This was going to be a preamble to my weekly football picks, but it’s ballooning beyond that, so now it’s its own thing. I have to talk about Ray Rice for a minute, not that I want to, but HAVE to, because there’s a lot of left turning and chest thumping and choir preaching and league shaming and other noun verbing going on and it’s all counter productive. First, though, it is great that the sports community is FINALLY talking about domestic violence. I’m thrilled.
Now, just for a quick history lesson, Ray Rice didn’t invent domestic violence as you might believe from the torrent of outrage coming from the national media right now.
Jason Kidd and Bobby Cox both made headlines in their respective sports on this issue.
Cox was subsequently inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame. Don’t kid yourself if you think Kidd won’t be going into basketball’s on the first ballot. No outrage.
Then again, Lawrence Phillips ran up a slate of domestic violence incidents and he got unceremoniously dumped from football (well, after being given at least one, maybe two I don’t remember exactly, chances to come back). On the flip side, I would much rather take one punch in the face in an elevator from Ray Rice then get false imprisoned and drunkenly date-raped in a barroom mens room by Ben Roethlisberger. Wondering how many women would choose the former over the latter? Seriously, it’s a question I feel unqualified to answer.
My point in all this being that there are literally a thousand other guys I can’t think of off the top of my head who preceded Ray Rice.
Domestic violence has been so rampant among athletes, it’s practically a plague.
So it would be nice, I mean really nice, if people could talk about the domestic violence issue without making it sound like they think Ray Rice is the ENTIRE problem. He’s the tip of the iceberg. He’s not even the tip. He’s the little piece at the end of the tip. And if we all forget about the domestic violence issue once Ray Rice fades from our memories, then we suck. And maybe we suck either way.
When Solange Knowles went off on Jay Z in an earlier elevator assault, not only was no one outraged, but it was a national joke. I’m not naive to think that a woman slapping a man around is equivalent to a man knocking a woman unconscious, but when we make a joke about the former, aren’t we part of the problem? Moreover, does anyone realize that in New Jersey, you can have a Restraining Order put against you for merely making a telephone call and using “coarse language” or making a call “at an inappropriate hour”.
Should Roger Goodell suspend someone for 6 games or longer if they call their ex a bitch on the phone at 1 in the morning. Think carefully about your answer. . .
At this point, I have to give you a little background, so you know that I know what I’m talking about.
Before life’s journey took me to my current happy status, I spent 10 years practicing law right here in Atlantic County, New Jersey, in the same courthouse in which Ray Rice had to appear. I knew the Judge in that case rather well when I traveled in those circles.
Let me assure everyone: Ray Rice getting PTI (Pre-Trial Intervention) is 100% appropriate and 100% what would happen to ANY OF YOU similarly charged as a first offender. No question about it.
Let me tell you one more thing: you WANT it that way.
Even though you’re having fun SCREAMING your little heads off on twitter and other social media about how the Ray Rice case is the worst miscarriage of justice ever, I can just guarantee you that the worst thing anyone could do (and courtesy of today’s Atlantic City Press, I happen to know that one New Jersey politician is already proposing to do just this) is to change the law as a knee jerk reaction to the Ray Rice case.
Draconian penalties that take away options from judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers do one thing: they slow the criminal justice system to the speed of sludge.
They also result in inequitable outcomes all over the place.
The one thing they don’t do: make your streets safer. Why? Because the really bad guys already get the book thrown at them by prosecutors and judges.
These people went to law school. They’re not morons.
As a result, mandatory minimum sentences mean first time offenders and harmless idiots who screwed up get the book thrown at them for political purposes.
It also means that, ahem, “veterans” of the criminal justice system refuse to accept plea deals because they’ve been through the system enough to know that if you make the mandatory minimum deal crappy enough, they might as well just go to trial.
What difference will it make if they lose?
One final note: could we please stop speculating about the abuse being suffered by Janay Palmer Rice?
Maybe her comments are consistent with someone who suffered a long term pattern of physical abuse.
But you know what? Her comments are also consistent with someone who hasn’t.
Maybe we’ll find out about other incidents in this unfortunate couple’s past or maybe we won’t (candidly, it doesn’t matter except for people’s lurid curiosity), but until then, let’s go along with Ms. Rice’s suggestion and give them a little peace.
We can talk about the domestic violence issue in sports for hours and never even mention Ray Rice. Like I said, there are plenty of examples to choose from.