Robin Abcarian
Commentary, news and analysis
Your parents whipped you and you turned out OK--like Adrian Peterson?

What, exactly, is the difference between knocking out a grown woman with a punch to the face and whipping a child until he bleeds?

Both are acts of brutality against relatively defenseless victims (even a grown woman is no match for a professional athlete in peak physical shape).

As we continue to digest the stories about two NFL running backs -- the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice, who beat his fiancee in an elevator, and the Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson, who beat his pre-schooler with a switch--it’s been distressing to hear people roundly condemning Rice, yet trying to rationalize what Peterson did to his son.

After Peterson was charged with child abuse for using a switch to lacerate the thighs of his 4-year-old son, many people who should know better tried to trivialize the abuse.

“Whipping,” said former NBA star Charles Barkley, “we do that all the time. Every black parent in the South is going to be in jail under those circumstances.”

Others, like Mark Ingram of the New Orleans...

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LAPD and ACLU disagree about whether Daniele Watts had to show her ID

You’d really hate to think that the latest Los Angeles Police Department controversy turns on whether a pair of adult lovers were or were not having sex in their car in broad daylight. I’m pretty sure that people who decide to get down in a parked car do so because part of the thrill is knowing you could get caught.

Kids might see, which is gross. But worse, grownups might see and call the police, who might arrest you on suspicion of committing for lewd acts, or, if you are no longer engaged in anything that could be construed as a lewd act, they might demand your identification.

If you refuse to provide your ID, all hell might break loose.

I don’t know what actress Daniele Watts and her partner, chef Brian James Lucas, were doing in their car on Radford Avenue in Studio City last Thursday afternoon. They said they were making out. Someone who called the cops from a nearby office building said they were having sex.

Things escalated when Watts refused to identify herself to Los Angeles...

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A plan to bring a Marine home from Mexico by wreaking havoc at border

On Saturday, Sept. 20, if Stasyi Barth of Lake Elsinore has her way, border traffic from the Pacific Ocean to Brownsville, Texas, will grind to a halt, blockaded by Americans using their vehicles as barricades.

Barth is rallying folks who are mad as hell about a lot of things, not least of which is the incarceration and trial of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, the 25-year-old Marine reservist who was arrested in Mexico after he took a wrong turn and crossed the border with three loaded guns in his truck.

Barth, a 41-year-old married mother of three, is a former computer programmer who has been on disability for most of the last decade. She’s been stewing for years about illegal immigration, she told me, but Tahmooressi’s arrest and incarceration “kind of pushed it over the edge for me.” Through Facebook, she hooked up with Rob Chupp, an Indiana man who has been active in one of those rabid militia groups along the border, and together they’ve come up with a plan: “Shut Down All Ports.”

At...

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Domestic violence experts doubt this was Ray Rice's first assault

No wonder Janay Rice feels like she is living a nightmare.

Her football star husband was already paying a minor legal and public relations price for knocking her out in an elevator last February. The NFL, after an appallingly weak response, finally imposed a stringent new policy about domestic assault.

Just when the whole scandal seemed like it was about to blow over, TMZ posted a video of the assault on Monday. How that explosive footage had remained secret for seven months is a mystery.

But the images reignited the scandal, and the fallout has been intense. Ray Rice, who initially got a two-game suspension and a year of mandatory domestic violence counseling, is now facing a career implosion. The star running back has been cut by the Baltimore Ravens, suspended indefinitely by the NFL and dropped by Nike.

Tuesday on Instagram, Janay Rice posted an understandable howl of pain:

"I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I'm mourning the death of my...

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Good riddance to Ray Rice, whose domestic violence cannot be ignored

I don’t believe, as some have claimed, that watching that new elevator video where Ray Rice assaults his soon-to-be wife revictimizes her.

The release of the video is not a privacy violation; there should be no expectation of privacy in a public elevator. This was not a sex crime. She was not a minor.

Janay Palmer Rice is married to one of the country’s most celebrated running backs. The assault, at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City just before 3 a.m. on Feb. 15, occurred in a public place. It was already the subject of a torrent of public debate after TMZ obtained a video showing what happened in the moments after Rice delivered his knockout punch. We saw Rice dragging his unconscious fiancee from the elevator into a hallway. Happy Valentine's Day, darling.

Today, the world got the chance to see what actually happened in that elevator. If you can stand it, you should watch it. It’s important to know what we are talking about when we talk about domestic violence.

We are talking about a...

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Cheerleaders' wage-theft lawsuit to cost Oakland Raiders $1.25 million

Eight months after filing a groundbreaking, class-action wage theft lawsuit against the Oakland Raiders, two former Raiderettes cheerleaders have won a $1.25-million settlement from the team. The deal was announced today by attorneys for both sides, and is subject to court approval.

In January, the two former cheerleaders alleged that the Raiders broke a raft of state labor laws, including failing to pay minimum wage, withholding wages for months and refusing to reimburse cheerleaders for their business expenses.

In a sense, today's settlement, filed in Alameda Superior Court, is their second major victory.

The first came in July, when the Raiders tacitly admitted their sins and offered their new cheerleading squad a contract that nearly tripled their pay.

Instead of earning only $125 per game in a single paycheck delivered at the end of the season, Raiderettes will earn $9 an hour from now on, plus overtime, for the estimated 350 hours each cheerleader puts in each year, including...

