The mercy rule and Ray Rice

COMMENTARY
Aug. 02, 2014 @ 08:47 PM

So exactly what else do you want?

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has apologized for what ended with him dragging his unconscious fiancée, Janay Palmer, out of an elevator at an Atlantic City casino in February.

Those two got married in March, and Palmer — who sat right beside Rice when he publicly apologized in May — isn't demanding more punishment for her husband on top of the two-game suspension without pay from the National Football League.

Misguided folks would tell you that Palmer is no fool and doesn't want another half a million dollars withheld from her household.

But Aurelia Sands Belle, executive director of the Durham Crisis Response Center, said it's not uncommon for battered women to minimize the violent behavior of their abusers.

"The love sometimes gets in the way of reality," Belle said.

The explanation from the NFL is that Rice apart from what was caught on video is otherwise a choirboy, and that's why the two-game suspension is sufficient.

Belle said she suspects that Rice has battered before, and she wasn't referring to his collisions with linebackers, either.

Those arguing that NFL commissioner Roger Goddell sidelining Rice for two games isn't enough are the same folks who would question the sincerity of his first apology because he kept referring to notes on a smartphone. They're the same people who looked at Rice sideways when he met with the media last week because they assumed his reference about putting away his notes was a calculated move to give the impression that he was speaking from the heart.

There's no pleasing people like that. If Goddell had decided that Rice needed to sit for half the season, the haters would be calling for a yearlong suspension. If Goddell initially handed down a yearlong suspension, then the haters would be lobbying to have Rice kicked out of the NFL. Mind you, these haters are the same people who'd expect mercy if they were in the running back's shoes.

What we need to be talking about is why this discussion has been limited to men hitting women as opposed to any human being hitting any other human being. What we need to question is why you can't pick up a police report and see that somebody has been charged with assault on a male, yet there is a specific charge for assault on a female, which comes with harsher penalties in most jurisdictions, Durham County Chief Public Defender Lawrence Campbell said.

That's problematic.

"I agree with you. I totally agree with you," Belle said.

The Durham Crisis Response Center helps victims of domestic violence. Some of those victims are men.

"We get men who call us who have been hit and battered by women," Belle said. "It's no different. It's absolutely no different."

Modern culture does quite a bit to promote bad behavior, basically encouraging violence, Belle said.

Belle also sees a problem with the societal norm that would have had people telling Palmer to stiff-arm Rice and get away from him if she still were his fiancée; but now that they're married, she needs to have faith that he won't lay hands on her again.

Presuming that Rice never struck Palmer prior to that night at the casino, I refuse to categorize the man as a monster.

"Time will tell," Belle said. "For me, time will tell.

"She has to be careful."

Herald-Sun sports writer John McCann is at jmccann@heraldsun.com. He's also on Twitter: @johntmccann.