"Forgive me for what I do not admit!"

Among other things, being a con artist means saying whatever your mark wants to hear. Michael Vick has shown himself to be a true con artist by the manner in which he claimed that he is sorry -- for dogfighting only.

"I made a mistake of using bad judgment and making bad decisions. Those things just can't happen. Dogfighting is a terrible thing, and I do reject it."
Dogfighting? What about gratuitously, sadistically, torturing dogs to death because they didn't want to fight? That's not dogfighting. It's on another plane of evil entirely.

He rejects dogfighting? That's an apology? Suppose I were to engage in a massive slander campaign in this blog, and then move on to direct personal harassment, stalking and actual threats to people's lives, and that I used my blog to spearhead the campaign. Suppose further that I were arrested under the various federal laws prohibiting such conduct. If I said "Blogging is a terrible thing, and I do reject it," would that be readily accepted as an apology?

I don't think so.

What I think is being missed in many of the analyses is the dynamics, as well as the degrees, of animal cruelty involved. Bloodthirsty as it is, in traditional dogfighting, there are rules, because the fights are contested, and engaged in for money. The dogfighting in which Vick was involved certainly appears to have been conducted according to rules (tens of thousands of dollars in purse money was involved, and the female which refused to fight was covered with water and electrocuted had refused to fight in a match involving some $13,000). One of the most basic of these rules is that both combatants be willing to fight. Any dog which quits loses. End of fight.

Most dogfighting is done according to what are called "Cajun Rules" -- the most common variety of which were set down in writing by a former Lousiana police chief in the 1950s:

Louisiana is so central to dogfighting history that the most popular set of official regulations used today are called "Cajun rules." A former Lafayette police chief, the late G.A. "Gaboon" Trahan, is credited in dogfighting circles for originating the Cajun rules in the 1950s. Legend has it that Trahan would host twice-yearly matches for dogfighting enthusiasts from all over the South.
The rules are summarized briefly:
....the dogs are paired by weight and fought in a pit, similar to a boxing ring, about 16 feet by 16 feet with a canvas or carpet floor and wooden walls 2 to 3 feet high. The dogs are placed behind "scratch lines" drawn on opposite sides of the pit. When the referee commands the dogs' handlers to "face your dog" and then "let go," the handlers release the animals.

A "scratch" is when the dog charges across the scratch line to bite its opponent -- and when both dogs scratch to each other, it's a stunning display of canine aggression. The dogs grapple until one of them turns its head and shoulders away from its opponent.

The handlers then separate the animals, place them behind the scratch lines, and begin again. The dog who turned must scratch within 10 seconds. Handlers may not touch the dogs unless there's a specific reason; for instance, when a dog "fangs" itself -- that is, gets its lip pierced and stuck on its own tooth. When this happens, the handler is allowed to separate the animals and "unfang" the dog's mouth with a pencil.

The match continues in this way, ending when one dog is too injured or unwilling to continue, jumps the pit, or is killed.

(Trahan's full set of "Cajun Rules" can be found online in their entirety at a variety of underground-style web sites and discussion groups.) Because of the requirement of repeated scratching in turn, most fights end when one dog either quits outright, or fails to make his "scratch." Few dogs actually die in the pit, -- not because of kindness, but usually because a dog that is willing to continue fighting to the death is considered "dead game" and thus extremely desirable, so the owner will try to pick it up and try to save it. For those who are interested in reading about dogfighting (all of which is underground and illegal), the above article appears to be pretty thoroughly researched. It notes the distinction between sadistic owners who abuse their dogs and the more "professional" variety.

I think Michael Vick falls into the former category, and that he is attempting to subsume the cruelty of what he did to unwilling combatants under the rubric of dogfighting. It does not take much logic to understand that a dog that does not want to fight loses, because he or she is not a fighting dog. Obviously, dogfighters do not want such dogs. But torturing a dog to death because it will not fight does not constitute "dog fighting" -- any more than torturing a greyhound that refused to run would constitute "dog racing."

Vick is apologizing for not being honest, and for "immature acts":

He singled out NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Blank, coach Bobby Petrino and his teammates for personal apologies, saying "I was not honest and forthright in our discussions."

He also apologized to "all the young kids out there for my immature acts and what I did - and what I did was very immature. So that means I need to grow up."

"I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to bettering Michael Vick the person, not the football player," he said.

He concluded by saying, "I offer my deepest apologies to everyone. And I will redeem myself. I have to."

I don't believe him.

Is that mean spirited of me?

Apologies to everyone? What about the dogs he tortured?

I don't even see an apology for what he did anywhere. I'm not alone; here's NBC's Alan Abrahamson:

Before the cameras, Vick apologized at five different points, starting with a sorry "for all the things that -- that I've done and that I have allowed to happen," ending with an offer of his "deepest apologies to everyone."

It is the nature of our society to expect, even to demand, an apology from our public figures when confronted with misconduct.

It's not just what you say and how you say it, though. It's precisely what you say.

Michael Vick spoke in generalities. He did not acknowledge his culpability in clean, clear language. Such an apology doesn't clarify matters. It only raises more questions.

Did Michael Vick say, for instance, "I gambled. I was wrong. I should not have done that."

No.

Not once, in fact, did he mention the words "gambling" or "gamble."

Did he say, "I killed dogs. It was awful. I should not have done that. I was wrong."

No.

Once again, it wasn't just that he killed dogs; he tortured them to death.

