Michael Vick is a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.
A former star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, Michael Vick was convicted for dog fighting and other animal abuses, and served 21 months in prison, in 2007.
After Michael Vick was released on parole, he had community service obligations as well as counseling. Despite all of this, he was still shunned by many in the public, and in local, and national newspapers. Even Dr. Phil described his behavior as that of a “sociopath” while also stating that he could not give a diagnosis of Vick, without having evaluated him, although his behavior signals “he certainly could be.”
More recently, on August 2011, In a sarcastic and ethnocentric diatribe, Bill Plaschke of the LA Times blasted Vick in his condemning article, retorting to Vick-forgivers and supporters that “The only thing pointless, it seems, is continuing to think that Michael Vick’s renewal on the football field has led to a reinvention of his character. It hasn’t. It won’t. America needs to stop believing.”
Vick has stayed out of trouble ever since his conviction in 2007, and has worked hard to repair his image, and further his career.
In December of 2009, Vick received the Ed Block Courage Award, an award voted on by teammates. The award is given to those that “exemplify the commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage.”
In September of 2010, Eagles Coach Andy Reid named Vick the starting quarterback.
Despite all of Vick’s achievements, and his reintegration into society, there are plenty of Michael Vick ‘naysayers’ who still refuse to let his past die or pause their social condemnation of him; Dr. Phil McGraw is one public figure who surely exacerbated this popular sentiment with his statements.
This past Friday, Michael Vick was taking pictures with fans at Findlay Toyota, at the Henderson dealership in Las Vegas, Nevada. Findlay Toyota is sponsoring Vick for a youth football camp, which he is participating in.
During the camp kickoff, Vick greeted fans, shook hands, signed autographs, and posed for snapshots. “People have grown to forgive me and give me a second chance,” said Vick, but understood that some people will not let the issue die.
According to the Las Vegas Sun, “Commenters on Findlay Toyota’s Facebook page called Vick a ‘dog killer’ and threatened to beat him up. Others posted that they planned to boycott the car dealership for sponsoring Vick for promotional and charity events, including a May 29 youth football clinic at the Henderson International School.”
In response to the hateful comments, the dealership began deleting comments and ultimately shut down the page on Friday night.
“We’re just trying to do something right for the kids and people just forget about that,” said Stephanie Bernas, marketing manager and social media director for Findlay Toyota.
With all of this being said, how does it benefit society to condemn Michael Vick? It is no question that his behavior was egregious but does this mean he should not do things to help children because of his past? Or get involved in positive, community functions? Michael is trying to turn a negative into a positive, and shouldn’t we at least respect him for that?
I understand that many animal lovers feel that the abuse that was conducted in the dogfighting was “inexcusable,” but didn’t Michael Vick serve his time and fulfill his sentence as a model parolee? Does this not count for anything? You don’t have to like Michael Vick or support him, but many have to realize that he can’t take back what he did, and he will live with it for the rest of his life. No one else. Just Mr. Vick himself.
People have the constitutional right to boycott functions and express their opinions of Vick, but when does society take accountability for socially condemning people, which actually promotes criminality rather than prevent it?
There can be a hard, vicious, self-righteousness in society, that gives the public a sense that they can persecute those they object to, regardless of what their actions are in the present. There has always been a history of the public gaining a vicarious thrill from the humiliation and degradation of others.
In Puritan times, people who were charged with socially-unacceptable conduct, such as gossiping, would be humiliated by being dunked in water, in a “ducking stool” for punishment, while being ridiculed by the public.
During the colonial times, the convicted would be put into “stocks” for punishment, while receiving public humiliation and scorn, such as eggs, tomatoes, and rocks being thrown at them.
If Michael Vick has shown himself to be an upstanding citizen, and he is helping children in their advancement of their future, should we deny the children the benefit of his help or do we consider every aspect of Michael as valueless to society? If Michael Vick found the cure for cancer, should we overlook the benefits to society and reject him and his discovery?
It is not to say that Michael Vick will never make a crucial mistake again, but it is possible for any person to make mistakes, and believe or not, others have done much worse; former NFL Player Rae Carruth comes to mind.
In conclusion, society’s thirst for an ‘object of hatred’ can override reasonable thinking, regardless of how much remorse a person may show. Threatening physical violence against Vick only lowers the perpetrators of these threats to the same level of violence as they claim Vick is guilty of. Vigilante justice generally ends with the “good guys” being the “bad guys.” Engaging in the same lawlessness as Vick by threatening to “beat him up” brings Vick to a higher esteem than those who threaten him.
Michael Vick has taken his ‘second chance’ and done much more than most who have committed much less heinous offenses. We must let him have his second chance, and until he proves himself undeserving of it, we as a society have to prove that we believe in second chances, and “don’t just talk about it, be about it.”
Obviously there are crimes that are menacing to society, and those menaces should be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law. The irony is that some of those so repulsed by Michael Vick have no problem with our government invading countries, killing innocent civilians, men, women, and children, but think Vick should be locked away forever for dogs. What’s wrong with this picture? Isn’t that a hypocritical sense of humanity? In the process of denouncing the behavior of others, such as Michael Vick’s, let’s avoid behaving the same as what we despise in society.
At this point and time, demonizing and destroying Michael Vick only proves an ugly, vindictive nature in people, rather than the exhibition of real justice. So far, the justice system, as well as the help of others around him, have proven a good transition for Vick, and hopefully society will give Michael Vick a real chance to repay society, rather than condemning him forever.