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Why All the Righteous Indignation Now?

November 25, 2014


E.D. Armstrong

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, or in a coma from exposure to too much reality TV, you may have missed the fact that Domestic Violence is running rampant in the NFL! While I’m attempting to use sarcasm to decrease the insane amount of misguided outrage in wake of the multiple cases involving, both Domestic Violence, as well as a case of alleged Child abuse against pro athletes, I encourage everyone to take a deep breath, and think for a second.

I am not seeking to minimize or mock the serious issues that are Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, but I am encouraging everyone to stop focusing singularly on NFL players, as if this is an isolated issue; it’s a societal issue people! We are so misguided in going after Roger Goodell, as well as the Owners, as well as the press that these NFL players are receiving; as if Domestic Violence started the moment Ray Rice’s video was made public! Can we get a collective “chill the hell out” to every talking head out there?

As I write these words, we have newly appointed female personnel trying to right the wrongs that the public believes has befalling the NFL in the wake of how these individuals cases were handled. Real sports fans, as well as scores of trolls, are out posting misguided hate towards NFL officials, Owners and all athletes in general; posting their beliefs that these players should never play again. I risk coming off as insensitive to the victims in each of these cases, but… while I believe that each of the accused in each case must have their day in court and deal with the fallout of their actions, I am not ready to say that any or all of them deserve to be banned from the NFL past their legal system punishments if any.

We have scores of sports analysts giving personal opinions, and waxing philosophical about legal matters! How many sports analyst are certified paralegals? We get so outraged for certain things, but it’s depending upon who does what? Ben Roethlisberger was accused of multiple rape allegations, and the case was handled poorly, but we hide behind, “well he wasn’t charged,” or it’s his word vs. theirs, and the out of court settlements. Other players, professional and college, have been merely accused and the public decides to hate this one while defending another.

Tiger Woods, let’s be honest, his only crime was to have enough nerve to marry a beautiful White woman then cheat on her and get caught! Average fans and sports analyst began to talk about Tiger as if he had been arrested in a crack house with an underage prostitute!!! It was insane the amount of heat he received for doing basically what many other pro athletes and celebrities do on a regular, with much less press fall out. Can you imagine people picketing a local bank if the manager hit his wife and it got reported, but he didn’t lose his job? We have laws for a reason people, and everyone is afforded “due process.” We didn’t just put that in there because it sounds good; it’s there to help in these type situations.

I contend that we, as a society, get selectively outraged over things, and we tend to get pissy about one issue while turning a blind eye to another. What does it say about us when Michael Vick spent 2 years in federal prison for being convicted for dog fighting, and charges related to the case, while Donte Stallworth convicted of DUI vehicular manslaughter got 30 days in county jail and 1000 hours community service! He was legally drunk, with alcohol and marijuana in his system people, and he killed a man with his car!!! He got to play football again the following year. So, if a man can drink and drive and kill a human being and be allowed to resume his career again, I believe that any of these players under fire currently can have another chance after their legal cases are concluded.

Take a deep breath people because if Ben Roethlisberger can get a pass for multiple rape allegations, (the last one was really bad), yet no one was outraged or calling for the NFL to suspend him for the entire season or calling for the Steelers to cut him, then why so much righteous indignation now?

I laugh at people who try to tell other parents how to discipline their kids. Child abuse is a serious issue, and one that we shouldn’t take lightly, but we also have to be careful in trying to take away a parent’s right to discipline their children. The thing that makes me laugh is that a lot of the people who get on social media, and made a post about how Adrian Peterson shouldn’t have done this, or that spanking is not the answer, will be the same ones asking where are the parents when unchecked, undisciplined kids make the evening news for stupid stuff! I actually came across a White woman in Wal-mart who was begging and pleading with her 5 year old son to behave. He was calling his mother by her first name and calling her “stupid” and “ugly!” I remember my mother, being the God fearing woman she is, would have threatened to slap the shit out of me, and in public mind you, if I had ever done any such thing!

Just think if everyday people working at the bank, or Lowes were accused of Domestic Violence would he/she lose their job due to the allegations, or subsequent pressure from outside sources? Do you think the public would report, or picket some anonymous person in Wyoming accused of the same things these pro athletes are coming under fire for right now? While people will argue that I am talking apples and oranges, but just think if instead of the NFL, just think if this was Hollywood and we had a famous celebrity cheating on his wife or being accused of saying or doing something wrong ,do you think they would handle things like the NFL is doing now?

While I believe that race is always a factor in these issues, I also believe that support for or against any individual, famous or otherwise, depends upon who decides to get outraged and make enough noise in protest. Actors/Actresses can get DUI arrests, even have extra-marital affairs, multiple court appearances, and it’s nobody’s business, but you let the right group get behind petitioning a celebrity and see how many people, even studios decide to distance themselves from these individuals. Isaiah Washington was on a popular show, and had a bright career, but after repeating a gay slur in the midst of a rumored beef with a gay co-star he was fired, and basically blacklisted in Hollywood. Other actors or celebrities have done far worse, and not received the heat that Washington did in his situation.

