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Redemption or Just Good PR?

Posted by mcm0704 on January 3, 2011 |

The other day my son and I were talking about Michael Vick and his comeback with the Eagles. I said I thought he should have been banned from pro football after the whole dog-fighting fiasco. My son countered that Vick had “paid the price. He got a lot more than just a slap on the writst. He went to prison for two years and lost most of his endorsement deals. Isn’t that enough?”

That was a reasonable argument –  I really do respect my son’s opinions – and I was almost ready to change my mind. Maybe the spin that Vick has been fully rehabilitated really was true, and I was being unfair in hanging on to my belief that the consequences should have been greater.

Then I read a piece from Jacquielynn Floyd in The Dallas Morning News on Jan 2nd. She reminded readers that Vick did a lot more than “engage in illegal dog fighting”, which was the final charge of his conviction. He participated in the killing of dogs who would not fight, or who lost fights. Some of the dogs were hung like carcasses on a line, except they weren’t dead yet. Others were drowned by forcefully holding their heads in buckets of water. And at least one dog was killed when Vick and another man held it by the legs and repeatedly slammed it into the ground.

When the story first broke about the Bad Newz Kennels and the charges against Vick, it was also reported that he threw family pets into the pits with the pit bulls. Apparently he “thought it was funny to watch the pit bull dogs injure or kill the other dogs.”

People who take delight in torturing and killing animals are usually labeled a sociopath. They are not simply someone who made a mistake, paid for that mistake, and is no longer a threat to society. A sociopath is defined as:  someone who behaves in a dangerous or violent way towards other people and does not feel guilty about such behavior.

And the behavior usually starts with killing animals in horrible, cruel ways.

Sure, Vick has expressed remorse and guilt over what he has done, but how much of that is genuine and how much is just enough to get back into the game? What do you think?

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11 Comments

  • Mary Vaughn says:

    I think that judging others remorse can be dangerous. I’m neither defending nor condemning. IF we all judge each others remorse I’m afraid no one would believe me (or you) when we say we are sorry. After all, I just might want to feel better and look good to others.

  • Laura Eno says:

    I try to hold to your son’s philosophy for most things in life but animal cruelty is so abhorent I’d rather have an eye for an eye here. In my world Vick would be dead.

  • Matt says:

    No, he has not paid the price yet.

    Any domestic animals come to depend on their owners. He not only (and in every way) failed at this, he willingly went the extreme other direction.

    I believe that he should be monitored should he ever decide to have children (just think of what he might do to them).

  • Mike says:

    What is the purpose of having a justice system if we don’t allow it to do what it is supposed to do? Ideally, a criminal is caught, tried, convicted, serves his/her sentence, and is hopefully rehabilitated during their incarceration. We are all quick to applaud the punishment side to sentencing (and I agree that what Vick did was abhorrent and his sentence could have been worse). But, if we don’t allow those who have served their time to re-enter society, get a job, and contribute, then what have we accomplished? And, for Vick, his career is football – that’s what he knows, and that is the job he can do to support himself and his family. Are these feelings that he does not deserve his chance at redemption in the NFL a bit of jealousy that for most of us, we do not have glamorous careers that pay us millions of dollars to basically play a game? For my part, I say let him be, but of course keep him under a tight microscope. If he messes up again, then the punishment should harsh. If he doesn’t, and society has to give him room to try, then we should consider him rehabilitated and let it be. Forgiveness is far more powerful than vengeance.

  • You make some good points about the justice system, Mike, and I agree with much of what you said. What I can’t get past is the fact that his behavior is such a strong indication of a sociopathic personality. People like that, when they mess up again, do it on a much larger scale than torturing animals.

  • I don’t know what is in Vick’s heart. If he is a sociopath, we’ll see signs soon enough. If not, perhaps he has learned to respect our furry friends. I wouldn’t ask him to pet sit for me just yet.

  • It’s funny that you and your son should be talking about this subject when, just a couple of weeks ago, I was involved in a heated debate about the subject with my son … and sister and father.

    Intellectually, I agree with your other readers that our judicial system has created measures for people to be punished when they break the law, and that Vick has served his time. Additional punishment and censure is not fair.

    Emotionally, however, I can’t help but judge someone who admitted to killing and torturing animals, animals who were dependent upon him for their survival. It’s the same way I feel about convicted rapists and pedophiles. Yes, judicially and intellectually, they did wrong, were punished, and should be allowed to live their lives free of censure and further condemnation.

    I guess I need to work at telling my heart to get in step with my mind…

  • Linda, I think the problem is that we don’t listen to our hearts enough. Our minds can rationalize almost anything, but our hearts are more in tune to that inner voice that reminds us of how we should behave.

  • AlexOngNYC says:

    What do you think about Obama congratulating him on his “rehab”?

    Alex
    Breakfast Every Hour

  • Alex, I’m still wondering why Obama felt like he had to comment at all. I mean, this has no importance to government or the running of the country. I think sometimes Obama tries too hard to come across as just one of the guys hanging out at the water cooler and discussing current events. But he isn’t just one of the guys. He’s the president of the US, for Pete’s sake.

  • AlexOngNYC says:

    Very good point. It was just another moment I just slapped my head and went WTF.

    Alex
    Breakfast Every Hour

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