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February 13, 2012

No, I’m not letting Chris Brown off the hook.

Today I was going to write about Whitney Houston. But last night during the Grammys (I didn’t watch, but I followed along on Twitter), I realized that the bulk of the tweets I saw were about Chris Brown.

Short recap for anyone who just woke up from a coma. The night before the 2009 Grammys, Chris Brown violently assaulted Rihanna in a car after a pre-Grammys party. He was arrested, convicted and ultimately sentenced to 5 years probation and some community service.

The Grammys invited him back to perform.

The man responsible for the Grammys, executive producer Ken Ehrlich had this to say, “We’re glad to have him back. I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.”

That’s right. The Grammys were the victim of that. I can’t believe I thought it was the woman who had her face slammed into a window, punched in the face repeatedly and has had to recover while being under constant scrutiny. Silly me.

Of course, the immediate press reaction wasn’t revulsion. Instead, it was that Chris Brown was a good boy- in fact most interviews made sure to talk to his mother, who assured us that he’s not a violent boy. Many people actually wondered what she would have done to provoke him.

There was his fanbase, too- who loudly took over any online commentary to reassure everyone that he doesn’t have a violent bone in his gorgeous body… even though he’s still the one who beat Rihanna so brutally. Or they claim that he was just under too much pressure and snapped- which doesn’t really help their case either. It’s not easy to be a musician. If you can’t handle the pressure of being famous, you need to find a new career… not beat up your girlfriend.

Yes, he completed his community service. Though frankly, I’m not sure how picking up trash or clearing fields will do much to teach him that punching someone is wrong.

But I don’t think he’s actually learned anything.

When asked about it during an interview with ABC (where anchor Robin Roberts had even informed his people that she would be asking about the incident), he walked out of the interview, threw a chair into a window and walked out of the studio. That definitely sounds like he’s learned to control himself.

Not only that, but when someone does ask about it, he doesn’t even seem to realize why it’s an important subject. While it is a mistake he’s made- domestic violence is extremely common. It’s something that probably affects someone you know. So whether he likes it or not, he could have embraced his mistake and use the opportunities to say that real men don’t harm women. That he regrets it. Instead of repeatedly whining on Twitter about when the world will just move on.

It seems unbelievably unfair. Michael Vick served jailtime for his role in the dogfighting ring he was involved with, and though he’s out of jail, continues his apology tour. He knows that this will never be forgotten. We condemn anyone who injures animals. Why don’t we do the same for individuals who harm women? (And before anyone talks about men being harmed… there is so much going on in this country that’s specifically about marginalizing the rights of women- I could write about nothing else for the rest of my life)

Roman Polanski continues to get kid-glove treatment. Michael Fassbender‘s assault of his girlfriend has been cleverly swept under the rug. Mel Gibson keeps getting chance after chance. Charlie Sheen, too. Every time a crime is committed against a woman, we try to rationalize it by wondering what role the woman played… instead of doing the obvious and standing against the person who committed the act.

No, I don’t believe that Chris Brown is any different today than he was that night. Even if he were just doing PSAs to stop people from me from complaining and asking others to stop supporting him (he’s the reason I didn’t actually watch the Grammys), he’d at least be doing something to help victims of domestic violence- something to help change our dialogue. Instead, he asks us to continue to sweep it under the rug and pretend that it isn’t important.

Until he grows up, I refuse to support him financially- or support those who continue to hire him.

(Think I’m overreacting about his fans’ response? Check out these 25 responses to Chris Brown appearing at the Grammys. I saw a few like this myself.)

Related posts: Hello Giggles – “ I’m Not Okay with Chris Brown Performing at the Grammys and I’m Not Sure Why You Are
Gawker – “No, We Don’t Have to Forgive Chris Brown

Edit: I thought I’d share Chris Brown’s reaction to all us “haters” on the internet. Where he tweeted “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That’s the ultimate F**** OFF!”, then deleted it (screencap here). He then amended it to “IM BACK SO WATCH MY BaCK as I walk away from all this negativity #teambreezygrammy.” Just a thought- if he can’t post the more mature comment first, maybe he really hasn’t learned anything.

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