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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Michael Vick

I love dogs.

Not like those chowderheads running the rent-a-dog outfit in Cali. I mean I am a dog lover. I'm one of those people who doesn't mind a big clumsy dog slobbering on his face, or catching a face full of hot, steamy dragon breath. It's my second least favorite chore behind cleaning the cat's litter box, but I even carry my plastic baggies on walks to pick up my dog's fresh biscuits.

Dogs are cool.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick used to be cool to some people. I already wasn't a fan, 'cause like so many other gifted jocks, even if he didn't do this dog fighting thing, Vick doesn't seem to grasp the concept of "To whom much is given, much is required." But that's another post. So regardless, in theory Vick still should be cool to his fans, because he has not been convicted of anything.

Charged? Yes. And yes, criminal charges are typically based on prosecutors declaring they have enough alleged evidence to nail a suspect to the wall. But "innocent until proven guilty" has to be more than a cliche. It's scary to me that it isn't anymore.

I admit I am one of the worst about calling for people's heads after I see them accused of something on Nancy Grace, or under investigation on Court TV. But it is a dangerous place we're in when an accusation is enough to completely write a person off. I'm watching people march and picket and declare what sort of punishment Vick should suffer, and as far as I know he hasn't even had the chance via due process to put on a formal defense against the formal charges. I mean, it may be unlikely, but it is possible he didn't have anything to do with his cousins, friends, and acquaintances fighting and killing dogs on his secondary property.

I read what was available of the Vick indictment. Doesn't look good for him. But for now that stuff is still just accusation. Let the man work. Let him throw footballs until/unless he's convicted. I mean if he was charged with messing with kids then yes, I could see keeping him away from his elementary school teaching job, until his case is decided. Better safe than sorry, right? And when the job description for NFL quarterback starts including "must train dogs," then I say bench Vick. Otherwise, let the man earn his keep until he either pleads guilty or a jury convicts or acquits him, one way or another.

In the mean time, I'm gonna start P.E.T.H., People for the Ethical Treatment of Humans (there's already PETH in Canada, but that group's about medical research and science), 'cause once we figure how to consistently exercise common sense toward "animals" with whom we have the ability to communicate on equal terms, we'll instinctively start treating the so-called less intelligent animals with the care and kindness they deserve.

But I'm still not going vegetarian. I have my limits. I will compromise though. I will allow the next chicken I eat to give a victim impact statement before I dig in.

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11 Comments:

  • You're arguing a legal issue. The NFL and his team are arguing a business issue. Vick is reportedly the highest paid player in the NFL. The NFL is a brand, and the brand is valued by what the fans are willing to pay for everything from game tickets to the shirts that are sold to the public. Everyone gets a cut from these revenues, players, teams, league depending on what it is.

    Value is a function of perception. Vick will be suspended with pay, so he won't starve, as he did to the dogs allegedly. But I promise you there is a clause in his contract that protects the team and the league from just this situation where he can be suspended. The League offices have been bombarded with e mail demanding Vick's suspension. If you were the Commissioner and you had claimed that you were a law and order guy, what would you do? The Humane Society has been sending people to the NFL site to complain.

    If you were a football player, and you played for Atlanta as a defensive lineman, would you want to play with Vick? How about one of his offensive lineman? Just asking.

    By Blogger The CEO, at 11:35 AM  

  • CEO, very good questions. But let me play Devil's Advocate. You started off saying I was arguing a legal issue against the league's business decision to suspend Vick.

    Don't get me wrong. I don't feel sorry for the guy. Like I alluded to in the post, even if he didn't do what he's charged with he still should be charged with being an idiot for affiliating with people who would harm animals like that.

    Nevertheless, near the bottom of your comment you suggest the commissioner reacted to the pressure to suspend Vick, because he (the commish) has been insisting he's a law & order guy. Is it a business decision or a law & order decision to suspend Vick? If it's the latter, then I have a little bit of a problem with it. If we're gonna claim law & order, then let the system play out. The very basis of our system of laws and order is that the accused gets his day before any firm judgment is made.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:55 PM  

  • I agree with you that the man is not convicted and therefore the court of public opinion should suspend the trial until evidence is presented and his innocence or guilt is proven concretely.

    That being said, I disagree that Vick's job is to play football. His job is to fill seats for an organization that makes money by entertaining people who like football. Therefore I personally don't have an issue with the NFL suspending him. They are his employer and the allegations against him prevent him from doing his most important job: selling tickets to games.

    I agree that it's rotten that the public is willing to crucify someone based on as-yet-unproven allegations. But until the public becomes wiser and more mature, stuff like this will continue to hurt businesses and those businesses need to have the freedom to respond accordingly.

    (And no, I'm not holding my breath that the public is going to change anytime soon.)

    By Blogger Queen of Dysfunction, at 1:32 PM  

  • James, I was with you 100% until about 13 years ago.

