Greg Hardy has signed a contract to play football with the Dallas Cowboys. He will be paid according to his ability to get on the field and productivity while there. The NFL may not let him on the field, or, at least, not for all 16 games next year.
Why? Allegedly, Mr. Hardy committed an act of violence against a woman with whom he had a relationship. He is alleged to have hit her, dragged her around by the hair and to have thrown her on a sofa in his apartment. The sofa, allegedly, was already occupied by various firearms.
A judge in North Carolina rendered a guilty verdict against Mr. Hardy. When she did so, Mr. Hardy, as was his legal right, asked for a jury trial. When the day of the jury trial arrived, the alleged victim did not appear, which caused the charges against Mr. Hardy to be dropped. Some commentators allege she was paid a settlement to forego her legal rights to accuse her alleged attacker.
If so, she had the legal right to refuse to appear. He had the right to settle with her out of court.
Various persons have accused Mr. Hardy, the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys of accepting, if not promoting, acts of violence against women. No less a personage than the Mayor of Dallas, Texas, says the Cowboys’ signing of Mr. Hardy is a “kick in the gut.” For the record, I do not know the Mayor of Dallas, the Honorable Mike Rawlings, but I have followed his mayoral career from a distance, and I am very impressed with him, indeed.
And, as usual, beyond the presentation problem, I have another issue with the circumstance as described. You surely knew that was coming.
If, as alleged, Mr. Hardy committed a crime against a woman, no matter how loose in morals she may be, and then paid her off so he would not face punishment, there is a larger problem. That is, there appear to be different sets of laws for different people, based on ability to pay. If an alleged felon is walking free because of personal riches, and if this purchased freedom is not available to the least of our citizens, we are dangerously near the breakdown of the rule of law.
Yes, someone must accept the offered money, but, really, how hard is to get someone to take money? The courts are supposed to be above bribery. If we have reached the point where Lady Justice is neither blind not balanced, if her maidenly virtue is for sale, can Debtor’s Prison be far behind? For those who cannot pay for clemency, how far removed are we from 18th Century England, where capital punishment was practiced against the poor for relatively trivial offences?
Families and laws once protected those who could not reasonably expect to protect themselves. I remember when I went to my girl friend’s father to ask for her hand in marriage (I am so old, that was still the custom). He gave me the usual long lecture about the duties of a man. In conclusion, he also added what every father added in those days, to the prospective bridegroom. You know the one, it started with, “If you ever hurt her…” and the extended to various threats. I included it in the long lecture I gave my daughter’s beau when he came to ask me for her hand in marriage. Fathers said things like that in those days and families enforced what the Father said.
Now, sadly, it is alleged that young women can be tossed on a bed of assault rifles by very large men. That is, if they are willing to settle for some kind of financial settlement from their alleged attacker. I am with Mayor Mike Rawlings in opposing violence against women. I am also opposed to the establishment of different laws and punishments for different people, based on ability to pay.