A Falcon Falls

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Oh, Michael Vick. I remember watching you play football at Virginia Tech one Thanksgiving weekend when the hype around you was still fresh and exciting, and you had every opportunity in the world ahead of you. And then you made your move to Atlanta, and I delighted in the opportunity to root for you in a city I love. But now, this. Your apology seemed heartfelt, but still... I'm at a loss. I talked to a friend of mine, a proud Hokie and veterinary technician, and she's still sputtering with rage over your crimes, and the way it makes Tech look. I can't say I blame her. Even if I don't see you as a role model — and I'm sure many do, or did — it feels like a personal betrayal when someone you root for does wrong, particularly deliberate harm such as this. Anyone else feel this way? Or maybe, that Vick is being unfairly targeted due to his celebrity and race? Personally, I can see all the sides... and still feel like this may be an inexcusable offense. BotNers, do you think Vick can make real changes? And, professionally, do you think he'll ever make it back?

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I think it's best not to be a fan of another human being. On a long enough timeline, there's no way for anyone to remain aligned with the impossible demands of celebrity. We should expect stars to fall.

With regard to race, I think it's not a big part of this case. Vick was admired by his fans for his abilities, not for his skin color or the content of his character. I think we see that, in this case, Vick's content of character is under public scrutiny, not race.

Nonetheless, yes, the media attention is out of control. Certainly dog fighting is a terrible and federal crime, but Gonzales just resigned, which is HUGE, HUGE, HUGE compared to this story.

Sent by Erik | 2:17 PM | 8-28-2007

I am appalled that race is even considered. The fall of the morals of today's professional athletes has almost become urban legend. Just as a politician commits to a public life, so does a professional athlete, thereby allowing public scrutiny. Professional athletes and Politicians should be able to bear up under that scrutiny and live a model life. No matter what law he broke, he is an embarrassment to his profession.

Sent by Kathy George Henderson | 2:18 PM | 8-28-2007

The bottom line to this situation is that Vick is a human bean regardless of race or religion & humans don't torture animals or they shouldn't. The reason for the out cry concerning Vick is that he's a 150 million dollar NFL quarterback with high visibility & should be a positive role model, not a dof killer. It's not like he hasn't already been in a variety of trouble before, plus isn't it amazing that criminals suddenly find God after they've commented crimes as this rather than finding God before.

Sent by Ronnie | 2:24 PM | 8-28-2007

he committed this crime because he thought he was michael vick, clebrity, and would suffer no consequences. to let him continue to make millions in the nfl is to teach that with money comes no resposibility to moral society.

Sent by sarah | 2:24 PM | 8-28-2007

I personally believe that a lot of the pro-Vick discussion from the sports community is based on a greater love for sports than a compassion for other forms of life. Vick himself personified this point-of-view by appologizing for the hurt he caused people and not the harm he caused to animals. Several members of the panel show a blatant disregard for the welfare of animals by implying that positive stories about people are more important than this story.

It does not matter what color a person is, dog fighting is wrong. You don't have to be a card carrying member of PETA to figure that out. Abuse of animals is a sign of violent behaviour, that should be addressed, and de-glorified.

Sent by Isabel | 2:35 PM | 8-28-2007

Before the Dog Fighting story hit the air, I had never heard of Michael Vick. Race has nothing to do with sociopathic behavior. The behavior he engaged in was torturing animals by:
Electrocuting dogs by getting them wet and then sending currents through their bodies
Throwing golden retrievers and poodles into a pit to be torn apart.
The list goes on...

Basically any person who abuses and kills animals, be that person black white purple or pink, will eventually use sadistic brutality on humans.

Look at any number of cases: Jeffery Domner(sp) comes to mind first.

The kind of sadistic amoral behavior is dangerous to society and I don't care who the person is or how much s/he makes. It has nothing to do with race. The fact that you are implying that it does takes the focus off of the problem - this behavior is dangerous to society. It is criminal.

Sent by Lee Chiles | 2:36 PM | 8-28-2007

From "Beat a Woman? Play On; Beat a Dog? You're Gone" by Sandra Kobrin:

"Scores of NFL players as well as players from the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball have been convicted of domestic abuse, yet they play on with no fear of losing their careers. Most pay small fines, if that, and are back on the field immediately."

I can't recall this much hype and demand for punishment in regard to an athlete's being charged with domestic abuse or sexual assault... Are we really a society so concerned with morals?

http://alternet.org/story/60488/

Sent by Kimberly | 2:41 PM | 8-28-2007

In the United States celebrity and race always plays a part in media coverage and legal action. In this case it would not surprise me if most of the way that celebrity and race play a part is in how some people assume that celebrity and race played a part. Since I am not a football fan I had not really heard of Mr. Vick until the news coverage about his arrest started. Because all of the movies or television programs that I've seen that featured dog-fighting showed white people I assumed that Mr. Vick was white until I happened to see some television coverage of the kerfluffle.

