Ray Rice, ISIS and the Importance of Graphic Media

By now, most people have either seen the Ray Rice video or made a vow not to watch it. For those who follow sports, it’s been nearly impossible to miss....

By now, most people have either seen the Ray Rice video or made a vow not to watch it. For those who follow sports, it’s been nearly impossible to miss. ESPN, the leader in sports news, showed the gut-wrenching video nearly every hour the day it was released.

It was released by TMZ early Monday morning and shared by the likes of Bleacher Report and Deadspin. A few hours later, the Ravens ate crow and terminated Rice’s contract, as the NFL then suspended Rice indefinitely. Obviously, the media and Twitter conversation was in support of these actions. No one, barring Fox News, would take that video lightly.

However, an ethical debate on whether or not to view or share the video arose. The debate was very similar to the one that surrounded the videos released by ISIS of the beheading of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

“Many people have suggested that those who hosted or passed around the video have blood on their hands by proxy,” wrote David Carr, in his Monday column discussing what he learned from watching the ISIS videos. He then presented the ethical question to New York Times’ Baghdad bureau chief Tim Arango. “I think the more people who watch it, the more people will know what we are up against,” Arango responded.

It’s hard to say if the impact of the murdered journalists would have been so huge had the raw, unedited videos not been released, and we only saw headlines and news stories. Using the Ray Rice logic, however, it seems it would not.

Before two days ago, we had only headlines, news stories and a video of Rice dragging his wife out of an elevator. Although the public opinion was not in his favor, it was nothing compared to the outrage that has been voiced in the two days since the release of the new video. Prior to that, fans gave him a standing ovation upon his return to the stadium, and the second most popular fantasy football name, according to Slate, was “Beats by Ray.” The NFL said it made a mistake by suspending him for just two games, but the three-game count it believes should have been instated is still absurdly miniscule.

After all of that, the Ravens tweeted this:

Screen shot 2014-09-10 at 2.23.29 PM

Now, we have seen the video. The Ravens deleted the tweet. Ray Rice is unemployed and regarded as a scumbag, as he should have been months ago. Justice is seemingly served, but it took the raw footage of a crushing blow to a woman’s face from a muscle-bound, freak athlete — who did not appear to show an ounce of remorse for his actions — to sway public opinion to that of contempt. These videos, those of ISIS included, expose the sheer magnitude of crimes that are often committed in the dark. The exact reasons why these disgusting, grisly videos are hard to watch are the same reasons why they need to be watched and shared. Words should be enough, but sometimes they are not. Like Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh said in his Monday presser in reference to the video, “It changed things.”

It shouldn’t have, but it did.

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