ESPN Suspends Stephen Smith for Domestic Violence Comments

(BCN editor’s note: Apologies for the autoplay video feature. There seems to be no way to turn it off for viewers landing on the page.)

Two months ago we blogged about ESPN anchor Stephen Smith, who’d defended Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban after he caught flak for telling the inconvenient truth about racial disparities in violent crime rates. Blacks also criticized Smith.

Now the anchor has returned to the international spotlight for his response to the suspension of NFL player Ray Rice, caught on camera physically abusing his girlfriend, who married him afterward. Smith said:

“In Ray Rice’s case, he probably deserves more than a 2-game suspension, which we both acknowledged. But at the same time, we also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation. Not that there’s real provocation, but the elements of provocation, you got to make sure that you address them, because we’ve got to do is do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way. And I don’t think that’s broached enough, is all I’m saying. No point of blame.”

Smith has since apologized (as shown in the video above). He implied that Rice’s wife provoked him, when he had no information to support the implication. And his timing was off. But his general point is valid. In fact, the law recognizes provocation as a defense in the commission of certain crimes. It can mean the difference between exoneration and execution.

It’s ironic that Smith’s words got him suspended from ESPN for a week, while Rice’s physical assault got him suspended for only two days. Smith had an unlikely defender.

“If you make the choice as a woman who’s 4 foot 3 and you decide to hit a guy who’s 6 feet tall and you’re the last thing he wants to deal with that day and he hits you back, you cannot be surprised!” liberal Whoopi Goldberg said on The View.

Now critics are calling for her head on a platter, too.

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