Ethics Dunce: ESPN

"That will teach you to fudge the truth, Smith. Remember, you're a journalist!"

“That will teach you to remember to fudge the truth, Smith. Remember, you’re a journalist!”

Item: ESPN suspends Stephen A. Smith. Why? In response to the uproar over the NFL’s suspension of domestic abuser Ray Rice only two games for punching a woman’s lights out—the love of his life!—Smith uttered the blasphemy that some victims of domestic abuse share responsibility for their plight. Of course, he is 100% correct, and this something that many women must hear, learn, and act upon, or perhaps die. The proof: the precise case that prompted Smith’s comments! Janay Palmer, Rice’s punching bag, refused to file a complaint against him, and married the bastard a couple of months after he hauled her unconscious body out of a hotel elevator like a sack of potatoes, caught on camera.

If (I would say “when”) she gets clocked again, is she partially responsible? Absolutely. I also think she’s responsible in part for the injuries of every abused woman who follows her high-profile, irresponsible, violence-provoking (I use that unfortunately inexact word as Smith used it) example.

Smith’s suspension—for a week, almost as long as Rice— to mollify the feminist apologists for their violence enabling sisters, is craven and wrong.


Facts: ESPN

23 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: ESPN

    • Not for anyone who listens to Smith, who is more loud and intense than clear and articulate. If ESPN suspended him until he learned to speak English like a broadcaster should, I’d be supportive.

      verb: provoke; 3rd person present: provokes; past tense: provoked; past participle: provoked; gerund or present participle: provoking

      stimulate or give rise to (a reaction or emotion, typically a strong or unwelcome one) in someone.
      “the decision provoked a storm of protest from civil rights organizations”
      synonyms: arouse, produce, evoke, cause, give rise to, occasion, call forth, elicit, induce, excite, spark off, touch off, kindle, generate, engender, instigate, result in, lead to, bring on, precipitate, prompt, trigger;

      Janay rewarded the man who attacked her by marrying him. “Result in, lead to” more domestic violence? Sounds right by my dictionary. If a woman strikes a man, is she provoking violence? “Arouse”? (nobody’s saying “justify”).

      So why is it “very hard”?

      • That’s a stretch, and you know it. So, a woman just being in the presence of an abuser is provoking him? What about women who do divorce their abusers. They still have to occasionally see each other if they have kids.

        • I just had to deal with a sexual harassment allegation. First rule, 101: tell BOTH the parties involved not to stay in the same vicinity or close together. Works with abuse, too. Just as a starting point. Why isn’t that obvious?

        • Apparently, you do not live in Texas. An abuser is assumed to be as much of a danger to the children as to the wife and is rarely granted visitation, other than officially supervised.

        • “So, a woman just being in the presence of an abuser is provoking him?”

          If he has a history of domestic abuse? Absolutely.

          “What about women who do divorce their abusers. They still have to occasionally see each other if they have kids.”

          Cite examples of instances where courts have forced visitation upon battered women, and I’ll cite examples of where the court system worked. Caveat: If the battery was reported. I’ll give you that it might have happened, but by and large in a system where it is presumed that the mother will receive custody of her children (at a rate of 85-15, and 8 of that 15 is uncontested), and if the mother claims domestic abuse the children are removed from the father until the claim is sorted out, then judges seem unwilling to hear custody cases because it would be cruel to the children to shake up their arrangement, I just can’t give credit to that claim.

  1. This is a serious flaw in the societal expectation that women are expected to forgive their abusers, whether spouse, parent, or partner. Then there is an expectation that saying the offender is ‘sorry’ and sounds sincere erases the sin and broken bones. This is the endgame result of too much unearned forgiveness. Forgiveness only comes after proof of rehab, which can only be decided in months or years.

    I would hope that I would be confident enough to press charges if I was in that situation. But I know women and men who put up with what I consider terrible abuse because they want to preserve a family unit, or they have lost hope of finding anyone better. They really don’t see any alternative to endurance. Yes they might escape the abuser, but it’s not worth losing the loved children when there is no blood relationship. ‘Smoothing’ things with the police is just part of their coping. They are pitiful and can’t understand that things will not improve magically, I’m not sure enabling is quite the right word as much as something like Stockholm syndrome. But others cannot help them until they stop helping their captor.

