Rachel James-Terry:: 5 Reasons We Disagree On Ray Rice

53623e580ff02.image The first time I paid attention to Ray Rice – the three-time pro bowl pick and leading rusher for the Baltimore Ravens – was when he was handed a light two game suspension for assaulting his fiancé. The Rice incident probably held my attention the same amount of time it took him and his fiancé to reconcile and marry. I do not know the couple personally nor the skeleton that fell out their closet. So, I was amused, annoyed and saddened by the news and social media tsunami. Yes, I had my opinions too, as usual, I disagreed with the mass majority. The following is why: First, the opinion that the tape is more shocking than his admission. Yes, the video tape – any video tape is more graphic than a verbal confession. But, most confessions to violence of any sort are not accompanied by a video of said “crime” or “incident.” People still get the death penalty, life in prison, 25 years, or probation without a video tape. The video tape should not make Rice’s confession to domestic assault more or less brutal. In February, we saw partial footage of Rice dragging his unconscious fiancé out of the elevator. Take this image coupled with his confession and it’s no more brutal now than it was in February. It is still domestic violence and it is still wrong – male or female aggressor. The NFL, news, social networks and domestic violence advocates should have showed the same rage and media firestorm in February that it shows now in September. Second, Rice deserves indefinite suspension from the NFL, because he is a role model. Yes, we love us some role models. We love to put people – especially rich ones – on pedestals to idolatrize.   Is the result that “celebrities” have more influence over our children than we do? More influence than the parents who teach their children right, wrong and consequences. The same who teach them to be leaders and not followers? Are we not role models who simply have the luxury of shielding our indiscretions from a growing majority of seemingly hypocrites, saints and intolerants? bal-in-wake-of-perry-hall-ray-rice-speaks-out--001 Hopefully, our children will not grow up to be role models, but human beings trying to do what is right, learning and growing from their mistakes, accepting responsibility for their actions while being productive citizens in society. Third, his wife is stupid, she stayed for the money, and she needs help. Is she stupid for trying to save her marriage? Why can’t it simply be – she loves her husband, has forgiven him and wants to work on her marriage. Why can’t she be strong for having to endure so much? Why can’t she be encouraged? Maybe, she stayed because they’ve been friends since she was 16 years old, started dating while in college and have been a couple since 2008. Maybe, this is her first attempt at the “for better or worse’’ she made in her vows. The worse is a couples place to determine not ours. Maybe she does not want help, especially from us. I wouldn’t. We are complete strangers who have already judged her, her husband, their love, marriage and entire life from a 3 minute video. According to the media reports, they have both been in counseling since February. Or, do they need to see Oprah, Dr. Phil or Iyanla Vanzant so we can decide if they are getting the “right” type of help? We should realize that shaming a victim is also a form of abuse, especially when hundreds, thousands or millions of strangers are doing it. Janay Rice Fourth, there is no reason for a man to ever hit a woman. Why don’t I ever hear people chiming out in unison, “there is no reason for a woman to hit a man?” I do not condone a man hitting a woman. Yes, Rice’s behavior was shockingly inappropriate. I also think spitting in someone’s face is disgusting. Yet, we view her acknowledgement and apology as “battered woman syndrome.” Why do we not view this as a woman taking responsibility for her actions regardless of the outcome? Apologizing for spitting in someone’s face does not nor should not justify Rice’s actions. I think it makes her that same bigger person we demand from Rice and all men. Generally speaking, we (women) fight for liberation, equal treatment, equal rights but are selective of when that applies. “They” say we are more emotional. Does this mean that women have no self-control? Or, because we are delicate flowers meant to bloom – we cannot be as physically, mentally, emotionally or verbally damaging as shrieking violets. Domestic violence laws now reflect that both men and women will be treated the same. Laws change and evolve out of need. Our behavior should too. There is shared responsibility in relationships and we should act accordingly. Therefore, everyone keep their hands inside the bus at all times and we do not have to debate these issues. Fifth, the NFL is saying that domestic violence will not be tolerated. So, DUI’s, manslaughter, and drug abuse is acceptable? Donte Stallworth was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2009. Stallworth was signed by the Baltimore Ravens in 2010, then the Redskins and last the Patriots. He is now a contributor to the Huffington Post. Is it safe to assume that he has been forgiven and has learned from his one moment of indiscretion? Feel free to research DUIs, manslaughter, sexual and drug abuse in the NFL. Although, I do believe there are many in the league upset by Rice’s actions. Indefinite suspension would have occurred in February, if this were truly the case. Overall, this is about negative press and a public relations horror show. I could continue, but we’re too busy adjudicating, pointing fingers, saving face, supporting a cause or a movement – we don’t have time for empathy and sometimes reality. Suddenly, we’re unlicensed experts on abuse, public relations and statisticians. bal-ray-rice-marries-janay-palmer-amid-assault-001 We are trying to make their lives fit into our past experiences, current situations and future plans. We allow the news free reign over our thoughts, opinions and words. Social media has become the police, attorney, judge and jury. No one is allowed an opportunity for reflection, change or redemption. Should we stamp outcast on their foreheads and drop them off on an island? We talk about respect, but have yet to respect the wishes of the victim. She has requested that we let her and her family heal. The healing process is their path to determine. It would have been nice, if initially we could have prayed for them, encouraged them to beat the odds, wished them the best and moved on. We can still do that.

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