I take a long time to get to writing about things. This happens mainly because I always have other things to get to first, and it works for me because I don't want to be leaping to conclusions, so having time to reflect and consider strikes me as positive. Also, it does give people time to get into more trouble.
Wednesday I posted about Stephen A Smith's defense of Mark Cuban. That was in late May, so the dust should have been pretty well settled, but I kept seeing things about him, here and there. Some of that was his defense of Tony Dungy, but then things really exploded with his comments on Ray Rice's two-game suspension for knocking his then-fiancée unconscious. Smith put his foot in it, caught some blow-back, and continued digging deeper with his attempts to explain himself, and why he really didn't say anything awful; he had just been inarticulate.
By today there is a somewhat better apology with no explaining thrown in, which I suspect has happened because someone has told him it was necessary - he has the exact same demeanor that he had before. Still, I want to examine the original comments more closely, and I am doing this relatively promptly, which I know is unusual. Sorry for anyone who gets whiplash.
First of all, I want to thank NJ.com for putting up a transcript. I had listened to the recording a few times, but there is a lot in there, and there are some actual problems with articulation - though not the ones Smith thinks he has - so having someone capture it in print is very helpful:
There are some interest points leading up to this. Last year Smith was able to interview Floyd Mayweather talk about how awful his 87 days in prison were, without asking about the battery domestic violence and harassment charges that got him there. Of course, other things he has said indicate that he found it hard to believe Mayweather's guilt. I mean, who ever heard of a boxer hitting someone?
I also want to reiterate he is always on the side of the structural power. Cuban's racism and Dungy's homophobia are understandable, and the big strong males who make millions of dollars well, maybe she's lying, or maybe she just had it coming. Okay, no, she didn't really have it coming, because that's a horrible thing, and it would be illegal, but she still started it.
Now, just for fun, the point by point analysis:
“We know you have no business putting your hands on a woman. I don’t know how many times I got to reiterate that. But-"
You will need to reiterate it at least once for every "but". When you say something true and follow it with "but", that's a pretty good indicator that crap is coming.
"as a man who was raised by women, see I know what I’m going to do if somebody touches a female member of my family. I know what I’m going to do, I know what my boys are going to do. I know what, I’m going to have to remind myself that I work for the Worldwide Leader, I’m going to have to get law enforcement officials involved because of what I’m going to be tempted to do."
As I condemn violence I admit my own proclivity for it, except that my violence will be in your defense, not against you. Me strong man! But I'm down with women; I was raised by one!
"But what I’ve tried to employ the female members of my family, some of who you all met and talked to and what have you, is that again, and this what, I’ve done this all my life,"
He's really starting to stumble here, but I think he is saying that he has at times gotten female relatives jobs and his male cohorts have met them, which makes the upcoming reference to hands being put on women fascinating.
"let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions,"
Comment withheld at this time.
"because if I come, or somebody else come, whether it’s law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know, if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you."
Okay, this sounds to me like at least one of his relatives has been harassed in a job he has procured for her. I'm guessing more of a groping than a beating, but again, why is he making it about him riding to the defense?
"So let’s try to make sure that we can do our part in making sure that that doesn’t happen."
But what about those men that are serial abusers?
“Now you got some dudes that are just horrible and they’re going to do it anyway,"
Thanks for noticing!
"and there’s never an excuse to put your hands on a woman."
I'm not sure why you would feel the need to say that, unless...
"But domestic violence or whatever the case may be, with men putting their hands on women, is obviously a very real, real issue in our society. And I think that just talking about what guys shouldn’t do, we got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to make, to try to make sure it doesn’t happen."
Is that with the horrible guys that would do it anyway, or...
"We know they’re wrong. We know they’re criminals. We know they probably deserve to be in jail. In Ray Rice’s case, he probably deserves more than a 2-game suspension which we both acknowledged."
These would be much stronger statements without the "probably".
"But at the same time, we also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation. Not that there’s real provocation, but the elements of provocation,"
It's not real, but study it. Why?
"you got to make sure that you address them, because we’ve got to do is do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way. And I don’t think that’s broached enough, is all I’m saying."
He's right. We spend far too much time talking about how people who make a living from violence for entertainment end up having violence spill into their personal lives, and way too much time talking about the objectification of women, or how people with wealth and fame abuse that. We totally need to spend more time talking about how you can prevent hair-trigger tempers from going off. There's not enough people talking about how women need to know when to shut their mouths.
"No point of blame.”
I am so glad you said that; I was totally confused.
And yet, I do not think Smith is really a bad person. I think he is sadly lacking in self-awareness, and kind of an idiot, but the mistakes he makes are really common ones, and make a lot of people feel really satisfied. "See? The black guy says it too!"
So he is a frustration, individually, but he is part of a larger systemic problem, and I'm still trying to wade through what I want to say about many things.
Anyway, here are some good links related to this story, and my original post.