Dog Abuser liked less than Woman Abuser

As an unabashed Pittsburgh Steelers fan living deep in enemy territory going on a decade now, I’m used to getting insufferable emails, Facebook posts, and tweets from friends who are unfortunately, New England Patriots fans. I still love my misguided friends despite this complete lapse in judgement.

When I opened my email last week from one of these misguided souls, I was expecting some article slamming the Steelers for their recent embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Browns or some listicle about the wonders of Troy Polamalu’s hair. But it was a link to Public Policy Polling’s annual NFL poll on America’s favorite N.F.L. teams and quarterbacks.

To my delight, 8% of respondents polled said the Steelers were their favorite team while only 6% went for the Pats. (Cowboys and Packers at 12%? Whatever.) I was ready to write a snarky reply to my friend about this gem of empirical information till I got to the last paragraph.

“Michael Vick continues to easily be the least popular NFL QB. 27% pick him to 15% for Ben Roethelisberger. No one else hits double digits on that front”  This gave me a bigger aneurysm than watching the Steelers loose to the Raiders in week three!

Here we go again. Michael Vick, convicted dog abuser, is the least liked quarterback in the N.F.L. while Ben Roethlisberger, accused serial rapist, comes in trailing at second place.   Nothing ticks me off more than people who minimize or apologize for Ben Roethlisberger’s violent behavior against women.

Here’s a quick refresher. Vick was convicted in 2007 of running a dog fighting ring and served 23 months in Federal prison and served three years of probation. He also had to apply to the N.F.L. Commissioner for reinstatement to play. Vick was suspended indefinitely by the league when he was convicted.

Roethlisberger was accused by a hostess at a Lake Tahoe hotel-casino of rape that occurred in 2008. In 2009 she filed a civil suit against him, rather than a criminal suit because she claimed she was afraid of being fired. The suit was settled out of court.

Not long after, a 20 year- old college student in Georgia accused him of rape. According to the investigation file, the young woman was drunk and claimed that Roethlisberger  followed her to a bar bathroom where the rape occurred. The victim’s friend’s statement  to police, said the victim was dragged to the VIP section of the bar by Roethlisberger’s ‘bodyguards.’  The women tried to go check on their friend but were blocked from the bathroom by members of Roethlisberger’s entourage, which included two off duty police officers.

The local district attorney did not file charges against Rothlisberger ‘because of the inability to prove that a crime was committed.”  There was too little DNA evidence and the young woman dropped the charges because “a criminal trial would be a very intrusive personal experience” and “a public trial would not at all be in her best interest as she goes forward in her life.” according to her statement through her attorney.

Roethlisberger was suspended for six games (reduced to four) under the NFL’s personal conduct policy for the start of the 2010 season. Pittsburgh company PLB Sports terminated a five-year contract with Roethlisberger as well.

In the two years since Ben got his slap on the wrist  and chastised to “grow up” he’s gone on a holy-roller repentance tour, married his ex-girlfriend, and become a father. Swell.

I am repulsed by Vick’s horrific actions against dogs and I do believe that he rightly went to prison for his indefensible behavior.  But there is something wrong with a society that on the continuum of morally outrageous conduct, dog fighting is somehow a worse offense than hurting women.

And yes, Roethlisberger was never convicted of rape. But guess what? There are a whole bunch of Roman Catholic priests walking around free who will never be convicted of rape either, let’s not pretend it’s because those guys are innocent too. Systemic change to our laws on how rape cases are prosecuted needs to happen, no doubt. But may I humbly suggest that first we need some righteous anger and a change in mentality that puts the well-being of human women before that of animals?

Image credit Wolfgang Staudt via the Creative Commons License.

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