In case you have been living under a rock, or just have no interest in ESPN, acclaimed broadcast journalist, Stephen A. Smith, was suspended indefinitely from the network for his comments about Ray Rice’s domestic violence troubles.
Stephen A. Smith is well known for being an outspoken sports analyst. Many people (see: white), often have a problem with his delivery when discussing sensitive topics. And while not all of his commentary is widely accepted, or completely agreeable, he often makes very valid points. For example, when he comments on race relations within the Black Community, he is received with mixed reviews.
To provide some much needed context, Ray Rice, star running back of the Baltimore Ravens, was suspended after league conducted an investigation following a surveillance video of him punching his girlfriend in the face. The NFL issued a two-game suspension, which clearly highlights are far bigger issue in the NFL and not holding players accountable for heinous actions. Formal apologies were issued, but Rice was clearly very apathetic and remorseless about his actions.
This has caused a very serious uproar and everyone from political pundits, writers and, of course, sports analysts, have provided very necessary commentary in examining the domestic violence double standard between the wealthy and the plebians. If you make millions, you get a pass. If you are an average Joe, you get rightfully burned (unless you live in Georgia).
I implore you to watch the video and analyze the point Smith tried to convey. Also, keep in mind that, although he was addressing domestic violence at large, he was speaking to a certain demographic. After making it clear that he did not condone domestic violence, his rant continued with him claiming that he would be tempted to retaliate justly if he witnessed or learned of such abuse to women close to him. Up until this point, this is just another seemingly angry rant about the poor decorum of another athlete on the chopping block.
Here is where things get a bit questionable:
Smith warned women about the, “elements of provocation,” in regards to domestic violence. That sounds a whole lot like the old diatribe, “if you dress a certain way, you are asking to get raped.” That is not what he said and it was not the point he tried to convey, but that is exactly what it seemed like. As a knee-jerk reaction, social-justice warriors hopped on the bandwagon to have him reprimanded. At face value, this is absolutely appropriate because no one, and I mean no one, should ever justify abuse to anyone.
However, there is a very real problem here. The problem is human nature. The problem is how tempers flare in an argument. The problem, is the age-old threat of, “if you gon’ hit me nigga, then do it!” That is is the ‘element of provocation’ that Smith was referring to. The demographic he was clearly addressing was one within the Black Community. There is no excuse for Rice’s actions, and in no way should victims be blamed because no matter how ‘provoking’ words or actions within an argument, abuse should not ever be tolerated.
(There is no way a woman can ‘provoke’ abuse, in my opinion. This was not a cage fight, it was domestic violence.)
The takeaway that was missed in this entire ordeal is that women are fighting an uphill battle in a patriarchal society and there are males (not men, but males) who see women as nothing more than objects and second-rate citizens. There are males in this world who do not see it to be wrong to ‘go upside a bitch’s head,’ should they feel angry, or as the kid’s say, ‘some type of way.’ There are people that have little no regard to the well-being of other human beings and there is nothing we can do to change their nature other than educate everyone about the very real dangers of conflict.
Was Stephen A. Smith right for what he said? I do not believe so. I understand his point and as a very protective son, brother, uncle, lover, and friend, I give very similar advice to the women of my life. You know who taught me about these dangers? My mother, and she spoke in a manner very similar to Smith’s. Rice is the villain here, not Smith and his egregious error and poor choice of words. Punish him as necessary, but let us not forget what the real issue is.