Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Truth and Consequence

by Sheryl McCollum

By definition, the meanings of "consequence" include "result; something that follows a result."

If I hear another person say that Michael Vick has "paid his debt," I will lose my mind. Criminals sometimes go to jail for their crimes. Jail is punishment. After they get out of jail, their debt has not been paid. Society has a say-so; it's called consequences. After jail, the criminal must face the court of public opinion -- the result that follows a result such as his conviction for maiming and murdering dogs. Society will decide his other sentence.

Are we going to trust and welcome him back into our society, or are we going to forever see him as a criminal who can't be trusted? Will he be like citizens on the sex-offender registry: We don't trust them now, and we won't trust them later?

The public now gets to determine its future relationship with Vick. It's your turn to decide the consequences for Vick's past behavior.

Let's Recall the Facts

  • Informants said some 30 dogs were buried on the property, and Vick actively participated in dog fighting and betting, not one or two times, but since his college days!
  • Vick bankrolled the gambling on these fights.
  • Vick owned and bred dogs to fight so others could bet on the "matches."

  • Vick lied about his involvement with dog fighting to his team owner and coach, to the NFL, and to fans, law enforcement, and subsequently, the world.
So what does this all mean? Vick used his dogs, money and property for criminal activity. After police broke up the ring, 66 dogs found temporary homes in shelters. According to court records, Vick operated his dog-fighting venue for more than five years. How many dogs suffered and died during that time? His co-defendant admitted to killing dogs who "did not perform well -- by hanging or drowning." In fact, the 18-page indictment states dogs were "electrocuted, drowned, shot or hanged." Also found on the property: a "rape stand" used for breeding. Doesn't this show how involved Vick and his co-defendants were in this brutal criminal activity?

During the investigation, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ordered Vick to stay away from the Falcons training camp. Reebok, Upper Deck Trading Cards, AirTran Airlines and Rawlings Sports Goods all chose to end their relationships with him. Nike dropped him. These humiliations and income losses are consequences, imposed not by law but by society.

Man's Best Friend

A few facts about dogs: More people have dogs than children. Most states have more animal shelters than shelters for battered women. Dogs keep us safe. They sweep buildings for bombs and cars for drugs. As partners of police officers, each is trained to take down a bad guy holding a gun. Many are trained to take a bullet for their human partners. Dogs help find missing and lost people; some are trained to find dead bodies. They give vision-impaired people the freedom to walk around safely, helping them cross streets, go up and down steps, and maneuver around other hazards. Some service dogs give alerts of impending seizures, providing just enough time for their owners to sit or lie down instead of suddenly hitting the ground. I wonder.....

How many people who benefit from and love dogs would want season tickets to see Vick throw a football? Has Vick put his life on the line to save another? Has he ever helped a blind person get around for a day? Has he ever risked his life sniffing out dangerous materials in a high-rise?

Vick can throw a ball - big friggin deal! I'll take the dog!

Where there's Smoke there's Fire

"In a crisis, don't hide behind anything or anybody. They are going to find you out anyway." -- Bear Bryant.

Vick lied. He said he was never at the property, that he had learned a lesson about "trusting family members." Then he was indicted and plead not guilty.

Remember why his home was raided in the first place?

On Sept. 26, 2007, a federal judge placed tighter restrictions on Vick after he tested positive for marijuana while awaiting sentencing on the felony charge. The judge in Vick's case told him: "I'm not convinced you've fully accepted responsibility." Vick had a six-year contract worth a potential $62 million, including a signing bonus of $15 million. He was later sued by banks and filed for bankruptcy. Yes, Vick lost money, fame, fans and a lucrative career. Yes, he served time in prison. Too bad. These are all consequences.

Vick's Future

Vince Lombardi: "Football is like life; it requires perseverance, self denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and respect for authority."

Many criminologists say if you want to know about future behavior look at past behavior. Vick's past shows him as a liar, animal killer, gambling backer, and drug user. The Miami Dolphins said they were "interested" in the reinstated Vick. His future in football may be uncertain, but one thing is certain to follow Vick wherever he goes: The consequences of his past crimes.