Sent by Oscar Zoalaster | 2:42 PM | 8-28-2007

I think that there would be the same reaction if a white player was involved in dogfighting. I think that one thing that gets people angry over dogfighting is that there few better indicators about a person's future likelihood to commit violence toward humans than their past treatment of animals, e.g., many murders have past convictions for cruelty to animals.

With regard to the black community, the big problem is that dogfighting is more venerated among poor southern black communities than elsewhere. A big double standard is that mainstream culture tends to venerate rodeo in the same way that poor southern black communities do with dogfighting.

Sent by geoffrey v | 2:44 PM | 8-28-2007

Animal cruelity is not a racial issue. It is committed by individuals who have numbed themself to the ability to empathize and distance themselves from the horror of the treatment of these dogs as well as to the "bait" animals secured from shelters, the street and "free to good home ads" In additional to the cruelity inflicted to the animals this lowers the bar for how humans treat one another. It becomes easier to hit a child or spouse and taking another life also comes easier. The basest part of human nature becomes a norm. Yes this is a "teachable moment"we need to use it has a way of understanding violence in our culture. The development of empathy for the suffering of living creatures is at the heart of developing a conscience on both and idiviudal and cultural leve. This has been demonstrated in programs for prisoners in which they train shelter dogs and for the treatment of rapiists by bringin rape vicims and perpetrators togeher. Hostage situation can be deescalated by the hostages making themselves known as people rather than objects. On a cultural level we must turn the numbing off and allow ourselves to feel the fear, the sadness, and the physical and emotional pain of all sentient beings if we are ever truely to consider ourselves as civilized

Sent by Bridget Byrne | 2:48 PM | 8-28-2007

What a stupid discussion by stupid men. Vick is a grown man who was probably brought up to NOT HURT any living thing. I guess those millions were not enough, he needed to have a side line. I don't care what color a MAN is who would do something like this, it's sickening to think of the torture the animals went through. And it's awful to realize somewhere his mother is probably cringing and crying, wondering what SHE did wrong, when she probably did nothing wrong, he made his own choices.

Sent by Sandra Dziedziula | 2:49 PM | 8-28-2007

I just finished listening to the on-air special on Michael Vick and I was absolutely amazed that one fundamental concept seemed to escape both your panel and your callers!

I heard references to battered women and comparisons to how badly NFL athletes are abused during their careers but guess what folks, they have a choice! These dogs aren't given that luxury. They don't decide to enter into a multi-million dollar contract as a professional fighting dog. They don't decide to be raised in such a cruel manner only to be dragged out in the woods and shot or strung up from a tree for losing a fight. Can you imagine if the NFL were so cruel to its players for underperforming on the football field?

My point is that these dogs want one thing above all others and that is to please their masters. They love and trust their masters more than anything and people like Michael Vick have made the conscious decision to take advantage of that trust in the cruelest possible way.

I strongly believe that whatever punishment is given to Mr. Vick, it won't be nearly enough!

Sent by John | 2:53 PM | 8-28-2007

How dare anyone use race to excuse Vick's viciousness! He has admitted to involvement since February 2002 in the shooting, electrocuting, drowning, hanging, and beating animals to death. On his property were found dogs with scars and injuries related to dog fighting. Among other instruments of cruelty found on his property was a "rape stand," a device in which a female dog is strapped down with her head held in place by a restraint in order to be bred. Does anyone need to be reminded of the link between those who abuse animals with serial killers? Anyone committing such heinous crimes is pure evil, regardless of their race, gender, religion, culture, or level of maturity.

