This has nothing to do with the Hawks, but since it's my blog and we have little to talk about until the draft and free agent signings start up next week - I thought I'd put my long winded rant about Mike Vick to paper...it's long, but worth the read (or so I think).
Over the last 2 years, we've heard a lot about Michael Vick and whether or not he was treated unfairly by the legal system. Much of it has come from the African-American community and it has only gotten hotter with the recent sentence that Donte Stallworth received. Well, I've finally gotten fed up to the point that it deserves some rant/blog time.
Let me preface this with a sincere comment. I have no ax to grind for Mike. It is my hope that he is able to prove that he can come back from this setback stronger, smarter, and emboldened to do the right thing for his family and for his career, football or otherwise. He deserves that chance as every American does. As many Americans who've made mistakes, I hope that his Behind the Athlete story is one that is ultimately a triumphant one.
Now, that said, Michael Vick, to date, has gotten EVERY thing he deserves from the legal system. It is very baffling to me that the public (particularly the black community) doesn't understand why Michael Vick went to jail in the first place. Contrary to popular belief, he did not go to jail because he kill dogs or bankrolled a dogfighting operation. Vick went to jail for 23 months for the same reason that many African American males go to jail - because they don't understand the best way to stay out of jail. Donte Stallworth did understand this (or his lawyers did). That's that - if you admit what you have done when you have been caught, the legal system will have mercy on you. T.I. understood that. Leonard Little understood. Many people who can afford to broker a deal are able to find a more equitable justice system than those who can't, but even those who can't afford it - are able to give the authorities what they need to prevent themselves from serving sentences that the courts are allowed to levy. The 'stay out of jail' playbook starts with - hey, I did it and here's how I plan to atone for it. That's the starting point. It doesn't start at - hey, you convicted me, spent the taypayer's loot, and now judge have leniency on me.
It's puzzling that fans of Michael Vick are not upset with him for the things he did to cause himself to receive 23 months in jail. Can we all say this together? HE DID THE CRIME!!!!! I repeat - regardless of what you believe about the crime's punishment (and yes, him allowing it to get beyond the state case to a federal case - again, another Vick error, not 'the man's' problem) - HE DID THE CRIME!!!! Ok, let's recount the problem: He bankrolled a dogfighting ring. He participated in fighting and killing dogs. He lied to the public and the authorities about what he did to state and federal authorities. He smoked weed while on bail. He never attempted to atone for his mistake with the groups he offended - the Atlanta Falcons, PETA, his fans, etc - until AFTER he was sentenced.
In contrast, Stallworth called the police, submitted to a breathalyzer that he was sure to not pass, he admitted his crime, he worked with the family, police, and judge to find a financial and judicial settlement that worked for everyone involved. One that includes jail time, financial loss, job suspension, revocation of driving privileges, and enough community service that allows him to preach about his wrongs for an hour every single day for almost 3 years. What's so unfair about that? You can't bring back that man's life, but if the family forgives and determines that he's served better by this sentence, then isn't that justice served. What better way can a case be handled?
Conversely, the same is said for Mike Vick's sentence. Put yourself in the judicial system/authority's shoes. You have a man who you have dead to rights on a state and federal charge, but will not admit it. So, instead of settlement that includes helping us get all these criminals who have participated (oh, wait - can't 'snitch' on the criminals - well, ok, so you take their time in jail too, Mr. Vick), we have to spend the taxpayer's money to prosecute him. Not only did he lie, but he's arrogant about the lie as displayed by the radio and TV interviews I saw. Not only that - due to the high profile nature of this case, if you win - you actually can send a message to every dog fighter in the country (particularly high profile athletes and entertainers who may think this practice is ok to be apart of). Don't you go for the jugular after giving him the chance to admit it. If you're PETA, why not press to make sure he loses everything and goes to jail to show everyone that it doesn't pay to fight dogs. Who in their right mind doesn't know how sadistic dogfighting is now? What person with something to lose like Vick is ever going to get caught up with this stuff? It's a win-win. Not only do you prove to folks to not lie to the gov't. You also get the residual benefit of basically deterring everyone with any sense from dogfighting. Regardless of whether you blow the budget on this case, you can recover the savings from all the dogfighting cases you avert by the attention given this case.
So, I say to you - what happened that was wrong here? If Vick said he did it when they started talking about the stuff that he KNEW to be true, then he gets a fine, a ding on his character, and some probation and suspension and he's still playing for the Atlanta Falcons right now. Instead he took the knucklehead - I got money - I'm gonna talk in 3rd person role and guess what? route. It was a roulette wheel bet that he lost. HE LOST! Not us, not black folk, not athletes, not non-dog lovers, not football fans, just Michael Vick. Michael Vick hasn't done ANYTHING in the black community to engender this kind of support. R Kelly didn't, Michael Jackson didn't. Barry Bonds didn't. This isn't Arthur Ashe or Warrick Dunn or Hank Aaron we're talking about here.
So, let's dispense with this notion that he got railroaded. He got what he deserved. It's my hope that his jail time taught him the lesson that he didn't get before this all went down. We all love a redemption story. I want to see one, but not at the expense of our collective understanding that sometimes you make mistakes and you have to pay for them in a more harsh fashion than if you actually act like you understand the mistake you made. To this date, I'm not sure he's learned the lesson, but I hope his time out of jail proves his supporters correct, but if not - please acknowledge at that time - if not now..that he got EXACTLY what he deserved. Not for dogfighting, but for misjudging how the justice system works. It worked as it always has - harshly against those who wrongly believe they can beat it.
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