
Only then did the league and the Ravens respond appropriately; the Baltimore running back’s contract was terminated just as it should have been early on.
Domestic violence is a serious matter. In the U.S. alone, 3.2 million women have experienced severe physical violence by their intimate partner, while one in three women have experienced physical violence by their intimate partner. These assaults are crimes.
As I watched CNN International, I was repulsed to hear the support of Ravens’ fans for Rice, but he is not the only one who wears this badge of shame. Carolina Panthers’ Greg Hardy and San Francisco 49ers’ Ray McDonald are among the other current offenders.
Since we have a culture of idolatry, a culture that gets its cues from celebrity, those who can (NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell) must send the proper message: America reviles men who hit women. Don’t do it, or you’ll pay dearly with your freedom.
Marc Little is the author of The Prodigal Republican: Faith and Politics. His web site is The Prodigal Republican.