R.L. White, president of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said today that Michael Vick should pay for his crime but then should be allowed to continue playing in the NFL. He was quoted as saying that Vick had "made mistakes" but that it shouldn't cost him his career.
White then went on to say "The way he is being persecuted, he wouldn't have been persecuted that much had he killed somebody." He also said that he didn't really understand the uproar over dogfighting when hunting animals is acceptable.
In response, I'd like to say that Michael Vick is not being "persecuted," he is being prosecuted, rightly so, for an illegal and heinous activity. The man is taking a plea bargain and admitting his guilt in order to get a lighter sentence. It is no longer a question of innocence or guilt. He has admitted the guilt. Others who were involved in the dogfighting organization have admitted their complicity as well.
There is no persecution here; we in the United States have the right of free speech and are allowed to express our opinion of a person who admits he ran a dogfighting ring, killed dogs that weren't good fighters, and treated the dogs cruelly. And it certainly has nothing to do with his race that people are outraged.
The reason Vick is being castigated in the media, in the blogosphere, and by his fans, is that this man is famous. He had it all - money, fame, glory. And yet he participated in the illegal world of dogfighting. It is hard to understand why he would be involved with this activity (I refuse to call it a sport) given all of his advantages. He didn't need the money that the illegal betting probably brought in. And yet he did it anyway.
Did he think it made him cool? Did he think it made him more macho? Was he proud of his involvement? What motivated him?
It's hard for those of us who love dogs to understand what kind of twisted mind would think this activity was acceptable in any way, shape or form. Mr. White says we should give Vick another chance, that he "made mistakes." "Made mistakes" does not describe what Michael Vick did. This isn't a case of someone who succumbed to a temptation like drugs, drink or sex with someone they shouldn't have had sex with.
This is someone who purposely ran a dogfighting ring with all its inherent cruelty, and personally killed dogs that didn't perform. This wasn't just a little faux pas. This was purposeful, criminal and cruel behavior. It was not a "mistake." What kind of inhuman monster wouldn't know that cruelty to innocent animals is wrong?
I was particularly disturbed by the NAACP's comparison of dog fighting to hunting, a comparison that was echoed by Stephon Marbury, who said, "We don’t say anything about people who shoot deer or shoot other animals. You know, from what I hear, dogfighting is a sport. It's just behind closed doors."
To compare dog fighting with hunting or any other animal-related sport is a shameful fallacy. I am no fan of hunting, but I do see a big difference here. Hunters who hunt legally are limited to a certain number of deer (or whatever they are hunting), they can only hunt at certain times, and usually when they do shoot an animal, the animal dies instantly, or nearly so. The animal is not sent into battle with another of its species over and over again until it is covered with scars, in constant pain. The animal is not left in a bare cage to lick its wounds until the next fight. The animal has a chance to get away. And until close to the moment of death, the hunted animal has lived its life in freedom in its natural environment, rather than with constant cruelty.
Some may compare dogfighting to the human equivalent: boxing. (Which I also deplore, I'd like to add). But the big difference there is that human beings have a choice whether to go into boxing for a living. And they know, or should know, what they're getting into. Dogs being used for dogfighting don't have that choice.
The NAACP just doesn't get it. Neither does Stephon Marbury. Michael Vick is not being treated unfairly. Michael Vick deserves everything he gets and more. Perhaps he can redeem himself. But I doubt it.