There is a reason that Ray Rice's offense shocks us. There is a reason he deserves special opprobrium, and a reason he can hardly any longer participate in polite society, or even, it would appear, in professional football.
But what, exactly, is the reason?
As a thought experiment, let's imagine all the facts, and the video evidence were exactly the same, except that the player involved is Michael Sam. Not because Michael Sam is likely to do this sort of thing - he seems like a perfectly pleasant fellow - but because if it were he, his spouse would also be a man.
Man or woman, I'd like to think we'd be shocked that one would knock a person out cold, then drag that person from an elevator, asking hotel security not to call the cops. But we'd also have noted that the spouse had struck Sam first, and multiple times. In other words, he didn't just hit, he hit back.
So what would Sam's offense be in this hypothetical? Abuse? I'm pretty sure I wouldn't call it that, unless maybe I called it "mutual abuse." Would his offense be that he "won" the fight? Because he clearly did not initiate the physical altercation (at least as far as the videos and his spouse's testimony indicate.)
I can't say for sure, because of course it's only a hypothetical, but I think most of us would conclude that this is a relationship with a lot of problems; dysfunctional is a term that springs to mind. I suspect most of us would also conclude that it's none of our business.
So why is it different when it's Ray Rice and his spouse (then fiance?) The simple fact is that men have a great deal more strength than women; men are larger than women; men have more muscular bodies that can take punches better than women; and men are supposed to protect their loved ones, not hurt them.
Let me simplify that last paragraph: what Ray Rice did was especially bad because men and women are not equal, and they should be treated differently.
At least that's why I think Ray Rice did a terrible thing. I really can't tell you why the usual outrage machine is all worked up. You should ask them.