Vick: Do We Share His Blame?

June 26th, 2009 by Kathy McManus

A sociologist argues that we’re a nation full of animal abusers.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was released from federal prison recently after serving most of a 23-month sentence for his role in running a dog fighting ring.

But Vick’s _new_ role—campaigning with the Humane Society to end dog fights—unleashed a torrent of public skepticism, from infuriated animal lovers to sports and opinion writers.

“People won’t easily forgive a man at the center of a ring that killed dogs that failed to fight well by hanging, drowning and electrocution,” stated one newspaper editorial. “A nation that fawns over Bo and Barney and queues up for ‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua’ and ‘Marley and Me’ will understandably be skeptical about giving Vick a second chance.”

As people pondered whether Vick was truly sincere, genuinely remorseful, and/or accepting responsibility for his actions, an assistant sociology professor at Tulane University declared that Michael Vick had been punished for “our crimes” as a “nation of outraged lobster-boilers.”

“What did Michael Vick do that is morally reprehensible?” asked Professor Shayne Lee, writing in The Philadelphia Inquirer. “Some of us forget that dogs are mere animals, and that animal mistreatment is as American as Apple iPods. Like Vick, most of us shamelessly abuse and kill animals”--for science, “leather jackets, ham sandwiches, or horse-racing.”

Noting that Vick’s actions “did not lead to the abuse of one single human being,” the sociologist said, “I think we have it backward. Let’s give the federal sentences to athletes who harm humans by beating them or jeopardize their safety by driving drunk. And let’s give slaps on the wrist to animal abusers.”

His conclusion: “If Vick is guilty, then we all are.”

Tell us what you think: Are we all guilty—or responsible--as charged? Michael Vick did the time for the crime, so should he be forgiven? Was his sentence too harsh?