Cheryl said...

Very detailed and informative article. You left nothing out. However I'm gonna disagree on this one. You said it yourself:

"The public now gets to determine its future relationship with Vick. It's your turn to decide the consequences for Vick's past behavior."

I am part of the public and as a dog owner/animal lover I was appalled by what he did. However he has done his time, paid his fines, lost a huge income and has been humilated in every conceivable way. He is no longer the role model he once was.

A person must be held accountable for their actions and he will live with this for the rest of his life. He got caught and he paid a huge price for it. Nothing compared to what those poor dogs went thru, but a huge price none the less.

Do I think he's gotten the message?

You bet I do.

Do you think he's going to do anything else so stupid and inhumane again?

No I don't.

Do I think he deserves a second chance?


Sheryl McCollum said...

Cheryl - Thanks and I hope you are right!

Levi said...

The NFL is a haven for thugs who get 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th chances...

Cheryl said...

He's in the public eye way too much and under constant scrutiny now. Any mistake he makes is going to be big news. That's the main reason I believe he's going to go down the right path. I'll be the first to eat my words if I'm wrong though.

Jan C, said...

Those who wish to give Vick a second chance may do so.

Will I? NO.

weeza2u said...

Sheryl you nailed it! I am so glad to finally hear someone just tell the truth and stop covering, coddleing, and condoning anything a star does! Anyone who can stand by and watch much less participate in such violence against a helpless animal is never going to change! Thank you again!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this article. I am so tired of people saying he paid his debt too, that he deserves a second chance. These pro athletes (and others) sicken me when they commit crimes. The majority of us don't get the opportunity to make millions at something WE love to do. Whether they like it or not, they ARE role models, it comes with the territory. I don't agree with this but it's true. They should be held to a higher standard, period. I live near where Vick grew up and I've heard from those who grew up with him who say he's been committing cruel acts towards animals for a VERY LONG TIME. I think he's just sorry he got caught.

TLTL said...

How you choose to treat people is a reflection on you, not Michael Vick.

baliangel said...

Another thought, he did this purely for the sport of it, unless you want to add greed to the reasons. But he clearly had more than enough money, and he also put his career in danger. I do not feel he deserves a second chance. And yes, I also feel he is a "role model" and this should take the 2nd chance of that away as well. Im not sure you can be a role model and have a 2nd chance at that.

Sheryl McCollum said...

Baliangel - if the dog fighting was just for sport what was the pot smoking? Again, I hope Mr. Vick can go on a play and stay away from criminal acts - but the ripple effects will stay with him. Thank you everyone _ I always enjoy the diiferent takes on an issue.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you check the comments on NFL.com you'll see that everyone is willing to forgive and forget because he "paid his debt" and "learned a lesson." And because he's a great athlete! I pointed out that there is no evidence that he has "learned" anything. And "doing time" does not change the evil that is in a man's heart. Not one person agreed with me. I was told to "get over it" and "it was just a stupid dog." I was accused of valuing the lives of animals above the life of a human being. Well, animals do not have evil in their hearts, only people do. So who is the real animal here? Suffice it to say they do not like me very much over there at NFL.com.

FleaStiff said...

Dog fighting? American colonies imported English mastiffs to fight bears and bulls. When such displays were outlawed in the colonies, the practice of using mastiffs to attack Indians continued unabated. Benjamin Franklin even encouraged the confinement of the mastiffs to as to make them more aggressive before being set to attack the Indians.
Dogs, roosters, it happens ... and frequently the events are attended by women and children.
Personally, I'm disgusted by such things, but as a society I am not sure our values have changed all that much. Anyone hear of extreme fighting? I believe one early bout required a contestant to go back and break his supine opponent's leg in order to be declared the victor.
We are the descendants of those who raped, pillaged and embraced violence. We are not the descendants of those who were pacifists.