What had taken place inside the elevator had already been evident from an earlier video, which showed Rice dragging the limp body of the woman, Janay Palmer, from the elevator. But that seemed of little concern to Baltimore’s NFL team, which stood by Rice and even suggested that Palmer might share responsibility for what happened. Fans rewarded him with cheers and standing ovations. The National Football League gave Rice a slap on the wrist (although, to its credit, it later admitted its leniency had been a mistake and put in place tougher rules).
All of this making allowances for Rice suddenly ended Monday with the release of the stomach-churning video of the actual punch. Within hours of the video being posted on TMZ.com, the Ravens terminated Rice’s contract and cut him loose, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. The time for excuses and looking the other way was over; never mind the hypocrisy of their earlier acceptance of Rice.
Domestic violence is a fact of life for too many people. And too often their suffering is compounded by a tendency by outsiders to disbelieve them, belittle the harm or try to explain it away.
There are lessons to be learned from what happened in that elevator, and not just for the NFL. Namely: This is what domestic violence looks like, and you shouldn’t need a video to believe it, be disgusted by it and refuse to tolerate it.
South Carolina heard again this week that it continues to rank as a violent place for the frequency of men killing women.
South Carolina is second in the nation in the rate of women murdered by men, with a rate of 2.06 per 100,000, according to the new Violence Policy Center report “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2012 Homicide Data.” Only Alaska’s rate is higher.
This is the 17th year in a row that South Carolina has ranked in the top 10 states for the rate of women murdered by men. Nationwide, 1,706 females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2012, at a rate of 1.16 per 100,000.
For homicides in which the victim-to-offender relationship could be identified, 93 percent of female victims nationwide were murdered by a male they knew. Of the victims who knew their offenders, 62 percent were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders.
In South Carolina, House Speaker Bobby Harrell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Larry Martin have stated that strengthening laws against domestic violence will be a priority in the coming legislative session. With the documented record of violence against women involving guns, a good place to start is strengthening the law to prevent convicted domestic violence offenders from legally possessing firearms.
Ray Rice, star running back for the Baltimore Ravens, had escaped with the equivalent of a public scolding from his team and the NFL after knocking his then-fiancee Janay Palmer unconscious in February inside an elevator at an Atlantic City, N.J., casino. A video outside the elevator captured the image of Rice hauling Palmer’s inert body from the elevator into a hallway.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued Rice a ludicrous two-game suspension.
But criticism of the lenient punishment rained down so hard on Goodell that he was forced to admit a month later, “I didn’t get it right.” On Aug. 28, he announced new penalties for domestic abusers, including a six-game suspension for a first offense and a potential lifetime ban for a second offense.
On Monday, however, a new video released by TMZ Sports clearly indicated that he still hadn’t gotten it right. After the release of the video, the Ravens terminated Rice’s contract and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. That finally was the right response, but one that came much too late.
The NFL remains more concerned about the bottom line than about culling wife beaters and other criminals from its ranks, its carefully nurtured squeaky-clean image could take a direct hit.