Of Rice and Men

When I hear inappropriate comments, when I see unspeakable acts, when I read inconsiderate posts, my initial thought is clear: turn down the mic, turn off the camera, and deactivate the account.

Mics. Cameras. Twitter.

These are the arenas where hatred plays its dirty cards. Even without these forums, bigots, sexists, and imbeciles continue to whisper their inappropriate comments. They continue to act out their evil impulses in private.

But just as the Ice Bucket Challenge teaches the uninformed the difference between ALS and ASL, the fact that so many faces in the media limelight are on camera, mic-ed up, tweeting about their lives, means that we have fuel to ignite a fiery conversation about race, sex and other social stereotypes. It’s an uncomfortable feeling when these stories come to light. By rolling the tape, predators are caught red handed. They are the idiots caught on camera, but they represent a greater number of similar idiots who share the same views and practices. It is through our own uneasiness with this public display of insensitivity that we have the forum to have a strong public display of action to inspire change in the masses.

Looking over the news of the past week, the blunders of men reads like a Buzzfeed article or quiz entitled “Which athlete/racist/abuser/bigot am said the following?”

The case of Ray Rice brought to light the inactions of the District Attorney and the Judge who approved the pretrial intervention. #BlundersofMen.

The case of Ray Rice brought Floyd Mayweather, along with his $30 Million weekend payout, into the conversation, where he reminded us that his history of domestic assault is a “matter of opinion.” Having these opinions caught on tape shows the growing need for action- the banishment of a sport like boxing, the banishment of fighters like Mayweather. #BlundersofMen

The case of Ray Rice brought us sobering statistics of domestic violence, forcing an eye-opening conversation that a woman is five times more likely to be the victim of domestic abuse than become a CEO of a Fortune 1000 Company. #BlundersofMen

The case of Ray Rice brought us a conversation of moral equivalency started by Ray Lewis and continued by supporters of Adrian Peterson’s actions when it came to his 4 yr old child. The “it was ok a generation ago” doesn’t fly. There are many things “ok” a generation or two ago that we’d like to keep banished forever. It is our collective responsibility to support those in need. As the hashtag shows support Columbia studentEmma Sulkowicz and other victims of rape, we must all #carrytheweight. #BlundersofMen

The case of Ray Rice ignited the twitter hashtag #whyistayed, shedding light on the complexities of domestic abuse. #BlundersofMen

Kanye West made his way into the conversation by calling out two indidivuals who were unable to give him a standing ovation at his concert. It didn’t matter that one was in a wheelchair and the other had a prosthetic. What mattered was the insensitivity of West, the ego of West, and classlessness of West. We are all created in the image of God. We weren’t created to stand for Kanye, and I know I won’t stand for him. #IDon’tStandForKanye.

My heart aches for those who experience these acts of hatred and bigotry. Being mic-ed up, these villains are responsible for their actions. They represent a much larger group of villains that do not view their perspectives or actions as abuses. This week, the #blundersofmen share the names Rice, Mayweather, Peterson and West. Next week, the blunders may not have the same name recognition, but our responsibility to aid those in need, to call out hateful speech and action, should not change. Even when the mics aren’t on. Even when the cameras are no longer rolling. We are compelled to denounce these actions, to raise the bar for human decency, to continue honest dialogue so we foster a stronger community for all. May we combat the negligence and the abuses with the courage and strength of our hearts and character.

Posted on September 15, 2014, in View from the Pew. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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