Ray Rice's Crime and Punishment, with Compassion

RayRice27 (1)The incident in which Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice savagely beat his fiancee in an elevator has garnered much attention, largely because the savagery was captured on video.

The video evoked a visceral response in almost everyone, present company included. To brutally attack someone you supposedly love with enough force to threaten her life is very abnormal behavior. If the perpetrator is simply punished and the behavior not addressed, it is likely to manifest again, perhaps with even more serious consequences. Of course punishment for this heinous act is warranted. But where would any of us be if, after we committed some terrible act, everyone just piled on and no one sought to help us?

Having been the transgressor as a teenager and almost stabbing someone, and subsequently by the grace of God learning how to look at things differently and resolve conflict without violence, I came to understand rage, consequences, penalties and redemption. Perhaps we should all take a step back from our pedestals of righteousness and let rational thought processes have a place in our lives.

The point is, let’s not get into useless discussions of whether Rice’s punishment is not severe enough or too severe, because that is probably pointless. Instead, let’s get help for these people and engage in useful dialogue about the horrors of domestic violence. Then, hopefully, we can use this as a teachable moment.

Undoubtedly, those on the left will say Rice’s abominable actions are being defended by Ben Carson, who thinks domestic violence is not so bad.

This is nothing more than the usual superficial, desperate attempts to diminish someone they are worried about and for whom they have no good arguments.

I would happily engage in a public debate with any of my left-wing critics on the issue of domestic violence, punishment and rehabilitation. We might even be able to reach some common ground and make progress if we stop using every opportunity to stoke the fires of hypersensitivity and division in our society. To even suggest that an intelligent person would defend the actions of Rice or blame his fiancee for the crime is beyond ludicrous. However, if there were not an appetite for such idiocy, it wouldn’t exist.

There are some who will say that Rice was defending himself from his fiancee, who was attacking him. He is so much bigger and stronger than she is that he easily could have restrained her without striking her. There is no excuse for pummeling anyone, much less a smaller, weaker individual.

Many have been quick to jump to the conclusion that his fiancee, who is now his wife, was only in the relationship for the money, and there is no possibility that love enters the equation. This may or may not be the case, but it is a private matter for the Rice family to resolve on their own. Hopefully, that resolution will involve much-needed counseling to uncover the root causes of their problems. If they can go on to lead successful and happy lives even without the NFL, they will have achieved a good outcome.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Ben S. Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University and author of the new book, One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future.

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