Monday, September 03, 2007

On Michael Vick

As a Virginia Tech graduate and football fan, I've always been a fan of Michael Vick. He is a phenomenal athlete and football player. If he were a basketball player, he'd probably already have risen to the level of Michael Jordan. But, football requires much more of a team effort.

I'm sickened by the situation Vick now finds himself in. It goes without saying that I deplore his involvement in dog fighting. At this point in his life, he has proven that he is not a man of strong moral character.

I don't understand how any decent human being could find dog fighting to be entertainining or allow it to happen, if they knew it was happening. Blood sports were common centuries ago, but we are a more civilized people now, are we not? Of course, I would say the same thing about bull fighting and cock fighting, which remain legal in many parts of the world. I looked it up. Dog fighting is illegal in most parts of the world, except Japan and Russia, though it still occurs in a lot of places, including the U.S. (obviously!).

I'm a dog lover. I have two dogs. I've always had a dog. When I lose one of my dogs, I mourn its death, the same as I would a family member. I don't like the thought of anyone drowning or hanging a dog, which I believe is the method they used to get rid of the dogs they no longer wanted. I think it is wrong to train a dog to be mean and aggressive. Sooner or later, they are going to hurt people.

With all this said, there are two issues regarding Michael Vick's crimes that bother me. These are second chances and perspective. Vick has plead guilty to running a dog fighting ring. He should be punished for this crime. But once he serves his time, he should be given another chance. The NFL should not ban him. He should have the opportunity to resume his career.

Vick made a mistake -- a huge mistake -- and he is going to be punished for it -- big time! While most of us do not go to prison, we all make mistakes and deserve second chances after we've admitted our mistakes and paid a penalty, if such is the case. All the major religions of the world teach forgiveness.

Now, about perspective. We've lost it. We're talking about dogs, not people. I love my dogs immensely, but they are still dogs. As humans, it is both our moral and legal obligation not to be cruel or inhumane to animals, but they are not equal to humans. But killing dogs is not the same, let alone worse than harming human beings.

Drunk drivers who kill other people often do not serve any prison time. Black on black crime often goes unpunished. Many violent crimals serve little time in prison. Michael Vick should receive an appropriate penalty for his crimes, not be made an example of.

Vick's sentence should not be influenced by popular opinion or the rants of animal rights activists. In some ways, I think some type of community service might be more appropriate than signficant prison time. He could go around to city schools and talk to young people about the importance of making the right choices and the consequences of making the wrong choices. He could become a good role model for young people.

Dog fighting is a bad thing and a punishable crime, but there are far more problems in the United States and abroad. There are also far worse problems in the animal world. Many more dogs and cats are killed than those in dog fighting and in far worse ways. We need to continue to educate the public about spaying and neutering their pets and service animals. We need to enforce leash laws. In my opinion, it would be wise to ban the breeds which we know to be bred and used for fighting (e.g. Pit Bulls).

Let Mike Vick pay his price. Move on to the next story.

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