Today’s lesson in morality comes disguised as news.
Yesterday, Florida defensive lineman Antonneous Clayton was punched by a female student, Aisia Shakiyla Valmyr. He did not punch her back, opting instead to take the higher road and have her arrested.
Valmyr has been charged with battery. You can view her full arrest record here.
And I get to post that mug shot rather than talk about how Clayton did something dumb because Clayton did the right thing. Clayton is going to be fine after being punched, but just as importantly, he taught us all a valuable lesson: violence is never the answer. Keep your hands to yourself.
Let’s not forget Amelia Molitor, the girl who attacked Joe Mixon and then received what some have called swift justice in the form of Mixon’s right fist. The problem, though, is that Mixon was not a police officer and therefore not in the line of work that decides what is appropriate punishment for anything. He was wrong to assault her in retaliation, just as Molitor was wrong to assault him to begin with.
The fallout from that event likely factored into Clayton’s actions when, in a nearly identical situation, Clayton was presented with a chance to compound Valmyr’s wrong with a wrong of his own, namely a rearrangement of her facial features. As Jim McElwain always says, though, there is always freedom of choice, but there is no freedom of consequences. And there’s no doubt in my mind that Clayton, minus any regard to what could happen to him, was fully capable of similarly wrecking the girl’s face. I’ll even go out on a limb to assume that he was tempted to.
But Clayton didn’t do that. Instead, he thought about his own clean record, his future at Florida and his future in the NFL, and let Valmyr be the thug who got hauled off to jail.
Clayton did the right thing, and deserves to be applauded for it. Violence is always wrong, regardless of the gender of the assailant and the recipient of it. It can’t be stressed enough that Clayton could have so easily responded the wrong way and ruined his bright future. And it’s easy to ignore Clayton’s nonviolent response with all the stories of guys who do respond with violence still circulating, because that’s what our society wants to hear about. It makes for a better story than the guy who refused to fight back.
Three years ago, Amelia Molitor committed a wrong by confronting and then hitting Joe Mixon. Unfortunately, all she learned from it was how to play the victim card- a sad side effect that results when the person you attack hits back harder. (Harsh statement, I know, but one that’s only disputable if you truly believe she would not have been charged if Mixon had not fought back and instead called the police on her.) Mixon did not walk up to her and slug her out of nowhere. He had no premeditated plans to assault her. What he did was retaliate, and sadly, our society didn’t care about why Mixon punched Molitor; society merely cared that he punched her. And that’s unfortunate for two reasons: one, because it takes away from and devalues all the women who really are victims of assault- the ones who don’t initiate the violence- and two, because Mixon wasted a chance to teach our society a real lesson.
As a result of being punched back, Molitor, and thus our society, spent no time considering that she was wrong for initiating the physical contact because somebody else in the same situation committed an even worse wrong, retaliating with disproportionate force that was beyond excessive. And now the talk about that event centers around how Mixon hit a girl, not what Molitor did, because that’s what sells in the media. And it’s a narrative I’m growing quite tired of; women are people, just like men, and that means they can be victims of assault and they can be assailants, just like men. A female’s role in an assault is not minimized because she’s a female if she’s the attacker, and conversely, assault is not made worse simply by the victim being a female. Assault is assault, period, and it’s completely unacceptable. Man on man, man on woman, woman on man, woman on woman. I don’t particularly care. It’s all bad. It is never acceptable to initiate forceful physical contact against another human being with the intent to cause harm.
But Clayton taught us that when you do the right thing, when you don’t fight back when you don’t need to, you will be rewarded. Not only did he save his career, Clayton proved that there is indeed a better way to respond to being punched, one that will have negative consequences for your assailant and positive ones for yourself. Now Clayton keeps his rep as an upstanding citizen and Valmyr gets castigated as the criminal. Let’s call Valmyr what she is. A thug. A punk. An insecure, violent child with the communication and decision making skills of a four year old. And so on. What she did was completely unacceptable, and while I hope she learns from this and becomes a better human being because of it, she is not likely to receive any sort of kindness or forgiveness from me until she proves that she’s willing to do so. And she’s quite deserving of every bit of vitriol that comes her way.
But more importantly: I’m proud of you Antonneous, not because you didn’t hit a girl, but because you thought of your future and letting the law take over the situation rather than turning the girl’s head into applesauce when that was probably a very tempting option. And I’m proud of you for being the one to show girls everywhere that if you put your hands on a male and he’s smart enough to not crack your skull like an egg, which would give you the opportunity to cry victim for the rest of your life, there will be legal consequences waiting for you and you won’t get away with it just because of your gender.
I don’t care what your gender is, and I’m happy to see that the law agrees with me: unless you are in serious danger, violence is not the answer. So keep your hands to yourself.