Education has been under attack in this country for at least 50 years.  That’s right, 50 years!  Public education in the U.S. was one of if not the best education you could get anywhere.  That is no longer true.  We have slumped to under the top 25 in the developed world.  This fall can be traced back to the 1960s.

When I was in college, there was a lot of talk about ending the grading scale and just use pass/fail.  It was determined that children shouldn’t have the burden of getting higher grades put upon them.  It was considered too much of a strain laced with pitfalls with a feeling of low self-worth if the child got Cs or Ds on their report card.

This philosophy is based on the theory that the real important factor is that a child be able to regurgitate lessons and information so they pass the class they are taking.  However, that is a false premise on which to base education.  Education is not just rote memorization, it is supposed to be a tool that gives the student the ability to critically think.  Former Secretary of Education Richard Riley said, “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”

That statement from Mr. Riley is true and accurate.  Just look at the technological leaps our society has made in just the last 50 years.  When I was in college, computers were large behemoths that needed data cards to input the information.  There were no desktop computers in those days.  Now we have desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, and cell phones that are really computers.  New innovative products are still coming out and more are on the drawing board.  This basically proves that Mr. Riley was right.

Unfortunately, at the same time some were proposing pass/fail grading, others were planning on slashing the education budgets.  Many, mostly Republicans but not all, even wanted, and still want, to eliminate the Department of Education.  Many states have slashed taxes thus causing cuts in local budgets that have severely hampered public education.

Rand Paul has a big plan to reform education.  He is “planning a major push on education reform, including education choice, school choice, vouchers, charter schools, you name it.” As one specific example for improving education, Paul suggested that “if you have one person in the country who is, like, the best at explaining calculus, that person maybe should teach every calculus class in the country.” He allowed that “You’d still have local teachers to reinforce and try to explain and help the kids, but you’d have some of these extraordinary teachers teaching millions of people in the classroom.” As an example, Paul lauded the work of Salman Khan, the creator of Khan Academy, a growing vault of education videos aimed to comprehensively cover a wide variety of traditional school courses and other topics as well.

This all sounds good if you believe that education is only rote memorization.  You see, this is not teaching students to problem-solve.  It is merely teaching them to remember something we tell them, and come up with something similar.  When we consider that science, technology, engineering, and math are used to problem-solve problems that may not even exist today, how is rote memorization going to help?  We need to teach our children to think for themselves and give them the tools they need to be more productive at problem-solving.

The attack on education is an ongoing thing.  And, it is always based around money.  Budgets need to be cut in order to afford the massive tax cuts Republicans want to give their contributors.  Just look at Kansas and North Carolina if you want proof.  Both states drastically cut education budgets and their schools have fallen to the depths of poor performance.  Cutting education budgets is not an answer.  It merely makes public education worse than it was.

Yes, there are socioeconomic issues involved as well.  Family participation in the education of children is necessary for the child to succeed.  But, some families are better equipped economically than others to take part in educating their children.  Some people need to work two jobs just to support their family.  That makes it very hard to be a full participant.  These factors need to be considered as well as budgets.

However, the real issue is with our understanding of what teachers actually do.  Unfortunately, most people think that teaching is easy.  We all remember our days as a student, but we never saw behind those doors to the faculty lounge and saw what teachers are required to do before going into the classroom.  There is a lot of work involved in teaching children.  But, it is not a profession that is the same as others.  Teaching is an art form.  It takes very skilled and dedicated people to educate our children.

No two teachers handle their classes the same way.  The best teachers even teach differently depending upon the current student base in their class.  They need to moderate their plans to accommodate different types of children and how quickly they are learning.  Being able to interpret the feedback from your classroom is critical in becoming a great teacher.

If we truly want to improve our education system, we need to attract the best and brightest to the education field.  We cannot do that without paying teachers better than we do.  Yes, there a those who will say that will only “reward” those who are considered “poor” teachers, but there are “poor performers” in every profession.  So that is a lame argument.

