Why Does It Take a “Public Outcry”?

In the news recently is the National Football League’s mishandling of an assault by Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice against his then-fianceé (later wife) Janay Palmer. Rice’s case was examined by law enforcement where it occurred, Atlantic City, New Jersey. On March 27, 2014, a grand jury indicted Rice on third-degree aggravated assault, with a possible jail sentence of three to five years and a fine of up to $15,000. Rice married Palmer on March 28, 2014. For the incident, Rice was suspended for the first two games of the 2014 NFL season on July 25, 2014. The criminal charges were later dropped after Rice agreed to undergo court-supervised counseling.

I'm definitely feeling like putting some lead downrange after penning this.
I’m definitely feeling like putting some lead downrange after penning this.

On September 8, 2014, TMZ released additional footage from an elevator camera showing Rice punching Palmer. The Baltimore Ravens terminated Rice’s contract as a result. Shortly afterward, the NFL announced that Rice had been suspended from the NFL indefinitely.

It wasn’t until this video was public that the NFL took any meaningful action, and the universal inference is that the NFL took this action because of the video and the “public outcry” it created.

Galling, I know. But…

From The Washington Post

Last October, Shaneen Allen, 27, was pulled over in Atlantic County, N.J. The officer who pulled her over says she made an unsafe lane change. During the stop, Allen informed the officer that she was a resident of Pennsylvania and had a conceal carry permit in her home state. She also had a handgun in her car. Had she been in Pennsylvania, having the gun in the car would have been perfectly legal. But Allen was pulled over in New Jersey, home to some of the strictest gun control laws in the United States.

Allen is a black single mother. She has two kids. She has no prior criminal record. Before her arrest, she worked as a phlebobotomist. After she was robbed two times in the span of about a year, she purchased the gun to protect herself and her family. There is zero evidence that Allen intended to use the gun for any other purpose. Yet Allen was arrested. She spent 40 days in jail before she was released on bail. She’s now facing a felony charge that, if convicted, would bring a three-year mandatory minimum prison term.

The message is one we have heard many time over the years: rich, popular celebrities get away with atrocities while ordinary people, often simply doing what they think is right, have their lives ruined by blind, selfish, one-dimensional lawmakers who have little interest in doing the right thing, but instead are eager to get reelected and continue to be rich and powerful. If these lawmakers wanted to do the right thing, Ray Rice would be in a prison cell and Shaneen Allen would have been shoed away home by the police and told not to come back to New Jersey with her gun.

There is, however, a lame, self-serving public outcry for Shaneen Allen also. “Oh, the injustice” we cry, but really don’t care, since Sunday we’ll be watching NFL football, not picketing the New Jersey Legislature.

New Jersey’s gun laws, by the way, don’t really work, since gun violence there is about the same as it is here in Oklahoma, 2.8 per 100,000 New Jerseyans vs 3.0 per 100,000 Oklahomans. The highest gun violence death rate, by the way, is also in a locale that has extremely restrictive gun laws, Washington, D.C, at 16.5 per 100,000. I’m not advocating more guns in D.C.; I am just pointing out that their gun laws don’t work well.

The bottom line takeaway for me is that in general, politicians and big businesses (like the NFL in this case) don’t act because of justice, but because of perceived threats to their money and power.

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3 Comments

  1. Jamie, thanks for the link. I’ve signed as well.

    “…since Sunday we’ll be watching NFL football, not picketing the New Jersey Legislature.”

    I know you meant “we” in the general sense, not referring to those visiting this particular blog entry. But just to be clear, I will not be watching the NFL this Sunday, and have not watched (much of) it for several years.

    (My reason was the realization that the NFL is one of very few businesses in the world for which media will pay the company for the right to provide free advertising for their product.)

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