I'm no dog lover. Nor am I a hater. I grew up in a family, each member of which engages in canine cavorting on the floor, in the yard and elsewhere. They talk baby-talk to 'man's best friend' as if the dogs can understand. Anyone ever hear of Pavlov? They allow them in bed and swear the dogs' mouths are cleaner than mine. I brush twice a day. And floss. Now, I'm the only person in four generations who elects to not have a dog. We do have a dog at home and until a few weeks ago we had two. It was not my idea to get them. I don't like dog hair on my furniture or my clothes. I don't care to vacuum hairballs. I don't choose to have wet, nuzzling noses or licking tongues, especially after walking a dog and seeing where it puts its nose. Frankly, if God had meant dogs (or cats for that matter) to be indoors, my guess is He would have taught them how to build a house. All of that is context, full disclosure, a run-up to the point of this diatribe.
The Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League signed Michael Vick to a contract yesterday. You might recall that this is the same Michael Vick who was once the highest paid player in the game, brought low by allegations of and subsequent admission to engaging in some sort of sordid enterprise involving dog-fighting. I don't defend what he did. It was illegal. At best it was repugnant and engendered widespread antipathy. Michael Vick payed dearly for engaging in this miscreant behavior. He lost his job (suspended from the NFL), his money (declared bankruptcy), his fame and most imporantly, for 21 months he lost his freedom. He was released from his prison sentence a short while back and he is now re-employed.
Commentators have engaged in self-indulgent analysis of the entire matter, pre- and post-hiring by the Eagles. One common theme is that Vick has paid his debt to society and now has a right to rejoin our ranks and make a living. Now, however, the lynch mob questions whether he has paid his 'moral' debt, whether he has 'learned his lesson', whether he is unsuitable to walk among us. What is that? The First Amendment guaranties each of us the right to freedom of expression, so the PETA fanatics and other animal lovers can continue to vilify Michael Vick until he retires and thereafter. What I don't understand is the 'why'. He did what he did. He was punished. He apologized and has expressed remorse. Does he now have to tithe to the ASPCA?
I abhor the killing of innocent animals as much as the next 'rational' person, though I admit to wearing leather shoes and support using lab rats in medical research. I do eat meat from time to time. I've even purposely stepped on ants. Does that make me morally reprehensible?
Is what Michael Vick and his cohorts did more egregious than the conduct of the thugs in the NFL who beat their female companions or otherwise engage in illegal and immoral conduct? Yes, we read the news reports and a few editorials which fade quickly to yellow. To my recollection, the majority of the outrage when at least one NFL player killed a woman while driving drunk lasted a month. Maximum. Sure, we see mentions of it occasionally as the player continues to ply his trade a decade or so later. And now another player has been charged with a similar crime. A current star in the NFL was suspected of murder after the Super Bowl a few years ago. Of a human being. No conviction, but he is celebrated each year he adds to his football legacy on the field. The judicial system was unable to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I'm okay with that as that's how the system works. But what am I missing here? I hold sacred human life more than many as one doesn't really appreciate its value until it's no more. There is a quantum leap, however, from there to our canine friends. We had to euthanize one of our family dogs about a month ago. I didn't think it would bother me. I was mistaken. But I'd be a liar if I said that I held the life of our dog on the same level as that of a family member, or any human for that matter. Castigate me if you choose, show up at my house with placards and chants. I just don't see it. Perhaps my view is way beside the point anyway.
What is Michael Vick supposed to do? How is it that he can ever satisfy the rabid lynch mob that surrounds him? Perhaps he cannot. Maybe they've been awaiting the blessed 'poster child' for too long and now that they have one, they aren't about to let go--like a dog with a bone (pun intended). Or maybe the cacophony will die down in a month. If it doesn't, then how do we judge those that protest Michael Vick's legal right to earn a wage while staying silent about those like Leonard Little who took human lives? In decades past, why weren't the rabble rousers marching in front of Ted Kennedy's house after Mary Jo Kopechne drowned at Chappaquiddick?
I'm mystified as to the origin of the moral authority assumed by this tribe of bloviators who chasten Michael Vick. Do they define 'redemption'? I think not. George Carlin opined about us when he said, "Think of how stupid the average person is and realize that half of them or stupider than that." It is I or them in the bottom half.