Sent by Steve Memphis | 2:54 PM | 8-28-2007

How can you truly believe race does not matter. Furthermore, I have to gather that a response of such insensitivity must be made by someone who is not apart of the minority-- Race plays a factor in a minorities life every single day (I am sure Mike Vick never forgets he is black, and when you do people remind you everyday!). Whether or not you are an athlete has absolutely nothing to do with it. I am amazed that you can believe that! Subtle racism exists everyday and with every breath minorities must face the brunt w/ a smile and pretend as if everything is ok. Michael Vick is black, plain and simple. If he was in a racist rural area w/ Klan activity I am sure that he would still be lynched. If the debate is going to be about him not being a good role model then you must look at the entire picture! The stories have been biased, he was on trial in RICHMOND! (And yes I am very familiar with the area b/c I went to college there!), he was indirectly convicted before the trial, and all of a sudden Hip-Hop has been dragged into the debate again... when in fact it has absolutely nothing to do with this!!!! Why is it that when a white athlete does something completely crazy that person never seems to be dragged through the mud? I cannot remember hearing a thing about rock videos from some musicians who frequently participate in illegal substance cocktails and blonde bimbos who tear off their clothes off being mentioned. Metal is never brought up for its suicidal and introverting lyrical content. The man (Vick) has faced an onslaught every time he walked into court (of 'angry' protestors) before he was even found guilty. And I severely doubt many people in that crowd were psychic... so what brought this out in such a rage b/c they had no clue he was guilty beforehand. Vick was guilty before his trial. To humanize animals then to still be so blatantly racist is amazingly hypocritical! I mean really call a duck a duck. You care so much about the animals, however, chastise an entire race on a daily basis w/ what one individual does? When white people make mistakes it is the individual and they are given several chances i.e. Lindsay Lohan and racist Paris Hilton! So why is it when a black person makes a mistake he is the Ambassador of BLACK? The last time I checked I do not remember attending a mass election qualifying anyone to represent me full-time and on any and every issue. This is just another PRIME example of racism, other examples include hurricane Katrina, Rush Limbaugh, Don Imus and FOX news! I mean really to think of yourself as an open minded free willing person then to clutch your purse at night if a 'scary' black person comes walking by is insane! Your not an idealist, you carry the racism with you and you'd rather not really pay attention to it b/c then it would be said aloud and some people would realize what jerks they are. When it???s kept under raps then no one has to confront the issue. Racism still exists and people who don???t believe it are Neanderthals who should???ve faded out w/ the ice age! Wakeup, open your eyes and stop seeing everything only from your cushy side of the fence--

Sent by TabulaRasa | 2:59 PM | 8-28-2007

After listening the Michael Vick segment today I couldn't help but to write.

The last caller Chuck tried comparing Michael Vick's career and the career of his teammates to that of the dogs Vick used in his dog fights. I, too, understand that there is a degree of violence in their profession but nothing compared to the violence that is seen in dog fighting. Also, Vick has a choice to play in the NFL. An opportunity most men would die to have. One that I believe Vick has taken for granted. These dogs had no choice. These are animals that were bought and bred to kill one another.

I personally hate to see that race has come up at all. A great athlete is a great athlete regardless of the race. A felon is a felon. It doesn't matter if you're black or white, Micheal Vick or John Doe, male or female.

I know a lot of these athletes don't choose to be a role model but they are often chosen by us. Boys, men, and even women look up to these football players. During a game you'll hear a comment or two about "I wish I could do that" or "I wouldn't be able to walk for a week if I made that play" People look up to these men. As adult spectators we too have a choice, the choice to admire these athletes or not. Children seem to follow in the footsteps of their parents. Why not as adults we find better role models for our children. We have authors, teachers, pastors, etc that would be better role models for our children. Let's find a role model that our children can relate to on a personal level. Not these celebrities who seem to be a dime a dozen and more than likely let us down.

Sent by Kristen | 3:11 PM | 8-28-2007

his apology sounded more like "I'm sorry I got caught" more than anything else.

Sent by tim | 3:14 PM | 8-28-2007

I think we can all agree that our justice system is imperfect. Judges and lawyers make mistakes. People lie on the stand, police "enrich" a case with manufactured evidence. Our justice system is made up of humans and humans are fallible, both intentionally and unintentionally. Guilty parties are not convicted and innocent parties are convicted. In the US many, many innocent black people have been convicted. Additionally, black people are more likely to receive a stiffer sentence than a white person. Wealth and social status (celebrity status) play into this equation too. Sure there are exceptions but in general this appears to be the state of our current justice system.

Knowing this is the justice system we have to work with. It is imperative we recognize that to Mr Vick and the African American community, it is a race issue.

To me a prison sentence would be too harsh. I am an animal lover and I like the pet pit bulls I've met. They are great dogs. But I would rather seem his sentenced be something useful. Prison time does nothing useful. How about six years of community service at his local SPCA? Let him learn how to rehabilitate and socialize pit bulls so they are adoptable pets. Let him learn the right way to take care of animals. Let him teach dog training and care to prisoners.

Sent by K | 3:17 PM | 8-28-2007

Not only did Michael Vick commit these disgusting, horrifying, unspeakable acts, he laughed while doing it and profited from it. For once the media seems to be sensationalizing a case that may do some good for public awareness. Being someone who's passionate about animal rights seems to be something that people shy away from and as someone stated "a card carrying PETA" member in a way that implies it's some sort of whack job code of ethics. Why is being an advocate for other living things such an embarrassing thing for people? Michael Vick is at best a sociopath and at worst truly evil, and I say as another human being.

