Monday, July 30, 2007

Regarding Michael Vick

By now, everyone has heard the details of Michael Vick's dogfighting charges. Without rehashing them, suffice it to say that assuming they're true (and luckily, I'm not on the jury, so I have that luxury. And I intend to avail myself thereof), he's one sick fuck. Of course, I believe in the concept of innocent until proven guilty. And Mike Nifong demonstrated the danger of trying a case in the media. But for a moment, let's assume this asshole is guilty and examine some of the periphery.

There's an article on that quotes the director of the Atlanta NAACP pontificating on how unfair it is that everyone is "piling on" poor Mikey:

The president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP criticized the prosecution of Vick at a news conference Monday morning.

Dr. R.L. White Jr. accused the government of "piling on." "There's a penalty in football for piling on," White told reporters. "After a player has been tackled and somebody piles on, they're penalized for unnecessary roughness.
"Today, the NAACP blows the whistle and warns the powers that be that you are piling on."

OK. Time out. Poor Mikey; he's so downtrodden and oppressed. He doesn't deserve the flood of public outrage (a Google search for "michael vick dogfighting" yielded 2.34 million results) being directed toward him. It must be because he's a black man worth more than $100 million. It couldn't possibly be the fact (excuse me, allegation) that he was personally involved in the brutal execution of no fewer than eight dogs who had performed poorly in testing sessions. The government's reaction couldn't be based on the manner in which these dogs were destroyed (electrocution, gunshots, and bodyslamming at least one dog into the ground until it was dead) or the testimony and allegations of Vick's co-defendant.

Seriously, Dr. White: Do you really want to spend the NAACP's political capital on this inhuman thug? Implying that the reaction to Vick's crimes (sorry, alleged crimes) has anything to do with race saps the credibility built by Thurgood Marshall and other previous NAACP leaders.

Perhaps the NAACP is outpacing its constituency., in an article entitled "Guilty or Not, Vick Deserves Everything Coming His Way," argued that Vick is not being victimized by the vitriol being hurled in his direction. We probably should be careful of ascertaining guilt by association (again with the Duke lacrosse debacle), regardless of how appalling the conduct alleged may have appeared. That said, the Blackathlete article does raise some good points. It's definitely worth a read.

Let's keep in mind that Vick is an iconic figure. Children treasure his jerseys and idolize him. Vick had a responsibility to conduct himself with that fact in mind. The law shouldn't take that responsibility into account, but the NFL most certainly should. What better message to send to children across the country than that such unconscionable conduct will not tolerated? What worse message to send than that you can do whatever you want, regardless of how cruel or atrocious, so long as you can throw a football?

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