The two-game suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for domestic violence has provoked angry reaction from fans and commentators, but ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith wants to remind everyone that the ladies should be sure not to “do anything to provoke” violence from men. On Friday morning’s First Take, Smith said that while he agreed that Ray Rice’s suspension was too lenient, he also tells the female members of his family, “Let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions.”
Smith went on to say, repeatedly, that there is never an excuse for domestic violence, but then seemed to create separate categories of domestic violence, saying that the provocation he referenced “doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you. So let’s try to make sure we can do our part to make sure that that doesn’t happen. You have some dudes that are just horrible and they are going to do it anyway.”
He added that although “there is never an excuse to put your hands on a woman,” he thinks that “just talking about what guys shouldn’t do, we’ve got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to try to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
“We know they are wrong, we know they are criminal, we know they probably deserve to be in jail,” Smith continued. “In Ray Rice’s case, he probably deserves more than a two-game suspension.”
“But at the same time,” he concluded, “we need to learn as much as we can about elements of provocation, not that there is real provocation, but the elements of provocation, you have to make sure you address it.”
Smith’s commentary drew immediate and intense reaction on Twitter.