Sent by melissa | 3:19 PM | 8-28-2007

Regarding the comparison between the battering of women and the torturing of dogs, the difference is that, in most cases, battered women have the help and support of friends and family, as well as the resources of community organizations, to reason things out, to get help to move out and start a new life, and so on. Domesticated animals, on the other hand, are utterly subject to the whims of their owners. They are 100% dependent -- slaves, as it were. Every nuance of their lives are determined by their human owner. That is what elevates the importance of the issue.

Michael Vick should receive a stiff penalty, not because of race, but because other members of "society" must understand that this type of activity should not, and will not, be condoned. Awareness of what we do to animals must be raised -- whether it be about something as atrocious as the events of this case, or the more common and widespread examples of ignorance, such as keeping a dog chained up in the backyard day after day.

Also, I wonder why a defender of animal rights wasn't included on the panel.

Sent by M. Guthrie | 3:19 PM | 8-28-2007

Let's get down to the real meat of this issue. For 6 years he funded a dog fighting business on his property. He participated in killing dogs using many cruel and inhumane methods. This is a moral issue.

He said he did not bet on any of the fights. Yet he lied initially about his involvement to everyone until he had no other option than to admit to his involvement. You can't honestly believe he did not profit in some way from this. It's not like He could write off the expense on his taxes. Pete Rose was banned for life from Baseball for betting on sports. He was not participating in killing of animals. If you want to bring race into the discussion. Pete Rose is white for those of you who may not know him. Google him to learn more of his story. I leave you with this thought. These were violent events and acts. How far from killing a human was Michael Vicks actions. He and his associates did it for KICKS. They actively chose not to use vaccination as a means for putting the dogs down. This is a morality for USA Citizens. Nothing more.

Sent by Bryce Lowe | 3:27 PM | 8-28-2007

Face it. Michael Vick and his friends hung, electrocuted, and beat dogs to death because it was more fun to watch them die that way than simply shooting the animal. He could be white, yellow or green for that matter. He is sick and I hope that he and his friends spend a lot of time in cages themselves, where truly dangerous animals belong.

Sent by Steve | 3:30 PM | 8-28-2007

This is a comment for Neal Conan, but which both Dave Zirin and Ron Thomas can speak to.

First, I do not know anything about sports, I am not invested in any athlete, nor am I prone to defending them in this celebrity-driven, masculinist sports culture. In fact, I tend to regard "superstar" athletes with a healthy dose of suspicion and skepticism. I don't like dogs, nor do I understand how and why dogfighting could be considered a form of enjoyment in this present day.

At the same time, I do note the regularity with which the media creates scandals about African American male athletes, who were caught participating in some hyperaggressive obnoxious behavior which many male athletes participate in.

I did not know who Michael Vick was until the umpteenth headline about dogfighting caught my attention, and I asked out of annoyance what this story was about. When I was told by my research assistant, I nodded my head and immediately recognized that the media hype has been "business as usual", that is, to characterize African American male athletes as unsophisticated, power-hungry brutes who, given the stardom and opportunity, will do just about anything for fun. Killing dogs would just be the latest fad I guess.

The question then, is NOT is racism a factor in media coverage, but HOW does race shape every aspect of our conversation about this issue, including why this issue is even given the prominence it is, and why its so important to deny that race is central to the story? The active denial of racism itself is evidence of such.

And yet, in one offhanded posture [his comment that race is not relevant to the coverage] Neal Conan managed to dismiss both the collective memory of Black people in the US *and* the extensive scholarship on race, gender and media representations of athletes, about the ways in which racial meanings have been assigned to Black bodies and the difference it makes; or the history of white denial of racism, and the sophisticated rhetorical strategies often used, including comparing dissimilar events and issues.

Critiquing the problematic behaviours that athletes participate in - he used the example of another professional athlete participating in the drinking culture is not, and in a racist society, never the same as, investing special meaning in the athlete, and actively disassociating him from sports culture and more with being a member of a highly scrutinized racial group.

College or professional hockey players everywhere are not talking about being perceived as potential White rapists who usurp their status in negative ways. But, all of a sudden, we are talking about the culture and social practices of Black athletes and how his background of poverty and associations with "past friends" led to his participation in these practices. How about the fact that he is participating in a highly masculine social activity, not so different from cockfighting or boxing?

Again, comparing apples and oranges: if we are going to talk about the culture and social practices of Black Athletes, then the only comparisons worth making are with White male athletes, or with Black women athletes. I suspect the focus of the conversation might be different, if we asked different questions, and tried to deal with answers that we did not expect.

