Sports, violence, racism and double standards

Joshua O'Shaughnessy_thb

by Joshua O’Shaughnessy

Yesterday, when I opened my Facebook feed it seemed to be inundated with posts regarding the Ray Rice situation. As I re-watched the video I started to ask several questions. After much deliberation, I decided to share them, publicly, on the internet. At first, I almost balked at the idea of sharing my opinion for fear of the flame war that might ensue, but I then decided that it needed to be said.

For me, this whole situation has two very serious concerns. The first is clear to see, but the second gets to be a bit blurry depending on which side of the political spectrum you are on. It is the second concern that caused me initial hesitation and ultimately led me to be vocal.Lets start with Ray Rice. Back in February a hotel CCTV monitor captured him savagely attack his then fiancé. (They are now married.) The video shows him brutally strike her while (behind closed doors) in an elevator. So hard, in fact, that she is knocked out and unconscious and needs to be carried from the elevator like a sack of potatoes and dropped on the floor just beyond the threshold.

When this video was made public, NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, was forced to act. Ray Rice was suspended for two games for his involvement in his vicious attack on a woman. That prior week, Roger Goodell suspended Washington Redskins defensive player Brandon Meriweather for repeat offenses involving illegal hits on defenseless players.  Meriweather’s suspension was also for two games.

So, lets do the math… In the NFL you receive the same suspension for repeated “rules violations” as you do for savagely attacking women. It was only after yesterday’s public outcry that Roger Goodell and the Baltimore Ravens were forced to suspend Ray Rice indefinitely to save face from bad publicity. A little late in my opinion. Why was the initial punishment not harsher?  Why should it take a public response to react appropriately?

This brings me to concern #2…

Remember Richard Icognito?  He was the Miami Dolphin player who was “deservingly” vilified last season for bullying and racism in the locker room.  Mr. Goodell, representing the NFL, along with the Miami Dolphins acted swiftly and appropriately by suspending him for the season.  A clear message was sent by the league that these actions were not to be tolerated.

Lets go back to last season in the NBA.  Most of the headlines were not about basketball as much as they were about the lifetime ban placed on L.A. Clippers owner, Donald Sterling.  Granted, Sterling’s audio was less than what his surname implies, the guy is truly an idiot.

If you remember the story, Donald Sterling made private comments that were recorded (behind closed doors) and then made public.  When those comments were heard publicly, the decision was made by the league, represented by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, to award him a lifetime ban from the league and fine him $2.5 Million dollars.

More math…

Ray Rice violently beats his fiancé in an elevator and drags her out to drop her on the floor=2 game suspension.

Richard Icognito speaks hatefully towards teammates+bullies teammates+is and idiot=1 season suspension.

Donald Sterling speaks hurtfully about minorities PRIVATELY=1 lifetime ban + $2.5 Million fine + loss of ownership.

Now a question. What if Donald Sterling were black? What if Ray Rice were white? Do you think the outcomes would be different? This is the concern I had that I almost chose to remain silent about.  I feared a backlash of a very common agenda that we have in our country these days.  I feared I would fall victim to this agenda for “asking a question.” I feared I’d look racist for bringing up the color involved in all of this. (It’s almost ridiculous how fear can be such a powerful form of censorship to our first amendment rights). Then I realized that this is exactly what the people I fear would do if roles were reversed. (i.e., A white cop shoots and kills a black teen and it’s automatically about race. And if you don’t see that it’s racist then, you too, are racist).

You know the tricky part of that? What if Donald Sterling was black? Would African-American Donald Sterling still be an NBA owner if he privately asked his girlfriend to not publicly be seen with white people?

What if Richard Icognito was black? Would a black Richard Icognito receive a season long suspension for calling a teammate a “cracker” or making remarks about their “white privilege?”

And what if Ray Rice was white? What would the news be reporting now if a white Ray Rice savagely beat his black girlfriend? Or even his white girlfriend? Would there be any question that a white Ray Rice would be asked to never come back, even from the beginning? Was Roger Goodell’s initial response to this crime made out of the fear that I mentioned earlier?

