Defending the Indefensible

23 08 2007

by mr. travis

The Michael Vick dog fighting debacle took an odd turn yesterday afternoon when Vick found an unlikely ally in the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP. President R.L. White stated in a press release “As a society, we should aid in his rehabilitation and welcome a new Michael Vick back into the community without a permanent loss of his career in football. We further ask the NFL, Falcons, and the sponsors not to permanently ban Mr. Vick from his ability to bring hours of enjoyment to fans all over this country.” President White went further making the claim that Vick made a mistake and continued with the straw man argument that dog fighting is no different than hunting. While White has the right to speak his mind, he has entered the realm of just another person in a long line of people defending those who are rich and famous from their horrendous behavior.

To watch the evidence unfold in the Michael Vick trial is somewhat sickening, making the defenders of him seem even more out of touch with the issue at hand. Some claim that people are overreacting, that they’re only dogs, but what Vick has done is truly sadistic. Think about it, this man has knowingly killed multiple animals in cruel and obscene ways. Doing such a thing multiple times is not the sign of a man in control of normal faculties, on the contrary it’s the very thing that a psychiatrist may label as psychotic. His reasons for committing such issues are even more horrendous; here is a man who could do anything at anytime and he chose to spend that time watching dog fights, then killing said animals, for the fun of it one would assume, which is sadistic in itself. It’s not like there was no other way for Vick; there were multiple paths he could’ve taken besides dog fighting, yet he chose this one.

Then there are those who say, “well…hunting is just as bad and that’s okay.” Not quite; a dog is a creature that has been for thousands of years trained to be a pet to humans. Through that evolution, dogs have lost the natural instinct that have come with being a part of the lupine family, in turn becoming fully reliant on humans as their source of protection and well being. Whatever your argument is against hunting (and there are several valid points), to punish a dog in the way that Vick and his partners have in these endeavors is easily worse than what goes on in the hunting world.

With all that has gone on, from Vick’s admission to the revelations of the ferocity of the crimes, it’s somewhat surprising and disappointing that the NAACP have chosen to get involved on the side of Vick. Of all of the millions of young men and women within the African-American community who are doing the right thing, yet may come upon some sort of roadblock due to bigotry or other racial issue, the NAACP chooses to defend the indefensible. Mr. White’s comments above are absurd, his assertion that Vick made a mistake ridiculous. Running through a red light is a mistake. Operating a multi-state dog fighting operation is not a mistake; it’s a choice, albeit a horrendous one. It’s highly doubtful that NAACP founder (and Harvard graduate, in a time of extreme racial intolerance) W.E.B. Du Bois ever thought that his organization, which has done so many great things not just for the African-American community but for the world at large, would align themselves with such despicable behavior. Vick’s behavior should be ignored by the organization, pushed aside while they choose to focus on something positive within the community. For them to support Vick is absolutely mind boggling.

But, this is an issue that transcends Michael Vick’s utter stupidity. Our society has allowed these things to go for too long. We allow our allegiance to a sports team to override our sense of right and wrong, forgiving discrepancies in judgment and basic morality (nothing extreme, just the basic tenets of what is acceptable in society) because we want our team to win the championship, or for that individual to break a hallowed record. We allow for starlets to run around our city streets, driving while under the influence of numerous drugs and alcohol and just shrug it off with an “oh well,” then line up to the newest film featuring said starlets. We allow our politicians to lie to us with a straight face, yet continue to feed the same two parties donations and votes. Such a discrepancy in values between those who are famous and those who are not are absurd. You wouldn’t be okay with someone in your own family performed these acts, why continue to support such behavior by purchasing jerseys or buying movie tickets?

It’s rather unfortunate then, for a society that chooses to defend those who have done wrong instead of looking for others to fills the void left by the criminals. In Michael Vick’s case, the NFL has the opportunity to not only set an example for their sport, but for the entertainment world as well. To ban Vick from the NFL would say that example loud and clear, no matter how good an athlete you may be, there are better ways to spend ones time than dealing with the criminal element. Falcons fans may lament the loss of their star player, they should demand that their sports teams give the city Atlanta a better representation of what their city is about. Meanwhile, Vick can be rehabilitated, but it needs to be done away from football. While that privilege has been lost, there are other ways he can clean up his image upon his release, to pay for his crimes outside of being in jail, to become a welcome addition to society, whatever that may be.



2 responses

28 08 2007

I hope Mr. White will rethink his position. I am sure he is a smarter man than he appears right now. He is probably very deeply, deeply disappointed with this news.

If there is anything good about the Michael Vick story, it is that there is an emerging increased awareness about animal cruelty and animal fighting. There is so much anger about this issue. If we channel it into a positive direction, hopefully, something good can come of it. However…

I watched Vick’s public apology with my little son who USED TO wear Michael Vick jerseys to school. It is disturbing to think a certain percentage of the population is honestly going to be swayed by Michael Vick’s “enlightenment” carefully crafted by his overpaid attorneys. Call me a cynic, but I don’t believe a man who has been allegedly torturing animals since childhood coincidentally has a religious epiphany as a result of getting caught and losing his job. I hope I am wrong.

I think it is a sad commentary that we, as a culture, are using the Vick story to compare “What’s worse?” “What’s worse”, we ask, “carelessly fathering illegitimate children, or dogfighting?”. “Dogfighting or gambling?” “Dogfighting or rape?” “Dogfighting or racism?” “Dogfighting or hateful nationalism?” “Dogfighting or (fill in the blank)….?” The comparisons to dogfighting have been endless.

Dogfighting is one more piece of evidence our country is in need of a spiritual transformation (please note I said spiritual and not necessarily religious). Animals are sentient beings – they feel pain, and they suffer, just like we do. They are not more important, or less important than human beings, but like human beings, they are important, too.

Dogfighting pits one dog against another until one of them dies. The survivor gets his flesh torn off, ears ripped off, eyes pulled out, etc., and the reward for being “a winner” is to writhe in pain until the next fight. Enough said. The pictures make my flesh crawl. The losers are tortured, beaten, starved, electrocuted or drowned. For what? Because these poor creatures were unlucky enough to be born a dog!

Every major faith teaches its followers to be responsible stewards of animals and the Earth. Please help us get the word out that caring for animals, just like caring for people, is an important part of just being a decent person and citizen. If we make this a priority, there will be no more dogfighting horror stories, and no more pointless comparisons of evils. Let us all rise, together, to be better people than we are today, shall we?

Chaplain Nancy Cronk

6 09 2007
James Williamson

The sins of Michael Vick are sad but in watching the news coverage , especially Nancy Grace, the news on coverage on four networks, bordered on demonization.
No athlete Black or White is above the law but it seems that when Black athletes fall from grace, their fall seems to be more sensationalized.
It is the moralistic ventures and journalistic styles of news media in their reporting on African Americans that cause many to raise the flag of racial bias.
All one needs to do is study the history of racial bias in sports from Jack Johnson to Hank Aaron to understand that racism does exist: it is interwoven into American culture. This does not excuse the behavior of Mr. Vick but neither is he past the stage of redemption.

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