Soccer star Hope Solo is alleged to have assaulted her sister and 17-year old nephew in June of this year. Unlike Ray Rice, Solo is still plying her trade as a goalkeeper for the national team. This led several people to claim that Solo is the beneficiary of a double standard. In The New York Times Juliet Macur makes the argument:
One can argue the differences between an N.F.L. player punching his soon-to-be wife and a soccer star brawling with her family, but it is indisputable that both qualify as domestic violence. The glaring contrast in Solo’s case is that while several football players recently accused of assaults have been removed from the field, she has been held up for praise by the national team.
On Thursday she was even given the honor of wearing the captain’s armband in celebration of her setting the team’s career record for shutouts in its previous game. The question is why.
Celebrating Solo’s achievement right now is like allowing running back Adrian Peterson, who has been accused of child abuse, to continue to play for the Minnesota Vikings — and then awarding him the game ball for his next 100-yard game.
This analysis strikes me as incorrect, as it does for Slate's Amanda Hess. It also exists outside the bounds of human history. Ray Rice did not so much "brawl with his family" as he pummeled his fiancé into unconsciousness. Contrary to the flimsy notion that Real Men don't hit women, Real Men have been pummeling women for much of human history.
It is now becoming fashionable to ignore human history and dump all manner of insupportable violence committed by athletes into the same bucket. The label on that bucket reads "Something Bad, Which We Should Punish." It is true that what Ray Rice did was violent and wrong. It is also true that what Adrian Peterson did was violent and wrong. And it also true that what Hope Solo is alleged to have done is violent and wrong. But they are not the same specimen of violent and wrong.