FanPost

The One Where I Get Preachy About Brett Rogers- Or, Just How Bad Is Domestic Violence?


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With Brett Rogers fighting this weekend, I wanted to take this chance to clear up some of the issues around his horrific domestic violence arrest last year. I’m very firmly of the idea that denying a national TV contract to a man who committed a horribly violent crime barely a year ago is fair, reasonable, and just. I’ve been frankly embarrassed by the terrible sloppy arguments I’ve seen in Rogers’ defense- an endless array of ‘well, he served his time’, which I think is really just a minimization of how horrible beating and choking your wife in front of your children really is (and also, choking one of his daughters on at least one previous occasion, as she testified to police). Let me address this argument head on:

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‘He served his time, you can’t keep him from making a living now’ Using this logic, a registered sex offender can go to work at a daycare the day after leaving prison. Why not? The man served his time- if he worked at daycares before, it would be denying him a chance to make a living if he can’t go back to it. A drunk driver who took someone else’s life can walk out of the county jail and drive off in a waiting car. After all, society doesn’t have any punishments or restrictions for criminals post-jail, right? I’m sure his license is immediately restored. A banker who served time for fraud (keep dreaming, right?) can go right back to his same job position after leaving the big house. Maybe he’ll have to work for a different company, but I can’t imagine a whole industry denying him employment just because he’s, you know, a felon. That would be so unfair! A surgeon convicted of serious medical malpractice resulting in a patient death can undoubtedly go right back to performing surgeries post-conviction- I’m sure the medical field doesn’t have any sort of restrictions on criminals practicing medicine.

Enough sarcasm. Convicted felons face a range of restrictions on lives post-prison- some fair and reasonable, some unjust and punitive. Some of these restrictions are codified into law, and some are just custom or corporate policy or plain discrimination. My politics are mostly pretty far to the left, and I strongly support reintegrating criminals as best we can when they return to society- but let’s stop living in a fantasy world wherein felons who committed brutal, violent crimes a year ago have no restrictions on their post-prison lives. A felon’s opportunities in life are very much a function of what their crime was to begin with. In this case, I’m not arguing for a legal barrier to Rogers fighting, but rather a morality wherein choking and beating one’s wife and young children is so unacceptable, that no publicly traded media company would give him a slot on national TV.

If you find any of this strikes you as unreasonable, take a gander by your corporate HR department and have a quick chat with them as to what your employment status would be if you were convicted of a violent felony. Or what your prospects of getting a new job in the same line of work would be, a year after the fact. Might be a bit of a surprise waiting for you there. I find it amazing that so many people shrug their shoulders and say ‘well, he served his time’, when no employer in almost any field would hire or give a second chance to any violent felon, especially so soon after their crime was committed. Nowhere else in the working world shares that kind casual amorality- why should Bellator?

How bad is domestic violence, anyways? If Brett Rogers had murdered someone, or was a convicted rapist or kidnapper or torturer, no one would be arguing that he somehow deserves time on national TV. The issue I think here is people downplaying the severity and outright evil of domestic violence. Rogers, a massive man close to 300 lbs., brutally beat and choked his wife unconscious. From what we know of domestic violence, it’s very likely it was not the only time. Their young daughter testified that he had choked her in the past as well.

Here’s the thing- everyone says they’re against domestic violence. And yet, an awful high number of athletes beat their wives. An awful high number of celebrities and musicians in general get away with beating their wives or violence against women in general, but there doesn’t seem to be particularly strong condemnation of them. My casual reading of the news seems to show that attackers face a charge similar to a DUI- they might face a fine, some classes, and even a little jail time. I don’t see punishment going much further than that.

If Rogers and his wife had a drunken argument and he slapped her, I could see some forgiveness a year later. But the extent of the violence, to me, is an unforgiveable offense. No one’s saying he should never be able to find work again. I’m sure Sam’s Club has more tires that still need flipping. But a contract to be a professional athlete, endorsed by one of the world’s largest media conglomerates, is nothing like saying Rogers should be able to get a regular job.

Let’s stop pretending that a chance to be the heavyweight champion of the world’s second most prominent MMA organization, is the same thing as letting Rogers get a job flipping tires or swinging a hammer. Athletes and celebrities are not only considered role models, there’s an implied level of endorsement from their organization behind them. This is why every professional sport has some sort of a conduct policy, and suspends athletes who’ve committed serious crimes. It is not comparable at all to the sort of blue-collar jobs most ex-cons do upon release, and I think it’s ridiculous for people to pretend we’re depriving Rogers of a living if we argue he should be nowhere near the limelight. He still has options to make money and feed his family- what I’m advocating for, is taking away his chance to be a star.

The crux of the argument is this- do you believe a media contract to be a star athlete on a network seen by millions of people*, should be granted to a man who committed a brutal violent crime only a year ago? And I’m comfortable saying no, no it should not. I could see Rogers being given a second or even third or fourth chance, if he’d burglarized someone’s home, sold some drugs, got a DUI, stolen a little money, or gotten into a fistfight with another man. I think most people would be with me if I said this second chance shouldn’t be extended to a murderer, rapist, or other similarly vile person. The point of my fanpost is to invite others to see brutal domestic violence as a crime on par with the latter category. I don’t wish Brett Rogers well, and I hope that his career with Bellator is not a success.

*I’m referring to 2013 when Bellator will be on Spike

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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