ESPN has told “First Take” host Stephen A. Smith to have a seat, and they’ve placed him on suspension.
Less than a week after Stephen spoke out in a defense of Baltimore Raven’s player Ray Rice, it seems that he’s suffering the same fate as the NFL star.
On Friday, Stephen got social media in an uproar over his comments that women shouldn’t provoke men to hit time. This came as part of his commentary on the fact that Ray has only been suspended for two games out of the NFL season and slapped with a low-level fine after video of him beating his then-girl friend and dragging her into an elevator surfaced.
Stephen got immediate backlash from his co-worker Michelle Beadle, who has been in an abusive relationship herself. Beyond that he faced a lot of criticism from the public for his perceived argument that women are at least partly to blame for their own abuse.
He tried to clarify his statements on Twitter, but only wound up digging himself a deeper hole. In his third attempt to tackle the subject, Stephen delivered an on-air apology on Monday’s episode of “First Take.”
“On Friday, speaking right here on ‘First Take’ on the subject of domestic violence, I made what can only amount to the most egregious error of my career,” Stephen said. “My words came across that it is somehow a woman’s fault. This was not my intent. It is not what I was trying to say.”
Apparently, the mea culpa came way too late because ESPN still announced it’s decision to bench him on Twitter!
From ESPN PR: “ESPN announced today that Stephen A. Smith will not appear on First Take or ESPN Radio for the next week.”
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) July 29, 2014
Stephen was probably trying to make the point that women shouldn’t hit men with the expectation that they’ll never get hit back. When it comes to the concept that everyone should keep their hands to themselves, Stephen isn’t wrong. That’s something parents, educators and caretakers try to teach kids from early age. It’s up there with sharing and being nice to others.
However, his argument is deeply flawed in the fact that physical contact isn’t always the trigger for a domestic incident. Sometimes it can just be words, or even a look, that an abuser considers to be disrespectful that sets them off. The question then becomes: Where is the line when it comes to what can be considered provocation? What constitutes an action that would incite a physical attack?
Those victim-focused questions aside, what about self-control? As an adult, one should reasonably have some level of ability to reign in their emotions and decisions. Being mad about something that someone said or did does not give any of us license to strike a person much less beat them unconscious!
What do you think, beauties: Did Stephen have a point, or was it just more ill-conceived hot air? Should he have been suspended?