Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A gentleman's sport?


We've had a lot of inquiries about our reaction to the 60 Minutes interview of Michael Vick and his roll with HSUS as well, so I finally sucked it up and watched it all a short while ago. It's not something anyone in BAD RAP was particularly looking forward to since we'd really rather not see or hear him anymore than we absolutely have to, but somebody had to do it, so here we are...

With the rash of recent emails we've received it has become clear that there are still people out there who aren't aware of the particulars of this case - Some wondering if Vick might even get his dogs back now, while others think they are all dead, and some still thinking he only bankrolled the operation. But everyone seems to have strong opinions and feelings about it, so it feels like good timing to shed some light on a few things so that we can at least all come from a place of clearer perspective if we are going to judge Vick, or go easy on him.

Ultimately, it does not matter anymore what anyone thinks about Vick playing football again. He has been accepted back into the NFL and that is more a reflection on the league than anything else. This multi billion dollar corporation has proven that a conscience is not much of a necessity to big business - it has been pointed out to me that the NFL employs killers of people as well as killers of dogs. So who are we to judge Vick? But since we're all in the mood to make some kind of an assessment of MV after watching his interview with Jim Brown, I'll continue.

First it should be made clear that Vick was not simply a dog-fighter who paid his dues and now deserves that second chance at football that seems so important to some. Dogfighting was ironically labeled a "Gentleman's Sport" some decades ago in the south, and while I obviously don't agree with that moniker, I bring it up to illustrate how different Vick is from even the most common dogfighter. There were rules and ethics that demonstrated, oddly enough, the dogfighter's love for their dogs. If a dog "turned" (faced away from the opponent) twice, the match was over and the dogs weren't harmed any further. Medical supplies were on hand to dress wounds instead of killing a dog for underperforming, and the towel would be thrown in when a dog was obviously beaten and and in jeopardy of bleeding out, even though it wasn't giving up. There are even old stories of dogs going home in the baby carriage after a battle because of the affection for their dog as a family member. Now this sounds as strange to me as it probably does to you, so I just don't even try to understand it.

For those who are still not aware, Michael Vick on the other hand is the guy who not only fought dogs, but threw family pets into the pit for fun, and laughed while they were suffering "major injury." He's the guy who killed dogs in a variety of ways - one last time: hanging, drowning, shooting, repeatedly slamming their head and spine into the ground until dead, and electrocuting with jumper cables attached to their ears before being thrown into his pool. So no, not even a regular kind of dog-fighter, but an over-the-top, especially sadistic kind of man.

The 60 minutes interview did not show a man healed, it showed a man that could still not face his own demons, much as he tried to make it appear that he had. All but once he referred to the dogs as animals, because hey, they're just animals right?

Several times he spoke of what he let happen to the animals ... because these thing just happened and hey, shit happens right? And in reference to losing his money, the one and only time he finally referred to killin,' and dogs as dogs, (due to Jim Brown's prodding) he spoke in the third person: "Why would a guy making thirty million and then on the flip side killin' dogs or doin' the wrong things...they don't deserve it." They.

Now, according to Wayne Pacelle of HSUS, Michael Vick is The Man Who Needs No Introduction when it comes time for him to speak to youth about the evils of dogfighting. Apparently the kids in Chicago were on the edge of their seats while watching their hero. Now was that because they were so excited about learning to not fight their animals, or because of Vick's celebrity status? These are kids from the ghetto who have literally nothing to lose who learned that Vick, the dogfighter, who had everything to lose and seemingly lost it all, is now once again a millionaire who's back in the game.

Just what have these kids learned?

33 comments:

Wendy R said...

I can't thank you enough for putting into words the thoughts in my head.... when will people see the REAL picture here? He is sadistic, unstable and unhealthy and has NO PLACE being a role model to ANYONE much less children.

Page said...

This needed to be said!

Heather Cherry said...

Bravo. You said everything I was thinking and feeling.

Millie Hubbard said...

Well said...excellent post.

d said...

Tim, thank you so much for watching what I won't watch and saying so succinctly, what needs to be said about this monster. And once again, shame on the HSUS...but we always knew...Wayne Paccelle is about the status and about fundraising...it took YOU to make HIM think about the bust dogs. Sad that the rest of the media, generally speaking, doesn't get it.

Dina

Anonymous said...

Through all the anger and frustration I have felt in this, I am reminded of something BAD RAP said awhile back. Something along the lines of, "Why can't we act more like our pit bulls, who seem to forgive and forget so easily?" I for one, will never forgive Vick, but I feel a sense of hopelessness that tells me to just let it go, not support him in any way, and continue the support pit bulls as well as other dogs need in the shelters. I can't waste all this energy the dogs need on hating Vick. It hurts too much.

