Dumbing down domestic violence

For some reason both ESPN and CNN- along with probably every other major "news" network out there- seems to think that wall-to-wall coverage of the Ray Rice incident is both necessary and justified.

Let's get the boilerplate stuff out of the way right now: I do not, now or ever, condone unprovoked aggression against anyone. Anyone- man or woman- who punches someone else out for no good reason, deserves whatever he gets.

However, if you watch the video, that is not what happens here:

Vox did a pretty good analysis of this and I think he got it exactly right. This Ray Rice character, whoever he is- remember, I don't bother following American sports- did NOT step in to punch. He raised his hand, hard and fast, and ended up making contact with his then-fiancee's (now wife's) chin with his knuckles.

And Vox, as usual, nailed the social justice warriors who are carrying out this crusade to have Ray Rice thrown out of the NFL forever to their own cross:
The football world has been striking poses left, right, and center, pretending that Ray Rice is the Second Coming of OJ Simpson. The Ravens released him and are giving out free jerseys in exchange for his old ones, the ever-sanctimonious Roger Goodell added an indefinite suspension on top of the previous two-game suspension, and various players and commentators are ritually denouncing him. 
And for what? A single punch. 
This is absolutely and utterly absurd. There are punches thrown in NFL games and practices every single week. If the NFL were to apply the one-punch standard consistently, half the African players would be out of the league by the end of the season
This is not to say that Ray Rice is a good guy. If you watch the video closely, it looks like he does something to provoke her in some way at the elevator buttons. It almost looks as if he spits at her, she shoves him, he shoves back, and then she charges him and gets KO'd. We're clearly not dealing with a pair of innocent angels here
But here is the salient point. He's not "beating her up". He's not abusing her. He's not attacking her. In fact, the reason she got knocked out isn't because he's a big strong man, but because she was rushing at him. What he threw was clearly a defensive punch, and quite likely an instinctive one.
This is plainly not abuse. It is, at best, an overreaction to a threat.

Even the man's own wife has made it perfectly clear that she does not regard this as anything like the epic crisis that the media seems to want us to think it is:

And remember, this woman is married to a man who was, until fairly recently, a rising star in the NFL. If she wanted to, she could, under this country's increasingly absurd divorce "laws", take her husband to court and reduce him to penury simply by virtue of being a woman and claiming spousal abuse.

She has not done that. This tells me that: a) Ray Rice didn't intend to harm this woman, and; b) we can all move on with our lives.

Unfortunately, this tendency toward sensationalising "abuse" is not restricted just to men who strike women. Let's look at another story in which a woman is accused of making light of domestic abuse by giggling about punching her ex-boyfriends, real-life badass Jason Statham and real-life-probably-a-wuss Danny Cipriani:
Kelly Brook has been labelled 'disgusting' and 'despicable' by viewers on Twitter after 'laughing' during an interview about 'punching' two of her former boyfriends. 
The former glamour model was appearing on This Morning on Monday to discuss her new autobiography Close Up, when she reportedly made light of hitting out at exes Jason Statham and Danny Cipriani. 
People took to the social networking site to voice their anger at the 34-year-old's attitude, with one writing: 'Disappointed with @itvthismorning for laughing along with Kelly Brook RE her hitting boyfriends in the face! Domestic violence isn't funny!'. 
The backlash towards the brunette beauty, who was dressed in a plunging turquoise dress, continued with one Twitter user writing: 'So Kelly Brook laughs & admits to punching ex bf's in the face. If a guy had admitted doing that to a women they'd be uproar! #ThisMorning.


And: 'Kelly Brook and the hosts giggling about her punching her boyfriends in the face for talking to other women. Despicable. #thismorning'.
If you've actually seen what Kelly Brook looks like, it's very, very difficult to take seriously the idea that she would be capable of inflicting significant harm on any of her paramours- let alone Jason Statham:

Left: Soft cuddly plush toy with nice big airbags as standard. Right: Genuine hardass. WHO YA GOT?!?
(Incidentally, a good friend of mine apparently knows Kelly Brook reasonably well in a professional context. She's supposedly even shorter than she looks in that picture- all 168cm of her. Jason Statham, by contrast, stands just shy of 176cm tall. And you seriously expect me to believe that a woman with a 10cm height deficit could really hurt a guy like Statham?)

Oh but wait, it gets better:
And Danny also faced Kelly's wrath after they headed to the Spearmint Rhino strip club together in Las Vegas and she discovered her man had given his number to a stripper. [Didact: Any girl who goes to a strip club with her boyfriend can't be all bad.] 
She wrote: 'As I headed back to the table, I saw Danny walking towards me. 'Babe', he said, 'I've been looking for you!' I punched him straight in the face.' 
Kelly revealed that four bouncers leaped on her, before she tried to have another 'pop' at him.
In other words, Kelly Brook hits like a girl. Hardly surprising, given that she's known more for her curves and smile than her combat-worthiness.

Now, let's be clear: there is a definite double standard at work here. If a man did what Kelly Brook did in a strip club, he'd be crucified, rightly or wrongly (probably the latter). This problem is made even more sobering by the fact that roughly one-third to one-half of ALL domestic violence cases involving a man and a woman are actually caused by the woman.

But that is still no excuse for turning every punch and every accident into a domestic abuse complaint.

Real domestic violence- the kind where people end up with serious physical and mental injuries- is not to be trivialised. But that is precisely what people have done in these two very different and yet oddly similar cases. They have taken incidents that, in the cold light of day, cannot possibly be considered true abuse, and have twisted them into public circuses.

Ray Rice and Kelly Brook should both be judged by the weight and merit of their actions.

Ray Rice knocked out his then-fiancee; given the actual video evidence, all I can say is that he's a bit of a hothead and needs to learn some self-control. He could very well be the world's biggest douchebag- or he could be the nicest man you could ever hope to meet. I don't know either way. All I can go by is the evidence presented before me, and the evidence tells me that he made one very stupid mistake. And that's it.

Kelly Brook apparently tried to punch two of the men she was dating. Given that the woman has a history of banging a long string of high-status men, has conceived (and miscarried) at least once, and is now 34 and apparently desperate to settle down with her latest toyboy, I can't say I have terribly much sympathy for her. She's the classic case of a high-maintenance woman riding the carousel and hoping desperately to find The One by sleeping her way through 500 Miles of Mr. Right. She's also almost surely incapable of actually hurting anyone with a punch- and given that, if she had really tried to punch someone like Jason Statham, he could very easily have cleaned her clock, I think we can all reasonably conclude that this is nothing more than an embarrassing memory that she wants to make public for the purposes of self-promotion.

Remember- if you're reasonably young, reasonably hot (and Kelly Brook is rather more than that), and reasonably insensitive to public criticism, then there really isn't any such thing as bad publicity.

In conclusion- it's high time we all stopped shouting "ABUSE!!!" every time someone throws a sloppy half-punch and accidentally ends up connecting. Doing this triviliases very real abuse suffered by very real victims, and diverts our attention to the panem et circenses that our Noble Overlords would like us to focus on, instead of spending time paying attention to the terrible evils that they inflict upon us every day.

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