A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Monday, September 15, 2014

Carry That Weight

When Bobby Kennedy was murdered in 1968, a conservative Republican, Charles Goodell, was appointed to his Senate seat. But Goodell was a conservative with a conscience, and that conscience wouldn't let him support the Vietnam War, much to the displeasure of President Richard Nixon.
So the Nixon people went after him with a vengeance. They ran William F. Buckley's brother James against him, and Goodell was defeated for re-election.
He lost his Senate seat, but for the rest of his life he had the consolation of being able to look in the mirror every morning and seeing a man with integrity staring back.
I wish his son, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, could do the same. Given the opportunity to do the right thing in the Ray Rice case, he punted.
First, he interviewed the victim with her accused attacker sitting right next to her, something all those high-priced former FBI agents on the NFL payroll could have told him was a no-no. Then he chose to believe Rice's self-serving story and let him off with a mere two-game suspension, just a week after he banned Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon an entire year for smoking pot!
Goodell made it clear what his priority is: public relations - or, as they put it in NFL-speak, "protecting the shield."
Now that a second video has surfaced showing Rice delivering the actual knockout punch, he's been suspended "indefinitely," which means he can apply for reinstatement after a year.
But why did Goodell need to see that second video when he'd already seen the first one showing Rice dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator? How did he think she lost consciousness?
Domestic violence in the NFL is nothing new. Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy has been playing for three months after his conviction for beating his girlfriend and threatening to kill her. 49er defensive end Ray McDonald is still playing after being arrested last month for beating up his pregnant girlfriend. And last Friday Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was arrested for beating his 4-year-old son about the genitals with a tree branch.
Two years ago, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend. In 1999 Carolina wide receiver Rae Carruth killed a woman who was eight months pregnant with his child. And, of course, don't forget O.J.
But Roger Goodell doesn't think violence against women is a problem.
Well, I have news for him: It is, and not just in the NFL. It's widespread throughout our society - in the military, in police departments and on college campuses, where sexual assaults are routinely covered up by the chain of command.
It's open season on women, and it has to stop. But it won't until men stop it themselves. We all need to be like the students at Columbia.
A few months ago, a Columbia senior named Emma Sulkowitz was raped by another student, and the university did nothing about it. So she's been protesting by dragging the mattress on which she was raped around campus with her.
Last Saturday hundreds of her fellow students showed up at an anti sexual assault rally, and all of them were toting mattresses, along with signs reading, "Carry that weight."
And that's what we have to do, too. Carry that weight.