The Difference Between Domestic Abuse And Bar Fights: The FSU Quarterback Punch

On Tuesday, ESPN’s Around The Horn began their show with one of their solemn “unscored” segments. The topic: the release of security video showing Florida State freshman quarterback De’Andre Johnson punching an unnamed woman in the face while out at a bar. Tony Reali introduced the topic with a warning about the video’s content being graphic.

And it was. Johnson did do exactly that and in response, FSU has dismissed him from school. Johnson is currently facing misdemeanor battery charges for the punch and the victim is going to testify. It seems likely he will face judicial consequences for his actions—an outcome that may show a welcome change in behavior by Tallahassee Police and prosecutors, perhaps chastened from covering up for Jameis Winston. All of this makes sense and is good.

During the ATH segment, the panel (Paige, Adande, Torre, Jones) were universal in their condemnation of Johnson and embrace of a “men should never, ever hit women” framework. Adande went so far as to call out and endorse a double standard where women can hit men and men cannot hit women. The panel agreed.

This has largely been the take of the mainstream, rightthinking sports community. After the Ray Rice neverendingslowmotion train wreck during last NFL season, the sports media are now quick to jump to support and defend victims of domestic abuse. And this is great. But this situation was not domestic abuse. It was a bar fight. An unevenly matched bar fight, but a bar fight nevertheless. And in situations like this, distinctions like this matter. Because while it is good and right and correct that Johnson is being charged with battery, the woman should be as well. [Read more…]