Doug Robinson: Violence against women is apparently not a hip cause

By Doug Robinson, Deseret News

Published: Tue, July 29, 2014, 2:25 p.m. MDT

 Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, right, speaks alongside his wife Janay during an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Ray Rice spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for assaulting his fiance, now his wife, at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, right, speaks alongside his wife Janay during an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Ray Rice spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for assaulting his fiance, now his wife, at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(Patrick Semansky, AP)

Congratulations to the National Football League, which recently suspended one of its star players a mere two games for knocking his girlfriend unconscious and dragging her from a casino elevator by the hair.

It’s official: The world is cracked.

Two games? The Minnesota Vikings suspended an assistant coach three games because he made hateful remarks about gays. The NBA slapped a team owner with a lifetime ban from the league and a $2.5 million fine because he expressed racist opinions in a private phone call with his girlfriend. The NFL suspended a player eight games for bullying another player with words, not fists.

There you have it: The three hip causes of the day — homophobia, racism, bullying — but not violence against women.

Smoking marijuana gets a four-game suspension in the NFL. Players can get a two-game suspension for making one too many head-to-head hits during a football game — the same penalty for attacking a woman in a casino. At least the players are wearing helmets.

Professional sports is very much a reflection of the culture, and in our culture words and opinions that aren't sanctioned by political correctness are worse than knocking out a woman. As Foxsports.com summed it up in a headline, “When violence is more acceptable than slurs, we have a problem.” And when violence against women is more acceptable than a football player picking on a teammate who is roughly the same size, we have an even bigger problem.

We might disagree on a lot of things, but violence against women isn’t one of them. That’s cut and dried. You don’t go there. There is no gray area. Which is why I wrote a column two months ago wondering why there was relatively little outrage over the Rice incident, the kind of outrage that occurred when TV host Paul Deen lost TV programs and lucrative endorsement deals and found herself at the center of national debate because, in a moment of candor, she admitted to using the N-word in the '50s when many people did so. Similarly, radio talk-show host Laura Schlessinger stirred up a PC firefight for saying the N-word while discussing the hypocrisy of that term’s use by blacks. Don Imus was fired after making racist comments on the radio.

The outrage and repercussions were swift in all the aforementioned cases. Not so in the Ray Rice business. Sure, he beat up a woman, but at least he didn’t call her a racial or homophobic slur! It took five months for the NFL to act. It wasn’t as if there was no clear evidence — it was caught on video. You can watch Rice on the Internet drag this woman by the hair. All he needs is a club to complete the picture of a Neanderthal man returning to the cave with his woman.

This time President Obama didn’t weigh in, as he did in the Sterling case. There was no talk-show hysteria, no Oprah, no magazine cover stories. There was little reaction from the NFL office, no public condemnation, just silence from a league that has a history of domestic violence among its players. There was more public outrage when former NFL coach Tony Dungy said he wouldn’t have drafted gay football player Michael Sam because he was a distraction, a point that was proven by the distraction and reaction his comments caused, led by ESPN ’s arrogant, condescending Keith Olbermann, who called Dungy the "world’s worst person” in sports.

Where was the outrage when Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh was asked a few months ago whether Rice would remain with the team and he said, “I haven’t seen anything that would remotely make me think that he would not be on the Ravens’ roster moving forward.” He said the couple had “issues” to work through. Then there was his reaction to the suspension last week: “It’s not a big deal, it’s just part of the process,” Harbaugh told ESPN. “… I stand behind Ray. He’s a heck of a guy. … He makes a mistake, all right? He’s going to have to pay a consequence. I think that’s good for kids to understand it works that way.”

Good for kids? What part of this is good for kids? The part that says if you assault a woman all you have to do is miss a couple of ballgames and everything is fine? The part that says the girl will still marry you and beg the commissioner not to punish her man (which is what happened)? That you’re still a heck of a guy if you hit a woman? The message for kids is to understand men don’t hit women, EVER. There are no exceptions. That’s how it really works.


Knowing the signs of domestic violence can help save a life. Signs/resources: The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition and the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

Domestic violence resources are available statewide, 24/7 at 1-800-897-LINK (5465). In an emergency, please call 911.

Doug Robinson's columns run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Email: drob@deseretnews.com

1. utah dane
Herriman / USA, UT,
July 29, 2014

You nailed this one Doug! Great article, but very sobering. Our national priorities are all upside down.

2. FatMan86
West Jordan, UT,
July 29, 2014

I can't help but wonder if Mr Goodell isn't deliberately backing off of player discipline in preparation for the free pass that will soon be given to one of his beloved team owners (who violated conduct rules with a DUI arrest).

3. let's roll
July 29, 2014

Well said, Mr. Robinson.

One additional item of note. When it was suggested that the 2 game suspension was too lenient, the NFL attempted to rationalize its decision by saying that only the NFL will be discipling Rice, no criminal charges are pending.

Unfortunately, Mr. Robinson wasn't there to challenge that sham of a justification. In most of the examples he provides, there was no criminal proceeding, and as he points out many were speech related, not crass violence.

I, for one, would like to see Mr. Robinson continue to pursue this story. I'd at least like to be able to vote with my consumer dollar. If any company decides to pay to have Mr. Rice endorse their product, I would appreciate Mr. Robinson publishing that fact so I can make sure to boycott that product.

4. freedomingood
provo, Utah,
July 29, 2014

You all sound more like you want lighter sentences for the other violations instead of tougher ones for beating women.

5. Karen R.
Houston, TX,
July 29, 2014

Mr. Robinson, a 2-game suspension for beating up your girlfriend or wife is pathetic in ANY case, not just in comparison to what a homophobic slur or using the N word will net you these days. Please don't use the issue as cover for sounding off on what you're really unhappy about.