Hey, I turned out OK! Not!

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked his wife unconscious in an elevator, and from the way the case was handled one might easily think his major offense was doing it where a camera would catch him at it.

For messing up his girlfriend, Rice got a two-game suspension. A new NFL policy would get a four-game suspension for a player caught messing himself up with human growth hormones.

There is a ton of news and commentaries about the team maybe covered up the extent of Rice’s offense. I’ve been a journalist more than four decades and I can say unequivocally, it’s just business.

Several years ago, a worker fell from a forklift onto a warehouse floor and died. The company banned employees from talking about the accident – and it was an accident – and referred all media questions to the company spokesman, who cloaked himself in, “We can’t comment while it’s being investigated.”

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on charges stemming from accusations he beat his four-year-old son with a stick, leaving behind a disciplinary message carved in bruises and bloody scourge. The Vikings suspended Peterson, then lost a football game without him and wrote him back into the lineup.

Peterson pointed out he had been disciplined as a child, in approximately the same manner, and he “turned out OK.”

My dad believed in discipline, and he had a temper, and the combination was pretty ferocious. Mother occasionally used a switch, but she didn’t leave the marks Dad left, inside or out.

Dad could wield a leather belt with a vigor and intensity difficult to exceed. And if a belt were not handy, he used his hands. There were times only Mom’s intercessions kept him from literally strangling out of me the ability to write this tale.

As a teen, I grew to nearly six inches taller than Dad, and I outweighed him at least 40 pounds, made muscular from carrying asphalt shingles and other construction loads.

His co-workers often joked about that disparity. After he departed, Mom often mentioned how he had wished I’d been “a man” and stood up to him. Maybe he thought that,, but I knew I had tried standing up to him a few times; it never worked out well for me.

I’m certain my parents loved me. Dad provided a roof over my head and taught me lots of stuff – some of which I later learned was untrue, but he believed it and all he wanted was me to grow up according to the standards he learned from his parents.

But I’d not say I turned out OK. For too much of my kids’ up-growing, I was my Dad. I’d like to think less vigorous than he, but bad enough to recognize the model. I took a long time learning that violence only begets violence.

Kids need discipline. They need to learn to do what needs doing, and to avoid what’s better left alone, and parents have varied methods to the goal. But beating the crap out of them, bruising and flaying their young minds and bodies, only teaches them that when someone doesn’t do what they want, violence is the correct response.

That kind of discipline is not about love. It’s about power. Kids who “turn out alright” do so in spite of, rather than because of, such educating.

If we really are the peace-loving people we claim to be, our businesses – which have no difficulty cutting from their ranks pot smokers and steroid users – must not be allowed to condone domestic abuse as simply the price of a corporate touchdown.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.