The sad part in all of this shouldn’t need to be pointed out. Rules are set up in our country that should apply to everyone regardless of monetary stature, political affiliation, creed, sex or race, etc… Ray Rice has been accepted into a pre-trial intervention program and will avoid jail-time. Make no mistake, his offense was brutal and violent. His punishment for beating his fiancé will not be a legal battle which would see him fighting to keep his freedoms. Instead, he will receive a blow to his bank account by losing his seasonal contract and paying for a public relations firm to make himself look like a victim. And team owners will soon have the option of picking him up next season; after it has all blown over.

In the end, the important concern here should be the violence. Violence toward anyone should not be tolerated. Sure, words are powerful and they can hurt. The words of a father spoken in moments of ignorance can lead toward the unjustifiable anger of his offspring toward people who don’t deserve it. The point in racism that needs to be understood is that racism can lead to violence. One of the reasons we seek to end racism is because it can lead to violence.

But in two different cases of racism where ignorance is only verbalized, we crush it with swift justice. We outcast the men who were once powerful and dignified and we throw them into obscurity and vilify them. But when the true violence rears its ugly head, we look the other way and accept it? A man savagely attacks a woman and the same kind of people who have the power to make decisions give him a 2 week vacation and he is free to live the high life?

I would say we missed the mark.

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  • John Fairplay

    People in American society are becoming more and more afraid to speak out based on the social status of the person involved in wrong doing. Officials at Penn State testified that they did not talk to authorities about Jerry Sandusky’s rape of young boys because they feared being labeled “homophobes” and protested by gay rights groups. Goodell was likely afraid to act strongly against Rice initially because of the color of his skin and a fear of being labeled a “racist.” Special interest groups – who in some instances earn their livings from fomenting fear and outrage – have created a society where everyone’s afraid to say anything when real people are being sexually assaulted or beaten senseless. Shame on them.

  • mikeymike

    Joshua, you are a racist.

    • Joshua

      Mikeymike…Pray tell, how am I a racist? Is it due to the fact that you don’t agree with the article? Surely, this statement comes from a place of ignorance and naivety by virtue of the fact that you do not even know me. I find it rather ironic how racism is perpetuated by people like yourself who are so fast to throw out the “racism card.” Much like the Al Sharptons and the Jessie Jacksons of this world. Race baiting has done more to exacerbate racism than anything else in this country. Additionally, doing it behind a silhouette on the internet speaks volumes about the logic of your opinions.

      • zanzara2041

        Google Earth can’t find Africa America. That said, mikeymike is obviously a racist in the sense that it takes one know one.

      • mikeymike

        Joshua, it cracks me up when white racists (as if there are any other types) who are clearly racist get all bent out of shape when they are called out on it and called racist. you proved with your ridiculous column, full of hypotheticals, as well as your subsequent post that you are clearly racist.

        • Joshua

          1. Calling racism all white is racist.
          2. Who’s bent out of shape here? I just asked you to elaborate on the basis of your claim. I’m still waiting patiently for a response.
          3. When did asking hypothetical questions become racist? (Was it because my question involved race?) Is it racist to bring up race? Wouldn’t that make the majority of liberal media racist?
          4. You have proven to be a great example for the purpose of my article. Thank you.

  • mikeymike

    look at how I am being attacked just because I am a black man. if ray rice were white he would have not even have ben suspended for one game, let alone released from his team and suspended indefinitely. it’s called institutional racism folks. ever heard of it?

    • Joshua

      Is this you using “hypotheticals?” Now Mikeymike…didn’t you just say I was racist for doing this? Shame shame.

      Also, no one is attacking you. (No one was even privy to your skin color…you offered that information). We are having a conversation here. Just because you fail to be able to support the claims you make doesn’t mean you’re being attacked. It just means that your narrative is off. Don’t be a victim.