  2. “Forgiveness” is overrated. There ARE some things that should not be forgiven, and being knocked out cold is one of them.

    Is that what is the root of this problem though? That women are encouraged to forgive? In my experience (limited though it is…) it’s usually a case of relatives/friends saying ‘Ditch him!’ and the woman not listening…

    • Forgiveness, greed, desperation, social conditioning, bad role models, lack of self-esteem, intimidation, avarice, gold-digging, gullibility, ignorance, masochism, stupidly, cultural norms. Pick ’em.

    • Yes, I should have mentioned that Whoopie weighed in on “The View” with a similar assertion as Smith. ESPN’s suits, I think, really don’t speak feminism, or sexual discrimination, or abuse, or any of that stuff—they are clueless, so they just gravitate to the path of least resistance. Somebody figured that the ratings would be better and the sponsors happier if they sacrificed poor Smith.

  3. I have been watching this story unfold for several days and it prompted me to do a bit of research before I weighed in on my obviously biased male perspective.

    I grew up in a family that was not immune from some aspects of domestic abuse. I was taught at an early age by my very liberal parents to never hit a girl and to walk away from a fight. On its face, it is impossible to argue with such teachings. But, it is hard to reconcile those lessons when I was the recipient of physical retaliation when I was deemed to be behaviorally out of line. This was especially apparent when I was on the losing end of a back hand across the face from my father during a family birthday party for my older brother in April of 1968 for uttering the dreaded N word out of frustration after just being beaten and bloodied by a group of 8 black males that decided they wanted my baseball glove and bat. I was later told that my father was concerned that if I used that term publically I could be in more serious trouble at the hands of even more violent people. Such a great rationalization if there ever was one.

    Because I was much larger (fatter) than most of the children in the neighborhood I was seen as bigger and stronger than virtually everyone. My size was often referred to as being 5 by 5. I learned that no matter what the provocation, I would lose because only my behavior would be considered. I learned early on that I had to endure a never ending barrage of verbal and physical attacks without resorting physical retaliation. Over the years I began to realize what I really learned was the hypocrisy of violence and the use of the threat of violence.

    I now understand that that violence can take many forms; physical, psychological and now economic violence. The purpose of violence is to exert control over another by raising the costs of non-compliance. Now, not all economic sanctions leveled against another are acts of violence to assert control but if the intent is to hurt another to gain compliance to your line of thinking then in my book it’s violence. This is what is happening to Mr. Smith at ESPN. Exactly what did Smith do? He is a commentator on sports. He opines. That is his job. This was a sports related story. Was it his job to pile on to the outrage of Rice’s behavior or to give his honest opinion on the matter? Ironically, the NFL has a penalty for “piling on”.
    Would he have been suspended if he suggested that quarterback X is better than quarterback Y. I doubt it. I also don’t think he would have been suspended if he opined in the affirmative on Israel’s use of force in the Gaza. Muzzling countervailing opinion’s or alternative points of view is the first tactic in perpetrating violence and control over another. Because of this we have been taught to believe that men are the perpetrators of virtually all violence. I can’s count how many times I have heard the phrase “too much testosterone in the room”. Is such a phrase designed to emasculate or ridicule male opinion? Could be. I submit that it is designed to suppress the expression of such male opinions thus elevating the female perspective in various matters.

    The NFL is sanctioning Rice to a two game suspension; a punishment felt by many as insufficient in light of the perceived crime committed by Rice. Because I rarely follow sports, I have only seen the footage of Rice dragging the woman out of the elevator. Taken alone, is that sufficient evidence of a crime? I don’t think so. There must be more. Assuming there is, then advocates for better protection against domestic violence should be demanding legislation to force prosecution of the perpetrator regardless of the alleged victim’s wishes.

    I wonder if Smith would have been suspended if he quoted information from some of the scholarly articles written about violence instead of offering his own lay opinion. Perhaps if all studies were considered a more appropriate act would be the Violence Against Intimate Partners and Family Members Act instead of being one sided and gender specific.

    Below is the source of my information and a few of the abstracts from 200 different scholarly studies that have researched domestic violence.

    Brush, L. D. (1990). Violent Acts and injurious outcomes in married couples: Methodological issues in the National Survey of Families and Households. Gender & Society, 4, 56-67. (Used the Conflict Tactics scale in a large national survey, n=5,474, and found that women engage in same amount of spousal violence as men.)

