Sigmund Freud once said, “The first man to hurl a word instead of a stone had evolved.” Clearly, as a culture, we are watching a major evolution. We are on a mission to stop fists. The media spotlight is laser focused on the issue of intimate partner violence. I use the term IPV because for the first time in history there are more unmarried adults in America than married.
Ray Rice is the new monster for the cause. The new target. The new face of a misunderstood and feared lover who could flip and nearly kill. He’s every woman’s worst nightmare. But, may I offer, Ray Rice is also another convenient scapegoat. Like Chris Brown five years ago, and OJ Simpson twenty years ago, these men, whose actions we abhor and whose obvious crimes are clearly punishable are taking the well-deserved hit for the faults of a culture at large.
We raised these men. They grew up in our village.
If you haven’t noticed, the three notorious domestic violence offenders I just mentioned are black. This fact makes the conversation even more uncomfortable. For the few racist dinosaurs among our citizenship, it may cause a smug assurance that the problem isn’t in their backyard. This is an “NFL” problem. We all know what that’s code for.
Indeed, the National Organization for Women is calling for the NFL commissioner to step down. “The only workable solution is for Roger Goodell to resign, and for his successor to appoint an independent investigator with full authority to gather factual data about domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking within the NFL community, and to recommend real and lasting reforms.”
It would be so simple. If the NFL were the only culprit, we could fire their leader, wipe our hands and close up shop.
But then there was this yesterday.
CNN contributor, LZ Granderson, took that spotlight and defused it until our own toes crept into its beam. His story yesterday was about blonde, blue eyed, Mark Fuller, a U.S. district judge for the Middle District of Alabama. On a Saturday night at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta a 911 dispatcher heard these words from Fuller’s wife:
“Help me, please. Please, help me. He’s beating on me,”
You can read LZ’s full column here, but here’s the gist that involves us all:
“If the NFL’s pathetic handling of the domestic violence charges involving Ray Rice and Greg Hardy makes you angry, then you’re going to blow a fuse over Fuller. He is poised not only to have this horrific scene expunged from his record but to return to the bench. The only body that can remove him is Congress, and no significant steps in that direction have been taken.”
You read correctly. We have a working judge, about to decide cases that include domestic violence. Congress is telling the NFL to clean house while their own house is knee deep in, well, my grandmother would call it “cow paddy.”
Here’s the uncomfortable stone that no one wants to hurl. Intimate partner violence crosses all social, ethnic, economic lines. Period. In fact, middle and upper class victims are often trapped by excruciating social shackles and have fewer resources available to them.
This is the great American problem. Not just the NFL problem. Whatever that’s code for.