De’Andre Johnson Ethics Quiz: Is It Ever Ethical For A Male Athlete To Punch A Woman?

deandre

Nineteen year-old De’Andre Johnson was kicked off the Florida State team after “The Tallahassee Democrat” obtained a video showing Johnson punching a young woman in the face in an altercation at a bar in June. He has also been charged with battery. Johnson’s lawyer says that woman was taunting him with racial epithets and hit him twice before he punched her.

Lawyer Jose Baez told NBC News that Johnson “tried to deescalate the situation” but the woman “kneed him in the groin area” and “took another swing before he retaliated.”  “It wasn’t until she struck him twice that he reacted,” Baez said. “But he is very regretful that he didn’t turn around and walk away immediately.” Baez added, however that his client “makes no excuses for what happened.”

The video above does not seem to support Johnson’s defense, but never mind.  After the Ray Rice episode, no football player who lays a hand on a woman in anger will be able to avoid severe punishment. All athletes, and football players particularly, are on notice that as far as hitting women goes, it is strict liability unless the men’s lives are in danger, and maybe not even then.

But hypothetically, I’m curious. Racial epithets are fighting words. If a black athlete punched a white man, even a much smaller white man, after racial abuse and a knee to the groin, there would probably be no charges filed, and not much criticism either. How different, if different at all, should the ethical judgement be if the individual engaging in the abuse is a woman? What if she shows no signs of stopping unless she is physically stopped? What if she looks like this…

Gina Davis

 

Or. say, THIS…

Katka2

Or even this…

hope-solo

Hope is over six feet tall, you’ll recall and is rumored to have a penchant for striking people off the athletic field.

Thus your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is this:

Is it always unethical for  any male athlete to punch any woman in a situation not involving the male’s mortal peril?

ADDENDUM…lest we forget: what if the woman is this former Olympic medal winner…

caitlyn-jenner

?

 

Ray Rice’s Indefinite Suspension By The NFL Has Been Overruled On Appeal. GOOD!

You have to be fair to bad guys too, you see.

Ray Rice and sparring partner.

Ray Rice and sparring partner.

If you will recall, the NFL levied a paltry two game suspension on Baltimore Raven’s star last summer, following his guilty plea for knocking his then fiancée, now wife, colder than a mackerel with a punch in her face. Then security camera video of the punch, in a casino elevator, ended up on TMZ in September, and public outrage against the NFL’s casual approach to domestic violence became a public relations crisis for pro football, which has too many already.

In response, Commissioner Roger Goodell ordered a do-over, this time suspending the player indefinitely while Rice’s team, the Ravens, fired him. The NFL’s risible claim was that while Rice had admitted that he hit the love of his life so hard that he rendered her unconscious, they never suspected that he really, really hit her until they saw the video.

As I wrote at the time:

Sports stars who engage in criminal behavior should be penalized heavily by their teams and leagues, to leave no question about their special status as paid heroes and pop culture role models and their obligations to honor that status. Rice’s conduct was especially significant, given the prevalence of domestic abuse in this country. The NFL, however, had its shot, made its statement, disgraced itself and let him get off easy. Rice hasn’t done anything since then worthy of punishment. The league and Rice’s team should have to live with their initial decisions, no matter how much criticism they received for them. The overly lenient punishment should stand as symbolizing how outrageously tolerant society, and especially male dominated cultures like pro football, are of this deadly conduct. Treating the video as if it constituted new evidence of something worse is unfair and ridiculous: yes, you morons, this is what domestic abuse looks like!

Rice [I originally said “Peterson” here, getting my violent NFL players mixed up] appealed through the player’s union, and yesterday a judge agreed with him, the union, and me, writing:

“In this arbitration, the NFL argues that Commissioner Goodell was misled when he disciplined Rice the first time. Because, after careful consideration of all of the evidence, I am not persuaded that Rice lied to, or misled, the NFL at his June interview, I find that the indefinite suspension was an abuse of discretion and must be vacated…I find that the NFLPA carried its burden of showing that Rice did not mislead the Commissioner at the June 16th meeting, and therefore, that the imposition of a second suspension based on the same incident and the same known facts about the incident, was arbitrary…The Commissioner needed to be fair and consistent in his imposition of discipline….Moreover, any failure on the part of the League to understand the level of violence was not due to Rice’s description of the event but to the inadequacy of words to convey the seriousness of domestic violence. That the League did not realize the severity of the conduct without a visual record also speaks to their admitted failure in the past to sanction this type of conduct more severely.”

