Free Stephen A. Smith


Free Stephen A. Smith and your mind while you’re at it.

Smith isn’t in jail but he has been sus­pended by ESPN for those com­ments re­gard­ing provo­ca­tion in deal­ing with do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. He is cur­rently in the prison of pub­lic opinion, which con­sists ma­jorly of dis­dain.

For clar­ity, I un­der­stand that Stephen A. Smith HAD to be sus­pended be­cause of the up­roar this caused, but he should have never been scru­ti­nized to be­gin with. Al­beit not nec­es­sar­ily for his state­ments, but be­cause of his cur­rent pub­lic per­cep­tion. With that said, he should not have been sus­pended at all.

Sus­pend­ing an an­a­lyst – hired for HIS opin­ions – sends the wrong mes­sage to him and the com­mu­nity. That’s not the big is­sue here, how­ever.

Smith shouldn’t be sus­pended be­cause he didn’t say any­thing wrong. He clearly stated that Rice – or any man for that mat­ter – has “no busi­ness putting your hands on a woman,” and that “there’s never an ex­cuse to put your hands on a woman.” He qual­i­fied that by say­ing that “we got to also make sure that you can do your part to do what­ever you can do to make, to try to make sure it doesn’t hap­pen.”

From ra­dio shows, tele­vi­sion and just ca­sual con­ver­sa­tion it seems peo­ple be­lieve Smith is say­ing that women are pro­vok­ing men into hit­ting them. That’s clearly not the case.

What I got from Smith is this: A man should never hit a woman. BUT so­ci­ety has to ac­knowl- edge the fact that some­times women can push a man’s but­tons and they must be care­ful for their own safety not to push those but­tons.

In terms of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence there is a nec­es­sary dou­ble stan­dard here. I laughed when I saw Solange Knowles at­tack­ing Jay Z, but had that been Jay Z at­tack­ing her I would have been fu­ri­ous.

I think it’s safe to say the most im­por­tant thing is pre­vent­ing these things from hap­pen­ing and it starts with the men do­ing ev­ery­thing in their power to never hit a woman, ever. Next is mak­ing sure women are care­ful not to stir the pot, but re­al­iz­ing also that if you are in an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship YOU are the vic­tim, that’s not your fault and you should get out of that re­la­tion­ship.

I stated some of my opin­ions on the sub­ject mat­ter (ba­si­cally that there is merit in Stephen A’s com­ments) on Twit­ter, and with that came some re­sponses from my fol­low­ers – some peo­ple agreed with me, oth­ers didn’t. But through Twit­ter came a thought pro­vok­ing con­ver­sa­tion with some of my friends, in which a fe­male friend of mine, Shelby Farmer, pro­vided her feel­ings on how women feel ev­ery day in re­gards to do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and gen­der equal­ity.

Here's what Farner sent me in a text:

I lit­er­ally live a block from my of­fice so half the time I walk to work. Last night we got done around 10 and I had to walk alone in the dark. I left my cam­era and other de­vices in the of­fice in case I got robbed. I made sure to put my bag across my body so it wasn't easy to take. I kept my keys in one hand for a sad makeshift weapon. And then I called my mom so I'd have some­one in case some­thing hap­pened. Just to walk a few hun­dred yards. These are things that the ma­jor­ity of women do and feel. I just don't un­der­stand how much more care­ful we're ex­pected to be. And I un­der­stand there are those who aren't, but it's still not fair.

Her com­ments brought a dif­fer­ent light to the con­ver­sa­tion, one I hadn't con­sid­ered. One I think more men should con­sider. She made a valid point and I agree with her on the ba­sis that men should be made aware of how women are forced to live their lives be­cause of gen­der. I don’t live in fear of be­ing beaten in a re­la­tion­ship or mugged at night, but some women do and we have to ac­knowl­edge that as a so­ci­ety.

The most im­por­tant thing Smith’s sus­pen­sion does is bring aware­ness to the is­sue at hand. It starts the con­ver­sa­tion. Shakeem Hol­loway is the sports edi­tor at The News. You can reach him at 770-728-1413 or shol­loway@cov­

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