Sent by Natalie Bennett | 3:31 PM | 8-28-2007

If you breed and train dogs to fight over generations and then take the offspring of those dogs as pets you will surely encounter incidents of these pets reverting to their generational inbred nature eventually you maybe able to control and breed out that behavior but effort must be made consciously to change it. Let's take a journey thru time and space and compare this issue to our history. If Michael Vick were alive 200 years ago he would have been used as a "Fighting Buck", subject to the same abuses he is accused of. Violence among African Americans males is well know, but considering the institution of slavery and its' abuses and systematic breeding of African American males for violence and subsequent lack of therapy and even the acknowledgment that such therapy is even necessary to heal the still open wounds of this inhuman experience. If our society instead of culling off young African American males for size, strength and combativeness we would identified the most intelligent, most selfless, and showed them that they could obtain an exalted place in our society through the cultivation of these attributes maybe we could change the current picture of African American males and violent inhumane actions. The victim has become the victimizer.

Sent by Imam Dirulislam Abdullah | 3:32 PM | 8-28-2007

Michael Vick is just another over glorified professional athlete with terrible morals and no shame for his actions. For this man to say that he is now sorry is hindsight, after being caught, and should be taken only as such. "Vick admitted he did not personally place any bets or share in any winnings." So, can we infer that he is a masochist and received pleasure from being a participant? There is no doubt in my mind that this individual should never return to professional sports, or that we should maybe put him in a ring with other guilty dogfight supporters and let them live that way of life. By allowing this ignorant and irresponsible man to return to pro sports this would be admitting that his actions can be ignored and children and others can look up to him as a role model. The simple fact is that there are less than 5% of all pro athletes who should be considered role models, with exception to the NBA which would be less than .001%!

Sent by ben wares | 3:38 PM | 8-28-2007

To say that this is a racial issue is absurd. Why is it that there are never racial issues when white people get into troubles with the law? Further, to say that African Americans are a minority in the US would be incorrect. This is another blantant disregard to face the fact that Michael Vick is guilty, by his own confession, and after realizing his consequences he apologizes. I agree that severe community service should be applied to this case, with an additional severe fine of many millions.

Sent by Jan | 3:45 PM | 8-28-2007

I believe that in this case, celebrity and privilege are bigger factors than race for all but the (hopefully few) card-carrying bigots and victims among us. I certainly cannot imagine being any more - or less - outraged if the perpetrator of Vicks alleged and admitted crimes had been, e.g., Brett Favre.

Thos

Sent by Thos | 3:49 PM | 8-28-2007

To suggest that Michael Vick may be a victim of the media is to diminish the real issue at hand, which is that a barbaric epidemic of animal fighting thrives in
our country and is even accepted as a sport. To discuss that Vick is victimized curtails all the headway made by the law enforcement, ASPCA and various organizations and journalists in exposing to the world the cruelty of animal fighting. When an athlete rises to the level of success that they are priveledged to participate in an organization such as the NFL, they do have a responsibility to be an outstanding citizen, they are a role model, it's part of the gig.

Sent by Ginny Barry | 3:56 PM | 8-28-2007

The posts above illustrate the contradictions that emerge as Americans try to figure out what they really think about themselves, and whether they are able to look beyond what is given to them, and put things in their proper context.

The heinous activities that celebrities, athletes included, participate in would turn most of our stomachs. In fact, if we want to know some of those things, just look at what many frat boys do for "fun" and ratchet it down a few notches. And yet, we haven't cared to look; we don't want to know, that's just what boys do. Well, Michael Vick did not invent dogfighting -- I can just imagine all the other athletes who are doing similar things scurrying to cover their tracks -- nor did he ask to be paid such a ridiculous amount of money. If race hadn't mattered, then there would been a level playing field in the first place, and Michael Vick wouldn't be so special. He'd be just another football player and a pathetic guy who gets his kicks from doing obscene things to animals.

The paradox is also evident in the associations that people make between treatment of animals and treatment of human beings. If mistreating an animal is a clear indication of becoming a sociopath, then our jails should be filled with all those white women who hoarded cats and dogs in their homes, and people who have sex with animals. And the tried and true method of preventing domestic violence is to make sure that all our boys have an animal that they can learn how to love. And so, they can learn how to treat women. Hmm, I wonder if that's why so many Americans think that boys should have dogs?

