Michael Vick: Was Dogged Badly
The PETA tirade against the eight pit-bulls killed on Vickâ€™s farm is curious given that the animal-lust group kills some 90 percent of the dogs left in its care. Since 1998, PETA has killed some 14,400 such family pets, according to government figures.
Quarterback Michael Vick walked out of prison this week as the loneliest superstar on the planet.
After 19 months with the hyenas of Leavenworth, the sacrificial lamb now faces 60 days with the wolves under house arrest.
“Should Vick be allowed to Play Again?” screamed one tabloid. “Ban Vick for Life,” said another.
Others put it to a vote. If the thousands of my e-mail fans had their way the defrocked quarterback would twist forever in the wind like a gridiron Prometheus beyond the reach of grace and pardon.
The tragedy of Michael Vick, a peculiarly American tragedy, combines elements of race, privileged power and money, all played against a backdrop of fanaticism—denial--and injustice.
The case centered on Vick bankrolling relatives in a dog-fighting operation across Virginia state lines. Some eight discarded pit-bulls were reportedly killed in this illegal sporting scheme. This abuse lathered up People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) who joined the mob-chase.
As if the feds were not enough, the professional dog fanatics, and amateurs elsewhere, wielded an influence on these legal matters that should have been disallowed.
On Aug 27, 2007, the Atlanta Falcons’ player pled guilty to dog-fighting “conspiracy” before a hanging U.S. District judge, Henry Hudson. Judicial treatment of Vick as first offender, to say nothing of his snitching cousins and negligent attorneys, constitute a singular mockery of justice.
Even his well paid lawyer, one Billy Martin, should realize the futility of a wealthy, over-achieving, young Black superstar throwing himself upon the mercy of a Virginia court. African-American first offenders, even as youth, are six times more likely to be advanced through the criminal justice system, up to and including incarceration, than are their comparable white first offenders who commit the same act anywhere in the United States, according to reliable studies.
This American reality should have moved Vick to insist on trial by jury, even a Virginia one, likely without his peers. The odd chance of the voir dire landing an enlightened juror would have beat his facing the wasteland that is the white heart of Judge Hudson.
The stiff sentence deprived the superstar of his freedom along with his quite good name. And en route to bankruptcy, he was stripped of his $130 million contract—the richest in the history of the National Football League. Herein lurks the devil of the superstar’s dilemma: a clash between the quarterback’s irresistible “Black” style and the immovable object of white privilege.
As Black quarterbacks trickle into the NFL, this key position totters as the lone, crown jewel of what remains of white dominance on the field. It is to be preserved at all cost—save, of course, genuine merit. Denials notwithstanding, this vested interest can be read between the lines of football fanatics from Rush Limbaugh to the Johnny B. Goode announcers doing sports commentary.
Not only did Vick encroach upon the hallowed white preserve; he did so with a “street” style that attracted Atlanta bloods that the Falcons targeted with special home-game promotions and lowered ticket prices. By ’07, this prime-time, on-field magician commanded the richest contract in his sport--and more than a little QB envy.
Unbeknownst to Vick—and far too many of his fellow overachievers--the star was viewed as a threat—and became a target.
On June 7, 2007, the feds stumble upon Vicks’ “Bad Newz Kennels” in Surrey, VA. offered the church of NFL orthodoxy the perfect opening. The media ran gleefully with the story, joined by the scouts of PETA, trolling as always for molehills to make out as mountains.
The PETA tirade against the eight pit-bulls killed on Vick’s farm is curious given that the animal-lust group kills some 90 percent of the dogs left in its care. Since 1998, PETA has killed some 14,400 such family pets, according to government figures.
This slaughter pales, however, when compared to that clocked under the auspices of ASPCA by local shelters disposing of 60 percent of the pets families leave to their tender mercies.
Shelters kill two million pet dogs in the U.S. each year, tallying 5,000 a day—or one every 16 seconds. This population control by extreme prejudice draws barely a peep from the PETA fanatics. Nor do the thousands of greyhound puppies and retired racers put to death each year by the Greyhound Racing Association.
Still, Vick has paid more than a million dollars for the upkeep of the pit-bulls; begged PETA’s pardon a billion times; and has accepted working with a construction company to certify his redemption.
The tragedy of the Vick case, laying aside the undue personal suffering, showcase the national mistreatment of young, black first offenders by the criminal justice system, so-called. He faced powerful enemies and shy defenders lacking in courage. Not even superstardom swayed the system from subjecting Vick to punishment far more than 6 times as harsh as it would have been for a white, first offender committing the same act.
Vick’s humiliation was exacted not so much for the illegal acts—his more culpable cousins drew far less punishment—but as a message to other young Black, over-achievers who would threaten white society's false sense of itself.
Those deluded about a "post-racism" dividend of the Obama Presidency had better take a close look at the criminal justice system—and fast.
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