Friday, August 14, 2009

Michael Vick's Reinstatement: A Moral Failure

I admit, I'm not a sports fan. But I've been hanging onto the December 29, 2008 issue of Sports Illustrated for awhile now. It pictures a plaintive-face pitbull named Sweet Jasmine. The pleading expression in her eyes, the tilt of her ears got to me. I bought the mag because of her. What a mug!

When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reinstated Michael Vick, my buddy, Kevin, who IS a die-hard football fan as well as a dog rescuer, said no team would ever sign him. I replied, "Sure they will! As long as he can make them money, they'll sign him." Yesterday my knowledge of human nature proved superior: The Philadelphia Eagles signed Michael Vick to a two-year contract. Yes, sports fans, Michael Vick is in pre-season training, right back making 1.6 million dollars with barely a slap on the wrist.

In 2004 while, unbeknownst to us, Vick's pensient for perversion was in full swing, a flash of Janet Jackson's breast at Super Bowl XXXVIII caused all kinds of furor. CBS faced hefty fines, sports fans were in a tizzy over what they saw as intentional defilement of a good ol', family-oriented Super Bowl Sunday. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, for cryin' out loud.

Hmmmmmm...female breast vs torture and killing of helpless animals.

What's wrong with this picture?

There are those who say Vick has paid his debt and that should be the end of it. Am I mistaken in feeling that yanking a dog's teeth out and strapping her into a "rape rack" (this was Jasmine's ordeal) describes less error than evil? Am I wrong in thinking that electrocuting helpless, restrained animals speaks more to ingrained sociopathy than, "Whoops, I made a mistake"?

More to the point, do you want your kids idealizing a person who has done these things? Cheering him on at games? Wearing his jersey?

Is this the sanctified position of a wholesome Sunday sport that vilified a woman who flashed a breast, but hails a man who tortured and killed the weakest and most vulnerable among us because he can throw a ball?

Money talks, folks, and dogs have none. In a righteous world, people would not tolerate the reinstatement of a Michael Vick. He'd be ostracized, a pariah forever marked by the suffering he'd inflicted on innocents. People would stand up and shout to every known sponser of the Philadelphia Eagles that their products would be BOYCOTTED as long as they remained a party to this injustice. Ticketholders in Philly would turn their seats in. The outcry would be deafening.

In ancient Rome, gladiators were forced to fight to the death, all in the name of entertainment. Today, we have cable TV. We have satellite. We can watch Extreme Fighting from the safety of our recliners. We can vote out the reality TV star we dislike and watch while their friends and teammates gang up on them like pitbulls on a bait dog (eh Mike?). It's all very civilized, don't you think?

As awful as it is, the Michael Vick case is a parable for our society. 15 years of dogs rescue has taught me more about human nature than canine. There is no avoiding the awful truth.

In the great Colosseum of life, we've become the Romans.