A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Friday, August 21, 2009

Vick - as in sick

(Above: one of the dogs rescued from Michael Vick's Bad Newz Kennels)

Ever since Michael Vick signed a $6.875 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on August 13, the reaction from the sports media has been overwhelmingly positive. The only debate has been whether he'll be rusty from the year-and-a-half layoff.
Some he hanged, some he shot, some he electrocuted, some he drowned, and some he simply beat to death.
And what was their crime? They wouldn't fight because they were too gentle.
During his trial, one of his co-defendants said he suggested that dogs who wouldn't fight should be given away, but Vick replied, "They got to go." Translation: Kill them.
At the time, Vick denied everything.
"It's a property where I'm never there. I'm never at the house," he said. "I take these charges very seriously and look forward to clearing my good name."
Now, flash forward to his interview on "60 Minutes" last week.
He said he cried many nights thinking about how he had let down his fiancée, his kids, his teammates, his fans, even Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. Most of all, "I let myself down, you know, not being out on the football field, being in a prison bed, in a prison bunk, writing letters home."
The only ones he didn't apologize to were the victims of his crimes. Interviewer James Brown tried his best to prompt him, repeating, "But what about the dogs, Michael?" But the most he would say was, "It was wrong."
In short, he doesn't get it, and he never will. He's a classic sociopath: someone who is completely unconcerned about the effects of his actions on others.
And make no mistake: He did it for the sheer sadistic pleasure.
"I thought it was cool," he told Brown. "And I thought it was, you know, it was fun, and it was exciting at the time."
His defenders say everyone deserves a second chance, but is that necessary true? What if he had been convicted of child molesting instead of killing dogs? Does anyone think the NFL would - or should - give him a second chance then?
Of course not, because child molesting is just too icky. So all we're really debating is whether a given offense passes the ickiness threshold. And I think killing and torturing dogs does.
Like children, dogs are innocent, trusting, completely dependent and utterly vulnerable. They feel love, fear and pain, just like us. And they don't want to die.
Besides, the dogs aren't the only victims. Do you know how they are trained to fight? By giving them smaller animals, like puppies and kittens, to "practice" on. A large number of family pets that go missing from the backyard turn out to be kidnapped by organized dogfighting rings.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has conditionally suspended Vick through October 18, although Vick could play as early as Week 1, pending a final decision by Goodell.
By coincidence, the Eagles' game on October 18 is against the Raiders, here at the Coliseum. Kickoff time is 1:05 p.m.
If Vick is reinstated by then, I hope the Coliseum will be ringed by peaceful picket lines of dog lovers and their pooches. Wear your Raiders jerseys if you have them.
And if you attend the game, let the boos echo to the top of Mount Davis. Let Vick know that football fans love their dogs, too.


Jane Stutfield said...

Thank you for this article in the 8/29 Berkeley Voice. I hope that there will be a huge turnout at the Raiders game to protest Michael vick's return to a very lucrative career. Jane Stutfield

Corinne Lamata said...

Knowing how Michael Vick and his cohorts killed some of his dogs, his name, to me, has come to represent evil. Vick's recent PR campaign to earn the favor of sports fans made me shudder. I'm not convinced he's sorry for the brutality he inflicted on his victims; I'm sure, though, he's damned sorry he was caught. Thank you, Martin, for telling it like it is.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Snapp,
I only recently read this article; it came to me via IDA. I am part of a growing group of - as you say - peaceful protestors who are shocked, dismayed, and horrified by the signing of Vick to the Eagles. We attend every home game - we are there with our signs, facing the crowds of Vick/Eagles fans who have dismissed the heinous nature of his crimes and only care about winning the Superbowl.
This has all been heartbreaking and frustrating, as we've largely been ignored and downplayed by the media, and frankly ridiculed by the fans. But - we are undaunted and will continue - with protest, emails to sponsors we are boycotting, letters to the Eagles themselves, and outreach to animal lovers everywhere.
Thank you for your article and your care for animals.
Romy Nocera

Anonymous said...

OK well people do all of that stuff to eachother and get out of jail and go back to every day living. pro NFL players a lot of people so dont make it seem like vick is the only person in the worl that had a dog fight kennel. I am a fan of the eagles and mike vick the day he signed i took all three of my pits to the stadium with vick jerseys on them.

Anonymous said...

Hey! Best idea, but will this really work?

David Oliva Jr said...

I used to watch almost every game the eagles played..i havent in 2 seasons...i tried to watch the first game they played against the redskins(with vick) and i almost lost it when the cheers drowned out the boos.... this city is so desperate to win a superbowl they would throw what little ethics/morals they have out the window....i wont sell my soul to be an eagles fan...i just wont watch football

Anonymous said...

I watched Michael Vick vs. Peyton Manning in last night's football game. Two different types of character represented here for sure...I don't care how "exciting" he makes the game, he should be denied the priviledge of playing in the NFL. He is a thug. I wish I could spit in his face.