Life With Dogs said...

It is clear not much has been learned at all in this case. The interview was a joke.
I love that the dissenters tell us to shut up and accept the fact that he has a right to go back to work now that his time has been served. I can live with Vick being out of jail, but anyone who helps to put him back in a potential "hero" role is doing a great disservice to all who care about the wellbeing of animals.

That picture I posted Monday summed up my feelings pretty well. ;)

Anonymous said...

Very well-written. Although I couldn't bear to watch the interview, I've heard all about it and agree with your perspective. This is an evil man who clearly lacks a conscience and a sense of morality. The fact that he skirts around the issue and words things in such a way as to distance himself from the crimes really reflects his lack of remorse or any feelings of guilt.

goingnowhereslowly said...

There is a current column in the Washington Post's "On Faith" section arguing that Catholic doctrine requires us to forgive Michael Vick. (This in a city where a severely fight-injured pit bull was found in a dumpster 12 days ago.) Not being Catholic, I am under no such obligation. More to the point, not being an injured party, I have no standing to forgive. The facile "forgiveness" of mere onlookers makes a mockery of the moral seriousness of wanton cruelty and enables someone who appears to be a sociopath to resume an honored position in society.

So Vick has done his time. Fine, let him walk free, as other criminals do. But let me call bullshit on the tidy ritual of a hypocritical publicity tour whose only real result will be to resusitate his career and, oh yeah, show the kids that being a celebrity is all that really matters.

HSUS is either a sucker or co-conspirator after the fact.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful lament to the dog fighters of yester year. More selective revisionist history, amazing how time cleanses .
Those same examples could be found today, very rare but so was it years ago
Vick is bad ,HSUS is bad, old dog fighters are almost romantic heroes

goingnowhereslowly said...

Oh, and Tim, thank you for your wonderful post and everything you and your colleagues do for the dogs!

Donna said...

I think we need a new term for people who follow up staged dog fights with torture. They aren't even dog fighters anymore once they decide to go the next step - they're something much sicker.

leigha said...

i think the "sport" of dog fighting in yester years was demented, but yes it is more demented today. are their different levels of cruelty? yes there certainly are. obviously vick took it many steps further. these "humans" who label themselves as dogfighters, dogmen, whatever they call themselves are all sick no matter the level of cruelty. to purposely put a dog you supposedly love in harms way is wrong. it was wrong then and wrong now. forcing myself to watch that interview was nauseating. i had no interest in it when i heard of it.

if vick is able to turn trouble kids around who might have ended up involved in dog fighting, then great. though i also suspect these kids only care about seeing vick because of the celebrity he is/was. but he doesnt need to be an nfl player to reach these kids. in fact quite the contrary, if he were to stand up in front of those kids and be able to say "look at me, i made horrible inhumane decisions, and i lost it all. i will never get it back, not my job, not my money and not the respect of the nfl." that would send such a better message then for these kids to see a man who might get it all back despite his actions. would kind of message does that send. shame on him and shame on the nfl, shame on the hsus

Pam said...

His "contrition consultant" did a very good job for that interview. Thank you for calling him on his insincerity. It was a well-rehearsed performance, with no ownership taken for HIS personal heinous acts of cruelty. Vick's admonition to the audience of children to love their animals rang especially hollow and left me with the sick feeling that acts of blatant insincerity evoke.

Karen said...

Tim and Donna,

Thank you for writing this great piece to set the record, and to help us heal.

The online excerpt of Vick talking to the kids he said 4 times "For life of me I don't now why and stopped" What a pathological liar, basically! You know why? Cop to it!

I for one have written Vick's new employer (and got an answer back), and told them they are on the main stage, and clock is running, and we are all watching which path the Eagles choose, to do something to help, or they choose to ignore, which will be more of the same? I chose the later.

That whole interview was practiced many times over with his crisis team, before the interview. I would encourage you all to write the Eagles, especially the youth program, and tell them they need to help, and get involved in their community to teach responsible dog ownership, and to become the NFL flagship Team for change, since they chose to take on this monster! Prove us wrong!

Sam said...

Great post. That's all I've to say.

Eryn & Chris said...

So well put!

Carol E. McCormick said...

Donna and Tim and all dogs everywhere,

This post says it all and I continually sing, or yap, your praises everywhere. Sad that you weren't on the Larry King show imho.