I happen to rank human beings above dogs, but we live in a society that is pretty anti-human; that logic is evident in claiming that human beings have a choice to leave but the dogs don't is no different from claiming that the person is somehow responsible for what is done to them. If we have more shelters, salons, daycare, bakeries and dogs for dogs than for people, that's not an indication of a progressive society; that's an indication of a truly narcissistic, consumerist society. Be clear, nobody needs to feel sorry for Michael Vick; he's an idiot prone to do irresponsible things, as I assume all celebrity male athletes (unlike the women). But that's only possible because the society does not know what it wants from its athletes or its dogs. So in the meantime, we pay the athlete too much money, give them too much airtime, spend lavishly - both emotionally and financially -- on animals, and feel at peace with ourselves in the world. And so, people who should be dispensing this kind of energy on ending the war, teaching adults how to read, working against violence in all its dimensions, caring for people just as much as the animals they love, are venting about how a "role model" let them down. Why is this so personal? Why invest in a stranger in this way (I don't care how much TV you watch; the majority of us have never had a serious conversation with the man; you don't know him); are your lives so empty? Did you think that maybe the whole idea of a "role model" is problematic to begin with, and really a way to burden some people more than others?

Sent by Tilly Bummie | 3:58 PM | 8-28-2007

I notice how the same people who state this not a racial issue are the same people who said that the "IMUS, KRAMER, and Miss America" was not a racial issue as well. They want Michael Vick to pay a heavy price...but they was calling for forgiveness and second chance for the people I mention above.

Sent by D-man | 4:11 PM | 8-28-2007

Of course the Michael Vick story have racial overtones. Even Neal the host seem defensive when the young man even state some example of different treatment by the media.

Sent by D-man | 4:21 PM | 8-28-2007

Cage fighting? Boxing? Competitive martial arts? Football? Our society accepts violence against the human species but let someone perpetrate a violence against a "poor defenseless animal" and it is yet another story. We seem to have a warped sense fo perspective. Where is the outcry when these athletes (?) perpetrate violence against their wives, girlfriends, families of other members of society? For several years I was a professional sports fan. I have not engaged in that arena for quite a while. I am averse to the whining and special treatment.

BR

Sent by Barney Rouse | 4:57 PM | 8-28-2007

I have just finished listening to "Talk of the Nation" re: Michael Vick. I heard Dave, your guest, comment that there are other pressing issues that need our attention, such as the excess amount of guns in the U.S., rather than what he considers as the public's overblown reaction to dogfighting. He might like to know that humane officers that have the unfortunate and dangerous task of uncovering dogfighting rings state time and time again that guns and illegal drugs are a major part of the dogfighting world. According to the Humane Society of the United States, "firearms and other weapons are found at dogfights because of the large amounts of cash present. And dogfighting has been connected to other kinds of violence -- even homicide, according to newspaper reports".

After all, is this not how Michael Vick's dogfighting ring was uncovered in the first place? As I understand, his illegal workings were discovered when his property was raided by law enforcement officials during a drug bust.

There is no getting around the fact that Michael Vick has years and years worth of violence towards dogs under his belt. This should not be swept under the rug and merely be excused as "a mistake", as he would like us all to believe. He should have to pay the consequences for his violent actions.

Michael Vick, by his own admission, has participated in the killing of dogs that were deemed not vicious or aggressive enough for his dogfights. A quote I recently read sums it up perfectly, "Imagine, being killed because you are TOO NICE".
Veronica Soto 8/28/07

Sent by Veronica Soto | 7:23 PM | 8-28-2007

Really questionable choice of commentators. "Irresponsible," as ascribed to Mr. Vick's actions in tonight's show, is a term more aptly applied to teenage joyriding, not torturing and killing, yet it went unmet. Not your best night, Neal.

Sent by Nancy Swaim | 12:12 AM | 8-29-2007

Now that Michael Vick has found Jesus, I hoped he's earned himself a place in Heaven.

Doggie Heaven, that is.

Sent by Chad | 7:59 AM | 8-29-2007

After listening to the prolonged discussion, my primary response is it's all hot air and tosh. A very well-paid athlete was caught running a dog fighting operation in which animals were tortured and killed for not being sufficiently aggressive. Despite the media response and the apologists on the segment, that's the situation. He engaged in a brutal, illegal activity, was caught and initially tried to lie his way out of it. His apology did not admit any guilt about the way he treated animals. That's the nut of the matter and the rest is apologia.

Sent by J. Bostwick | 9:44 AM | 8-29-2007

I'd be the first to say that African Americans still face racial predjudice in our culture and in our legal system, but Michael Vick hasn't become a household name because of his race. The story makes headlines outside of the sports pages because his crime was cruel and unusual. Let's not weaken the case for those who do suffer racial injustice by misrepresenting Michael Vick's notoriety as racism.

