Friday, November 14, 2008

Michael Vick in Prison for Dogfighting

I know it's old news, but I'm somewhat out of the loop especially when it comes to American football. ESPN reports (almost a year ago) on the 23-month sentence received by the famous athlete. The last thing I knew, over twenty years ago, all the quarterbacks were white. But when I saw this video, I wondered if Johnny Unitas ever did what Michael Vick made look so easy.

I guess you know what I'm wondering. Is two years in prison an appropriate sentence for cruelty to animals? Now, don't get me wrong. I eat no meat because of animal rights, so don't any of you meat-eaters start in on me. I'm just thinking if it might not have made better sense to increase the fines and remedial programs, make him pay millions to animal rights groups perhaps, put him under strict supervision and let him keep playing football. Just look at the talent on that video, which I'm sure you have seen plenty of, I'm the one seeing it for the first time.

Another question is do you think violence towards animals translates into violence towards humans? Is it possible for one to be cruel to dogs and kind to people? What do you think?


  1. As a non-follower of football I'm probably more out of the loop than you, Mike.

    As for 23 Months, it seems a little light to me, only because of the scale of the violations of both animal cruelty and gambling. But I'd say 5 years would be a bit heavy. Still with my little faith in the US Judical system, I'm suprised he got that much time.

    As for your discussion question:

    First up, it depends on your definition of "Cruel", one might say a pig farmer is "Cruel", yet the health and wellfare of his livelyhood is always in the back of his mind.

    I work is medical animal testing, and some of the things I do the animals certainly don't enjoy....yet one of the key points of my job is to minimise suffering, and keep the animals as healthy and happy as possible...not only is it the right thing to do, but to be unessisairly cruel would ruin your data.

    Most hunters I know take great pride in making a very lethal shot on an animal, because it caused minimal suffering for the harvest of meat. Also most hunters will share the heartbreak of a wounding shot, or the crippling of a game animal.

    To seek an animal for the express reason of causing it pain and suffering is a different thing altogether.

    I'd say somebody willfully causing suffering to an animal (the higher the animal the more likely....I think we've all pulled the wings off a fly at some point) the chances of those cruel actions moving to their fellow man are quite high.

    Most serial killers are known to have started with animals.

    Also when somebody says "Guns make killing easier", they may have a point in the mechanical sense...but since guns don't act on their own, the tool does nothing for the will to cause harm to a person or animal (There are actually a few cases where a conceal weapon holder confronted a criminal only to find they didn't have the will to fire...of the two I can think of off the top of my head, one is paralyzed, the other was killed)

    Somebody doing such cruel acts is showing they DO have the will to cause pain and harm. Will that always translate to causing harm to humans? Certainly not, but I would say the chances are MUCH GREATER.

  2. Mike,

    Would you have suggested fines for a dirt poor farmer running a dog fighting & gambling ring? Knowing s/he doesn't have the money to pay it, is fine acceptable restitution and remediation?

    I think it wouldn't be acceptable because if you can't pay or if you can afford to pay easily, it's not a hardship. Vicks salary was about $6 Million a year, signing bonuses of $20 Million dollars. Wouldn't any fine substantial enough to cost Vick be more than anyone else could pay?
    If Vick could be fined only instead of jail time, wouldn't that send the message that the rich can buy their way out of jail?

  3. interestingly, some countries attack the problem Bob alludes to head on. there are places where fines are not meted out, nor specified in statutes, in absolute amounts of money; rather, in multiples of the convict's average daily wages.

    but, yes, animal cruelty on the very large scale that Vick operated on should IMO result in jail time. especially since he was profiting from it, or trying to; that just makes it even worse.

    two to five years served would be a good punishment for him, i think --- more would need to be sentenced, of course, what with early release and parole.

  4. The New York Times article was fascinating. I'd seen some pictures of the wounded dogs, but that's the first I've read about what became of them.

    It's a complicated case for me to sort out. Of course I want proper treatment for animals, that's why I'm a vegetarian, but isn't something wrong with lavishing so much concern and money on these dogs while there are homeless people out there, while there are single mothers who can't make ends meet, while there are kids in America who don't get enough to eat? How can we justify it?

    About his incarceration, it just seems a waste to me. It's the same kind of waste when we lock up a talented white collar criminal. Larger fines, community service and supervision need not be considered ways the rich can buy their way out of jail. This could be a way to hit them where it hurts and allow them to continue being productive citizens, whenever possible.

