The subject was struck violently in a public place. Outrage followed. And people were forever tarnished.
And in case you think I’m talking about the recent incident involving former Baltimore running back Ray Rice, think again.
The 1991 beating incident in Los Angeles involving motorist Rodney King and several Los Angeles Police Department officers was just as significant as the Rice case. It was just as significant for a common reason — it was captured in detail on video.
Recapping: King became a national figure after his beating by five LA police officers in March 1991 was videotaped by an observer from a nearby balcony. And the later acquittals of the officers on state charges was the catalyst for the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which resulted in more than 50 deaths and resulted in the U.S. military being called in to control the situation.
The release this week by TMZ of a hotel security video of the Rice incident has brought as much attention to the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell as it has to the running back, who now is under an indefinite suspension by the league.
Los Angeles long had had a reputation for questionable police tactics, and racial tension. Then the King case — amplified by the video — became a flashpoint. There were later convictions of some of the officers on federal civil rights charges.
Said then-president George H.W. Bush, “Viewed from outside the trial, it was hard to understand how the verdict could possibly square with the video.”
Now, the NFL is under the gun because of what was captured on video. The league has commissioned an independent investigation by a former FBI commissioner, and there have been comments about the case from the White House and some in Congress.
However, domestic violence cases involving pro athletes are nothing new. A New York Times article shows that several athletes have played on despite running afoul of the law in similar situations.
The difference is video. TMZ’s stock in trade is celebrity gossip, and it recently has struck paydirt in several instances by expanding into the sports realm. Hey, athletes are entertainers, and many of them make tons of money with their fame.
And in the social media era, every news outlet is out for something that will attract clicks.
This is amplified by the blanketing of the world in video. Every time you enter a store, eat a meal — or stay in a hotel — you probably are being videotaped. And the recent iPhone 6 buzz highlights how prevalent video is among consumers.
But a video of a non-public figure might get a short spot in a playlist. A video of a pro athlete punching his then-fiance changes the world.
— What’s your take on the Ray Rice case, and the NFL? Leave a comment below.