The indefinite suspension of Ray Rice, the NFL running back who brutally assaulted his then-fiance, now wife, has been lifted on appeal as the result of an arbitrator’s decision. Rice has been reinstated by the League and is free to sign with any team.
The appeal was decided by Barbara Jones, a former U.S. District Court Judge, who served as the arbitrator. As reported by ESPN, Jones ruled that the NFL acted arbitrarily when it increased the length of Rice’s suspension after a video was discovered which showed the severity of Rice’s violence against his fiancé. She rejected the NFL’s justification for increasing the length of the suspension — namely, that Rice lied to or misled the League about the severity of his violent conduct.
I have not seen Jones’ decision, and therefore will not opine as to whether she reached the correct result. However, I want to highlight one passage in the decision, as quoted by ESPN. Jones stated:
[A]ny failure on the part of the League to understand the level of violence [before it saw the videotape] was not due to Rice’s description of the event but to the inadequacy of words to convey the seriousness of domestic violence.
This is rubbish. The “level of violence” that occurs in domestic violence cases is no more difficult to understand than any other violent acts. Words can easily describe what Rice did to his fiancé. The only thing that made his violent actions “domestic” was that fact that the victim was Rice’s fiancé. Words are adequate to convey that fact, as well.
Either Rice fully described what he did to his fiancé or he didn’t. If he did, the NFL has no claim that it failed to understand the level of his violence. If he did not, Rice lied to or misled the League.
Jones also wrote: “That the League did not realize the severity of the conduct without a visual record also speaks to their admitted failure in the past to sanction this type of conduct more severely.”
It’s difficult for me to make sense of that comment; it seems like a non sequitur. But maybe it coheres in the context of the full opinion.
In any event, Rice may have profited from the fact that he beat up his fiancé, as opposed to a stranger or acquaintance. Had his victim been other than a spouse or girlfriend, the arbitrator could not have attribtued the League’s initial failure to comprehend his level of violence to the inadequacy of words to convey the seriousness of domestic violence. Thus, the “seriousness” of Rice’s offense may have helped his cause.
Such is the tangled world of mindless political correctness.