A One Strike Policy We’d Like To See

Ray Rice 2012. "Ray Rice 2012" by 1ravenscowboysnflfan - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Ray Rice 2012. “Ray Rice 2012” by 1ravenscowboysnflfan – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

On February 15, 2014, former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his fiancée Janay Palmer were arrested in Atlantic City, New Jersey and charged with assault. Most of us have seen the video of Ray dragging Janay out of an elevator, and were horrified by the whole situation. We saw the whisper campaign to blame the victim start up (“Janay provoked him. She spit in his face or something like that. He must have been provoked beyond reason; it can’t possibly be his fault).

The NFL reviewed what had happened in Atlantic City, and in turn dropped the ball by giving Rice a measly two game suspension. This led to understandable public outrage and confusion over why testing positive for marijuana was considered a much more serious offense by the NFL than domestic assault and battery was.

Commissioner Roger Goodell last month admitted that he “didn’t get it right” when he only gave Rice a two game slap on the wrist, and said he would strengthen the league’s domestic abuse policy to include a six-game suspension for first-time offenders and a possible lifetime ban for second offenses. 

Then, yesterday TMZ published the video from the elevator’s security camera from that night. In it, we clearly see Rice punch Janay so hard in the face that he knocks her out. Hours after the video appeared, the Baltimore Ravens released Rice, followed by the NFL suspending him indefinitely.

Both the NFL and the Ravens claim that they hadn’t seen the security camera video before TMZ published it. We can only come to one of two conclusions about that statement. Either both are lying, or both deliberately soft-pedaled the investigation. The first thing that would have happened if they were serious about getting to the bottom of the situation would be to look at any security videos of the incident; as the location was a casino, there would be security cameras everywhere. But, they claim they didn’t.

Furthermore – when the video they said they did see has Rice dragging his girlfriend out of the elevator, doesn’t that imply that she was knocked unconscious? After all, if it were just her passing out, there wouldn’t be an assault case, no? How much proof do you need? Are there acceptable levels of violence against women in the NFL’s and teams’  eyes? If you’re under so many broken ribs or so many black eyes, then it’s not as bad?

There’s three players in the NFL currently facing domestic violence charges. The NFL said last month after instating their new domestic abuse policies that “each case will be addressed individually on its merits.” We have a better policy to propose to the NFL, the teams and the players’ union – one strike and you’re out. We can’t think of any situation where domestic abuse would be excusable.

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