Professional debate embracer Stephen A. Smith caught the wrath of Twitter — and especially his ESPN colleague Michelle Beadle — last week after one of his many generally confusing rants on First Take, this time regarding Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s two-game suspension. Despite what he may or may not have intended to say, Smith was a man who clearly hadn’t organized his thoughts very well, from his tough guy posturing over what he and his boys would do if someone hurt a woman in his family (he’ll beat you up is what he implied) to his reiteration that striking a woman is wrong (even if he has previously said otherwise). But it’s this specific phrase addressed to the ladies that outraged Beadle and a lot of other people:
Let’s make sure that we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions.
And after he explained that once Stephen A. and the boys show up to handle matters, and presumably beat the life out of all of the Ray Rices of the world, he added:
Let’s do our part in making sure that doesn’t happen.
Typically, very little in Smith’s Sports Shout rant made sense, other than the obvious conclusion that domestic violence is wrong, but these two statements and the implication that women need to basically think two steps ahead so they don’t instigate the violence by doing something that antagonizes a male partner left a lot of people with a bad taste, and that led to Smith’s since-deleted Twitter rant apology. Because when you offend people, explaining yourself in statements broken up by character limits is always the best way to clear up confusion. Obviously, Smith caught on to that and Tweeted this complete apology on Friday.
My series of tweets a short time ago is not an adequate way to capture my thoughts so I am using a single tweet via Twitlonger to more appropriately and effectively clarify my remarks from earlier today about the Ray Rice situation. I completely recognize the sensitivity of the issues and the confusion and disgust that my comments caused. First off, as I said earlier and I want to reiterate strongly, it is never OK to put your hands on a women. Ever. I understand why that important point was lost in my other comments, which did not come out as I intended. I want to state very clearly. I do NOT believe a woman provokes the horrible domestic abuses that are sadly such a major problem in our society. I wasn’t trying to say that or even imply it when I was discussing my own personal upbringing and the important role the women in my family have played in my life. I understand why my comments could be taken another way. I should have done a better job articulating my thoughts and I sincerely apologize.
It’s a shame that Smith didn’t have access to a larger platform through which to clarify his thoughts, like maybe a one-hour show that is dedicated to the day’s top sports stories, and especially one that serves the best interests of the parent company that hosts it. If only ESPN had a show that didn’t mind inserting its own personalities into actual news stories for the sake of relevancy. Well, maybe he’ll have better luck doing that on his Sirius XM show.