I am a dog owner. I love animals (in the appropriate ways) and really can't imagine abusing or killing them for profit or on a whim.
I also can't imagine hitting a woman. Or stealing from another human being at gunpoint. Or hitting someone with my car and fleeing the scene. Or pruposefully bouncing checks from my million-dollar bank account.
I take a very hard line on crime. I believe in stiff penalties and accountability. There are many acts that I can't condone or defend. And the same is true of people. Among those people is Mike Vick. What he did disgusts me. I'm not sure I could look the man in the eye. I certainly can't in any way justify what he did.
But in the wake of his signing by the Philadelphia Eagles, I can't help but be equally disgusted with the self-righteous indignation spewing out of America's collective cryhole. It amazes me that a single publicized criminal act can spawn thousands upon thousands of braying donkeys, suddenly claiming some kind of false moral high ground.
From my point of view, all their noise is self-defeating. The atrocity of his crimes, once so blinding, is rapidly dimming in the equally repugnant glow of fraudulent, self-satisfed outrage from a hypocritical public.
Let me ask this: Before Vick, how many of us were outraged by dog-fighting? How many even gave it a thought? How many knew that it existed?
What about cockfighting? What about bear-baiting? Trap-hunting? Blind-hunting? Dog racing? Puppy mills?
I'll bet there are plenty of folks who would berate Vick for dogfighting on Friday only to get up and go sport hunting on Saturday without a moment's pause. And if that statement makes you want to point out all the differences between the two "sports", let me point out that rgeardless of your personal opinion or mine, there are plenty of folks outraged by the far more socially acceptable practice of hunting.
It's so easy to latch onto Vick like a parasite, sucking sweet satisfaction from the oh-so-certain knowledge that he's immoral garbage. And I'm not trying to suggest there is never an objective right and wrong. But doesn't it bother you that the people of a country founded on Judeo-Christian morality can be so cavalier about tossing aside its most basic principles?
I'm not religious, but I do believe in the Golden Rule. Treat others like you want to be treated. Don't judge unless you're willing t be judged yourself. And I'm not talking about mocking someone on a message board, or having a flame-war in a throwdown. I'm talking about making guys like Vick social pariahs for their mistakes.
Look around at professional sports. Look at the myriad crimes. Then look at the sentences. We tend to be awfully arbitrary in judging the severity of such incidents. If you think Vick got off too light, fine. Maybe he did. But can you honestly tell me that in the context of punishments levied against pro athletes, Vick's sentence wasn't significant?
There are plenty of legitimate opinions being expressed, and I can fully understand why folks wouldn't want their favorite team to give Vick a second shot at football. But for every rational thought, there seem to be a dozen overreations. For every once of sense, a pound of unmitigated bullcrap.
In one extreme (and extremely ridiculous) example, a caller to ESPN asked,
"Why did we let [Vick] out of prison? Why didn't we execute him?"
Upon hearing it, I immediately started trying to decide who was dumber- Vick, or this witless wonder. But that's what happens when people are able to shoot their mouths off from beneath the blanket of anonymity afforded by the Internet.
As I am bombarded by commentary, I can't help but paraphrase an old adage:
Once a sinner, presently a saint. By and by, a fool.
The Vick saga is hardly the first of its kind. And it certainly won't be the last. I don't like the man. I personally wouldn't be likely to hire him.
You don't have to like him either, America. You don't have to want him on your team.
But for once, in these types of situations, can we dispense with the holier-than-thou attitude? Just once, can we not be jerks? Let's at least try.