Yup. That just about covers it.

I think it’s overwhelmingly likely that the NFL’s lawyers advised the league that this would be the end result if they tried to punish Rice for the same act twice. The NFL decided that it was worth it to abuse its power and look like it was trying to end Rice’s career so after a successful appeal, it could say, “Well, we tried to do the right thing, and that mean old judge wouldn’t let us! Don’t blame us.”

Anyone who falls for that act is a fool. The real lesson of this ugly sequence is that the NFL’s culture doesn’t recognize right and wrong, or care about either. It’s only concern is TV ratings,  marketing and profits.

 

Ray Rice Ethics Train Wreck Update: Now The NFL Is Validating Gender Bigots

Men vs Women: Come on--who would YOU trust?

Men vs Women: Come on–who would YOU trust?

When Roger Goodell and the NFL do  something right in the metastasizing Ray Rice-Adrian Peterson-Who Else Will It Be Tomorrow?-We Don’t Care About Domestic Violence Or Child-Beating But Our Sponsors Think We Should So We’ll Pretend To fiasco, do let me know.

Among the more sinister botches was the league’s cynical PR move of appointing four women to explain to him and the other suits that it’s really bad for a sport that sells role models and heroes to have those key products smacking around small children and women. Anna Isaacson, the NFL’s vice president of community affairs and philanthropy, was given an expanded role as vice president of social responsibility. Lisa Friel, the former head of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in the New York County District Attorney’s Office; NO MORE co-founder Jane Randel; and Rita Smith, the former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, were also hired to address the problem, which, as everybody should know, only that kinder, more generous, more nurturing, rational and generally more civilized gender even recognizes as a problem.

This is female superiority fantasy, of course, but the media and, naturally, women themselves are grabbing it and running for the goal line. On this morning’s Sunday talking head blab-fests, I must have heard six or seven pundits, most of them women but not all, take a breather from their non-stop condemnation of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to express relief that women were finally on the scene to straighten things out for their poor, idiot brothers.

There is no indication, anywhere, that men are less capable of comprehending what is wrong with domestic violence, more rational in dealing with it than women, or more competent to analyze the issue: Continue reading

The Ray Rice Ethics Train Wreck Welcomes Rihanna…But It Had A Seat Already Reserved, And Another Rationalizing Victim

Ray Rice's punches are love taps compared to the ones Chris Brown throws at HIS girlfriends...

Ray Rice’s punches are love taps compared to the ones Chris Brown throws at HIS girlfriends…

CBS Sports pulled pop superstar Rihanna’s intro to Thursday night’s NFL game between the Ravens and the Steelers following the public release of a video showing Ravens running back Ray Rice beating his wife, then-fiancée, in a casino elevator.CBS said it did this to “maintain a proper tone,” which was a euphemism for “What we don’t need is to begin a nationally televised NFL game featuring the team that just dumped its star running back because this video shows how incredibly blase the league and the team had been about the fact that he cold-cocked a women with a performance by a pop singer who epitomized the enabling domestic violence victim until Janay Rice arrived on the scene.”

In case you have forgotten, in 2009, singer and recording star Chris Brown was charged for a violent attack  on Rihanna, during which, the police report says, he bit her, slammed her head into a car radio, and punched her in the face multiple times. Rihanna then re-united with Brown, announced that she was planning on recording a duet with him. She also refused to agree to a restraining order requiring Brown to keep away. Both performers had received two nominations for Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards before the incident, and they both planned on attending, giving young girls a wonderful lesson about how they should stand by their man even after he breaks your face. (Brown was finally persuaded to withdraw.) The two actually did reunite at least once, in 2013, while Brown was still serving his probation for the first incident. Continue reading

Abuse-Enabling Author Leslie Morgan Steiner Buys A Berth On The Ray Rice Ethics Train Wreck

"So I guess that means that Roger can take a shot at you now and then, Right, Jessica?"

“So I guess that means that Roger can take a shot at you now and then, right, Jessica?”

