If there was going to be an NBA player crazy enough to come out in support of Michael Vick, wouldn't you just figure it'd be Stephon Marbury? And Starbury did just that in an interview
that was recently aired by Capital News 9 in Albany.
"We don't say anything about people shooting deers and shooting other animals, you know what I mean? From what I hear, dogfighting is a sport. It's just behind closed doors and I think it's tough that we build Michael Vick up and then we break him down. I think he's one of the superb athletes and he's a good human being. I think he fell into a bad situation."
First off, there are plenty of people who regularly speak out against the hunting of deer and other animals. Just ask PETA
, Furries Against Hunting
, the European Federation Against Hunting
, the League Against Cruel Sports
, the Humane Society
, et al. But beyond that, at least hunting serves a practical purpose. Hunting is used to control populations of some species that might otherwise exceed the carrying capacity of their habitat and threaten the well-being of other wildlife species, and in some instances, that of human health and safety. Hunting also reduces the annual crop of new animals and birds to allow the remaining animals sufficient food and shelter to survive. Personally, I'm against it, but I still have to concede that there are tangible, proven benefits to federally regulated and sanctioned hunting.
And let's get away from what's "legal" and "illegal." Our American society has decided that certain animals are acceptable to kill for food, sport, etc. If 'lo those many years ago -- as we were forming our societal opinions about what is palatable -- we had put dogs on that short list, we'd be killing them too. This isn't about killing
anything. Fight dogs are regularly tortured to make them more vicious. Dog fights are brutal displays of bloody combat between animals that have no free will and could just as easily, with proper treatment, be docile. Anyone who can watch even a short video clip of a dog fight without wincing is a sociopath, and anyone who can actually enjoy one of the these "contests" is a psychopath.
There is no excuse for Michael Vick. Even if he did not directly participate in this so-called sport, he allowed it, and that is no less heinous. Vick has pleaded guilty. As a result, the details of his behavior will likely remain a secret. We can assume, however, these details to be grisly and abhorrent. Sorry, Michael. You have lost the "benefit of the doubt."
What benefits are there to pitting animals against each other in savage gladiatorial combat? None that I can see. Of course, the big justification
that's getting bandied about now is that there's a "dogfighting subculture." This group, comprised mostly of family members and close friends, supposedly derives personal and even spiritual satisfaction from breeding dogs against their will, training them to fight and kill each other, and then watching them go out and do it. This process includes beating, electrocuting, drowning, hanging, and shooting said dogs. Well, that's just great
Guess what? I don't care if Michael Vick grew up around dogfighting. I don't care how many of his buddies are dogfighting enthusiasts. Hell, I don't care if his dad used to take him on father/son dogfighting trips when he was a teeny tot. He's an adult now. It's a cliche, but he knows the difference between right and wrong. Hey, I grew up in a rough neighborhood where fighting and substance abuse was the norm. By the time I was 11, many of my friends were already experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and some of them became hard core users. So now what, I have an excuse to become an alcoholic? To abuse drugs?
Look, Vick didn't "fall into a bad situation." Establishing and financing an organized dogfighting ring is not a situation you "fall into." Conscious decisions, and many of them, were made. And he's not a "good human being" either. He might give money to charity, read to underprivileged kids, and help little old ladies across the street, but good human beings don't do the kinds of things he's now admitted to doing. You always hear stories about how some murderers and serial killers seemed like nice, normal guys. They attended PTA meetings, took care of their elderly relatives, and supported their local youth organizations. They also tortured people and wore human flesh in their spare time. I don't hear anybody claiming those guys were good guys despite their choice of "behind closed doors" sports.
I understand that life isn't black and white. There are plenty of shades of grey in plenty of different circumstances. But there are also lines that, once they're crossed, you don't get to just hop back over without consequences. And I'm not just talking about lost salary and jail time. I'm talking about the staining of one's character. Which is not to say that Vick can't turn things around and become a decent human being again. He can experience genuine remorse and take responsibility for what he's done. He can atone for his misdeeds. Nothing is static, and he has the rest of his life to improve the quality of his character. But right now, are his actions in any way
justified? Is he a good
Labels: dogfighting, hunting, Michael Vick, Stephon Marbury