By increasing teachers pay, we can attract more of our brightest young people to become teachers.  There are plenty of people I know who would have been great teachers but passed on the field because of the low pay.  It will cost more money in the short-term to do this, but it will more than pay for itself when we have more critical thinkers coming out of our public schools.  These critical thinkers and problem-solvers will be our future growth potential.

There are many fields that pay more than teachers.  I am not taking anything away from any of these professions, but are they really as important to our future than our teachers?  How can expect our public education to improve if we continue to demonize our teachers?  How can education get better when teachers need to buy supplies for their classroom out of their own pockets because the budget doesn’t give them what they need?  How can we improve education when we cut budgets so much classroom sizes increase rather than decrease?

Public education is definitely under attack.  It has been under attack for at least the last 50 years.  Until we come to remember that it was our public education that gave us the scientists who put a man on the moon and return to properly funding education, we will continue on a track that will lead us to third world status.  Education of our children is too important to be a pawn of budgets.  It is too important to be used as any type of political pawn.  It is the future of our children and our country.  It should be our highest priority.

Balancing work and family is a problem for most Americans.  It is difficult to make so many sacrifices in order to provide for your family because while making those sacrifices we miss way too much family time.  Single mothers have the most difficult time trying to balance work and family.  They often face the daunting challenge of having to work in low-paying jobs with inconsistent schedules.  That means besides not being able to afford childcare, they sometimes can’t get that childcare simply because they don’t know when they will be working from week to week.

This balancing act is not gender based as conservatives would like us to think.  Men face the same challenges as women do.  In today’s world, even in two parent families, both parents work.  That means that childcare is necessary for them as well.  If a child gets sick, one of the parents needs to leave work to care for the child or take that child to a doctor.  That means missed work-time.  Or, one of the parents may be required to travel on the job which means missed time with the family.

I fully understand this balancing act.  When I was in the service, my away time could be months at a time.  When I was in the private business world, my away time could be a week or two.  While I was gone, many things happened with my family that I missed.  During my first four years in the service, I was not at home for any holiday.  I missed every Christmas, every birthday, every anniversary.  That was something I could not avoid.

When I retired and began a second career in the business world, my job meant I needed to travel.  But, it was a little easier to schedule my trips around family events I knew were coming up.  That didn’t mean that I didn’t miss anything.  As I worked, I kept hearing people tell me that their career was their life.  That often confused me as to their motivations.  I always said, even to my bosses, that my career was not my life.  It was what I did to pay for my life.

When I had to work extra hours to finish a project, I would go into the office early rather than stay late.  By going in early, I wasn’t bothered by phone calls, and I didn’t miss any family time, per se.  Yes, I missed my children getting ready for school, but their after-school events that evening were more important to me than watching them get dressed.  They enjoyed seeing me at their activities to support them.  That was why I chose to go to work early rather than stay late.

Millions of people, both men and women, face these challenges every day.  Some are poor working class people who really have difficulty in balancing the two because they need the money so bad.  Others are more well-off, but the prospect of missing family time or family activities is still something they need to be part of.

Max Schireson the 44-year-old CEO of the billion dollar database company MongoDB, explains exactly why he is now leaving “the best job I ever had.” As he notes, his job requires him “to fly 300,000 miles this year, all the normal CEO travel plus commuting between Palo Alto and New York every 2-3 weeks.” And in that time, he’s been missing key moments in the lives of three children, aged 14, 12 and 9. He’s missed the dog being hit by a car. He’s missed his son’s unscheduled surgery. He has a wife with a career of her own, a woman he describes as “infinitely patient” and who keeps the family “despite my crazy travel.” And he says he doesn’t want to “abuse” her patience anymore. To that end, he’s stepping back to become company vice chairman, a career he hopes will be “normal full-time and not crazy full-time.”

Of course the fact that a CEO of a billion dollar company has made such a decision is news worth.  ABC News wasn’t even afraid to trot out the headline that he “quit” (if you consider becoming a vice chairman quitting) “Because He Couldn’t Have It All.” And Vox announced that he was moving on for a “feminist reason” — because apparently caring about one’s work and family is strictly a feminist issue — noting also that he can’t “have it all.”

