You might wonder what will actually help stop the plague of domestic violence. What policies will help? What amount of funding is needed? They’re valid questions.
But after reading Gov. Paul LePage’s Aug. 12 letter to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, you might also remember another needed change: attitude.
LePage’s letter is full of the right kind of fury — anger at a man in a position of power who didn’t take a domestic violence incident seriously. This is the type of attitude the nation needs more of: one that urges others to see how their behavior contributes to a culture that perpetuates violence.
On Aug. 7, LePage went on the George Hale and Ric Tyler radio show and said he was boycotting the NFL.
“When they don’t care about our women and our children, they’re not worth watching,” he said. “I’m absolutely incensed by Goodell, and I’m sending him a letter this week.”
And he did.
The NFL commissioner had given Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice a mere two-game suspension after he was indicted on a charge of aggravated assault for knocking his now-wife unconscious. He was caught on surveillance footage dragging her body out of an elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
In his letter, LePage uses the following words to describe Goodell’s punishment for Rice: reprehensible, appalling, unconscionable and defying common sense.
“There is no excuse for this type of behavior in our society. Until all of us make an effort to end this abuse, the cycle will continue. NFL players are supposed to be role models for young men, and many of them excel at that. However, if you allow some players to act violently toward women, then young men will think that kind of behavior is acceptable. It tarnishes all players and gives the league a bad name,” LePage said in the letter.
He is right. There is no excuse for domestic violence and no excuse for the NFL’s leniency. The commissioner had the opportunity to send a message that violence is not tolerated. With his power and reach, he could have modeled the type of attitude this country will need to end domestic violence.
Instead, he has given harsher punishments to players who violated the NFL’s drug policy — men who physically harmed no one but themselves. Lavon Brazill of the Indianapolis Colts received a one-year suspension for marijuana use. One year.
As LePage said in his letter to Goodell, “Simply suspending players who commit domestic assault shows you have absolutely no compassion for their victims, nor do you have any real desire to punish these violent players.”
If people in positions of power continue to brush aside incidents of domestic violence, it will take just as many, if not more, to speak out against them as LePage has done.