There has been much media coverage over the past two days about the newly released video of Ray Rice's knockout punch of his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in a casino elevator last February. Up until the release of this new footage, the NFL and the Ravens football organization, had, at best, lightly reprimanded Ray Rice with a two-game suspension and a fine. Their decision was based on the footage of Ray dragging his unconscious fiancée out of the elevator and basically dropping her face down onto the casino floor.
She was not drunk. She was not drugged. She did not faint because she was ill. She was punched unconscious.
Even a little while ago, the Ravens website had posted a comment attributed to Janay Rice (as they quickly married soon after the incident) that she was basically sorry for her part in the altercation between the two of them. This may indeed be true, as the longer-length footage shows them trading insults and Janay apparently spitting on Ray. I can only ask: So?
Her comment falls completely in line with the many misrepresentations about domestic violence, such as:
• She got me so angry I lashed out
• She hit me first
• She insulted me so I gave it to her
• She pushed my buttons and I reacted
• She knows how to get me so angry
Each of these statements have been used countless times in domestic violence cases so that it has become a veritable cliché, as in: "My anger is not my fault but the fault of my partner so therefore I am not responsible for the severity of my reaction."
By Janay coming out yesterday with the statement (in part) on Instagram: "I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I'm mourning the death of my closest friend..."
What if her words were actually spoken by her best friend? What if Ray's punch and her subsequent unconsciousness resulted in permanent brain damage or death? Where is the justification for the amount of force he used? Is he aware that he is a very strong man? Does he use his physicality professionally? Of course he does.
The Cornell University Law School's Legal Information Institute defines deadly force as: "That force which a reasonable person would consider likely to cause death or serious bodily harm. Its use may be justified only under conditions of extreme necessity, when all lesser means have failed or cannot reasonably be employed."
Based on this definition, and the events caught on the video footage, there is no way that Ray Rice can justify his actions. He did not attempt to diffuse the situation between them in any way. In fact, he chose to use his left hand to deliver an extremely powerful blow to Janay's face and watched as her head hit the rail and she dropped unconscious to the floor.
What is almost as disturbing? The fact that he then stood there and never once reached down to check on her. To comfort the woman he would soon marry. To see if his daughter's mother was still alive. Nothing. Just finally dragged her out of the elevator like she was a gym bag stuffed with football equipment.
An intimate relationship is not the place for violence. Many people can and have extricated themselves from anger fueled incidents -- walked away, diffused the situation, refused to fight back. A situation that happened to one of my close friends is when he was in a bar with a group of people (including his then-girlfriend) and she decided he had done something wrong and she attacked him. First, she dumped a jug of beer on his head and then proceeded to hit, scratch and tear at his shirt. At this point he was embarrassed, wet, and had multiple scratches and bruises from her attack. What did he do to her? Nothing. He knew that if he struck back, being so much stronger than she was, he could seriously hurt her. He had the presence of mind, and enough self-control, to know that under no circumstances was he going to harm her physically. Many of the witnesses at the bar marveled at the way he handled himself and remarked at what a gentleman he was. How did he finally deal with the situation? He broke off their relationship and never looked back.
Isn't it time for gentlemen to set the standard for other men to follow? Isn't it time for professional athletes to be these gentlemen? In a nation of hero worship of these athletes, what better time for them, their organizations and the league to STAND UP AND BE REAL GENTLE MEN!