As if we didn’t have enough Ethics Train Wrecks whizzing around—let’s see, there’s Ferguson, the I.R.S. cover-up, the Redskins, plus oldies like Penn State and Trayvon Martin still gathering riders, and the spectacular Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck, which is guaranteed at least another six years of track—the Ray Rice Express is gather speed and passengers. It appears feminist, especially abused feminists, are leaping on board as the cars rumble by, and woe to him who is foolish enough to point it out.

Like me, I guess. Today the Washington Post opinion section carried a jaw-dropping essay by Leslie Morgan Steiner, the former Post editor and current author, the lesson of which, as I read it, is that no matter what a woman’s spouse of partner does to her, says to her, threatens her with, or hits her with, she is absolutely absolved of any responsibility or accountability for the harm that comes to her.This, we are told, is because, as Carol Costello (a fellow passenger) said regarding domestic abuse victims like Janay Rice, currently defending her abuser-husband, “It’s complicated.”

To show just how complicated,  Steiner presents a long list of the various hints she got from her lover-man that he might well just kill her some day, including…

Three months into our relationship, the night he choked me during sex and I wrote it off as weird but somehow erotic (for him; not for me).

The morning five days before our wedding when he first physically attacked me, because, he said with his hands around my neck, “you remind me of my mother.”

During our honeymoon, when he punched me so hard my head hit the window in our car…

The first time he threatened to kill our dog.

The first time he pushed me down a flight of stairs.

The first time he threatened to pull the trigger of the loaded gun he held at my head.

Steiner makes certain that she lets us know that she’s a Harvard grad, apparently believing that this eliminates the obvious response, “What an idiot! She also makes a point of noting that yes, once she too derided women who stay with abusive partners, as if this fact inoculates her against well-founded criticism. It doesn’t, and while I’m sure it’s complicated, she’s an idiot, at least in this critical matter.

Her reasons for staying in the relationship do not rebut these conclusions. They are..

  • “No one in my life had ever made me feel so safe, loved, beautiful and validated as he did during the early months of our relationship.” And do we keep, say, automobiles that we loved to drive in the early months that we owned them, after they prove themselves to be unreliable, expensive lemons? Is this a rational reason to do so?
  • “I thought I was the only woman who could help him face his demons.” Well, she might be the only woman willing to help him face his demons while regularly being abused by him.
  • “I confused pity with love, feeling sorry for him because he had been beaten and starved by his stepfather as a child.” This is so nonsensical that it defies argument. Would she feel similarly sorry for her rapist, her child’s molester? In what universe does pity excuse abuse? They taught her that at Harvard?
  • “In between the terrible times, he still made me laugh.” Gag me with a spoon.
  • “I loved him.” God, read “Oliver Twist.” See the musical “Oliver!.” if Harvard didn’t cover English fiction. You love people who beat you up? Or is it pity, like you said three sentences ago?

These aren’t reasons. These are delusions, self-destructive rationalizations, and lame excuses.

Yet somehow, the author thinks they are ennobling, and that anyone who dares to call this conduct what it is—idiotic, reckless, and irresponsible, and thus entailing some accountability for the results of making terrible and irrational choices, as with every other terrible and irrational choices all of us make—is missing some grand truth. No, we really aren’t. She writes,

I wish the world could give Janay Rice, and other victims of relationship violence, the dignity they deserve.

Instead of condemning her for loving a troubled man, let’s educate ourselves about the twisted psychology of abusive love, so that we can be there for her if she decides to leave. Firing Roger Goodell and blaming the NFL won’t do Janay Rice, or any other domestic violence victims, any good.

Rather, we should hold abusers — and no one else — responsible for the damage they inflict.

Wait, what? What’s dignified about letting a man dominate you, threaten you, abuse you and dehumanize you? Does the victim’s terrible reasons for putting up with abuse matter at all? Steiner’s are bad enough: I’m sorry, but I do not respect an intelligent woman who allows herself to be brutalized because “He makes me laugh.” Ah, how we chortled in that afterglow when he knocked in my teeth with that pogo stick! But I can imagine reasons that are less respectable: what if she likes it? What if she endures it because she likes the money more than she minds the pain? What if she wants to hit him at will,, even knowing that she will get the worse of the exchange? All of these reasons earn dignity? Nonsense. This is pure a  “war against women” war against logic: women can do no wrong. Sure they can.