Now, I applaud Schireson for his decision.  But, he is lucky in that he can remain with his company in a reduced role.  Most of us with similar problems are not so fortunate.  While poor women are being arrested simply because they allow their children to “play in the park” without adult supervision, Schireson is hailed as a hero by some and demonized by others.  I mean really, his is moving on for “feminist reasons”?

I would have preferred if the news media who chose to cover this story would have instead put more emphasis on the fact that balancing work and family is a real problem in today’s world for everyone.  Conservatives are quick to rant about “family values” being so necessary.  Yet, a conservative outlet says he is moving on for “feminist reasons”.

Instead of making a big deal about Mr. Schireson, we should be asking whether or not how our work lives are affecting our family lives.  It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, the vast majority of us would love to be around when family events occur.  Unfortunately, too often that doesn’t happen because of work.

But, why are we forced to make such sacrifices?  It is because we are all chasing the almighty dollar.  Sometimes it isn’t even for ourselves, but rather the company we work for.  I can speak from experience.  There is no such thing as “having it all”.  Either we sacrifice our family time, or we sacrifice our earning potential by the choices we make.  Mr. Schireson is lucky to be able to demote himself to a lower position with the same company.  Most of us can’t do that.  If we make the decision to value family time, we usually are looking for a new job.  To me, that is one of the real tragedies of the so-called “American Dream”.

It would be nice if corporations would look at Mr. Schireson and figure out we all need a better way to truly balance work and family.  They may even see better production from their employees if they aren’t forced to constantly make these balancing decisions and sacrifices.

I regularly read news papers and watch news television during the day.  I need to keep up with what is going on in the world, and I make sure I have different points of view on each story.  Mostly, you can tell a political lean of a news paper or news station easily.  Each side is quick to make sure their like or dislike for something is based on their political view and what is wrong with America.  But, when it comes to rape, I find that none of the mainstream, or non-mainstream media for that matter, really give a shit about rape or the victims.

When rape does hit the headlines the news media is quick to not only say a woman had been raped, but then conjectures on “why” she was raped.  Many have even gone on to write editorials pointing out what they think causes rape.  Naturally, the perpetrator of the crime is never mentioned.  Only the victim.

USA Today was the latest to wade into the foray.  They wrote an op-ed that basically says that rape on college campuses is due to, now get this, “women drinking too much”.  We hear this stupid nonsense all of the time.  It seems that whenever a woman is raped, it is because they either drink too much around men, dress too provocatively, behave improperly, or just use bad judgment when picking their friends.  It always seems to fall back onto the victim not the perpetrator.

How is this even possible?  Why is it that people have to blame the victim for being a victim of an abusive crime?  Why isn’t it the fault of the man who is committing the crime?  There are various opinions as to the cause of the problem, and some people have made very serious suggestions on helping to fix the problem.

For example, Dana Bolger of Know Your IX wrote a rebuttal in the same newspaper that puts the argument of the editorial board to shame.  She wrote:

Rape is a powerful tool of social control, used to keep us in our place. Like rape itself, the endless chorus of “don’ts” keeps us quiet and submissive. But it neither reduces violence nor comes without cost: It keeps us out of public space, afraid to take risks. It does violence’s work for it.

To reduce rape, we can challenge the conditions of inequality that allow gender violence to flourish. Begin consent education in elementary schools, teach boys not to rape, and hold perpetrators accountable in our colleges, churches and families.

The alternative — to deny women the opportunity to move freely and live full lives — reaffirms the very effects of violence it seeks to mitigate.

We continue to have these problems because it has been inbred into our culture.  We have been taught from an early age that women are not to be treated as equals.  We allow the predatory behavior of men towards women simply because it is really controlling them.  Men are entitled to what they want while women are to submit to the will of men.

This is taught everywhere.  Every time an athlete is accused of rape and gets away with it because of his “entitlement” to be pampered we teach our boys that it is okay to rape a woman.  Every time a minister preaches from the pulpit about how women are to submit to the wishes of her husband, we teach boys that it okay to expect whatever they want from women.  Every time someone in the media blames the woman for being raped because of her drinking or how she dresses, we teach boys that it is okay to rape women.

