Here is the key fact in the ugly saga of football player Michael Vick: Thanks to him, dogs fatally were hanged, drowned, shot, and electrocuted. The summer airwaves have been choked with breathless talk about when Vick might resume his NFL career, when he gets a second chance, and how soon America can accept his apology for what he calls “a mistake.” Amid all this ceaseless chatter lie the cadavers of canines butchered as part of Vick’s criminal enterprise.
Highly maddening has been the baffling effort by prominent black Americans to trivialize the acts to which Vick pleaded guilty Monday, to excuse them, or place them into some all-forgiving historical and social context.
“It’s a cultural thing, I think,” Academy Award-winner Jamie Foxx told Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson. “Most brothers didn’t know that, you know. I used to see dogs fighting in the neighborhood all the time. I didn’t know that was Fed time. So, Mike probably just didn’t read his handbook on what not to do as a black star.”
So, it’s not about dog killing, it’s about (what else?) lingering white racism.
“I think it’s tough,” New York Knicks guard Stephon Marbury explained to Albany TV station Capital News 9. “I think, you know, we don’t say anything about people who shoot deer or shoot other animals. You know, from what I hear, dog fighting is a sport. It’s just behind closed doors.”
Of course, people who shoot deer and ducks for sport usually eat them. Who eats pit bulls?
In a Knicks media statement, Marbury said Friday, “What Michael Vick did was wrong, and he has admitted his guilt…He should be punished. However, he should be given a second chance, as others have received for more serious crimes.”
Asked if hip-hop has something to do with Vick’s case, Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill said Tuesday on the Fox News Channel:
Of course. But hip-hop is a small microcosm and a reflection of broader American culture. You know, it’s not just in hip hop that you can see the abuse of animals. If you watch a movie like “There’s Something about Mary,” which is a mainstream movie with white actors, you see Ben Stiller, you know, putting wrestling moves on Cameron Diaz’s pet. So, this is not a hip hop thing, I think it’s an American thing.
As a college instructor like Professor Hill should recognize, There’s Something about Mary is not a documentary but a fictional motion picture in which no animals actually were harmed. In contrast, United States of America v. Michael Vick is a real-world federal criminal case (No. 3:07CR274). With students returning to Temple’s campus, one hopes Professor Hill grasps this distinction.
On the Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly Factor last Friday, Professor Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University (my alma mater) tried to convince guest host Michelle Malkin that America’s outrage over Vick parallels (as Dyson sees it) the notion that some whites treat blacks worse than dogs.
“Lassie was on the air for 20 years, but Nat King Cole was canceled after six months,” Dyson sputtered.
How Eisenhower-era TV programming concerns this 21st-century controversy is not immediately apparent. Besides, as author Mark Steyn observed, those same “white racists” bought piles of Nat King Cole’s vinyl. For example, his 1950 ballad “Mona Lisa” sold 3 million copies, making it a triple-platinum hit.
And, for the record, the Montgomery, Alabama-based Nat King Cole Society recalls that Cole’s NBC-TV series lasted 15 months, not six. Cole, not NBC, scotched the show, due to financial losses stemming from a lack of national sponsorship. As Cole joked in December 1957: “Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark.” Another entertainer that year saw his ABC-TV show go dark after one season: Frank Sinatra.
While Dyson stares into the past, Atlanta NAACP president R. L. White looks to the future.
“As a society, we should aid in his rehabilitation and welcome a new Michael Vick back into the community without a permanent loss of his career in football,” White said in Wednesday’s New York Daily News. “We further ask the NFL, Falcons, and the sponsors not to permanently ban Mr. Vick from his ability to bring hours of enjoyment to fans all over this country.”
Hours of enjoyment, indeed.
Just to put all this enjoyment into — well — context, consider just one aspect of that to which Vick pleaded guilty.
According to his court filings, “Vick agrees and stipulates that these dogs all died as a result of the collective efforts of [co-defendants Purnell] Peace, [Quanis] Phillips and himself, Vick.”
Other legal documents detail Vick’s anti-canine barbarism.
In a Statement of Facts related to his August 17 plea agreement with federal prosecutors in Richmond, Virginia, Vick’s co-defendant Quanis L. Phillips (a.k.a. “Q”) admitted that “In or about April 2007…[Purnell A.] PEACE [AKA “P. Funk”], PHILLIPS and VICK executed approximately 8 dogs that did not perform well in ‘testing’ sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road by various methods, including hanging and drowning. All three participated in executing the dogs. PHILLIPS agrees and stipulates that these dogs all died as a result of the collective efforts of PEACE, PHILLIPS and VICK.”
According to the July 17 federal indictment against these three degenerates, their dog-killing methods also included electrocution and “slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground.” The indictment added that on April 25, 2007, the following were found at Vick’s Bad Newz Kennel: “…approximately 54 Pit Bull Terriers, some of which had scars and injuries, appearing to be related to dog fighting [and] a ‘rape stand,’ a device in which a female dog who is too aggressive to submit to males for breeding is strapped down with her head held in place by a restraint…”
This is lethal, cross-species sadism.
Michael Vick could be forgiven for his “mistake” had he bet, in the moment, on a dog fight into which he stumbled. Or, had he inattentively handed his friends part of his $130 million salary and later learned that they used his money to build a dog-fighting business, one might sympathize for a man hoodwinked by his pals.
But only jail time and permanent professional and social banishment should await a man who helped his co-conspirators hang, drown, shoot, and electrocute dogs. There is no excuse for such evil, nor should it be placed into context or explained away. Such carnage would be just as heinous if committed by a quarterback as white as New York Jet Chad Pennington.
Slaughtering dogs is as much a part of black culture as kabuki theater. Anyone who says otherwise is howling at the moon.
© 2007, Scripps Howard News Service