Last Wednesday, the president of the National Organization for Women, Terry O'Neill, emailed the USA Today and announced that Oakland Raider Head Coach Tom Cable should be suspended . For those unfamiliar with the story, Cable stands accused of physically abusing at least two former partners. Somehow, a third seems to have crept into O'Neill's mix although I haven't heard any specifics as to that alleged victim.
There are several disturbing elements to O'Neill's plea for punishment before the facts of the situation are known.
Let me first say I have no tolerance for any sort of foul play with women. I have two siblings—both sisters, one older and one younger—as well as two nieces under the age of 10. My mom carried a heavy burden raising us kids because my dad had to travel a lot when we were growing up. I love them all dearly and have tremendous respect for women.
Outside of abusing children, mistreating a female is one of the easiest ways to light my relatively inflammable fuse.
I am, in no way, defending Tom Cable.
IF he is guilty of battering these women.
That's the most troubling aspect to O'Neill's argument—"The Oakland Raiders, properly, say they are undergoing a 'serious evaluation' of these recent allegations. At the very least [Cable] should be suspended during this process."
Those were her exact words.
Forget due process and other elemental aspects of American jurisprudence, Tom Cable should be treated as guilty until proven innocent. O'Neill's stated rationale for this shift in inalienable rights is another bit of astounding lunacy:
"As a survivor of domestic violence, I know that women do not make such accusations lightly."
Again, I don't mean to trivialize what is a very serious offense and I am sincerely sorry for the abuse Ms. O'Neill suffered. But her logic is criminal and would be so if applied.
The severity of the accusation didn't stop Kobe Bryant's accuser from claiming rape when the facts ultimately indicated otherwise.
The severity of the accusation didn't stop another lovely lady from targeting Ben Roethlisberger for the same charge (which also appears to be false).
Furthermore, these are just two stories that made the sufficiently large print—I'm sure there are many examples of lesser athletes being charged with lesser fantastic crimes that never see the light of the front page.
The argument that the weight of the accusation carries a presumption of veracity no longer flies in modern society. Sad but true.
The last issue I'll take with O'Neill's email is the timing—if you read the entire link, you'll see NOW contacted the paper before it contacted the Raiders or the National Football League.
Considering the ill-conceived argument, the irrational goal, and the circumstances of the missive, it seems very much like a publicity stunt rather than an earnest request.
I ask you, is that treating the issue with appropriate respect?
Should something as hideous as domestic violence be used as an excuse to grab the soap box? What damage has Ms. O'Neill done to her cause if Cable is eventually exonerated?
In that case, doesn't the president of NOW look a bit like a blind zealot? Hunting for the limelight a la Jesse Jackson, Rush Limbaugh, Al Sharpton, etc. even if it means persecuting an innocent person?
It's important to note the Raider coach openly admits to striking one of the women.
He defends the action by pointing out it was 20 years ago, he struck with an open hand, and it was immediately following a disclosure of infidelity. Additionally, he's been recently accused of cold-clocking an assistant and breaking his jaw (an allegation that seems very much true).
I mention the episodes because they show both that there is merit to Ms. O'Neill's concern and why her request should be ignored (as it seems to have been).
Tom Cable may very well be innocent—a revelation of infidelity is theoretically one of the few mitigating circumstances for all crimes, even murder.
That's not to say it's an excuse for domestic violence, but the extenuating element certainly gives reason for pause before extrapolating from the incident to a general habit of violence against women.
As does the gender and vocation of the assistant coach—these are two grown men and football coaches, not heads of state. In other words, the loss of emotional control is nowhere close to that presumed necessary for the allegations made by the women.
Nevertheless, those are two violent episodes and one involves a woman so there's plenty of reason to take the accusations seriously.
And "seriously" means attended by all the inconveniences thrust upon society by that insignificant little rag, the United States Constitution.
If Tom Cable is guilty of physically abusing any of these women, then burn him at the stake.
But Ms. O'Neill would be wise to wait for proof before striking the match.