This a real culture that men perpetrate all too often and apparently want to keep.  It is nothing but entitled control over the opposite sex.  Somehow blaming the victim of rape seems to make these men feel really good about themselves.  After all, she must have had it coming.  Of course all of that is total stupidity.

Like most social problems, this one will not go away until there is more done to prevent rape in the first place.  And prevention does not start with blaming the woman.  It starts with respect for everyone.  It starts with educating our boys that rape is a crime and they are not entitled to have sex with a woman if she does not consent.  I am sick and tired of hearing about that “poor boy” or “poor man” and what the crime will do to his life.  I am more interested in what the crime will do to the woman’s life.  She was the one attacked, not him.

Rape is a vicious horrible crime.  What is even worse, is making the victim the cause of this crime.  If you ask any man who has a daughter or wife what they would do if their daughter or wife were raped, you will probably hear the same response.  “I will kill the SOB that did it.”  But, if it is his son who committed the crime, you will usually hear that “she probably had it coming”.  Until that second response changes, the problem of rape will continue and women will continue to be blamed for being attacked!

Sometimes I wonder if man really evolved, or if we are still in the cave.

The much ballyhooed, long-awaited announcement came on July 30, 2014.  Remember that date.  That is when Trey Gowdy announced that his House Select Committee will begin holding hearings in September on the Benghazi scandal.  That’s right, in September we will uncover all of the nasty, devious conspiracies that triggered the death of four Americans including our Ambassador to Libya.

We have all waited for this to begin.  We also knew that it wouldn’t start until after the August recess to put it front and center just before the mid-term elections.  But, there is no politicking here, please move on.  Mr. Gowdy has said over and over that there are still unanswered questions about what really happened that night.  He is sure he will be able to flush out the truth and lay bare the conspiracy he knows existed.  How does he know?  Because he is the biggest conspiracy theorist on Capital Hill.

There is another date to remember.  That date is July 31, 2014.  That is when the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence voted to release its unclassified portion of their investigation into Benghazi.  There is something else to note about this report.  It was unanimously approved by the committee.  There were 12 Republicans on the committee.  Surely there must be something that Mr. Gowdy can use in his investigation.

Well, according to reports, the House Permanent Select Committee found no conspiracy.  They found no cover-up.  They found no proof of a “stand-down” order.  Basically, they found nothing.  The Democratic Ranking member,  Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger. released a statement:

The report also shows that the process used to develop the talking points was flawed, but that the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis. Finally, the report demonstrates that there was no illegal activity or illegal arms sales occurring at U.S. facilities in Benghazi. And there was absolutely no evidence, in documents or testimony, that the Intelligence Community’s assessments were politically motivated in any way.

Adam Schiff, another top Democrat on the committee, issued a statement saying:

The initial talking points provided by the intelligence community were flawed because of conflicting assessments not an intention to deceive, that there was no stand down order, that the diplomatic facilities lacked adequate security, and that our personnel at the scene acted bravely and appropriately.

Yes, it is possible that the Democrats are putting on a nice spin from the report.  But, even if they are, they fall in line with a report from the House Armed Services Committee that also found that there was no intelligence pointing to an imminent threat in Benghazi, and there was no “stand down” order.

Benghazi has been investigated by no less than a dozen committees.  Most of them in the House where the Republicans hold sway.  Yet, none of the reports from any of these investigations show any conspiracy on that fateful day.  So, why so many investigations?  Because the Republicans cannot take no for an answer.  Their tilted view of the world says there had to be a conspiracy, and by god they are going to find one, even if they have to make it up!  Besides, when you think there is a conspiracy around every corner, facts mean nothing.

But then again, if you are a Fiscal Conservative, as the Republicans say they are, what is another $3.5 million tax dollars spent on another political stunt in Congress?  In their mind wasting tax dollars on meaningless investigations is far better than helping the poor and elderly.

School’s out for the summer!  Our wonderful Congress has taken their usual August recess.  That is a normal thing this time of year.  These politicians will go back to their districts and hold town hall meetings and espouse their wonderful achievements.  Problem is, they don’t have any wonderful achievements to espouse.

