Mr. Smith's Neighborhood

It's a beautiful day in the Neighborhood for teachers everywhere! Anything and everything is fair game!

Michael Vick Sentenced to 23 Months December 11, 2007

The End of Insanity … Serenity Now!

Former NFL superstar Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison yesterday following his guilty plea last summer for his participation in a dog fighting operation that included gambling and killing pit bulls. Vick could possibly be out in 20 months for good behavior while in prison.

Vick apologized to his family and to the court. The judge said that he also owed an apology to the millions of fans who saw Vick as a role model.

Many reports have described the gruesome nature of the activities performed by Vick and his partners. The brutal torture and execution of any animal is absolutely unconscionable. The concept of dog fighting is too indicative of a hedonistic, self-indulgent philosophy that seemingly permeates many layers of modern ethics and morality.

I personally dislike dogs because I’m allergic to them. I do not dislike people who own dogs and I can appreciate their attachment to their pets. Although I will never live in a house where there is a dog, I don’t understand how somebody could torture an innocent animal.

The really disgusting part is that Vick’s actions give the morons at PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) another pedestal from which they can espouse their one-sided fluff. The real issue here is that we have another high-profile legal case that demonstrates the incredible lack of balance in our attitudes and perspective as a society.

First of all, Americans are the contemporary version of our distant predecessors in the Roman Empire. We want the lifestyle, fame and fortune of the emperors and the aristocracy. We watch our sports heroes with a passion like the Romans watching the gladiators in the Coliseum. We glorify athletes, the glamorous, the rich and the beautiful as gods. We aspire to be like them. Are our lives so shallow and mundane that we need to find our escape by worshipping these false idols?

Don’t get me wrong. I have my heroes, just like many of you. When I was five, I wanted to be my Dad. When I was ten, I wanted to be Mickey Mantle. But, by the time I was 18, I just wanted to be me. I still have heroes: Jesus Christ, Mickey Mantle, Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee. Mickey is not my hero for what he did on the baseball field, but because of what he did as he faced his death. The others should require little explanation.

I can name hundreds of sports figures I admire and appreciate. Mark Messier is my hockey Messiah. I’m thankful that I can watch Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan play on the Rangers. There have been many parallels between my life and that of Roger Maris. But, despite my awe for the talent and performance of these athletes (and others), I cannot see them as a role model for me.

But kids do need role models. My experience from working in schools with socially and economically challenged children tells me that role models help children to aspire to great things. Although it is just an opinion, it seems to me that the need for role models in America grew as families became more dysfunctional. Role models become surrogates for those who are not able to give us the gratification, hope and sense of achievement we need. It is also highly plausible that role models are yet another ugly by-product of the infusion of print and electronic mass media into the America psyche.

Did Michael Vick ask to be a role model? I doubt it. Unlike Derek Jeter, who may be the consummate role model (darn, I hope I didn’t curse him!), Vick was just a football player with above-average talent playing in a lousy city on an average team. As he watches the ice melt around him and all his supporters disappear, Vick is left with a jail sentence that seems extraordinarily harsh, even when you consider the racial implications of the community.

Make no mistake … having lived in Atlanta for the worst six months of my life, I can assure you that there is still a great deal of bigotry and racial tension in the metropolitan Atlanta area. The antebellum South still lives in many of the wealthy communities surrounding the city. But Vick was also a victim of that other parasitical organization, PETA. It was PETA’S alarming leadership in the condemnation of Vick’s actions that led to this ridiculous jail term.

Once again, what Vick did was an atrocity. Was it more of an atrocity than selling drugs or committing murder, robbery, assault or rape? Was Vick more contentious than white collar criminals who defraud the public, embezzle funds and commit larceny on an unimaginable scale? Was Vick more licentious and despicable than politicians or governmental agencies and employees who lie to, cheat and steal from the unwary, complacent American population?

It seems to me that justice implies the word “fairness” in its application. Yes, the punishment should fit the crime, but the scales need to consider the punishment in light of other crimes. While cruelty to animals is morally and ethically gruesome, how do we justify a sentence that is more severe than a sentence for a first time sex offender, a first time drug conviction or many first time assault and robbery convictions?

Something is very, very wrong here. If Vick deserves 23 months in prison, what do the boys from Enron deserve? Shouldn’t all first-time offenders be in jail? Why is Vick going to prison? Are they going to rehabilitate him to prevent a crime he will most likely never commit again?

Most people will be happy that the story will now fade off into oblivion. The PETA folks will try to keep it alive to promote their message about animal life … but what about the sanctity and spirituality of ALL human life? Why can’t the richest nation on this planet make sure that all Americans have food, shelter, health care and a job? Sorry but we have bigger fish to fry than Michael Vick.

Maybe Gordon Gekko was right in Wall Street when he said, “That’s the thing about WASPs, they love animals, can’t stand people.” Maybe it’s time we focus on people in this bass ackwards country of ours. Serenity now … insanity later.


2 Responses to “Michael Vick Sentenced to 23 Months”

  1. bluboo Says:

    Little White Dogs are the perfect size for the BBQ (especially on a rotisserie), or they can easily be adapted into a dust mop by strategically inserting a broomstick.

  2. Hargrove Says:

    When we watch people get pulverized from slugging each other in boxing, leaving many of the participants to limp through life, do to their injuries, or die from them. I don’t even want to hear what happens to a dog in a sport.

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