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.
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…
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.