The previous two Congresses were the least productive in modern history.  The current Congress is on track to even beat those two in futility.  I know it is hard to believe, but that is the fact.  Congress has left town in a rush to get “reelected” to their meaningless position.  There was a time when holding public office was an honorable endeavor held by people who wanted to make the country better.  The current crop of legislators are anything but honorable.

As the children take their usual recess, huge problems still face this country.  We still have a mess on the border.  There are still thousands of undocumented children waiting for their “cases to be heard” as the 2008 law says they must.  What has Congress done about this humanitarian problem?  Nothing!  Yes, the House passed a bill, but they added so many inhumane elements to it that it will never get through the Senate.  That is once the Senate comes back in September.

Some of these elements do not even include anything to do with the humanitarian problem at the border.  They deal with things that are best covered in a comprehensive immigration reform bill.  But since the House has no intention of even talking about comprehensive immigration reform, they tack on objectionable amendments to laws just so those laws can be killed.

There are still millions of people working 40 hour work weeks for below poverty pay.  There is still an attack on any religious beliefs that to not follow the “white” Christian beliefs.  There is still no immigration reform.  There is still no national marriage equality.  There are still voter suppression laws on the books in several states.  There are still millions of people without health care because Republican states refuse to expand Medicaid.  There are still way too many people out of work.  Our infrastructure is still falling down around our ears.

They did manage to pass a bill that will allow the VA help our veterans better.  But, as usual, they have nothing in it that will address the over 1 million homeless veterans.  Nothing that will address the fact that millions of veterans need food stamps just to survive, which the Republicans want to cut even deeper.  They have basically put a band-aide on a gaping wound our veterans suffer from every day.  They authorized about half of the money the VA really needs.  They say they will address the rest in the “normal budget process”.  Which means the VA won’t get any additional money they need because the Republicans will insist on cutting other safety nets to “pay” for any additional money for the VA.

The one piece of legislation the House is very proud of is the one authorizing the Speaker to sue the President.  That is one bill that every Republican in Congress could get behind.  Wasting millions of tax dollars on suing the President as a political stunt is something they are very proud of doing.

It has been often said that allowing the inmates to run the asylum is a bad idea.  Yet, Mr. Boehner has allowed just that to happen.  The inmates in the GOP are now running the asylum.  Thanks in large part to Mr. Boehner’s inability to actually “lead”.  As a result, a “junior Senator from Texas” has become the de facto Speaker of the House.  Way to stand up to the inmates, Mr. Boehner!

If it was just the inmates in Washington that were running the asylum, I wouldn’t be so worried about it.  But, the inmates are running the asylum in many of the states as well.

The party that says it wants “government out of our lives” are very willing to put government into our lives if it will force everyone to think as they do.  They want “government in of the lives” of the poor by killing social safety nets and making sure they can’t vote because they believe the poor are just not smart enough to trust to vote Republican.  They want “government in the lives” of women and their reproductive choices because they don’t think women are smart enough to make their own decisions.  They want “government in the lives” of LGBT community because they must make sure they don’t have equal rights as the rest of the “normal” world as they see it.  They want “government in science” so they can foster the myth of creationism as the “real” science simply because it doesn’t interfere with profit-making for their big donors.   They want “government in the lives” of the working poor by saying that a Federal Minimum Wage is “hurting” their chances to move ahead.  They want “government in children’s lives” by making sure they don’t learn anything while allowing for profit school companies to make millions in profits without having to actually teach anything viable.

In a time when the country faces many challenges, we are stuck with school children who cannot make decisions.  We are stuck with a group  whose only real concern is hate for anything that doesn’t look or think like they do.  We are stuck with the inmates running the asylum.  I have always been an optimist when it comes to the future of our country.  I must admit, that with the current crop of school children in Congress, my optimism is shaky.

There is one bright side.  With school out for the summer, they can’t pass anymore bills that harm the country.  But, then, they don’t pass bills at all, so maybe that is a good thing too.

