Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vick's Rub

Seems like the only point of disagreement with most people concerning Michael Vick's return to playing football for a living is whether he should be covered in honey and tied to an anthill, or tossed into a pit of hungry dogs. There's no disputing that what he did, raising dogs for the purpose of entering them in savage dogfights that he put on, was inhumane and unacceptable.

I like dogs and cats. Not so much that I currently have one, because neither Peggy nor I have the time to devote to an animal companion right now, but the time may come that we would, and would then be on the lookout for a poochie dog or kitty cat. And for those of you who have pets, and are so attached to them, I know what Vick did to his animals is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

That much said, I'd like to point out the difference between jail, where one is locked up following an arrest, or for a short confinement...the judicial term for "cooling one's heels"... and the Big House. The Cut. The Iron Bar Hilton. The penitentiary, the correctional institution, is there for longer sentences, and as their names imply, they exist for purposes beyond incarceration, to keep a bad person away from us, deprive him or her of the liberty to come and go as they please, and in some cases to prevent them from harming themselves. In theory, they are there to engender penitence, to correct a person's bad behavior.

Vick went away and served 23 months of a federal "bid," and that had to be greatly different from 23 months of doing what most of us have done since August of 2007. No matter what you hear about prison, the very fact that you can't go to a ballgame or library or the beach is enough to impress upon some people that what they did was wrong and they should not do it again.

There's a debate in California, where they should really be talking about much more important things, about whether Manson Family member Susan Atkins, suffering from terminal cancer, should be granted a mercy parole and allowed to die outside of prison. Fellow MFer Leslie Van Houten seeks parole as well, because she has been a model prisoner and all. I don't know about either of these two women, but I imagine that if you ask the Tate or LaBianca families, there might be strenuous opposition to changing their original penalties of life without parole.

I see the difference as, Vick did his sentence, he claims to be penitent, and do we condemn him to menial work forever just out of a sense of continuing to punish him? And it's certainly not as if I thought he was a great football player. Or a kind man. But that's what he's trained to do, play football, and I'm going to say, let's let him try to go earn his living doing it again. Let's see if the past 23 months have also taught him a little kindness. Just imagine the howling and the catcalls he will have to endure the very minute he leans in to take a snap.

Let's see if the correctional facility corrected his behavior. Let's see if he became penitent while in a penitentiary. Let's see what kind of man he is, then.

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