I think the question of why men hurt the women they think they love is at least as bewildering as why their women stay with them. Doesn’t everybody wonder about this, including the abusers themselves? I’m sure the reasons for their conduct is also “complicated,” full of pain, self-esteem issues, childhood traumas, and more. Do the abusers deserve dignity too? Why not? Because they are men? Because they are the aggressors? Not necessarily, as we saw in the Rice Knock-Out Tap. Because holding a loaded gun to your lover’s head is crazier than staying with someone who hold a loaded gun to your head? Is it? I judge that competition a tie.

Steiner’s position isn’t just a self-excusing cop-out, it’s dangerous. It is exactly what abused women do not need to hear. “Just leave him on your own time, dear, when you are ready, and he no longer makes you laugh. Nobody will judge you. Just keep your fingers crossed that you don’t end up on a slab first.”

Alcoholics are in the grip of an illness, but they are told that they, and they alone, are responsible for saving themselves, and that if they don’t, they are responsible for that too. If someone refuses to leave a burning house because “she loves that house,” and “No house had ever made her feel so safe, loved, beautiful and validated ” and burns to death, is she absolved from responsibility for her foolish choice?

Ray Rice has no excuses, no mitigating circumstances, nothing, including his demons, that should shield him from legal punishment and societal condemnation. But Janay Rice, at this point, has no excuses either. We all are accountable for our choices. Women get no dispensation, and there is no dignity in a woman allowing a man to harm her.

_____________________________

Sources: Washington Post

 

Unethical Quote Of The Week: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

wait_what_logo

“We certainly didn’t know what was on the tape.”

Beleaguered NFL Commish Roger Goodell, telling CBS that although the league had suspended and fined Ray Rice for knocking out his now-wife in a hotel elevator, as he had admitted in court, it had no idea that a videotape of Rice knocking out Janay Palmer (now Rice) in the elevator would show him actually knocking her out in the elevator.

On the old Ethics Scoreboard, Goodell would be a slam dunk David Manning Liar of the Month, telling a lie that he can’t possibly think anyone with two IQ points to rub together could accept at face value. How else are we to take this idiotic, deceitful statement, other than as an idiotic, deceitful statement? If the NFL didn’t know that’s what the video would show, why did Goodell suspend Rice in the first place? If it accepted the fact that Rice cold-cocked a woman, what else could the tape have possibly shown?

I know I’ve already posted on this, but I feel like I’m losing my mind. The NFL reacts as if the video was a surprise. The media acts as if the video really added new information (“The NFL must have seen it!” Who cares? The NFL had to know what was on it, whether it saw the tape or not! What else could it possibly have shown? The tape, if anything, was arguably exculpatory, as it showed Palmer rushing him in an attempted assault.) And the argument suddenly becomes “Did the NFL know what was on the tape?” That’s ridiculous! Can’t everyone see how ridiculous that is? Can’t everyone see that the NFL isn’t reacting to new information, but only trying to repair its own image?

 

Janay Palmer’s Ethics Fallacy Cornucopia

horn_of_plenty

I suffer pangs of conscience as I do this to Janay Palmer, who has plenty of other pressing problems, but it you are going to put out a public statement on social media that threatens to melt the ethics alarms of millions, you can’t reasonably expect me to stand by and take it.

Palmer produced this on Instagram in response to the NFL’s bizarre do-over on her husband’s punishment, which combined with his team, the Baltimore Ravens, releasing him as persona non grata, effectively makes Ray Rice an ex-star running back for the foreseeable future:

I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend. But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is a horrific [sic]. THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!

Observations:

  • Who is her “closest friend?” Ray Rice, her husband and sparring partner? If your best friend is prone to punch you silly in elevators, I think your relationship either has trust issues, or should have. Does she mean his career, which is what actually “died”? That’s telling, if so, and crassly. Was her best friend really Ray’s 8 million dollar a year pay check? Did that justify standing up for the right of rich, famous celebrities to knock their arm-candy around when they think nobody’s looking?
  • Competence check: like it or not, Janay is in the public eye, and what she has to say right now is likely to be read far and wide. How about having someone literate check out your screed before reminding us again what a cheat the public school system is?
  • Janay’s husband beats her unconscious, she lets him get away with it and sends the message to women trapped in abusive relationships that security and a ring is worth the occasional black eye, and her position is that Rice’s demise is the fault of the media and the public? Let’s go to the videotape, shall we?