Something is definitely wrong.  No, I am not talking about the political environment either.  We have begun to see more and more mothers being arrested simply because they have allowed their children a little independence.  When is it okay to allow children to “go to the park to play” without supervision?  That seems to be at the heart of this question.  But, more importantly, why is up to strangers and/or police to make that determination instead of the parents?

Nicole Gainey, a Port St. Lucie, Florida mom was arrested on Saturday for letting her 7 year-old son Dominic walk alone — in the daytime, with a cell phone — a half-mile to a local park. “I honestly didn’t think I was doing anything wrong,” she says. “I was letting him go play.”  But, she was arrested for letting her son “go play”.

During his approximately ten-minute walk, the boy passed by a public pool, where a patron asked him where his mother was and other questions. As he told a local news station, “I got scared and ran off to the park, and that’s when they called the cops.” Police picked up the boy at the park, brought him home and arrested his mother for felony child neglect. In their report, police noted that “numerous sex offenders reside in the vicinity.” Gainey says the cops “just kept going over that, you know, there’s pedophiles,” which sounds to me like the kind of problem that perhaps there’s a better approach to than whisking kids off playgrounds and arresting mothers. The State’s Attorney’s office notes that there is no law regarding how old children can be before they can travel unaccompanied.

In case you missed that last sentence, the State’s Attorney’s office notes that there is no law regarding how old children can be before they can travel unaccompanied.  If that is the case, how can the police arrest this woman for felony child neglect?  Where is the “probably cause” needed to arrest someone of a crime?  There isn’t one, except that a total stranger thinks that allowing a child to go and play is child neglect, and a police officer agrees.  Talk about making up laws as you wing it.

This case falls on the heels of the other one that was reported on in South Carolina.  Debra Harrell let her child play at a park near where she worked while she worked her shift.  She was arrested too.  Not only that, she lost her job because of the arrest.  Her daughter is 9 years old.  She even lost her child to the custody of the Department of Social Services for a brief time.  She has subsequently got her daughter and her job back.  But, she still faces charges and can spend up to ten years in prison for letting her daughter to “go play”.

I have always believed that as a parent it is your responsibility to gradually allow your children more and more independence.  That is the only way that gain the tools necessary to live on their own in the real world.  I do not understand this rush to treat parents as criminals simply because they believe their children are capable of playing by themselves or with their friends.  That has always seemed natural to me.  I went outside to play by myself when I was the age these children are.  I used to walk several blocks away from my house in order to go play basketball.  I even walked by myself several blocks to school when I was 5.

Today, there seems to be a rush of the self-anointed, self-righteous people who think that children are incapable of playing outside by themselves.  Just because they need to have their children under their thumb 24 hours a day, they think everyone else should keep their children under the thumb as well.  It is just another case of pushing your values on other people whether they want them or not.

Yes, I know that children face problems out in the world.  We, and our children faced the same problems.  Before you argue that I was in the military and therefore living in a “closed” neighborhood, I was in the Coast Guard and we lived in the local community.  With only about 25 people stationed in an area, the government didn’t provide base housing.  The difference is that we and our parents taught our children how to protect themselves and to run away when faced with uncertainty.  Today, it seems the people afraid of their own shadows don’t want children to enjoy themselves without the parents chasing after them.

As a matter of fact, Ms. Gainey’s son showed exactly what children should do.  When he was peppered about personal and private matters by a stranger, he ran away from that stranger!  That was precisely what I taught my children to do.  He showed that he would not allow strangers to hurt him.  Yet, he was dragged out of the park by police and his mother arrested.

Every child is not the same.  Each parent is not the same.  Some children can “go out and play” by themselves earlier because their parents taught them to protect themselves.  Maybe the difference today is that people are not interested in “neighborhood” closeness.  Maybe the difference is that some adults are more interested in “proving” they are better parents than their neighbors.  Whatever the case, these arrests are not doing any good.

Child neglect is a very bad thing.  But, child neglect is not feeding your child.  Keeping them locked up in the cellar.  Locking them in a car for several hours.  Physically beating them.  Or, a host of other evil things that some parents have been convicted for.  But, letting a child play outside is not child neglect.  Police said there were pedophiles in the area.  Yet, over 90% of children sexually abused are not abused by strangers.

