by Kent Sterling
Indiana Pacers forward Paul George decided to weigh in on the Ray Rice issue this morning, has pulled the offensive tweets, and now has apologized. Whether people remember the initial tweets that reflected an unfathomable lack of wisdom about the plague of domestic violence or the apology he just posted depends upon what they thought of George in the first place.
Fans will forgive. Others will see him as just another purveyor of thuggery willing to look the other way as women are physically punished.
In my very limited exposure to George, he has always been available, cordial, and careful with his words. For that reason, I was stunned at his tweets, and even more shocked that those thoughts could enter what I have always believed to be a very reasonable if naive mind.
There are a variety of perspectives about domestic violence. One correctly assesses it as a hideous blight on our society, and the other finds a way to justify the arcane notion that most women deserve an occasional smack – or worse – to keep them in line.
Here are the three tweets that Paul George authored, “Keep it 100 lets act on this police violence like we actin on this Ray Rice case! Stay strong homie !” “If you in a relationship and a woman hit you first and attacking YOU.. Then you obviously ain’t beatin HER. Homie made A bad choice! #StayUp” and “I don’t condone hitting women or think its coo BUT if SHE ain’t trippin then I ain’t trippin.. Lets keep movin lol let that man play!”
I’m virtually unoffendable, but the sheer stupidity required to embrace the philosophies reflected in those tweets is jarring – especially from a guy like George. LOL? Let that man play? A bad choice?
As I’m writing, the George tweets are being discussed on ESPN. George tweeted ESPN’s Mike Wells this morning, “It’s not cool to hit women I KNOW that.. And that’s not what I’m saying I would never condone that.. I was just trying to say if we gone come down hard on ray rice come down on all crime”
This is why Twitter should be either shunned or used only to parrot motivational phrases because when George says he is trying to draw a link between the coverage of Ray Rice and what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, he misses the point by so far GPS couldn’t lead him back to rationality.
Rice got a virtual pass for knocking his girlfriend (now wife) out cold, and then posing with indifference. The media coverage is no longer about Rice, but focus upon NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s mishandling of the situation. If anything, the media responded to what happened in Ferguson exactly as George would hope. Night after night, the national networks shined a bright light on the repellent racism that is so pervasive in St. Louis.
Now, George issues a mea culpa, “Let me apologize to the women and to the VICTIMS of domestic violence people my intent was not to downplay the situation..” I believe that he is genuinely sorry for the tweets, and not just because the Pacers called and asked/demanded that he make this right.
But George needs to understand the power of language, and that words must be carefully chosen to reflect our thoughts. When in doubt, don’t press send. George should have felt significant doubt that his words would be assessed as he hoped – as a condemnation of Ferguson, not an endorsement of domestic violence.
The lesson is that as we vilify coach John Harbaugh, general manager Ozzie Newsome, and owner Steve Bisciotti of the Baltimore Ravens for their support of Rice through this turmoil, they know him in the same way Indianapolisans feel they know George. If we give George a pass for his poorly crafted and offensive tweets, we are hypocrites if we also condemn Harbaugh, Newsome, and Bisciotti.