      • mikeymike

        we are all victims, African americans in this country. I have 5 beautiful black grandchildren who I love dearly. all five of my grandchildren get full fledged panic attacks when they see white people. when I asked their mother (my daughter) why that is she replied that she’s made the mistake of having the evening news on with my grandchildren there. all one has to do is watch the news and hear that seemingly not a day goes by that an African American is not robbed, beaten, killed or sexually assaulted by a white person in America. it is getting worse and worse every day…mike brown ferguson, ms.. mcbride in Detroit, Trayvon martin, Jordan davis in florida, and I could go on and on. why is it that you never hear about black people assaulting white people? because we are truly the peaceful race. my daughter is so afraid for the safety of her children that she is thinking about moving to Canada, where her friends have told her that violence by whites towards black people are not nearly as frequent there as in America. unfortunately, things have not changed a bit in the last 200 years. sad to say.

        • Joshua

          So, the answer to my original question of why you called me racist is because I am white. Thank you for your response kind sir. Good day.

          • mikeymike

            all y’all white people are so big and bad behind a computer screen.

          • Joshua

            And yet the labeling and the name-calling comes from you. If I appear aggressive in my response, (which I am not), it has entirely to do with the title that you have placed on me. The fact of the matter is that any racism in this comment thread has come from you.

            I feel for your 5 grandchildren. Unfortunately, I cannot take responsibility for their fear. You, yourself mentioned that it stems from the media. I don’t blame them for being scared Mike. The news even scares me sometimes. Perhaps it’s not the most appropriate television choice for a child. As a parent, I would want to protect my children from fear as much as humanly possible. And whenever fear comes up I would sit them down and talk about it. Fear is about the unknown. Fear is a form of ignorance to something. Racism is all about fear and ignorance. If you truly hate racism, then discourage it to your grandchildren by talking to them about it. Give them a “healthy” knowledge” of diversity. We are ALL different as humans, the color of our skin should be the LAST thing we compare ourselves by.

          • mikeymike

            you call me racist? that’s another thing that makes me laugh. white people just don’t have a clue. I can NOT be racist. I am black. I am a part of the oppressed minority. you sir, are part of the majority oppressor. you still haven’t answered my question of why black people of all ages have to live in fear of being robbed, attacked, sexually assaulted or even killed by whites in this country. it happens all the time and is getting worse. when was the last time you heard of a black person committing any of the above mentioned crimes on a white person? give me examples. it just doesn’t happen.

          • Joshua

            Mikeymike…I am choosing to not respond to you anymore. Think what you want, it’s your opinion, however wrong it might be. You obviously see whatever you choose to see and debating with you is fruitless. Good luck to you, your daughter and your grandchildren. I hope for peace and comfort in all of your lives.

          • mikeymike

            hey Joshua, guess what. i’m white. and i’m only twelve. i’m using my dad’s computer. I was just messing with ya. have a good day.

          • leona

            mikeymike, the statistics from credible sources like the Bureau of Statistics and FBI do not support your assertions. In fact, they are state just the opposite.

            It may not be the politically correct answer, but the truth is, according to the Bureau of Statistics, 26.7% of homicides where the victim is a stranger are interracial. The offending rate for blacks (24 per 100k) is 7 times higher than the offending rate for whites (3.4 per 100k). Adjusting for population, whites are far more likely to be victims than blacks.

            And rape is even more extreme. FBI statistics for 2007 show 14,000 rapes commited by blacks on white women with zero whites commiting rape on black women.

            And it isn’t because blacks are more likely to be targeted and convicted. The Center for Equal Opportunity says that juries actually acquit blacks at a higher rate than whites for crimes of murder, rape, robbery and assault. The only crime that had a higher conviction rate for blacks was felony traffic offenses.

          • guest

            Did not black and white screening take a back seat with the advent of color translation?
            Citizen mikeymike, how about taking a recess from Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and return to class bearing witness to Lloyd Marcus, Clarence Thomas, J.C. Watts, Thomas Sewell, Walter Willams, Janice Rogers Brown, Condoleza Rice, Michael Steele, Bill Cosby, Alan Keyes, Allen West, Ann Wortham, Wintley Phipps, Juan Williams, Star Parker,Jeff Blackwell, Herman Cain and Bishop Jackson for goodness takes?
            Please!

