You probably have heard that Janay Rice attacked the media for basically making her life a living hell in an Instagram post Tuesday. She professed love for her husband and anger at being robbed of their livelihood in Ray’s being cut from the Raven’s football team and suspended from the league indefinitely.
Since Janay is the real victim in this case, TV commentators are careful not to be critical in their reactions to her statement. Instead they hand the ball off to specialists in spousal abuse who basically say she is living in denial, as is commonly the case. They say this gently, with understanding, sometimes talking of having been abused themselves while being in a state of denial. However, in taking that position based on general information not the specifics of Janay and Ray’s life, I think they are abusing her further.
They are saying honey, I’m sorry but your opinion doesn’t count. You have basically lost your sense of self and we are here to help restore it. Then you’ll see things more clearly. But after the media frenzy moves on to another outrage, Janay will be left with the stigma of a demonized husband who is out of work while those who claim to be sympathetic towards her will move on to the next media event that helps promote their cause or causes.
In saying this I am not defending Ray Rice. He committed assault and should have been given a real penalty in a New Jersey court when tried last May rather than a slap on the wrist. One could say if he had been stiffly punished then, Janay would have suffered as well. But her marriage and life would not have been reduced by television to blood in the water for all who have a cause to promote or an image to protect. I don’t like the collective self-righteousness and self-serving reactions of his football team and the NFL and every women’s group that wants to turn Janay’s being abused into a cause celebre whether she wants it or not.
I can imagine having egg on my face at some point. Maybe some months or years down the line Janay will announce that she is separating from Ray, that she had been continuously, secretly abused while deluded by love and guilt just as the common story line goes. But here is my point for now. I have tried but not found any stories about previous domestic abuse between Ray and Janay. Of course, it is possible it has been kept hidden, and stories might come out, but why haven’t any come out yet? Certainly there is no lack of news people looking for that scoop.
Is it not also possible that this was a unique moment of vicious eruption for reasons we cannot fathom. Maybe it is the rare exception to a general rule, but aren’t we being a little too quick to judge the soul of this man?
What if all of these people who act like they know more about Janay’s situation than she does really don’t? For now, I am simply saying with respect for Janay we give them more space, stop playing that elevator video over and over again leaving the impression that Ray is an irredeemable brute who should have no chance to taint the ranks of the pristine NFL ever again.
The morning I heard that the Ravens organization apologized for their handling of the Rice situation and the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has as well and well they should. However, having been too lax in confronting the situation before they now are trying to appease their critics by giving him a stiffer punishment than the policy they revised after the outcry that they did too little to punish Ray, a mere two game suspension.
With that change, the present policy is a six game suspension for the first incidence of domestic violence and then suspension for at least a year if there is a second, with no promise of reinstatement. Rice was cut by his team and is facing an indefinite suspension. How does that fit the guideline, other than the league is willing to abridge its own rule to show they are truly sorry enough.
Having been too soft on Ray Rice initially the league is being arbitrarily harsh now prompted by the visceral nature of that video. The NFL’s way of whitewashing its image sullied by its earlier missteps.
The NFL wants to clean up its image and women’s groups want to parlay this moment of viciousness into a deeper awareness of domestic violence while promoting means to prevent and punish it. But as they pursue their own aims, whatever value they may have, Janay Rice keeps losing at every call.