Friday, August 24, 2007

What We Should Learn from the Vick Saga [J. Mark English]

Surprise, surprise. The player who was the face of the NFL only a year ago, has now become for lack of the better word, the butt of the NFL.

The National Football League has decided to suspend Michael Vick indefinitely. NFL Commish Roger Goodell declared that Vick's actions were "not only illegal but also cruel and reprehensible" and regardless whether he personally placed bets, "your actions in funding the betting and your association with illegal gambling both violate the terms of your NFL player contract and expose you to corrupting influences in derogation of one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an NFL player."

Then Vick came out with yet another confession. Vick admits to killing dogs in his plea bargain. According to The Smoking Gun's website, the following was released from his deal with the Feds:

As part of a plea deal, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback admitted that his Bad Newz Kennels operation wagered money--which he provided--in pit bull fights. However, "Vick did not gamble by placing side bets on any of the fights," according to a "summary of the facts" that was filed today in court. That document, a copy of which you'll find below, also notes that Vick "was aware" that three of his cohorts killed several dogs that performed poorly in test fighting sessions in mid-2002. The summary reports that "Vick did not kill any dogs at this time." Earlier this year, Vick, and two cronies "agreed to the killing of approximately 6-8 dogs" that fared poorly in testing sessions at his Smithfield, Virginia property. Some of the animals were drowned or hanged, and Vick "stipulated" that the animals died via the "collected efforts" of himself, and codefendants Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace.

There you have it... Vick can say adios to his career. My, how the mighty fall.

Let us not over look the real story here: race. It is an issue of race because of the way variant elements within our country's culture look upon animals.

I love dogs, and have always welcomed a dog into my family since I was a little kid. My family currently owns a boxer, who is a light in our lives. But still, a dog is a dog is a dog.

What separates the status of a dog from say a deer? At what one point in our existence did man decree that a dog has a higher place in the chain of animals then a deer? When the "white" man hunts deer, that is not an act of cruelty. Rather, it is a sport, a sport which is used as a way to keep the deer population down.

What of horses? Surely, are not horses are just as a part of our human existence as dogs? Yet, we look down on those who participate in grey hound racing, while we cheer the horses used in the Derby racing. To make things worse, horses that are injured because we raced them, are euthanized, many times right on the race track.

But horses and deer are animals that amuse the "white" man.

What is done to horses and deer is not considered torture. Surely though there are degrees of torture. We do not drown or electrocute the horses, but we do whip them, and force them to race against their will.

As Vick is condemned for committing a federal crime, for torturing an animal that our society has selectively given lawful protection too, let us not forget what some of the more serious sins against human beings that are committed against humanity that go unpunished every day.

When the former Chiefs linebacker, Derrick Thomas, passed away in 2000, he left behind a great amount of wealth earned from playing football. Most remember him as a great linebacker. But few remember him as a terrible father. The following is Herb London of the Hudson Institute:

Derrick Thomas, the nine-time Pro-Bowl linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, died of a massive blood clot Feb. 8, a little more than two weeks after he was paralyzed in a car accident. There has been an extended period of grieving for the 33-year-old fallen football hero.

One eulogy after another mentioned Thomas' tireless money-raising efforts for a reading club that assisted urban kids with reading deficiency and a variety of other charitable causes. He was a poster boy for the United Way and a recipient of the Boy Scouts' Role Model Award, the Sports Illustrated for Kids Good Sport Award, the President George Bush Point of Light Award, National Football League Man of the Year Award, the Byron "Whizzer" White Humanitarian Award and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Man of the Year Award...

...What Peterson neglected to point out was what kind of decisions Thomas made in the last 15 years. He did not point out that Thomas has seven children with five different women, none of whom was his wife. His children live in Miami, Kansas City and Lawrence, Kan. In praising Thomas's many charitable acts, the eulogies omitted the personal discipline that should accompany bringing life into the world.

Thomas was a surrogate father to many children but was not a father to his own children. He spent Christmas handing out gifts to poor kids, but he wasn't around to offer solace for his own kids. Yet this is the man who was given a trunk-load of awards, praised as a man to be emulated.

Mr. London goes on to state:

However, these are unusual times. In some American subcultures there is status in producing babies, even if they aren't nurtured by their fathers. Professional sport has become a haven for such activity. One National Basketball Association team of 12 players had 32 illegitimate children, and that may be closer to the norm than the league office would like to admit.

In the United States at the moment -- with the rate of illegitimacy leveling off -- two-thirds of the black population and one-quarter of the total population are born out of wedlock. More than 80 percent of those in prison were born as illegitimate children. This is a national disgrace.

Yet, remarkably, Thomas is held up as a model. It is models like Thomas that represent the problem. If elites believe fathering children outside of marriage without responsibility is appropriate, why shouldn't young men searching for ways to assert their manhood adopt the same method? Instead of moral rectitude, elites now offer depravity.

This is far worse of a sin then any amount of dog killing could ever compare too. Players who live as if they are invincible tarnish the lives of those around them. This is not a race issue because white players are just as guilty. Even this past Spring it came out that Tom Brady had fathered an illegitimate child.

As far as I'm concerned, Vick should go to jail because he broke the law. However, there are worse things a person can do, and there are plenty of people with greater sin on their plate then Vick, and they get to play in the NFL, but not Vick.

This is a scenario where a dogs life in many ways is given more weight then a persons life. What of the children that are ignored and left without a father to look after them? What of the mothers that receive little help from the men who took advantage of them? Are these people not more human then dogs? The answer is obvious. Yet this underground problem will remain, and no federal statutes are being used to end this abuse of the human condition.

Perhaps we should reconsider our priority's back to the dignity of a human life.

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