Tuesday, July 7, 2015

De'Andre Johnson dismissed from FSU football team

Some people like to say that there is no excuse for violence against women. I don't really like that framing at all because it turns what could be a valid reason into an "excuse" and ignores the fact that whether we like it or not there are some very violent, dangerous and even deadly women on this planet. What IS true however is that almost regardless of what a particular woman might have done to initiate or continue a physical confrontation, a man who hits a woman rightfully has a very high bar of skepticism and contempt to climb over in a court of law or especially the court of public opinion. Because this is the case it is a good idea to avoid putting hands on women. It's a bad idea and is often morally repugnant. However, men, like women, do have the right and duty to defend themselves. There ought to be a better way for us to distinguish the case of a man who is legitimately defending himself from the case of a lowlife punk who just gets his kicks beating and terrorizing those who are weaker than he. I've seen both situations. This problem is further muddled by the assumption that women are and should be in all ways "equal" to men. Some people say that if we wouldn't worry about a bad outcome happening to a man because of his or someone else's dumb decision than we shouldn't worry about a woman in the same position. So by this logic if a woman wants to be in combat and is qualified, let her do it. There should be no cries of "Save the women and children!" if a ship starts to sink. We're all equal. Well.
De'Andre Johnson, former quarterback for the Florida State Seminoles football team, found out the hard way that "defending yourself" from a woman in the same way that you might defend yourself from a man is not, at least for him, an acceptable course of action. He got into a physical confrontation with a woman at a Tallahassee bar. She raised her hands which were balled up in fists. They both appeared to push and grapple with each other. She took a swing at Johnson. Johnson punched back. The woman lost. It is the difference in gender and strength that makes this a shock. Johnson was suspended and later dismissed from the team.

Florida State Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher dismissed freshman quarterback De'Andre Johnson from the team Monday night, hours after the state's attorney's office released video showing Johnson punching a woman in the face last month at a Tallahassee bar.

Fisher made the announcement in a brief statement released by FSU on Monday night.
Johnson, who was named Florida's "Mr. Football" as a senior at First Coast High School in Jacksonville, Florida, was indefinitely suspended from the team in June. He was charged with misdemeanor battery for striking the 21-year-old woman during an argument June 24. He surrendered to Tallahassee police on June 30 and was released on $500 bond.
The video, which was captured by security cameras in a bar near the FSU campus, shows Johnson trying to push past the woman, who was waiting to order at the bar. The woman turned toward Johnson, who grabbed her right arm after she raised it in a fist. The woman raised her knee and swung at Johnson with her left arm, and then he punched her in the face.


When I watched this I asked myself what was Johnson, who is under the legal drinking age, doing in a bar in the first place? But I was informed that some bars allow underage people to enter; they just won't serve them alcohol. Both Johnson and the woman made bad decisions. If I were the prosecutor I would charge both of them or charge neither of them. But I'm no lawyer. Perhaps someone with actual legal training and experience will chime in to discuss the charges. Bottom line though is that I think it's critically important that we teach all people regardless of their race or gender not to put hands on other people. If this were a smaller man who had started something with say, a heavyweight MMA or boxing champ before losing in a spectacular fashion, many more of us would likely find it humorous. We would tend to judge same gender interactions differently than we would opposite gender ones. Is that wrong? Perhaps. I think it's good and proper to teach men not to hit women. I also think it's good and proper to teach women not to hit men. No hands. Why is this so difficult? Did the woman think that Johnson was just to going to accept a punch in the face? Did Johnson think he was going to walk away with no repercussions? 
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