    Let me ask you in all seriousness, are you still an OJ Simpson fan?

    Still feel safe coming to LA knowing the cops acquitted of beating the crap out of Rodney King might still be on active duty?

    In many instances these days we are getting information ahead of a trial that really does allow us to make an informed judgment before its completion.

    I'll always be cautious on when I make my mind up though. I was on the fence for a long time about the Duke lacrosse players for instance. I was giving them the benefit of the doubt and I am glad I did.

    By Blogger Wavemancali, at 3:29 PM  

  • I can see both sides of this argument. What Vick is accused of is pretty despicable, but he hasn't been convicted of anything (although with his buddy taking that plea deal it doesn't look good for him). On the other hand Arthur Blank has a half-billion dollar investment in the Atlanta Falcons and he has to protect that. Not to mention that he's the co-founder of The Home Depot and he'd rather not have protesters outside the doors of every store in the US.

    But, I really am concerned about all the knee-jerk authoritarian reactions by so many people. Especially the sports media.

    As soon as an athlete is accused of ANYTHING they want that person not only suspended but his livelihood taken away without a trial. Pacman Jones was suspended for a full year without ever being charged at all and the sports media applauded the move.

    But, when FOX Sports football analyst Bill Maas was busted for a DUI and a car full of drugs NOBODY in the sports media wrote a column demanding FOX fire him.

    By Blogger Jay, at 4:17 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger The CEO, at 7:00 PM  

  • Queen, we agree - the NFL and the Falcons should have the freedom to ditch Vick if they want. It is a business. But I still have a little bit of a problem with them using the accusations against him as cause. It's their right. I just don't like it. Slippery slope, I guess, unless, as WavemanCali suggests, the evidence is so obvious and so damning that his conviction is a foregone conclusion. But I don't even feel comfortable thinking "foregone conclusion," much less saying it.

    And WavemanCali, I wasn't an OJ fan back in the day. Wasn't when he got arrested, charged, tried, etc. But are you telling me it took you till OJ got arrested to decide to no longer give the benefit of the doubt to accused? Really? There were no prominent instances of obviously guilty people getting snagged before him?

    Jay, amen! It's all I'm sayin'. Like you said, Pacman Jones hasn't been convicted of anything. If anything the league should have suspended him for being a moron with bad judgment who hangs out with other, criminal-minded morons. When/if he's convicted he should be banned for life from the NFL.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 11:48 PM  

  • James, I can sympathize with that view. In my "perfect world" the Falcons would have taken the high ground by keeping him on until proven guilty and then kept or cut him based on the verdict and the public would practice restraint in waiting for same.

    Well! Time to build my island compound in the South Pacific!

    By Blogger Queen of Dysfunction, at 1:01 AM  

  • James,

    I'm not saying I don't give the benefit of the doubt, I'm saying I sometimes make my own judgments before the trial is over if I feel I have enough information. Or even before the trial starts.

    For example I saw a tape of an off duty cop in a Chicago bar beating the crap out of the female bartender. She did nothing except talk to the guy (she refused to serve him). I'm not going to give him the benefit of the doubt. No words give you the right to beat the crap out of someone.

    I don't recollect a large trial before OJ that gave us a view inside the courts where we could see the evidence as it was presented.

    With the Vick case, right now, I agree with you. I haven't informed myself enough about the situation to make a proper judgment.

    By Blogger Wavemancali, at 2:06 PM  

  • WavemanCali, we agree. I forgot about that Chicago cop. That's a perfect example. The videotape said it all. That bartender wasn't a suspect, and even if she was, nothing she could have done, short of pointing a loaded gun at his head, justified the beating he gave her. Very good point. Sometimes I guess the evidence is just overwhelming - as I allude to in my next post with the reference to singer R. Kelly.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 3:49 PM  

  • There are many activities which are perfectly legal in the United States that are harmful, cruel and even deadly to animals. From horse racing to medical research to cosmetic testing to hunting and fishing, animals are routinely injured or killed in the pursuit of sport, entertainment, gambling, pleasure, medicine, and beauty with no repercussion from the law.

    Minks are slaughtered to make fur coats for wealthy women. Queen Elizabeth attended the Kentucky Derby despite the fact that horses are whipped in the hope that they will run faster and are commonly "put down" after being injured while racing. The vice-president of the United States was driven around in an armoured limousine so he could take pop-shots at defenseless birds (and elderly men). Why then, is the United States government ruining one man's life because he engaged in dog fighting? Is dog fighting less cruel than shooting defenseless birds in the pursuit of "sport?"

    Fact of the matter is that, either cruelty to all animals should be illegal or there should be no laws against it at all. There should never be a two-teared justice system, where some acts are legal only because they are done by members of higher social status, while acts of the same logical consistency are illegal because they are thought to be committed by people of lower social status, in this case, minorities and rural southerners.

    By Blogger The Chicago Sports Kibitzer, at 12:45 AM  

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