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Stephen A. Smith gets it wrong again with Ray Rice commentary


ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith has made a second career out of blaming the victim. Or perhaps, he’s too preoccupied with maintaining his “close, personal” friendship with so many notables in sports that he’s become incapable of calling out their nonsense.

In his latest bit of social commentary, the controversial ESPN analyst addressed the NFL’s suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice following an incident in Atlantic City, N.J. where Rice and his now-wife were arrested for a domestic incident. Footage surfaced of Rice dragging her unconscious body into an elevator following the altercation. The NFL announced that Rice would be suspended two games for the incident.

On ESPN’s “First Take,” Smith offered his perspective on the incident between Rice and his wife.

“We keep talking about the guys. We know you have no business putting your hands on a woman. I don’t know how many times I can reiterate that,” Smith said. “I know what I’m going to do if somebody touches a female member of my family. I know what I’m going to do. I know what my boys are going to do. But what I’ve tried to employ to female members of my family…let’s make sure that we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions. Because if I come…after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you. So let’s try to make sure that we do our part to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“Now, we’ve got some dudes that are just horrible and they are going to do it anyway and there’s never any excuse to put your hands on a woman,” he went on. “But domestic violence or whatever the case may be…is obviously a very real issue in our society and I think that just talking about what guys shouldn’t do; we’ve got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to try and make sure it doesn’t happen.”

Smith is one of the more prominent personalities on ESPN and he has consistently taken the “blame the victim” position with hot-button issues. In the wake of the Mark Cuban’s admission that he would “cross the street” if he saw a black kid in a hoodie coming his way, Smith fervently defended the Dallas Mavericks owner’s right to be a bigot. When a Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver was caught threatening to “fight every n—-r in here” at a Kenny Chesney concert last summer, Smith stated on the air that black people should take some responsibility for Cooper’s behavior because of the liberal use of the N-word in the black community. During this latest rant, he went on to speak about “elements of provocation,” and how that subject isn’t “broached enough.”

Smith considers himself a sports insider. He loves to remind viewers and co-hosts of his “close” relationship with many of the biggest names in professional and collegiate sports. Perhaps Smith’s affection for his “buddies” clouds his ability to be clear-eyed and objective in his assessment. Or perhaps he’s just the mouthpiece for a larger segment of American culture; the people that ask, “What was she wearing?” when a woman has been sexually-assaulted, the people who think poor people should’ve just “worked harder,” and black boys should “pull their pants up” to avoid being profiled.

An abuser is an abuser, so instead of teaching women not to provoke, we should teach men to control themselves. Instead of examining what she could’ve done to make him angry, we should find out how to recognize violent tendencies and seek help for abusive personalities. The world could use a lot more empathy for the people who have been victimized.

And the world could use a lot less Stephen A. Smith.


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  2. Lyric on July 29, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    As a woman, I must say he does have a point! We want men to control themselves, control themselves, control themselves, but how about we do out part too! Now, before the bashing begins, as SAS stated, no man has any right to put his hands on a woman that is a given, However, in some cases, men have been provoked…attacked by women and taunted and egging the situation on and he has not been taught to handle a situation like this so he’s going to do the first thing that comes to mind and AGAIN that man needs to know how to approach that situation, but ladies you know some of you have been there, all up in the man’s face daring him to hit you, punching and kicking him which TOO IS NOT ACCEPTABLE! It’s like when you travel to poor countries, they tell you DO NOT WEAR FLASHY jewelry because one it is disrespectful to the poor and two you are setting yourself up for robbery. So if you know where that could lead, you be smart and leave the jewelry at home. Ladies, BE SMART, if you feel yourself losing control of the situation then remove yourself. You don’t know what that man is thinking or what he has been taught. So, again by no means am I speaking of the woman who has been repeatedly abused by a low-life and must take her kids and escape in the middle of the night, or the college girl who is dating for the first time an realizes before its too late that her boyfriend has mental issues and has starts beating on her, I’m talking about the woman who knowingly upset and agitate a bad situation and just don’t know when to stop. Now, in this incident, I believe they said Rice’s wife hit him first and attacked him….if this is true Rice had NO RIGHT to knock her out or punch her, but he should’ve had enough sense to know, “ok, let me get her up off of me without injuring her or myself” which he did not. He took the disgraceful and disgusting way out to not only viciously punch her out, but then to drag her body through the hotel as if he had just murdered someone and was ready to dump the body somewhere, not cool! If you can prevent a situation, then do so and that goes to all WOMEN and MEN!.

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    • Likewaterforchoc on July 30, 2014 at 11:04 am

      I think this backlash comes because it seems that Smith is defending the guys he is tight with and he has a history of victim blaming and the “provocation” argument in these kinds of instances (this is the 3rd that I know of). He just didn’t get away with it this time. I think a lot of these people he defends are guys who flaunt their male privilege and feel that they are above the law and definitely above any woman saying anything to them because they have money/status. Like Tiger Woods said, he believed that because he was successful, worked hard, and was rich, that he was entitled to cheat whenever he wanted. A lot of men tend to feel entitled to put their hands on their women when they question any negative behaviors because “how dare you question them?”. They are bullies and that is the way they keep their women in check. The “provocation” argument does not fit the Rice situation, though.