Sent by Mary Cole | 10:39 AM | 8-29-2007

While the treatment of the dogs on whom Vick pronounced and carried out death sentences was gruesome, it pales in comparison, both in its horror and in the sheer weight of numbers of animals, when measured against the abuse and torture of animals raised for food, used in experiments and for the harvesting of products from their bodies. Rather than submit our own complicity in this barbaric behavior to rigorous moral enquiry, we demand punishment for Vick, while sitting down to eat our sirloin steak and admire our friend's new fur coat, practices which continue because for us, no less than for Vick, their is pleasure and profit in them.

Sent by Suzanne | 10:46 AM | 8-29-2007

Is this about race? When I first heard about the story, it wasn't part of my initial impressions about the man, nor is it still. Is this about the celebrity status? Of course it is, why else would we all have heard about it. And maybe as Mr. Vick processes and understands the violent impact he has thrust upon these innocent canine bystanders, as all ears are upon him, will he use his celebrity impact to educate a lot of people and wind up being advocate and hero against dog fighting? That will tell me a great deal about the man.

Sent by Barbara Kempf | 6:47 PM | 8-29-2007

If there is anything good about the Michael Vick story, it is that there is an emerging increased awareness about animal cruelty and animal fighting. There is so much anger about this issue. If we channel it into a positive direction, hopefully, something good can come of it. However...

I watched Vick's public apology with my little son who USED TO wear Michael Vick jerseys to school. It is disturbing to think a certain percentage of the population is honestly going to be swayed by Michael Vick's "enlightenment" carefully crafted by his overpaid attorneys. Call me a cynic, but I don't believe a man who has been allegedly torturing animals since childhood coincidentally has a religious epiphany as a result of getting caught and losing his job. I hope I am wrong.

I think it is a sad commentary that we, as a culture, are using the Vick story to compare "What's worse?" "What's worse", we ask, "carelessly fathering illegitimate children, or dogfighting?". "Dogfighting or gambling?" "Dogfighting or rape?" "Dogfighting or racism?" "Dogfighting or hateful nationalism?" "Dogfighting or (fill in the blank)....?" The comparisons to dogfighting have been endless.

Dogfighting is one more piece of evidence our country is in need of a spiritual transformation (please note I said spiritual and not necessarily religious). Animals are sentient beings - they feel pain, and they suffer, just like we do. They are not more important, or less important than human beings, but like human beings, they are important, too.

Dogfighting pits one dog against another until one of them dies. The survivor gets his flesh torn off, ears ripped off, eyes pulled out, etc., and the reward for being "a winner" is to writhe in pain until the next fight. Enough said. The pictures make my flesh crawl. The losers are tortured, beaten, starved, electrocuted or drowned. For what? Because these poor creatures were unlucky enough to be born a dog!

Every major faith teaches its followers to be responsible stewards of animals and the Earth. Please help us get the word out that caring for animals, just like caring for people, is an important part of just being a decent person and citizen. If we make this a priority, there will be no more dogfighting horror stories, and no more pointless comparisons of evils. Let us all rise, together, to be better people than we are today, shall we?

Chaplain Nancy Cronk
Founder, www.AnimalChaplains.com

Sent by Animal Chaplain Nancy Cronk | 7:37 PM | 8-29-2007

The idea that Vick was unfairly targeted because of his race simply doesn't ring true to me. I don't watch football. I had no idea who he was until he got charged. The fact that he's black is irrelevant - when I see or hear in the local news of incidents of animal cruelty in North Carolina I have the same visceral reaction of disgust, and to be honest, now that I think of it, I can't remember once when the individual involved wasn't white. In fact, my stereotypical image of a person who mistreats animals is that of the classic southern "redneck". (And let me stress - I'm quite aware that this is exactly what it is and no more - a stereotype).
I think that part of the hooplah in the Vick case is - plain and simply - the cruelty he revealed in fighting dogs, and worse, executing them via drowning and hanging as some sort of on-the side hobby. His idea of fun hit a real nerve with the public. I find it appalling. And YES, it's news because he's a sports celebrity. Surprise, surprise. We're living in a culture where the 6 o'clock news covers the exit of Paris what's-her-name from jail on a drunk-driving charge. (Now THAT'S surreal, in my opinion). So the fame has a quite a bit to do with the media flurry - it also seems to be the reason he apparently had the notion that he could do as he pleased - he's a star athlete.
Second, the fact that there seems to be more outrage about cruelty to and torture of animals than, say, domestic abuse, does not mean that that publics' response to mistreatment of animals is overblown. It simply indicates something very dysfunctional in our attitude towards spousal abuse, which is quite probably tied into the fact that the vast majority of its victims are female. As for the resignation of Gonzales being HUGE, HUGE news by comparison, I beg to differ. He resigned. Finally. The questions about the conduct of the justice dept under his watch remain and aren't going to be answered any sooner because of his resignation. The department is in shambles. The rule of Bush administration is drawing to an end. In the interim, I seriously doubt that congress and the administration will be able to agree upon a new appointment. Bush will make a temporary appointment when congress is in recess - provided he can get anyone to take it (would you??). By the time he's legally required to seek congressional approval of a permanent appointee for the position, he'll no longer be president. Gonzales retired. So what. The damage is done and no one stepping in this late in the game is going to be able to do much of anything about it.

