Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.
Do you remember Jovan Belcher? If you are like most, the name probably doesn't ring a bell.
Back in November of 2012, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins to death, then he drove to the Chiefs' practice facility, thanked two of his coaches and the team's general manager for being good teammates, then put the gun to his own head and pulled the trigger.
The Chiefs' and the NFL decided that the game the next day with the Carolina Panthers would proceed as usual, but, as an acknowledgement of the tragedy, the game began with a moment of silence for victims of domestic violence. It was a 'nice', but terribly shallow gesture.
The world kept spinning. Touchdowns kept occurring. And we all forgot.
And that is how it goes in the NFL.
We are all blinded by the lights and mesmerized by the roaring crowd, and we are willing to look away. We are able to suspened belief to keep our show going. In fact, that's how it goes with athletes in general.
In a 2010 Harvard Law Review article, Bethany Withers wrote that "conviction rates for athletes are astonishingly low compared to the arrest statistics. Though there is evidence that the responsiveness of police and prosecution to sexual assault complaints involving athletes is favorable, there is an off-setting pro-athlete bias on the part of juries."
Likewise, In 1995, Maryann Hudson at the Los Angeles Times found that athletes charged with domestic violence were only convicted 36 percent of the time, compared with a 77 percent general conviction rate.
And that is how it goes with us, the fans.
We seem not to want to believe that our hero-athletes are capable of such lapses in self-control. We don't want to face that when someone devotes their life to emotional, day-in-day-out competitive brutality, that it might bleed over into their personal life, too.
To believe that, we would have to question the spectacle of the sport itself. To believe that threatens these games we love on their most base level. To believe that we have to reexamine American culture.
We would much rather live in our illusion until something like the Ray Rice TMZ video comes along, and we can't deny it anymore. Then we all jump on the demonization bandwagon and turn the guy who lands in the spotlight into the monster scapegoat we all need to return to our make-believe.
If Ray Rice were the only perpetrator in the NFL the demonization response might make sense, but Rice is most definitely not the only bad guy in the league. More could be listed but what's the point?
If we want to truly do something about the issue, then the response to the problem is what needs to be addressed, not all the idiots who commit the crimes. The paradigm of going from turning a blind eye, to complete demonizing disgust when we are denied the ability to bury our heads in the sand, just isn't working anymore. Through a better response, the idiots will hopefully be transformed into law-abiding citizens who understand how to leave the fight on the field.
In a recent interview with Newsmax, Dr. Ben Carson called on getting both Ray and Janay Rice some help instead of burning them at the altar of our spectacle, and many reacted to his comments like he was defending domestic violence in general.
"Let's not all jump on the bandwagon of demonizing this guy. He obviously has some real problems. And his wife obviously knows that because she subsequently married him. So they both need some help," Carson said.
Obviously, Carson, who has been a doctor most of his life, should start from a "help first" perspective, so it's really quite silly someone could have a problem with his comments. Maybe the greater point is that we should all start there. Are we helping when we look the other way? Are we helping when we demonize after the fact? Obviously not. If we truly want to do something about the problem the first thing we need to do is get real. When we build a "warrior culture" through any kind of violence, police brutality, video games, sports or otherwise, then we should expect these results. We need to create more helpers like Carson, and fewer hitters like Rice. To do that, we need to reexamine our value system, and how we react to these issues.
To do that we need to understand Jesus meant what he said about meekness.