  • havetoask

    I, perhaps, can see the need for someone to write this article and get “it” off their chest but why would anyone publish it? An article that really says nothing but speculative outcomes… Waste of my team reading it…

    • Joshua

      Where do you stand in regards to hurtful opinions versus battering women? Do you see justice in the initial 2 week suspension for a professional athlete who attacks a woman when compared to another professional athletes 1 year ban for being a bully? Speculative or not, questions should be raised asking why. Or is physically attacking someone weaker than you not considered to be a form of bullying?

      • havetoask

        You ask very interpretive questions just like you make very questionable connections of the facts in the Rice case. You suggest the tape released in February showed Rice hit his fiancee in a closed elevator. In fact, the tape showing that was just released a few days ago. The February tape showed Rice dragging and dumping his fiancee from the elevator. The NFL issued a punishment based on that tape. At the time, I thought the punishment was too weak but that doesn’t matter.
        Now, the comparisons you make in the article are, in my mind based on incorrect data so any conclusions that are made are suspect.
        Where do I stand in regard to hurtful opinions versus battering women? Am I expressing hurtful opinions to women, at a woman or just hurtful opinions in general ? And exactly how can opinions be hurtful in the first place? Remember: “sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words will never harm me”? I personally do not believe men should initiate contact against women. However, I cannot rule out striking a woman; if she is attacking with some kind of object and malice intent, she is no better than any other sex.
        I would also suggest you define the term battering: repeated blows I believe are necessary for battering….Rice according to the latest tape and information certainly didn’t “batter”; Once again your choice of words and conditions presents a false choice.
        Like I said; if you feel better/good about writing this stuff down I am all for you. The intent of my question was why would the “Catalyst” publish it? God Bless You and God Bless the USA.

        • Joshua

          No sir. I made no mention of a tape released in February. Rice admitted to striking his fiancé…A video of the abuse should not be needed to take appropriate action by the league. The decision to take further action only occurred when the video was made public and the league started to feel pressure from the general public. This was obviously a PR move. As a matter of fact, having happened in February, why is it only now a headline story? (Because the ball was dropped, that’s why)

          Striking? Battering? Assault? Call it what you’d like, friend, but as you said…”Sticks and stones.” A man “verbalizes” an opinion and receives a season long ban in the case of Richard Icognito, or a lifetime ban and a sizable fine in the case of Donald Sterling. Yes, both verbalized opinions are hateful and ignorant, but they pale in comparison to a physical attack on someone else. Tape or no tape, the people making these decisions got them wrong. That should be concerning to anyone following the story.

          If your only argument here is to struggle with the editor of this blog as to why they would publish this story, then perhaps you are missing the point entirely.

          • havetoask

            My only point was to question the “Catalyst” for publishing something so filled with errors, omissions and questionable conclusions. It was not intended to offer any harmful opinions of the author. If I have offended you, sir, please accept my sincerest apology. I for one will quit this bantering battering. But I would still like you to look at your paragraph two in its entirety and then your lead in sentence of the third paragraph. You intimate the entire was released and that is what the NFL reacted too. In fact there were two separate releases of two different parts of that entire video and two separate actions by the NFL and only one (the latest release) by the Ravens themselves….Enuf. Have a good day.

          • Joshua

            No video was needed to make an appropriate decision. He admitted to the league that he hit his fiancé. Is there some “good” way to go about doing that so as to make it only marginally wrong? He admitted wrongdoing. There was never any question as to her “attacking him with a weapon or with malice” as you stated. He was never under any threat of harm from his fiancé. The guy attacked her because he’s a monster.

            Battering, in your definition, would require numerous strikes. Maybe his efficiency in beating women should be rewarded?

            Perhaps Donald Sterling would still have a job in the NBA if he would have just pummeled his girlfriend in an elevator instead of speaking his ignorance in the privacy of his own home?

            Think what you want of the “errors” you see in the article. I’m a little more concerned with the errors in our society as a whole.

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