Thursday, September 18, 2014


                They are the Barbarians of Baltimore, and Attila himself would be proud of them.

                Their cause is to flaunt their mindless support and loyalty for a man who knocked out his wife (then his girlfriend) with a vicious bare-fisted punch to the jaw in a hotel elevator. 

                The woman-beater was Ray Rice, a star running back for the Baltimore Ravens NFL football team.  His violent assault upon the lady was captured on a video stream that has been played and re-played on television thousands of times.  After the knockout punch, he dragged the woman's body from the elevator like a sack of refuse, and then casually placed her limp and unconscious figure on the ground.

                Rice was indicted by a grand jury for third degree aggravated assault, but avoided trial when he was "diverted" into a so-called "intervention program."  Initially, the Ravens gave Rice a lenient two-game suspension.  After the graphic videos of the assault went public, however, Rice was fired by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

                But to many deranged Baltimore Ravens fans, Rice remained an object of adulation and affection.  And they could hardly wait to display their bizarre sentiments for the cameras.

                                       Some of Baltimore's finest showing their class                   

                The Baltimore Sun website recently published a mortifying slideshow of about 15 of these Baltimore bottom-feeders flouting minimal moral decency by proudly wearing football jerseys bearing the name and No. 27 of Mr. Rice in a depressing response to these disturbing revelations.,0,5495967.photogallery?index=bal-ray-rice-jerseys-091114-6-20140911. 

                 Far from recoiling in disgust at the harrowing proof of Rice's misogynistic violence, these characters were "pumped-up" to make a public display of solidarity and support for the celebrity perpetrator.

                The Barbarians of Baltimore are kindred spirits with the degenerate Roman mobs of Caligulan infamy, who bayed with perverse delight as the lions violently tore apart the hapless Christians.  Spectacular and violent entertainment trumped moral scruples at the Roman Coliseum and, twenty centuries later, the same depressing tendency still prevails before the gates of Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium.

                There they stand before this lavish, publicly-financed monument to the excesses of American's Big Sports culture, flippantly wearing Rice's No. 27 jerseys as though they were badges of honor, rather than proof of the wearer's moral confusion and mental vacuity.  The Barbarians of Baltimore are posing proudly for pictures in their updated versions of the wife-beater jersey, smiling idiotically for the cameras that reveal their misguided souls for all the world to see.

                One of these sports sycophants underscored the incoherence of his confused cause by brandishing a sign reading, "Every NFL player deserves a second chance to support their family."  Aside from the grammatical blunder ("player" is singular, so it should be "his" family), the sign's maudlin play for economic sympathy is beyond absurd.  Like other NFL stars, Rice has been paid multiple millions to play about 20 games a year, with a five-year contract estimated at $35 million, plus lavish "incentive" provisions, not to mention effortless endorsement money.  The fawning Rice fan should have saved his economic sympathy for, say, an unemployed wounded war veteran, rather than a multi-millionaire celebrity who beats up women in the elevators of lavish Atlantic City hotel-casinos.

                Another photo shows two classic Baltimore louts – one wearing his Ravens cap backward as if to underscore his admiration for the violent gang culture – taking cell-phone "selfies" of themselves in their No. 27 Rice tribute jerseys.  Maybe they texted the charming pix to their wifes or girlfriends.

                Another trenchant Baltimore woman wearing the wife-beater jersey dismissed Rice's brutal assault on his lady with this astonishing observation:  "Families go through that stuff every day."

                Really?  I wouldn't have guessed that – that families experience violent beatings on the woman of the house "every day."  It would take an amazingly resilient type of woman to absorb a vicious hay-maker to the jaw "every day."  After a few daily beatings like that, she might even die.

                Still another revealing photo shows a blond, rosy-cheeked, Opie-like little boy of about 11 years old wearing his Ray Rice-solidarity shirt while sitting next to the utterly clueless (or simply confused) man we may presume to be his father.  So the wholesome father-son bonding once associated with attending sports events in saner days – when spectator sports were kept in reasonable perspective – is now corrupted to the cause of solidarity with barbarism.  In the same sorry vein, the Washington Post reported that another Baltimore woman, not content to wear her own Rice jersey, "outfitted her three daughters in the No. 27, too."  The mind can only boggle at the values these young ladies can be expected to assimilate when their mother parades them wearing jerseys exalting a now notorious woman-beater.  A truly charming fashion statement.

                But the prize for the most wretched excess in the Raven fans' glorification of NFL violence and thuggery goes to the middle-aged woman posing proudly in her Ray Rice jersey before the "heroic" statue of an even more notorious Baltimore Raven perp, the now retired All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis.  Lewis, it may be recalled, was indicted on multiple murder counts for the slaying of two men in Atlanta in 2000.  He escaped those charges by turning state's evidence against his two companions in the episode and pleading guilty to obstruction of justice.  It is especially telling that the statue of Lewis portrays him lifting his leg as though preparing to stomp a fallen opponent.  But Lewis' sordid criminal past has been seamlessly whitewashed by the sports and general media, where he has found a lucrative home as an honored elder statesman for the NFL culture and an icon of the Baltimore Ravens "family."

                Ah, Baltimore.  The Land of Pleasant Living, as its familiar slogan claims.

                But these people are beyond satire and sarcasm.  They are living proof of the mentally and morally degrading effect that a distorted obsession with Big Time Sports has had on so many susceptible people who apparently have no larger purpose in their media-driven lives.


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