Vick's an Eagle, hide your beagle!
That's right. Michael Vick, convicted dog torturer and former-now-current NFL player Michael Vick has been signed by the Philadelphia Eagles. Good luck with that, Philly.
Vick was on 60 Minutes on Sunday night and was "interviewed" by James Brown (the sportscaster, not the deceased singer). I'm not sure why they had James Brown doing an "interview" for 60 Minutes. Did they feel like they needed a black guy to do the interview? (You know, with the whole Professor Gates thing still fresh in everyone's mind, they didn't want it to appear as if a white guy was being too hard on a black guy.?) Did they feel like they needed a sports guy to do the interview? (You know, because sports guys interview sports guys. News guys interview news guys. It's how their people roll.) Whatever it was, the interview sucked.
Vick answered the "questions" that were read to him by Brown, but there was little, if any, follow up questions by Brown. And I can't really say that I could tell if Michael Vick was truly sorry for what he had done, nor could I tell if he really meant it when he said that he now realizes that dogfighting is wrong and that what he did is something that now "disgusts" him. Don't get me wrong. I am a dog lover. I think what he did was atrocious and horrific and it takes a certain kind of person (and not in a good way) to be someone who can kill dogs the way that he did. And I don't know that the certain kind of person who can hang a dog or electrocute a dog is the kind of person who can understand how wrong it is and feel a deep sense of remorse less than 2 years later. I just don't know. I don't THINK that's possible, but I don't know.
But Michael Vick is on the image rehabilitation wagon and is going out and speaking to kids about not being mean to animals. But he might want to stick with whatever script he's been given for these events. His ad-libbing is not a good plan of attack.
He was speaking with a group of inner city youth and according to WCBS-TV it went something like this: "I encourage you to love your animals. Whatever animals you have -- whether it's a dog, a cat, a reptile, if it's a horse. I so encourage you to love that animal dearly and with all your heart." Wait. What?
You're speaking to inner city youth? Youth in a neighborhood like the one you grew up in? A HORSE?! How many of these inner city kids do you think have a horse? As if they're all just a-clippity-clopping off to school every day atop their horse. Picture this. The kids look at each other. "My what now?" "My HORSE?!" That's right, inner city school kids. Love your HORSE. Always keep it shod. Get yourself a good farrier! Brush it's mane regularly. Keep it neatly groomed. Yes, love your HORSE. (And that iguana, too!) Don't ad lib, Mike. Not with the horse, at least.
Here's the thing: Michael Vick tortured and killed dogs. For no reason other than just because. Anyone who wants to argue that what he did is no different than what is done to animals that are being raised as a food source. The problem with that argument is that there IS a difference. I'm not saying that all animals that are raised to be food are treated humanely. (I will say, though, that in all two instances which I have spent considerable time on a farm that raises large quantities of creatures for human consumption, the conditions were extremely humane and perfectly fine. Helluva lotta chickens. Holy crap.) But the point is that they're raised for a purpose. Michael Vick killing dogs had NO purpose. I'm pretty sure I could muster up a shred of sympathy even if he had still had no purpose when he killed dogs, but if he at least had killed them "humanely". One bullet to the head, while cruel and disgusting to think about, would have been more "humane" than hanging them or electrocuting them (both of which he did).
I find it odd that when someone is making one sort of an argument one way or the other for something, the counter argument in situations like this one is almost always a well-what-about-this-other-thing? I don't know that a comparison is the best way to invalidate someone's stance. In fact, I think that in situations JUST like this one, the incident needs to be looked at in and of itself. We can't always go around judging folks on what we should do with them by comparing them to something that MIGHT have SOME similar aspects to it. Why can't we just decide if Michael Vick should be allowed to play in the NFL again without bringing up where our chicken comes from?
It takes a certain kind of person (and not in a good way) to be able to do what Michael Vick did. I realize that the fact that dogfighting was part of the "culture" that he grew up in was a factor in why he chose to do what he did. I also realize that, "culture" or not, you have a sense of what is right and what is wrong, despite how you were raised. See, I can come to grips with the dogfighting part of it. I cannot come to grips with the torturing of innocent animals part of it.
If you're the certain type of person who can electrocute a dog that you had for the purpose of using in a dogfight, are you able to realize and internalize the wrongness of your ways in just two years? What about if you lost everything you had because of it? What about if you went to prison for two years because of it? I don't know the answer to that. My instinct tells me that if you're the kind of guy who can hang a dog and have no problem at all with doing it, that would seem to me to be an issue that's deeper than something that you could get to in just a couple of years. I doubt that he realizes the full magnitude of how horrific what he did actually was. Sure, he knows it was bad enough for him to go to prison, but other than that, I don't think he gets it.
But here's what I get tired of. I get tired of these folks who do crap like Michael Vick did and then they do their prison time or whatever and then voila! It's done and over and we're supposed to give him another chance. Why? Why is he supposed to get another chance? Actually, let me rephrase that. Why is he supposed to get another chance immediately? I know that he's served his time. I know that he's said he was sorry. I know that he told inner city kids that they should love their horse. I know all of that. But that doesn't show me anything to indicate that he's changed or that he's learned or even that he's remorseful. I suppose that, in theory, I'm all for giving someone a second chance. But what say we give them a little bit of time to show that they have earned a second chance? Remember, he hasn't DONE ANYTHING YET!
Now, the head honcho, top dog if you will, over there at the Humane Society, a one Wayne Pacelle, has agreed to let Michael Vick work with his group as part of his conditional reinstatement into the NFL. Some folks would wonder why Mr. Pacelle would want anything to do with Vick, but I think this is a case of having to look at the bigger picture. Vick could bring (and probably already has) an awareness to the problem of animal cruelty. That sort of PR is hard to come by and I think that you take it how you can get it sometimes. But who knows what he's going to get out of Michael Vick.
From the Philadelphia Daily News (it's The People Paper, apparently), we learn that "The most glaring void at home, however, has been Vick's conspicuous absence in his new role as a Humane Society of the United States representative. His conditional NFL reinstatement requires Vick to spend 2 days a month working with the group to combat dogfighting." See. That I'm talking about. He needs to DO something and it doesn't seem like he's scurrying off to fulfill his requirements. And that behavior doesn't seem all that different from his own description of his behavior playing football before all of this went down. He said, "I was lazy. You know, I was the last guy in the building, first guy out. I know that. You know, I hear everything that people say. And that hurt me when I heard that, but I know it was true." I see. Well, things might not have changed as much as Michael Vick wants us to believe.
And I have yet to read anywhere that Michael Vick has stated that he will be donating a large part of his salary to the Humane Society. He needs to pony up (no pun intended) at least half. I think he's going to be making around $2 million. If he forks over $1 million, I'll have a greater sense that he's telling the truth about how sorry he is and how he now knows how wrong dogfighting is. $1 million sends a pretty strong message. Actually, him doing anything that is NOT conditional of his reinstatement into the NFL would send a pretty strong statement.
Apparently, it's part of his probation that he cannot be around dogs. That is a ridiculous requirement. It's not like he was abusing his pet(s). He was dogfighting. Do you really think he's going to take on some clandestine dogfighting ring right about now? DO you really think he would be anything less than the utmost of kind to ANY animal (even a horse!) that he encounters? If it weren't for that, I'd suggest that he just be dropping in on animal shelters every day. Since he can't do that, might I suggest a fund raiser? An animal adoption campaign? Something. Something that he isn't required to do.