Please know that I haven't forgotten your arrival at Barn 5 at Lamar Dixon, and have been your
fan, and always will be, forever. Believe me I will never forget what went on at the notorious Barn 5.

I learned so much because of you guys and get lots of attention wearing your tshirts.

Great posts above me too!!!!!!

I know you don't want this but my perfect world means you guys take over and have the mailing lists and money of Peta and HSUS combined. <3

Dianne in DC said...

Tim and Donna
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

who wouda thunk it?? said...

OMG!OMG!OMG! Donna, I can't wait to send you a video clip that put a big smile on my face. Our local sportscaster awards a "weenie of the week" and I bet you will never guess who won this week!!! AND he went into some detail, as a dog owner (he stated) I hope that little clip goes all over the country. It felt great to have a sports newsman blast not only M.V. but the NFL (!!!!) for reinstating him! HA!!!!!

leigha said...

i too would love to see the day that badrap gets the money, and support that hsus and peta get. i know who will get a huge huge huge donation from me if i ever hit the lotto.

Home2k9 said...

Also had to "click through" to say... WELL SAID! Thank you for taking the time to articulate your thoughts/perspective and for doing it so well. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your writing. I don't know how it is so blatantly ignored that the interview was a joke.

Tim said...

Agreed, the interview was a joke without the laughs, and curiously the network for the first time saw fit to leave out the gratuitous dogfighting footage. Without doubt it was all part of the agreement.

Vick being exposed to the blood-sport at such an early age was surely not left out though and now Vick is the victim - gotta love it. I'm quite sure plenty of street kids were exposed at an early age that it scared the hell out of and it probably put them to tears. Children of any age can be extremely sensitive to the suffering of animals.

I'm done for the night though and have been feeling off all day after writing last night's blog. I'm not fond of spending that much time thinking of that monotone, dead-eyed man. Time to get some bully love.

Tim said...

On another note, Leigha - remember, you have to play the Lotto to win the Lotto!

leigha said...

haha thanks tim, i say that same thing to people and i do play. a whopping 5 or 10 dollars a week, hah. and my husband supports me giving a large portion to bad rap if i ever win, not that he has a say in it :~), but seriously he too knows you guys are very worthy of every dollar you get.

i want to also mention, that comment about "that dead eyed man" is so accurate. my sister said the exact same thing about him a couple months ago.

Tim said...

Thank goodness Leigha - may you hit it big!

leigha said...

yep, thanks tim! and if i do, you guys will be amongst the first to know.

Anonymous said...

Vick isn't the problem, he's just the result of society.
A society which willing pours it's hard earned money into major league sports rather than important organizations like BadRap - A society that pays more attention to how well their sports teams are doing rather than how horrible the unemployment status is doing. I'm sure he always knew, like every other major sports player who's every broken the law, that they'll always get their second chance. And there will always be tons of money in that industry because fans keep dishing out the dough to support businesses like the NFL.
Because our society puts so much value on the sports industry regardless of the many homeless, jobless, undereducated and helpless.

Disgusting - all of it.

Boris said...

Tim,

What kids learn is right.

Found this Editorial Animation in Nick Anderson's 2007 Archives that really sums up SPORT's Heroes role model lessons.

http://blogs.chron.com/nickanderson/archives/2007/08/heroes_1.html

http://blogs.chron.com/nickanderson
/archives/2007/08/heroes_1.html

BTW - he suggests that one could remix his figures. Would be interesting for a graphic artist in the family to add a pibble walking with the Father & Son ...

Boris' OEL

Susan said...

I've felt like a broken record trying to make the same points on site after site, but you laid it out better than I ever could. He was not just dogfighting and they weren't just dogs. My disgust with the NFL, the Eagles, and HSUS leaves me nauseous.

Shelly said...

Thank you for writing this. People who are this cruel to animals also have the potential to kill people. Most serial killers started out by killing pets/small animals when they were young.

blamma said...

I'm not religious, but I do know that forgiving someone doesn't mean that you think that what they did was OK. It means you forgive them for what they did, but you also can't forgive someone who doesn't even think they did anything wrong. You forgive someone who wants to be forgiven and who knows they did the wrong thing. Mr Vick is not to be forgiven, since he doesn't even think he did anything wrong. If he hadn't been caught, he'd still be doing it. What are all these kids learning? That if you have enough money and fame, you can do horrible things to helpless victims and pick up where you left off. All because he plays stupid football. Maybe we should look into the NFL culture that breeds men like Michael Vick, OJ, Rae Carruth and numerous other violent, gun toting, abusive, drug addled morons.