Skip to main content

Ray Rice doesn't deserve second chance

By Mark O'Mara
updated 9:40 AM EST, Wed December 3, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mark O'Mara: Ray Rice wants a second chance after video showed him punching fiancee
  • O'Mara: He doesn't deserve one; Domestic violence is attack on all women, can't be tolerated
  • He says with celebrity comes responsibility; kids must learn heroes don't get a slide

Editor's note: Mark O'Mara is a CNN legal analyst and a criminal defense attorney. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- Ray Rice, the embattled Baltimore Ravens running back, told Matt Lauer in an interview on the "Today" show that "the only thing I can hope for and wish for is a second chance." Rice was captured on film delivering a knock-out punch to his fiancee, now wife, in an Atlantic City hotel elevator. I don't think he should get that second chance he is asking for.

Domestic violence is an outright attack against women -- individually and as a gender. While I know from 30 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney that domestic violence is not limited to female victims, the overwhelming percentage of domestic violence events are men using their physical strength to overpower women. It is an insidious assault upon our mothers, sisters, girlfriends and wives. As a society, we tolerate far too much of this type of abuse.

Mark O\'Mara
Mark O'Mara

We cannot tolerate it any longer, especially from celebrated public figures.

They may not all deserve it, but celebrities are idolized in this country. From Hollywood actors to sports heroes and recording artists, we have created an extraordinarily special class amongst us. Great benefit and great advantage comes with such celebrity, and whether they like it or not, great responsibility comes as well.

Sometimes, celebrities fail to live up to their responsibilities. Rather than forgiving the dalliances and sins of those whom we have made demigods, we owe it to our children (the ones who are looking up to these demigods) to hold their heroes' feet to the fire and send a clear message.

If we are going to pay somebody tens of millions of dollars to make movies, play sports or perform on stage, then we should also let them know that the privilege we have granted can be easily revoked if they fail to act responsibly.

NFL brass admits 'crucial mistake' in punishment of Rice

Rice made himself a celebrity when he accepted a $35 million dollar contract with an NFL football team. When he punched his fiancee in the face and dragged her unconscious body out of a hotel elevator, he violated a public trust, and he shouldn't be allowed to play football for the NFL anymore.

Janay Rice discusses elevator fight
Ray Rice's wife speaks out

Admittedly, this zero tolerance policy argument flies in the face of the mitigation that I always argue on behalf of my criminal clients, but most criminal clients are not role models to millions of fans.

Just like Donald Sterling, who was stripped of his ownership of the LA Clippers for making racist remarks, Rice should learn that if you're going to bear the fruit, then you must also bear the burden.

When we tell domestic abusers such as Ray Rice, in such a public way, that it's OK to knock out your wife and drag her out of an elevator, then we are telling everyone it's OK. We're telling the young boys and teenagers who wear Rice jerseys that hitting women is OK.

Well, it's not OK.

Read CNNOpinion's new Flipboard magazine

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:51 AM EST, Wed December 31, 2014
Pilot Bill Palmer says the AirAsia flight had similarities to Air France 447, which also encountered bad weather
updated 8:29 AM EST, Wed December 31, 2014
Poverty isn't the only reason why so many parents are paying to have their child smuggled into the United States, says Carole Geithner
updated 11:49 AM EST, Wed December 31, 2014
Michael Rubin says it's a farce that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei posted tweets criticizing U.S. police
updated 1:40 PM EST, Wed December 31, 2014
Ron Friedman says your smartphone may be making you behave stupidly; resolve to resist distractions in 2015
updated 8:32 AM EST, Tue December 30, 2014
Artificial intelligence does not need to be malevolent to be catastrophically dangerous to humanity, writes Greg Scoblete.
updated 8:27 PM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
The ability to manipulate media and technology has increasingly become a critical strategic resource, says Jeff Yang.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT