Ray Rice, Careers, and the Law

So. Ray Rice. I haven’t written a good current events post in a bit, and this one’s been brewing in the back of my mind, so why not celebrate this fine Friday by collectively wondering what in the world is wrong with some people? Sadly, my time is pretty darned short today, so I just have enough to set the scene and then ask a question, but something’s better than nothing, right?

In case you somehow have missed it, Ray Rice is (was) a star American football player. Word came out a month or so ago that he’d beaten his then-fiancee (now-wife), knocking her unconscious in an elevator. The NFL responded by suspending him for two games. The end.

Then a more detailed video of the assault surfaced.

That right there? That’s a professional football player hitting a woman so hard in the head she slams into the wall of an elevator and is knocked out for a good long while. And what does he do then? He stand around, drags her out of the elevator, and generally has the body language of someone irritated that his fiancee had the nerve to get knocked out when he beat her.

Now, granted, the Ravens didn’t have this video when they initially suspended Rice (although there are some claims out there that they actually did–which throws a whole new level of awful into this equation), but they were still justifiably criticized for the way they were treating a man who had done this sort of thing as lightly as they did. But as I’ve thought about the situation, something has felt off to me all along, and I wasn’t sure what it was until today.

What got me thinking more was this piece, which discussed how a number of Baltimore Ravens fans–including women–showed up to last night’s game with Ray Rice jerseys on to show their support for the player. One woman’s justification for the support?

I don’t believe in domestic violence, but I will say: any woman who can hit a man, a man shouldn’t have to sit there and take the abuse. The abuse goes both ways.

“As a woman, she shouldn’t have hit him. If I hit you, I would expect you to hit me back. And that’s just how that goes.

Remember–this is a professional football player doing the punching here. That’s like a kid coming up to a thug and pretend shooting the thug with a pop gun, and then the thug shoots back with a real gun. There’s no comparison here.

But the thing is, I don’t think Rice is being punished the way he’s being punished because the NFL believes that’s what he deserves. I think he’s being punished that way so they can save face for the way they bungled this from the beginning. (A point this article points out in greater detail.)

But even then there are things that don’t sit well for me. For one thing, Rice got off very light when it comes to criminal charges. The only reason we’re hearing as much as we’re hearing about this is that Rice was caught on camera doing this. If that hadn’t happened, I don’t think this would have been treated as anything more than a drop in a river.

Here’s the question, though. What responsibility does an employer have for the actions of its employees, especially when they’re not “on the job?” If I get arrested for something, where does the employer come in when it comes to doling out punishment?

I wish I had more time to discuss this today, but the day has gotten away from me, so I guess I’m just going to have to settle with putting that question out to you and see what you come up with. I’ll try and drop by Facebook or the blog to respond to any comments–we’ll see where it goes. What can I say? Sometimes I have time to fully develop an idea, and sometimes I don’t. C’est la vie.

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