Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Did Stephen A. Smith Actually Say It Was Okay To Beat A Woman?!?

I'm not a big ESPN viewer, unless we're talking about live sports. The reasons are many, but most of them have to do with the network's tendency to over-sensationalize stories to the point of idiocy. In a lot of ways, ESPN's programming is like Fox News with sports subbed in for "politics". Most shows feature people yelling over each other disguised as a "debate", which seldom yields in any level of intelligent discourse. No show exemplifies this more than First Take, with Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, and a black chick who sits between the two and seems to do little other than say "ummm hmmm" and occasionally nods her head.[1]

Smith is no stranger to controversy. A guy whose comments on non-sports topics often land him in hot water, Screamin' A. has made a good living off of toeing the line between political correctness and corporately acceptable ratchetness. But a comment he made about the Ray Rice incident last week lead to ESPN putting him in timeout.
ESPN suspended Stephen A. Smith for a week on Tuesday for comments that suggested women should avoid provoking men into assaulting them.

Smith raised the subject of provocation last Friday during a discussion on “First Take,” on ESPN2, about the two-game suspension received by Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice from the N.F.L. over allegations that he beat his fiancée, now his wife, in a casino elevator. Smith’s remarks led to a rebuke on Twitter from another ESPN star, Michelle Beadle.

In a recorded apology Monday, Smith said that he had failed to properly articulate his view and that he had not intended to say that domestic violence was a woman’s fault.

Smith will return to “First Take,” and to his afternoon ESPN Radio show in New York, next Wednesday.

Smith’s weeklong suspension is less severe than the 30 days imposed on Max Bretos, an ESPN anchor who used the term “chink in the armor” in reference to Jeremy Lin in 2012. In 2010, Tony Kornheiser was suspended two weeks for comments he made on radio about an outfit worn by Hannah Storm, a “SportsCenter” anchor.
Smith is a staple at ESPN and First Take's ratings are huge, so there's no way the channel was going to fire him Rob Parker-style unless he refused to apologize. Not one to go out like Anthony Cumia, Smith has now apologized more than Reuben Studdard. He is taking his one week suspension like a "G", and all will be back to normal next week. But I'm wondering what was so wrong about Smith's comments in the first place.

Let's have another listen.

I know it's trendy and fun to clown Stephen A. I mean, seriously, that hairline alone is reason enough. But uhhh, sorry if I'm missing the boat here, but what exactly did he say that was so controversial? At no point did he say it was okay to beat a woman. He went out of his way to say the exact opposite. He simply said that as a man with sisters whom he might have to defend at some point, he wants to make sure his sisters don't do anything to put themselves in such a situation in the first place. Can a woman provoke a man to the point where he defends himself/responds out of anger? Yes. Does that justify the man responding out of anger? No, not under any circumstances.

I may be wrong, but I believe that's all Smith is saying here. Don't provoke a man to the point of violence and there won't be any. That doesn't excuse Ray Rice or any other wifebeater, it simply says that domestic violence is (in some cases) a two way street. Don't dish it out if you don't want to end up in a scenario in which you might have to take it.

That's not in any way justifying a man hitting a woman. I will raise my sons to not ever put their hands on a woman. There's no justification for that at all. But as a man with a daughter, I'll also teach her the very same thing. Don't assume that every man you interact with has been instilled with the same values as your brothers.

Because they might not have been, and you don't want to find that out the hard way.

Question: Did Smith have a point, or was he just being a sexist, woman-hating blowhard?

[1] Seriously, what does she do? Anything?

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