Meanwhile, Mel Gibson gets drunk and is reported to have made anti-Semitic remarks, and he is persona non grata in Hollywood. Mel is a great actor and award winning director, why did he get so much heat while Woody Allen can do no wrong? Is it because Mel’s comments were about Jews and much of the power structure in Hollywood studios is predominately Jewish? If other actors are reportedly unwilling to work with the formerly popular Mel, why are so many fellow actors lining up to work with Woody Allen? He has been accused of sexually abusing his adopted daughter Dylan when she was 7 years old and his supporters scream, “Alleged!” they address “that it is his word vs. hers!” What do you think of the creepy issue of him starting a sexual relationship with the teenage daughter of his girlfriend Mia Farrow, Soon-Yi who was only a teenager at the time? His supporters declare that their relationship didn’t begin until she was 19, but what about the fact that he had nude pictures of her that go back to when she was younger? Why have no powerful groups protested the famous director? A virtual “who’s who” of young and veteran starlets clamor at the chance to work with him despite his personal life. How do we justify why this person gets a pass while another is vilified? Is this a testament to our society, and how it picks and chooses who to demonize vs. who we support?

I don’t know if I’m more offended that people are making the Domestic Violence an NFL problem and not a society problem, or the fact that so many are acting as if this issue began the moment the TMZ video showed Ray Rice fighting with his fiancé? In the wake of this PR campaign I wonder if we are going to rewrite policy on the fly and re-discipline players after the public pressure has forced the NFL to do more, as they have with Ray Rice and Adriane Peterson. Are they going to rethink their light treatment of Ben Roethlisberger and his multiple sexual assault allegations a few years ago? Where was all of the current righteous indignation when he was given a pass by the league, law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office?

Our society has a problem with these issues, not the NFL alone. I’d be more inclined to say that the NFL, and celebrity culture in general, has more of an issue with D.U.I. occurrences than it does Domestic Violence and/or Sexual Assault. We selectively decide when we remember the issue of “due process.” If athlete “A,” let’s say a super bowl winning (Caucasian) Q.B., is accused of sexual assault we blame the alleged victim(s) and accuse them of looking for a payday or being drunk, and we remind everyone about due process; but when it’s an African American Q.B., let’s say Michael Vick, the public, the league, and the authorities believe that they have to make an example of him! Are we sending a message that you can be accused of rape until the cows come home, but you better not harm man’s best friend?

It amazes me how I, as an African American man, can be actually accused of being a racist for merely pointing out what has transpired in our history, while people who disagree with my points will neglect to acknowledge that racism still holds a root cause of much of the disparity of what ills our legal system and why justice is still, and sadly to say, truly blind. No clearer example can be shown about our nations divide and our justice systems epic fail than in the cases of George Zimmerman being acquitted for the murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin, and Marissa Alexander, a 31 year old mother who was sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot into the wall while trying to defend herself against her abusive husband.

Can someone explain to me how George Zimmerman can be afforded the Florida “stand your ground” law defense while Alexander was not? While prosecutors argued that Alexander could have fled out of the house, but choose to get a gun from her car (she argue that the garage door would not open), Zimmerman did not have to engage the teen who had just as much right to be walking there as did Zimmerman. It further bothers me that Zimmerman was not even arrested for quite some time, and stand your ground law prohibited him from even being arrested vs. Alexander who was not only arrested, but accused of attempted murder! As I write these words Marissa Alexander, who has served a three year sentence already, has agreed to a plea deal which would keep her from serving the full 20 year sentence she was handed. It amazes me that she has even served those 3 years in prison, plus whatever additional time for a third count the judge could give, not to mention probation and a two year house arrest, ankle monitor etc… She fired a warning shot at an abusive husband, and nobody, not even the husband himself denies he was going to hurt her again! Zimmerman killed a young unarmed teen boy who had as much right to stand his ground as did Zimmerman, but he not only took the boys life, he got away with it.

As I write the flames of Ferguson remind us that these issues hit home too often for communities that know all too well how devalued minorities are in, not only the public eye, but also to law enforcement and in the legal system. I don’t have the right to criticize protestors for displaying their anger in the midst of yet another blunt reminder of how devalued the life of another minority is in this society. I’m tired of town hall meetings and extended media coverage in which talking heads banter on about how we can make a positive thing out of yet another senseless killing of another unarmed minority. Do you think the victim’s family gives a damn about peoples “righteous indignation” after the fact, especially when next week these same talking heads will be back to covering this year’s Oscar race and latest celebrity cell phone hack!

While I don’t have the same platform as do many talking heads to voice corporate mandated disapproval of NFL athletes and their right to discipline they children or personal conduct, I will use this medium to voice my righteous indignation towards the disingenuous practices of the media; who in my opinion have as much credibility as a judicial system that could allow the Casey Anthony’s and George Zimmerman’s of the world go free, while they seek to bring justice to the Marissa Alexander’s of our world!

I’m just as angry as those people that rioted in Ferguson, but I’m going to limit my righteous indignation to my words… to sound an alarm about the subtle, yet systemic issues in our society that contribute to the way news is covered and what spin they put on each story. The all too real issue of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault are not topics to cover as if its sweeps week, or season finales to a popular show, this is someone’s reality and should not be sensationalized for TV purposes.

  1. AvidReader permalink

    Well said.

    Liked by 1 person

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