Sunday, November 21, 2010

On Michael Vick's Miraculous Personal Turnaround

Man's Loyal Best Friend
In August 2007, NFL Quarterback Michael Vick plead guilty to dog fighting charges. He was sentenced to prison, and lamented his financial losses.

The Poor guy, he's said to have lost everything. This includes his six luxury houses in Virginia, Georgia and Florida, and  ten luxury cars. And of course he had Bad Newz Kennels, and all the extra needed income that provided. Yes, it's tough when economic realities force one to work a second job.

Two years later, upon his release from prison, a "reformed" Michael Vick was signed on with the Philadelphia Eagles. He lamented the error of his ways, and is now showing a kinder, gentler Michael Vick, a Michael Vick that doesn't raise his middle finger to the fans who support him, shortly before being investigated for animal torture.

Last night it was said to me that we shouldn't impose our cultural values on the cultures of others, that this is common in the deep south. It was said that in China, people eat dogs, that we can't pass judgment. Well, I happen to eat cows and chickens, so no, I do not pass judgment on a culture that eats dogs.

She Was Dependent On Her Owner
But there is no excuse for torturing and maiming animals. Just as being in the deep south was never an excuse for beating or raping one's wife, or  having slaves. It's not as if those in the deep south are never exposed to the rest of the world. And someone who had six houses and ten cars does not strike me as a victim of cultural one-sidedness.

For anyone who is unsure about how dog fighting works, I'll give you a brief rundown. Puppies are brought in or bred from existing animals. Their aggression is fostered and nourished. Other animals, often stolen pets or animals taken from "free to a good home" ads are brought in as fodder. Their muzzles are duct-taped closed to prevent injury to the half-starved fighter-in-training. The dogs are let loose on the animal. In fortunate situations, death for the bound creature is fast. Not so for the champion dogs.

Anyone who does not believe that dogs experience emotion in a very similar fashion to us, has not spent a great deal of time around one. They can be loving, gentle animals. But as animals, (like us), they have an aggressive, survival-mode side. This serves its purpose when not domesticated, but not when harnessed for the sole purpose of gambling.

So Michael Vick raised these dogs, starved them, set them loose on smaller animals for training, then set them against each other and rival dogs, let them tear each other apart. He gambled on this. He placed money on the animals that depended on him for food and shelter. And he let them kill each other for the entertainment of others.

A Champion
It has now been a little over three years since Michael Vick's conviction. He has said that what he did was reprehensible. He has apologized time and time again.

Clearly, those who follow football are impressed with his comeback and his fans are showing a remarkable ability to forgive and forget. Either that, or their memories are just very, very short.

So in three years, has Vick really and truly turned his life around? Does he regret the pain and suffering he caused so many animals?

Will Michael Vick prove to be a champion of animal rights and humanitarianism?

I won't hold my breath.