By: Eric Thomas

The NFL suspended Ray Rice for two games because he knocked his fiancé unconscious in a hotel elevator last year. The internet has been split into two camps: either the suspension is “just right” or the NFL is a bunch of knuckle-dragging Neanderthal barbarians who despise women. We’ve got to take our stand in this current media cultural circus, because if we don’t, someone might offer some context or perspective. We certainly can’t have that when our blood is up.

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Game suspensions are stupid. They only exist to satiate our constant culture of punishment. If the courts feel like Ray Rice should go to jail, he should. If they felt like he shouldn’t, he shouldn’t. I have no idea what the laws are concerning assault and battery in New Jersey, and I don’t feel like spending any time Googling them today. We have a justice system (irrevocably broken of course, but that’s a different blog) and that should be the end of it. Why must there be an extra layer of punishment that’s done for pure publicity reasons?

Suspensions are pointless because no one is ever happy. They’re either too much or not enough, because American culture is absolutely OBSESSED with punishing people. It’s all we’re interested in anymore, and our blood is always up. Scroll through any comment section of any website anywhere, and you’ll find a frightening exercise in mob justice. Did someone say something you disagree with? They should be fired. Did someone do something wrong? They should be jailed or executed or both. Did a country do something you didn’t like? Bring out the air strikes, baby.

Scroll through any website and you’ll see this obsession. It’s all concerned with who we can stop and who we can punish, and when the punishment is announced (BECAUSE WE HAD TO TAKE A STAND) the debate over said punishment begins. You only rarely hear that a suspension is too harsh, because those with mercy in their heart have no place in America anymore.

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The “for us or against us” paradigm that emerged post 9-11 has bled into every walk of American life. Those who argue against the punishment culture are subject to constant ad hominem attacks. You can almost guarantee the responses to this blog, “So what, you’re IN FAVOR of Ray Rice punching his girlfriend?!” Why must the mob constantly involve itself with punishment? Why have a court or justice system if our internet mob will never be satiated? We set up a system of laws and trials, but Americans are no longer satisfied with them. There always has to be something extra, because the punishment hunger must be constantly fed. It’s an American value that everyone deserves his or her day in court, and we will live with the court’s decision because that’s justice. If that isn’t an American value anymore, that’s sad.

I know that the NFL isn’t the government, but why should they be above American ideals? Why must every corporation engage in the punishment phase? Why isn’t the response, “Wow, that’s awful? Well, he’ll have his day in court.” It’s a constant need to bypass the justice system and give the perpetrators a little extra. If your argument is that the justice system doesn’t work, then why isn’t the conversation to fix the justice system?

This isn’t the NFL’s fault. It’s our fault. For every trespass we demand some measure of suffering. The customer base demands it. Americans turn to their companies and organizations to hand out the draconian punishments they demand because the government has a series of checks and balances. If you’re throwing your lot in with the mob, you can’t have those.

All suspensions, fines, and punishments handed out by the NFL are stupid. If a player does something illegal or untoward, the league should stay out of it and allow the courts to do their job. Wouldn’t that be nice? How much of your brain power would that save? You could spend your time devoted to so many other subjects other than the white hot pleasure of self-righteousness.

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That won’t happen, of course, because what else would there be to talk about?