Ray Rice's two-game suspension for beating his then-fianceé Janay Palmer is beginning to seem like the shot heard 'round the sports world. The NFL's spineless punishment sends a powerful message about the value the league places on the lives of women. Let's not pretend the league is ever not acting in its own interest, but its weak-willed implementation of justice has pissed off women who count themselves as fans, women whose children could grow up to play in the league, and men who understand the basic gender and power dynamics at play in the Rice/Palmer domestic violence incident.
Stephen A. Smith is very clearly not one of those men.
On today's episode of ESPN's First Take, good ole' Stephen A. chatted with Skip Fucking Bayless of all people about the NFL's handling of Ray Rice. Stephen A. starts with this searing take on domestic violence:
"It's not about him, then. It's about you, and here's what I mean by that."
Right off the bat, Stephen A. makes the victim—in his example a woman—the focus of his "explanation". Keep in mind that, to whatever extent, Stephen A. Smith is an expert in sports. By no means does a running back knocking his fianceé unconscious mean Stephen A. needs to make the cross-over into Informed Social Justice Guy.
"And I think that just talking about what guys shouldn't do, we got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to make, to try to make sure it doesn't happen."
What does it mean for a woman to "do her part" to not end up the victim of violence, Stephen A? Should Janay Palmer have made sure to prepare herself for intimate partner violence? Let's check with our expert.
"Not that there's real provocation, but the elements of provocation."
Oh, so Janay Palmer might have partially provoked the incident that left her unconscious and led her to be dragged out of an elevator by her fianceé. Got it.
Stephen A. concludes his statement by saying, "No point of blame."
(No homo. Not to be racist, but. She shouldn't have been wearing that skirt.)
Stephen A.'s wack-ass comments fanned the already monstrous objection to the NFL's punishment. Good job, Stephen A. The NFL is your bedfellow today. In a bold, but well-appreciated move, Michelle Beadle, co-host of ESPN's SportsNation took to Twitter to show her disgust and dismay at her colleague's comments.
Powerful words from a face of the network.
A couple hours later, Stephen A. Smith exhibited the bonehead quality of not knowing when to just shut up, and took to Twitter to "clarify" his comments about domestic violence. To this we say: get a blog. Twitter is not the medium for long, directionless rants. Stephen A. pretending to be responding to Beadle's comments, but it was clearly a response to his original response. Bad-opinion-ception.
(He went on, but he just continued to circle.)
Stephen A. goes down swingin' with the "gotta hear both sides" argument. Hey, here's another side I want to hear: what would have happened if Ray Rice or any other abuser (male, female, gay, straight) had just walked away from Janay Palmer. Crazy, right? Because on the night Ray Rice violently assaulted his now-wife, he had two choices. We know which one he made. Janay Palmer knows which one he made. The Ravens organization, John Harbaugh, the NFL, and Roger Goodell know which choice Ray Rice made. And while attempting to demonstrate the league's incompetency, Stephen A. Smith further demonstrates his own.
Lindsey Adler also likes to cause a ruckus on Twitter.