Thanks to a Deadspin investigation that included photos of a bruised and beaten Nicole Holder, people are eventually outraged by Greg Hardy’s alleged domestic violence. Sportscasters are suddenly up in arms over the fact he’s still on the Dallas Cowboys. The populace is disgusted that a human could do such a thing. Players are calling the situation a gag.
The problem is, most people weren’t saying this kind of thing when the news first broke. Once again, it took visual evidence to make outcry over domestic violence, and, in turn, pressure the powers that be to enact change. But it shouldn’t have taken photos to get people mad anymore. People should understand domestic abuse without having it shoved in their faces. One human who understands just how powerful an image of violence can be said so on Sunday morning.
“It truly shouldn’t take photos or anything to understand the severity of domestic violence, ” Ray Rice said on “SportsCenter.” “It does continue to raise awareness. It’s just a tough bargain that it takes a visual for the seriousness to be known. Condolences go out to the survivors of domestic violence.”
Rice knows all about how the visualization of violence can shift perceptions. He is the NFL player most closely associated with domestic abuse, a human famous for knocking out his fiance in an elevator. But Rice didn’t see his football career fall apart until after TMZ leaked security footage of his dastardly act. That’s when people took notification, and that’s when the football community ultimately started taking domestic violence seriously.
Hardy’s story is now taking a similar turn. Prior to the release of the photos, which depicted bruises and cuts across Holder’s body, Hardy still had his defenders — cheerleaders in his corner who doubted the veracity of Holder’s allegations.
Fellow NFL players had remained mum on Hardy, content to watch their union fighting to reduce Hardy’s initial 10 -game suspension for beating Holder to 4 games. Last month, ESPN pundit Stephen A. Smith tweeted his support for the Cowboys’ continued job of Hardy. The narrative has changed now. After seeing the photos, Smith flip-flopped, calling for the Cowboys to cut Hardyon Sunday. Smith, a professional and influential journalist, shouldn’t have needed photo evidence to advise his feelings about the Hardy situation. The evidence was already there.
Across the spectrum, there are no he-said-she-said levels of doubt anymore , no callous “she’s a gold digger” explanations of doubt. Just the photos, which visualize the narrative nobody wanted to read in the first place. And for the first time, NFL players are openly sharing their dislike for Hardy. Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Jason Kelce, who faced off against Hardy in Dallas Sunday night, questioned why Hardy is allowed to play.
There are three[ types] of people I have zero respect for in this world, Kelce said to Philly.com. Its people who reached women, people who molest “childrens and” rapists. Im glad he didnt have a good day and I dont know. I think its a gag a guy like that is able to play this quickly.
Kelce’s criticisms lay squarely on the shoulders of the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones. The Cowboys were asked on Friday if they had seen the photos of Holder before signing Hardy. They hadn’t, despite the fact that the NFL had successfully sued North Carolina to access them. But they shouldn’t have needed to. Photos and videos of abuse can train the public, but they should not be used by organizations as a defense of their support for someone like Hardy.
Jones is attempting to hide behind the same “photos or it didn’t happen” debate used by so many anonymous Internet critics in recent months. But that’s totally unacceptable. NFL franchises, especially in 2015, should hold themselves to higher criteria than Internet commenters. Use photos to inform the public is one thing, but citing the absence thereof to sign Hardy when there’s a mountain of text-based evidence to draw fromwas willful and unacceptable ignorance.
People like Jones and ESPN’s Smith are professional, powerful humen with vast influence. They shouldn’t have needed to see the photos to know what domestic violence looks like. They should’ve known better.
Next time, let’s hope they do.
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