It is hard enough to protect children from bad people.  I cannot imagine how terrifying it must be to be arrested simply because your child was allowed to “go outside and play”.  That is insane!


The NFL the other day announced a 2 game suspension for Ray Rice.  Many of you may know that Ray Rice has agreed to “anger management’ treatment and “sensitivity treatment” as part of a plea deal in his case when he punched his then fiancé, now his wife, and dragged her out of an elevator in Las Vegas while she was unconscious.  The part of him dragging her out of the elevator was caught on video and shown to the world.

Hardy, another NFL player in Charlotte, was found guilty by a judge for hitting and throwing his former fiancé and then covering up the crime.  The judge ruled that there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed these crimes.  Yet, he did not hand out any jail time.  Just probation.  Hardy is appealing.  That will result in a “jury” trial, but not before the NFL season is over.  The Charlotte team said they would “defer” punishment to the NFL.

After the NFL announced its punishment of Rice, there was a huge outcry about it being too lenient.  Yesterday, the league said the punishment shows “the league will not tolerate this kind of behavior”.  During one of the arguments about the punishment, Steven A. Smith at ESPN, although acknowledging that domestic abuse cannot be tolerated, went on to say that something needs to be done to determine “provocation” in such cases.  That is right, he believes that domestic cases are “provoked” by the victim.

Let me put it this way, Mr. Smith, approximately 1 in 3 women in this country has been or will be a victim of domestic abuse.  Do you really think that a full one-third of women are provoking their domestic partner to abuse them?  That is an absurd stand!  In my career, I dealt with many women who were abused by their spouses.  Yes, I even dealt with some men who were also abused.  If Mr. Smith wants to know what provokes these attacks it is simple.

The wife burns his supper.  She has a different view on something.  She didn’t dress exactly the way she was expected to.  She wouldn’t have sex with him because he was drunk.  She happened to be home when the drunken husband came in and took out his rage on her.  Often times, it is simply that she is handy.  The vast majority of domestic abuse victims usually fall into one of these “provocations” before being beaten.

It would be easy to speak about this only in terms of the NFL.  But this goes way beyond the NFL.  It goes deep into daily lives of people.  It is tragic.  It is indefensible.  It is pure criminal.  However, too many people look at domestic abuse as Mr. Smith does.  They automatically blame the victim for “provoking” the abuse.  So, instead of these vicious attackers being locked up in jail, they are given suspended sentences or probation like in the two cases above.

I mentioned the two recent NFL cases because they show the unbelievable tolerance society shows to the abuser and the demonization of the victim.  In the case of Mr. Hardy, if the NFL does not act before the appeal, which they usually do not, then he will be able to play the full season.  Oh, by the way, he will make $13 million this season.

More than that, the NFL’s handling of these cases do not show a “no tolerance” policy towards domestic abuse.  It really shows that it will be punished only if you consider a slap on the wrist a punishment.

It is easy to come up with the usual argument about coddling athletes.  We see it in high school, college, and the professional levels.  If someone can play a sport exceedingly well, we tend to look the other way when they commit crimes.  The NFL was quick to point out that Mr. Rice was going to lose two paychecks and that would mean about $230,000.  When you consider his multi-million dollar contract, that is a drop in the bucket.  Can anyone really call that a deterrence?

Sports is not the only place where domestic violence takes place.  It happens all of the time in everyday life.  But, sports is where we can send clear signals that this kind of behavior is not acceptable.  I am not sure that either Mr. Rice or Mr. Hardy lose their right to play football.  But, in order to really deter this kind of violence, a year’s suspension seems a more reasonable punishment.  If players lose a full year of income, that will be a deterrence.  It may also send a clear message to lower players in high school and college that they cannot behave like cavemen and expect to be rewarded on the field.

I have never been one who believes in excessive punishment, except in domestic and/or child abuse cases.  Maybe we should have a punishment where the guilty party is tied to a post and every woman in the community is allowed to give two lashes with a whip.  Men who abuse women are really domestic terrorists who conduct torture.  That is what domestic abuse really is.  These men are animals.  Maybe we should start treating them as such.


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