Curse Of The Enablers

Ray Rice’s wife has issued a statement deploring the coverage of his suspension and suggesting that it’s somehow been cooked up to increase ratings.  She’s the woman who was knocked cold in a Las Vegas casino elevator and then dragged out of the elevator by Rice.  When the video of the incident was finally released, Rice was released by his team, the Baltimore Ravens, and then indefinitely suspended by the National Football League.

In her statement on her Instagram account, Janay Rice says:  “No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific.”

“THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!”

Sad, isn’t it, that the woman who was the victim would try to excuse the behavior?  She’s apparently an enabler who just can’t recognize the reality of her own situation.  She may decide to stay with a guy who punched her out — some battered women inexplicably do — but she shouldn’t be excusing his conduct or trying to blame his current predicament on others.  When a professional athlete slugs a woman and drags her out of a public elevator, that’s not some private incident, it’s assault and battery.  The NFL has every right to demand that it’s players aren’t thugs and abusers.

Ray Rice has no one to blame for his problems but himself.  His wife, of all people, should recognize that.  It’s very sad that she doesn’t.

Living In The Land Of Enablers

Psychologists and substance abuse counselors often refer to “enablers” — those who, in a misguided attempt to help, enable addicts to continue their self-destructive behavior by making excuses for them or helping them dodge the consequences of their conduct.

Sometimes I wonder if America has become a land of enablers.  How often do you hear people respond to news of failures by others by making excuses or attacking the person who delivers the news?  Whether the fault lies with their children, their chosen political candidates, or the school or church they support, people are often much too willing to condone or cover up misdeeds.  It’s as if the enabler’s identity becomes so wrapped up with the politician, or school, that they simply cannot accept the possibility of failure — and therefore the blame inevitably must lie elsewhere.

I thought of this when I saw the reaction of some Penn State fans to the recently released Freeh report on the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.  Even though the report was commissioned by the University’s Board of Trustees and was based on hundreds of interviews and scrutiny of extensive documentary evidence by neutral third parties, many Penn State fans refuse to accept the magnitude and meaning of the enormous institutional problems spotlighted by the report.  They dismiss the report as a hatchet job, with conclusions motivated by some elusive, lurking ulterior motive, or argue that the report’s conclusions are based on evidence that wouldn’t be admissible in a court of law.  Aren’t such attempts to explain away the obvious just another example of enabling behavior?

As psychologists and substance abuse counselors will attest, enabling behavior doesn’t help the abuser — it just allows him to move farther and faster on that downward spiral.  Far better to hold the person, or the institution, accountable for their failures and their misdeeds, and recognize that there is nothing wrong with blaming the blameworthy.  We shouldn’t be so ready to go all in for the politician, or celebrity, or football coach, to the point where our reflexive willingness to make excuses begins to say more about us than it does about the struggling person whose conduct we are foolishly enabling.