    Felson, R. B., & Pare, P. (2005). The reporting of domestic violence and sexual assault by nonstrangers to the police. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 597-610. (Authors analyzed data from The National Violence Against Women Survey, and found that “male victims are particularly reluctant to report assaults by their female partners.” Reasons for nonreporting include: fear of reprisal, thought that police could do nothing to help and charges would not be believed

    Felson, R. B., & Outlaw, M. (2007). The control motive and marital violence. Violence and Victims, 22, 387-407. (Study based on an analysis of data obtained through the National Violence Against Women Survey . Authors looked at 10,000 respondents out of 16,000 total sample who were currently married. Results reveal that adult women are just as controlling and jealous toward their male partners as the other way around. Also report that, “While controlling spouses in current marriages are more likely to act violently there is no evidence that this relationship is gendered.”)

    Capaldi, D. M., Kim, H. K., & Shortt, J. W. (2007). Observed initiation and reciprocity of physical aggression in young at-risk couples. Journal of Family Violence, 22 (2) 101-111. (A longitudinal study using subjects from the Oregon Youth and Couples Study. Subjects were assessed 4 times across a 9 year period from late adolescence to mid-20’s. Findings reseal that young women’s rate of initiation of physical violence was “two times higher than men’s during late adolescence and young adulthood.” By mid-20’s the rate of initiation was about equal. Mutual aggression increased the likelihood of injury for both men and women.)

    Bottom line: Violence is an act perpetrated by the weak and insecure to gain compliance when the perceived cost of violence is less than the cost of non-compliance. Violence is reduced when the perceived cost of violence is higher vis’ a vis’ non-compliance.

      • Jack
        Thanks for the update on the unreleased footage. It seems to me that the police now have visual evidence of a crime and do not need the victim as a witness. If Rice is not prosecuted then obviously the prosecutor is not doing his/her job. The NFL should not do what the prosecutor or the alleged victim is unwilling to do. However, it is disingenuous to lambast the NFL for taking some action when the people who are party to the offense, or responsible for enforcing social rules are viewed as not complicit in lowering the cost of engaging in such violence by others. I believe that was what Smith was trying to say, albeit in artfully.

    • “Now, not all economic sanctions leveled against another are acts of violence to assert control but if the intent is to hurt another to gain compliance to your line of thinking then in my book it’s violence.”

      I disagree with that, I think economic sanctions are always an effort to exert control, and are therefore always acts of violence. BUT I also think that ‘violence’ is not inherently a bad thing. If someone punches you in the face, punching back would undoubtedly be violence, but there’s an argument that violence is appropriate. What I think of as inherently bad in relation to violence is aggression, or unprompted violence.

      But perhaps that’s picking hairs.

  4. Newark New Jersey should clean up its act…its filled with crime, murder, rape etc…none of this violence can be justified.

    I recommend you not take the Newark exit off the interstate. its not wise to put yourself in a dangerous situation.

    oops, suspend me.

  5. If the goal is to prepare the American people to accept any mistreatment (including murder) of any designated “enemy of the people” as acceptable and even praiseworthy it could hardly be done any more effectively than it is currently being done by our cultural arbitrators the press.

  6. These TV women who are outraged over a comment should be outraged that the victim, after seeing that terrible video where he throws her body around like a bag of garbage, and I’m assuming, also viewed the clip where he hits her in the face hard enough to knock her out, still went a head and married him.
    That is the real outrage.

  7. Curse my thoughts of unethical deeds! But I can’t control all my thoughts. Among those thoughts has been a wish for Ray Rice soon to get sucker-punched unconscious by a woman – preferably while he and the woman are riding an elevator – with cameras rolling. And then, for him to suffer the same violence again, another time. And again…

    It would count for “good enough” if Rice’s assailant was a man dressed as a woman.

    I am sad to say those thoughts have been followed by an even worse thought – a thought which, if thoughts as well as actions were unethical, would surely be an unethical thought: “Never mind. He’ll never learn.”

    The poor bastard.

    • So they were hitting each other. Of course, when one party weighs 130 pounds and the other is a professional football player, the question of excessive force is in play. But is striking a man repeatedly “provoking” him? Uh, I would say so. But if you say “don’t do that” on ESPN, you are suspended. Got it.

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