Continue reading

Presenting Rationalization #45: The Abuser’s License, or “It’s Complicated”

complexity

I owe Carol Costello for this one, which she unveiled today while explaining why it was unfair to criticize Janay Palmer for marrying Ray Rice, the pro football star who punched her lights out in a hotel elevator when they were engaged.  “It’s complicated,” Carol said, as her entire argument, as if this settled the issue.  My rationalization alarm immediately began clanging. Then I thought about all the other times I have heard that explanation used to avoid accountability or blame for wrongful action. Thus Ethics Alarms will add to its useful and always growing Rationalizations List…

45. The Abuser’s License:  “It’s Complicated”

 Costello later noted that the decision to stay with a potentially deadly partner was related to the emotion of love, as if love deserves an ethics pass that other emotions do not qualify for.  In this context, “It’s complicated” is a matched set with #23. Woody’s Excuse: “The heart wants what the heart wants.”

Love does not get a pass, or warrant one. Love is one of the most powerful of the non-ethical consideration magnets that stop ethics alarm clappers from moving when they should, and the sentimental, warm and fuzzy tradition of excusing harmful, irresponsible, clearly wrongful conduct because it might have been motivated by love is a rejection of ethics in favor of romance. Love is not the most benign of impediments to sound ethical reasoning, but rather one of the most insidious. Some of the worst crimes in human history have been rationalized by lovers. If the the coded meaning of “It’s complicated” is “it’s love, and we can never plumb the mysteries of the heart!”, the sentiment should be received with exactly the same contempt as “It’s greed,” It’s hate,” or “It’s revenge.”  Continue reading

The NFL’s Latest Ray Rice Hypocrisy: “You Mean He Actually HIT Her When He Knocked Her Out?”

"At least Rice didn't kill anyb...wait, we kept that player who killed somebody, didn't we? Now what?"

“At least Rice didn’t kill anyb…wait, we kept that player who killed somebody, didn’t we? Now what?”

This is hilarious, tragic, idiotic or infuriating, I haven’t decided yet.

The NFL and the Baltimore Ravens, having made it absolutely clear that they really weren’t all that upset with the fact that star  Ravens running back Ray Rice cold-cocked his soon-to-be-wife in a hotel elevator (and since she dropped charges against him and married her assailant, she wasn’t all that upset about it either) because he received only a two game suspension from the league and no added penalties from his team, suddenly got really determined to make a statement against domestic abuse once the security camera video of the incident became public today.

Now that it has—they always knew the video existed—-the NFL has re-punished Rice, and the Ravens have released him.

Translation of the message this sends: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Dunce: ESPN”

domestic_violence

I know I have written a lot about the Ray Rice domestic abuse case and its aftermath, most recently this morning, regarding CNN’s Carol Costello’s warped argument for suspending ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith. (The Rice-related posts are here, here, here and here, with an earlier Comment of the Day here.) I keep coming back to it because it involves many ethics issues: sports and violence, the “Star Syndrome,” and the special treatment of cultural celebrities, race, domestic abuse, women’s enabling of domestic abusers, political correctness, scapegoating, corporate cowardice, incompetent journalism, and more.  Chris Marschner’s recent comment on one of those posts is better than anything I’ve written on the topic, I think. As is often demonstrated here, the readers make Ethics Alarms work.

One connection I didn’t make until I read Chris’s comment is the relevance of the Gaza crisis and the public’s reaction to it to some of the ethical principles involved. There is no question that Hamas provoked a violent attack by Israel, knowing that women and children would be harmed, and that Israel would be condemned by many as a consequence. Israel is much more powerful than Palestinian forces, and provoking it to defend itself when the inevitable results will be harm to the powerless is irresponsible. Yet we hear the same absolutist reactions to the Gaza casualties that are at the root of the anger focused on Smith’s comments. The victims of violence are never responsible in any way, and suggesting otherwise is immoral.

It’s a very flawed analogy in other respects. The civilians are not the ones provoking Israel, for example, though Hamas represents them–their harm is harm to Gaza, and therefor Hamas. Most of all, Israel is not an abuser, though I could quote many commentators who regard it as one, and who might see the comparison with Ray Rice as apt.

Here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Dunce: ESPN: Continue reading