This is proving to be an unusual news day for me, with not one, but two excellent articles… one of them from CNN, of all places. This posting concerns itself with the latter.
Janay Rice made waves this morning with a heartfelt condemnation of the news media for how they have treated her husband, Ray Rice. She thinks this whole fiasco is about ratings, about taking Rice’s football career away from him, about hurting two people in love. She thinks her husband’s onscreen spousal abuse is matter to be resolved between him and her and no one else. Sounds reasonable, right?
Wrong. And CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin explains why:
Consider that last line: “my family, where they should be resolved.” This is precisely wrong, and it contributes to a fundamental misunderstanding about domestic violence. When husbands beat up their wives, that is not a matter that should be resolved within the family. It is a crime to be resolved by the legal system. In cases of domestic violence, the question is often raised whether the victim will “press charges.” But it’s not victims who press charges in this country, it’s the state.
It’s not up to victims to decide whether their husbands should be prosecuted. Abusers damage the community, not just the women they assault. Whether the Rices and Fullers stay married is their business; but whether Ray Rice and Judge Mark Fuller committed crimes should be a question for prosecutors, and ultimately, juries to decide.
Domestic abuse is no more a matter for families to resolve than is a husband leaving his child alone to suffocate in a hot car. Beating your wife is against the goddamned law, end of fucking story.
If this were not Ray Rice, I would say he is exceedingly lucky not to be standing in an 8×10 concrete cell at this very moment, but this was Ray Rice, and Ray Rice is, among other things, is rich and famous. The justice system, as it is wont to do with men of Rice’s standing, uniformly failed to hold him to the same standards to which they would hold anyone else. He should be thankful all he lost was his fucking job.
I feel bad for Janay Rice. I really do. She probably loves Ray despite what he’s done, like many battered women do. But this isn’t about just her, as callous as that might sound. What Ray Rice did was abhorrent. He broke the law, and while Janay Rice has decided to forgive him, along with Atlantic City’s criminal prosecutors, the Baltimore Ravens suffer no compunction to do the same.
Frankly, they kept him around long enough.