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Blame nude photo thefts on tech giants that can't keep our data safe

This week, the world seems to have divided itself into two kinds of people:

Those who think anyone who posts nude photos on cloud storage accounts should not be surprised when those photos are stolen, and those who think that point of view is the Electronic Age’s equivalent of blaming a rape victim for being violated.

In my previous post on the subject, I planted myself squarely in the first camp.

But let me add, in case I was not clear the first time: It is not acceptable for thieves to purloin anyone’s private property. Stealing such intimate photos (I haven’t seen them, so I have no idea what they show) is a grotesque privacy violation, much worse than stealing a precious object. The thief or thieves deserve to be ferreted out, charged with their crimes and spend some quality time behind bars.

But the tech companies that promise secure storage also need a good spanking. Don't tell us you can keep our data safe, Apple iCloud storage service, if you can't keep our data safe.

Wednesday...

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Outraged over the theft of nude Jennifer Lawrence photos? I'm not

What is wrong with me?

I can’t seem to work up any kind of outrage over news that nude photos of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Rihanna were pilfered, possibly from iCloud storage accounts and passed around over the Labor Day weekend on sites, including Perez Hilton, Reddit and 4Chan.

I maintain now, and have always maintained, that if you are a celebrity and you make a sex tape, you should not expect it to stay private. If you are a celebrity, and you pose nude for digital photos, you should not expect them to stay private. Especially if the images are stored on your Apple iCloud account, where they could be stolen either by someone unlawfully accessing your account or by a hacker.

As my colleague Christie D'Zurilla reported Tuesday, some women have compared this attitude to victim blaming. She noted that Lena Dunham, the creator of the HBO series "Girls" tweeted, "The 'don't take naked pics if you don't want them online' argument is the 'she was wearing a short skirt' of...

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It's no loss for privacy when elevator videos bust the badly behaved

The next time you're tempted to viciously kick a puppy in an elevator, or knock your fiancee unconscious, or beat up your sister’s husband, you might want to rethink your expectations of privacy.

There is no “private” anymore, especially not in elevators. And that is a hell of a good thing, because elevators seem to lull people with violent impulses into thinking they are alone.

In February, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was charged with assault after he was caught on a video camera dragging his unconscious fiancee out of an elevator at an Atlantic City casino. (That video was taken by a camera stationed outside the elevator, so we didn’t get a chance to see an actual blow. Had we seen video from inside the elevator, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell might not have blundered into giving Rice a paltry two-week suspension, which caused the public backlash that led to major changes last week in the NFL’s policy on spousal abuse.)

In May, the image of family harmony so carefully...

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Domestic violence: Would it kill Roger Goodell to say 'I was wrong'?

One hates to be the proverbial skunk at the garden party, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hardly deserves to be lionized in the wake of his decision to tighten up the league’s rules about players who beat their wives.

The man’s values are so out of kilter that it took weeks of relentless public outrage to get him to stop defending his paltry punishment of Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back who was suspended for two games without pay after an altercation with his soon-to-be-wife in an Atlantic City casino elevator in February.

A widely viewed video shows Rice dragging a stone cold unconscious woman out of an elevator, trying to lift her, then dropping her like a sack of potatoes onto the floor. After about 40 seconds, she struggles to come to, as he walks away from her.

TMZ, which posted the video, called it a “mutual attack.” I don’t care what the victim, Janay Rice, told police, or the NFL. You watch that video and tell me if you think what happened is the result of a...

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Should Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand out the man who called her 'porky'?

Part of me is really enjoying the silly discussion on Twitter this morning about whether Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is morally obligated to reveal the identities of the Senate colleagues who made insensitive remarks about her wildly fluctuating post-baby weight. Or, as I like to think of it, were acting completely normal.

Show me a woman who has never heard an insensitive remark about her weight and I will show you … well, actually, I can’t think of anything to show you, because such a woman does not exist.

Show me a unicorn?

This kerfuffle began Wednesday, when People magazine posted a tease to its interview of Gillibrand on the occasion of the publication of her new memoir, “Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice to Change the World." People reporters Tara Fowler and Sandra Sobieraj Westfall write:

“Gillibrand, 47, shares a sobering incident in the congressional gym, where an older, male colleague told her, ‘Good thing you're working out, because you wouldn't want to get porky!’...

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Hey anonymous critics, enough with the fat shaming of Nikki Finke!

I have never understood the bizarre power that entertainment reporter Nikki Finke holds over Hollywood. She has the ability to make people quake in their boots, pee in their pants and open their laptops with dread.

It’s puzzling to me that an entire industry of rich, powerful people has allowed one woman to burrow so far under its skin.

That said, I don’t often read Finke’s work because I am not especially interested in the nuts and bolts of Hollywood business. I don’t care about box office, or which studio exec is in or out, or who just got cast for what movie.

When I do read her, I see that she can be nasty, abrasive and vindictive. I see that she trumpets “exclusives” that are no such thing. She is a prolific name-caller, a practice that is beneath the dignity of such a talented writer. She is not snarky, the way Perez Hilton was before he got nice. She is frankly bilious.

And she is always the hero in her own personal drama, as you can see here in the official bio on her blog,...

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