Thursday, August 13, 2009

138. Second chance should be limited

I am all for second chances. Personally, I have been given a number of second chances, and, likewise, I have afforded the same opportunity to others. Fundamental to my liberal attitudes is that life is hard for many people. Not only is it difficult, it is inherently unfair-opportunities are readily available for those born into wealthy white families in America, while for others, such as those born into poverty, the socio-economic and political burden is more difficult to overcome. It is not impossible, but it does take more work with less room for error.

Michael Vick has been freed from prison and has recently signed what is potentially a multi-million dollar deal to play for the Philadelphia Eagles. Many, from the sports world to animal right supporters, have commented on this opportunity. Some feel that he has paid his dues and that he deserves the opportunity to make a living again. Others, many dog lovers for example, think that he does not deserve another opportunity.

Vick has been working the media-admitting his mistake, committing to remorse and speaking out against dogfighting. He has also been working with some animal rights organizations, which see this as an opportunity to educate the public.

Although I think I should forgive him for his disgraceful acts, and embrace his recovery, as well as the chance to use his celebrity status to combat dogfighting, I cannot. I have nothing but hate for this man and the things him, and his posse, did to so many dogs.

What bothers me the most is that here is a guy that had everything. He was a professional athlete-he had money and fame. He could go anywhere and do anything. He could have houses, cars, women, travel the world-anything he wanted. The world was his playground. And out of everything he could be doing, he chose dogfighting as his form of entertainment.

To engage in the activity of dogfighting, with so much to lose, hints at an insatiable lust for this form of animal cruelty. It is not just something he did-it is "in his blood." No amount of remorse will convince me that he has changed his attitudes toward the "sport." I do not think he can be reformed any more than a child molester can be. He cannot, or could not, help himself. As my bother noted, Vick is not sorry about what he did, he is sorry that he got caught.

The signing with the Eagles, says a lot about our obsession with professional sports. Vick is not the first scumbag that fans have supported because he or she can hit a baseball or throw a football better than the average Joe. I cannot believe that any dog lover would pay to see him play more than any mother would pay to see a child molester. Make no mistake; this is not about the "City of Brotherly Love" offering second chances, the Eagles and the fans that will support them care more about winning than the integrity of the organization. If Vick was even an average talent-no team would touch him. It is only that he is a truly remarkable athlete that an organization would sell its soul.

In the "real world," the slightest blemish in one's career is often difficult to overcome. Get fired, have a lapse in employment, declare bankruptcy or be convicted for even a petty crime, and one will have to sit uncomfortably in the interviewee chair-wondering how to explain what happened. Equally uncomfortable is the knowledge that there is probably a line of applicants, just as talented, with no such obstacle to overcome. Full background checks are now commonplace for many jobs.

In the end, I do support second chances-just not the chance to make millions of dollars. And not to have a job in which thousands of little kids will be running around with their Vick jersey on-wanting to be "just like him." I would give Vick a second chance, the chance at the perspective that most of us have. Let him work in a factory or at a fast food restaurant. Let him see how the rest of us live-those of us that have not engaged in such reprehensible criminal behavior.

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