Sent by Heather Motsinger | 8:42 PM | 8-29-2007

I do not understand those in our society that feel it necessary to make comparisons of the different types of atrocities and abuses that are perpetrated on others. I speak of comments such as, "People are more incensed at this dogfighting than if Michael Vick had committed domestic violence". This type of talk is very disturbing in and of itself and serves no functional purpose.

All forms of abuse, degredation and violence should be considered unnaceptable; whether the case be a battered spouse or a dog being ripped to shreds. End of story.
It will be quite interesting to see how Michael Vick's legal team spins this so-called "mistake" of his to the media and the public in the duration of time before his December sentencing. Because let's face it, Michael Vick, right at the present moment, would be going along as planned with his brutality toward dogs if he had not been caught.
I, for one, will be very disappointed if he and his cohorts don't end up with punishments suitable to the crimes they have admitted to.
Monica

Sent by Monica | 9:58 PM | 8-29-2007

GIVE ME A BREAK, RACE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT...
Because he is black, it must be about race, here is a thought...um maybe he did it. what do ya think?

Sent by David Gianfredi | 2:54 AM | 8-31-2007

I believe one of the guests on this show said that it was only because of Vick's race that the news reports covered things like hip hop, and black "culture". What about the Duke case? Weren't all the reports on the "elite school", and "lacrosse players culture" just the flip side of the same coin?
Also, didn't one of his friends defend an involvement in dog fighting as "part of the culture"? I can't remember the specifics, but it was similar to that.

Leigh

Sent by Leigh | 3:07 PM | 8-31-2007

To prove race is NOT a factor give Vick what other dog fighters received. FIVE TO THIRTY YEARS IN PRISON. I'm sick of the race card. People want fair treatment...give him exactly what the dog fighting white scum got and nothing less! Five to THIRTY!

Sent by bittersweet | 5:31 PM | 10-2-2007

Race played no role in the Michael Vick situation -- other than some used his upbringing to somewhat justify his acceptance of dog fighting. Tom Brady or Peyton Manning would be run out of town on a rail if they had financed and participated in such violence against animals. No one would have provided them any justification.

Sent by Dick | 8:49 AM | 10-19-2007

That's just a load of BS. He knew what he was doing was wrong.

Sent by Jones | 8:53 AM | 10-19-2007

Animal cruelty is wrong no matter who does it. I don't believe race had anything to do with it.I have a real problem with the fact that every time a black person does something wrong it is always because of race that he is being punished. What ever the color of the person who did this, it is wrong. I do beleive that pro atheletes do feel they are untouchable but I don't think this was the case with him. I just think he has grown up with the belief that life is of no value, whether it be human or animal. It is okay to do whatever you want as long as it is to your avantage.
I feel that this whole case will make people more aware of the consequences we pay for our actions.

Sent by frances | 5:08 PM | 10-19-2007

I'm tired of hearing racism being brought up everytime a black person clearly does something wrong. Facts are facts; now do the time.

He made an example of himself on both ends of the stick....good THEN bad.

He is one of the many athletes who are blessed AND lucky [white OR black] but, instead of appreciating that, he took advantage and thought he was invicible. Well, he got caught and now has to answer for that. Where does skin color become a factor?..Except for the fact that dog fighting has been proved to be very popular in the black communities...In this case, that doesn't matter and I'm sure there was some white guys involved in the mix, too - at least who attended his illegal affairs.

If my memory serves me correctly, the Vick family has never seemed to appreciate their own talent and because of the talent and status, they've been able to have more chances. Instead, they would rather continue seeing what they can get away with. It's about time that this Vick learns a lesson. Maybe he'll "get it" this time. His CHOICE!

Sent by T. Valentine | 11:53 AM | 10-20-2007

...By the way....Was NFL racist when Vick was hired? Was society racist when the enjoyed watching him play and use his talents??? HMMMM....

Sent by T. Valentine | 12:12 PM | 10-20-2007