Right or wrong, we are a society that believes it has the moral right to tell other countries how they are supposed to live and run their governments. Americans will raise their noses and turn their heads at how wrong other cultures can seem.
We point to instances — like the persecution of Ray Rice, Ray McDonald, Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson, and others for acts against women or children — as ammunition in the battle to set the world straight. Americans know what is right and wrong; we are so morally superior that we will lead the charge for the suffering millions around the globe.
But America has a glaring double standard here at home. We allow an alleged perpetrator of these crimes to represent this great nation. That double standard comes in the form of Hope Solo, goalkeeper for the US women’s national soccer team. More on that in a bit.
Is America really as morally superior as we think? Do we really have the right to tell others how to live? Clearly there is no “one-size-fits-all” way to govern, or a unilateral cultural decision that would predicate the United States always being right.
But if society here is resolute in the belief that we are indeed superior, then we better do our best to make sure that we adhere to our own inflated judgments at home before imposing them around the globe. That is where we are failing when we still allow double standards to remain prevalent, especially in high-profile cases of abuse.
Consider that Americans, including the President of the United States, spoke out about the egregious actions of Ray Rice when he knocked out the woman who would become his wife in a casino elevator in Atlantic City. The NFL, a business, is currently being publicly flogged and pressured to crack down on these and other equally-heinous actions by their players. It is not just Ray Rice but the video pushed him to the forefront.
Whether athletes should be role models for the youth of this country is a discussion for a different day and one I discussed in great depth last year. The reality is they are high-profile role models and should be held to a standard.
Ray Rice was released by the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL went through numerous suspensions as they fumbled towards the finish line. The media and American public were horrified by the act of domestic violence captured on video. Raising a hand against your spouse is wrong. We all agree with that. Raising your hand against your significant other is wrong. We all agree with that. Raising your hand against a family member (and we are not talking about a spanking here) is wrong. We all agree with that.
But does this have to be a man raising his hand against a woman? Can it be a woman raising her hand against a man? It is a cultural belief and sometimes a knee-jerk reaction to think that it is always a man that perpetrates these acts. But this is a two-way street and should be looked at as such. According to the US Department of Justice:
“We define domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”
At no point does the definition of domestic violence ever mention man against woman or woman against man. Why does that matter?
Enter Hope Solo. According to the initial Seattle Times article from June, Hope Solo was allegedly involved in a domestic violence act. For those not too familiar with the case, she allegedly was drunk at a family gathering and got into a verbal altercation with her 17-year-old cousin who was attempting to explain how a thespian needed to be versatile and have an “athletic state of mind.”
According to reports, Solo responded that her cousin was “too fat and overweight and crazy to ever be an athlete.” As the argument escalated, Solo punched her 17-year-old cousin and threw him to the ground.
It is alleged that Solo attacked his mom, Solo’s half-sister, when she attempted to break up the altercation. The cousin then attacked Solo, in defense of his mom, while Solo was “circling like a shark.” Solo was arrested and charged with two counts of fourth-degree domestic violence. A 911 call was made which can be heard below. Pay attention to the first few seconds as it speaks to Solo’s apparent state of mind.
Courtesy of Matt Millmore
If convicted, Hope Solo stands to be found guilty of domestic violence. So why do I think there is a double standard?
Athletes like Ray Rice, Ray McDonald, Greg Hardy, and others are being removed from teams or suspended with pay until court proceedings are completed and they are either exonerated or found guilty. The nation as a whole believes this is proper punishment — though some smaller groups believe the punishments being levied on these athletes are not strict enough.
Meanwhile, large portions of America stand by silently about the case of Hope Solo. No comment from the President, no real media uproar, no national groups pounding their chests demonizing her.
Why not? Is it because the incident was between family members? Is it because soccer is not a mainstream sport? Could it be because Solo is female? One can only speculate as to the real reasons but every person has their own beliefs.
In fact, Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic went so far as to say that she is not Ray Rice. Coates went a step further attempting to justify the piece by comparing murder and lynching to levels of domestic violence. Just when I thought the author reached the pinnacle of foolishness, he stated that there was a reason why we have a “Violence Against Women Act,” not a “Brawling With Families Act.” The attempted justification implied in the piece is that apparently domestic violence is okay if it is from adult to minor, or woman to woman, and as long as it is between family members. That thought is laughable.
Clearly thought processes like these are prevalent even in the US Soccer Federation, which is not only allowing her to represent this nation but has made her a captain on the team. That’s right, one of our national teams that represent us around the globe is allowed to keep a player active when proceedings are ongoing, but the NFL, a business, is publicly flogged.
Where is the equality? Where is the commonality? It must be that US Soccer does not believe in suspensions unless people are convicted or if an act is utterly heinous.
No, that is not the case. Solo was suspended from Team USA in 2007 after she publicly made comments that she would have stopped the shots on goal following a United States loss to Brazil.
So a suspension or removal from the team is warranted when you speak out of line. But go ahead and allegedly beat the living heck out of your family, and they will let her play and even make her a captain.
I understand the concept of innocent until proven guilty. She is not guilty at this point, but she should be suspended until the final ruling of either guilt or innocence has been rendered. That is what the NFL is doing, that is what police departments do around the country after incidents of this nature, and that is what society recognizes as the right approach.
Why is Hope Solo not only getting a pass but being rewarded? It is a ridiculous double standard that is demonizing the reality of the United States we live in today. This is a country where offenses are only deemed horrible when they directly affect an individual. We now live in a country where it takes sponsors screaming to affect change.
The leaders of US Soccer can justify their lack of action from one side but in the same statement mention how disturbing those allegations are. Yet there is no action. Poor form Team USA, poor form US Soccer, and poor form for the inaction of the US Olympic Committee as well. Even worse, our nation’s leaders have exhibited poor form in this case.
Where is the Congressional outrage about Hope Solo? Why don’t they see the issue created by their lack of action and the perception that might make with other parts of the world? It amazes me that they can make statements, go on TV, and demand action for the Ray Rices and Adrian Petersons of the world — but not the Hope Solos. It is unfathomable to me.
Meanwhile the media does not push the topic the way they should, nor is most of the media even questioning the issue. Where is the ESPN Outside The Lines story investigating why she is getting a pass? Where are the CNN or Fox News panels debating this issue?
They are not heard and they are not seen because they do not exist. Therein lies the double standard that no person can justify. It is hard to believe that both the news and sports media have chosen this path. I know it will not give the ratings that the NFL will, but where is the 30-second spot that shows the country’s moral fiber has not completely eroded?
The charges against her are alleged. She has not been convicted and may be exonerated. And she deserves the right of due process. But, just as the NFL belatedly realized in the recent cases of domestic and child abuse that have come to the surface, she should not be playing.
Solo released a statement via Facebook leading up to her hearing on November 4, where she could face six months in prison.
“While I understand that the public desires more information regarding the allegations against me, I continue to maintain my innocence against these charges. And, once all the facts come to light and the legal process is concluded, I am confident that I will be fully exonerated.”
I thought we wanted equality, but I guess only when it is convenient. Hope Solo will continue to play. She will continue to represent the United States. She will continue to lead her team. And barring a drastic move by US Soccer or the USOC, she will continue to be the domestic violence double standard in America today.