  5. Again as a person who doesn't follow football I'm kinda grossed out that one might think he should be spared a punishment because he can throw a ball well.

    Still I see your point, I'm always happy to hear that Robert Downey Jr. is back to making movies after his various bouts with drugs.

    I could say the same thing about Mel Gibson and his problems with booze, and hate.

    They both have done deplorable acts, but because I enjoy the product they render onto me I am more lenient than I probably should be.

    Still does the door swing both ways? If Say, Russel Crowe succumbs to his famous temper and love for booze and kills somebody, and we choose to fine the hell out of him because he's rich, and he is a fantastic actor, and allow him to continue entertaining the masses.

    But then what happens in a case like this:

    The whole family is a massive drain of public funds, and most have criminal records.

    This young kid has no skills to speak of besides dealing drugs, avoiding Mass Gun laws (even in the courts!!!) and general dishonesty and anti-social behaviors.

    Besides some cash that may-or-may-not be sizable or known to authorities (Most drug dealers don't report their earnings to the IRS or State, or bother depositing it in a bank or IRA) He and his family have no money, chances are this guy will add little to society, and most likely breed more criminals like himself.

    What do we do in such a case? Can we just kill him off because he "isn't useful"?

    If we can't do one, we can't do another, make justice too flexible and nobody will find justice.

  6. Yeah, Weer'd, that's a helluva family you mentioned there. For so many, it's sadly too late.

    About the talented Mr. Vicks doing time, I just think it's a terrible waste.

  7. You've dodged my question.

    Please go back and answer it, please.

  8. What does "dodge" mean? Is that like purposely avoiding and hoping you don't notice? Give me a break will ya, Weer'd?

    Do you mean this one: "What do we do in such a case? Can we just kill him off because he "isn't useful"?" I didn't answer that because I didn't think you were really asking me such a thing. You know how I feel about the death penalty.

    Was it this one? "Still does the door swing both ways?" I wasn't sure what door you meant, but no I don't think criminal acts and appropriate punishment is a door that swings two ways. It's just a question of compassionately weighing all the facts and circumstances. In this case Michael Vicks is a one in a million talent who's wasting it in prison. For what? Cruelty to animals? Illegal gambling? It seems like a terrible waste to me.

  9. If you sneeze and the Dodge ball misses you, you're still in the game. So "Dodge" just means I didn't get an answer I was looking for. You got it tho it was the second I really wanted to hear from you.

    So if a person has some talent that society deems valuable it can be used to get a break on sentencing for criminal acts.

    So first up you're more-or-less saying that justice applies more to people with less skills, than those WITH skills. Also what you're showing is that since people with lots of talent also have lots of money, so Prison is only for the poor.

    Also who judges talent? I can beat the Fist Super Mario Brothers consistently under 15 mins, is that talent?

    You mention Vic who plays football. Well I don't really care about that game, and had never heard Vic's name before he was arrested. His talent is of no value to me.

    What if its another sport? Should Soccer players in America be spared, despite the fact that it isn't nearly as popular in America as the rest of the world.

    What about an Sport that's almost unknown in America, like Cricket, or Jai lai?

    What about Has-beens? Carrot top hasn't really done much of anything in years, but he used to sell out arenas. Should he get a break if he gets caught for a serious crime?

    What if a DA finally gets a Child Abuse/ Sexual Assault charge to stick to Michael Jackson? Certainly you'd be MAD if you didn't say Beat It, Thriller, and Bad were all FANTASTIC albums, and even if you didn't care for them there would be MILLIONS of people who'd agree with me. Still he hasn't done shit in decades.

    Do you want to tell a child who was drugged, anally raped, and humiliated that Jacko gets fines and parole rather than hard jail time because he sang in a bunch of kickass albums decades before they were born, and we're hoping he'll have a come-back kinda like Burt Reynolds!

    I haven't heard about this angle, but for an operation of this scale, Vic had to have had accomplices. Being an accomplice in a crime is a lesser crime than actually committing the crime, but a crime none-the-less. Are you implying that an accomplice that didn't do anything major except not call police to inform them that a serious crime was going on could do more jail time than Vic simply because Vic can throw a ball, and they can't?

    My point is, the good that might come from letting Vic continue a promising career at the expense of serving justice different than just an average joe, and it of course leaves society who doesn't value the entertainment the same as the judge at a loss.

    Better to squander the talent to keep order in Society, sez I.