Or is it possible that this did not happen and the whole sordid set of allegations were scripted for him by prosecutors working a deal? Might the "dogfighting" plea have been a way of avoiding having to admit to gambling charges (which would have gotten him banned from football), while at the same time setting him up to launch a nationwide campaign against "dogfighting culture"? Yeah, I know that's a stretch, but I have to say that something about this case does not pass my smell test, and I can't put my finger on the reason why. (If Vick teams up with the animal rights activists, and denounces pit bulls, though, my darkest paranoid suspicions will be confirmed.)

What about the gambling, anyway? Aren't we forgetting the reason these dogs are fought in the first place? There's no apology anywhere for gambling. But the man has no problem invoking God.

He did "personally" apologize to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, coach Bobby Petrino and his teammates for "you know, for our -- for our previous discussions that we had. And I was not honest and forthright in our discussions and, you know, I was ashamed and totally disappointed in myself to say the least."

Again, the language. Michael Vick did not say, "I lied. I was wrong. I should not have done that."

Moreover, there is plenty of time between now and Dec. 10, the day Michael Vick stands before the bar of justice and Judge Henry Hudson, to "personally" apologize.

In person.

In the meantime, ask this: when offered the opportunity earlier this year to tell the truth, to Goodell, Blank, Petrino and others, did Michael Vick do so? He obviously did not.

Why? Because he didn't think he'd get caught?

So, now that he has been caught, Michael Vick has abruptly seen the light. He even said Monday that "through this situation I found Jesus and asked him for forgiveness and turned my life over to God."

God's judgment ultimately awaits Michael Vick. In the near term, there is Judge Hudson. Who has seen many a sinner stand before him and profess redemption.

And not been moved.

I'm wondering about the morality involved. What is God supposed to forgive here? Dogfighting? Lying? Or sadistically torturing dogs for refusing to fight?

When I explored the issue of whether there can be a libertarian argument against animal cruelty, I tried to make it clear that there is a distinction between pitting two willing combatants against each other and torturing an unwilling combatant to death, but I didn't focus on gambling.

Perhaps my morality scale isn't the same as that of the NFL. Their morality scale seems to rank illegal gambling as a worse sin than either dogfighting or torturing "wimp" dogs:

The NFL in particular frowned upon Vick's admission that he funded gambling on dogfights as it violates the league's strict anti-gambling code.

"Your plea agreement and the plea agreements of your co-defendants also demonstrate your significant involvement in illegal gambling," Goodell continued.

"Even if you personally did not place bets, as you contend, your actions in funding the betting and your association with illegal gambling both violate the terms of your NFL player contract and expose you to corrupting influences in derogation of one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an NFL player."

Significant involvement in illegal gambling?

So why is he not admitting to the gambling?

I find myself wondering exactly what he has "apologized" for, and whether the apology is a smokescreen. I just have this feeling that the whole thing has been professionally scripted by people who know how to manipulate emotions, and I don't know what to believe.

Outraged as I am by the stories of gratuitous dog torture, I am starting to wonder whether there's a possibility that it never happened. It's highly emotional stuff, admitted to by criminal informants. Has any of it been independently verified? How do we know Michael Vick didn't work a deal enabling him to become a sort of reformed sinner, a poster boy against dogfighting, to lead a national campaign against demon dogs from hell? How do we know that in return for sticking to this script, the gambling charges would be dropped, thus allowing Vick to return to the NFL? (A win-win for the animal bureaucracy, and the NFL?)

This is all speculation and I have no way of knowing the facts, but I'm getting more and more suspicious. The possibility of a coverup by the animal bureaucracy and the NFL is bad enough, but do they really have to resort to what seems like a schmaltzy 1930s morality script? (Really, yesterday's "apologies," the claims of religious redemption, and the talk of letting down "the children" are too much for me to swallow in one pliant mouthful.)

Considering the huge publicity surrounding Vick (the "apology" is front page news everywhere today), it's almost as if there's money behind making the man respectable.

Sorry, but some things go too far.

(Excuse me while I puke.)

posted by Eric on 08.28.07 at 09:37 AM










Comments

Instapunk says it best, Michael Vick, the player, is an NFL property. They have alot of time and money invested in this guy and they need to maximize their return on investment.

That means 'rehabilitating' the property by any means possible, including turning a blind eye to the gambling, and playing up the 'reform' aspects. Seeing people like Emmet Smith front and center only helps confirm that the NFL is hip deep in this sad affront to decency for the sake of profits.

You can be sure that certain NFL types have been reaching out to certain animal protection types making all sorts of promises about free publicity, PSAs and the like.

Sadly, non of this is concerned with Michael Vick, the person. Although I do share your assessment that his actions were those of a serious sociopath and there may be little if anything to be done for him.

ThomasD   ·  August 28, 2007 7:17 PM

Move on folks. Mike Vick is not the only person involved in dog fighting. Is anyone trying to catch the other foks that are dog fighting? Leave Vick alone. He was caught up in this mess and he will pay the price for what he was involved in. He made a mistake, so if God will forgive him (which he will) so can I. He will be punished so that's that. Why wish bad luck on a person? Most folks just want to see him in jail for the rest of his life. What about peopele being killed in Iraq? Where are the comments on American soldiers being killed in Iraq.? American soldiers are also tortured, killed by guns, minds messed up, being blown to their death also. WHERe is the media on all this? Americans are tortured in Iraq every second, don't know whether they will live or die from minute to minute. This is torture so what about that? You folks do not know where to put your priorities (VIck or the war) If you want to get uptight about something concentrate on our American soldiers who have left this country to fight. They might come back home and they might not.
Isn't it better for the whole USA to come into prayer and pray for our soilders than to focus on Michael Vick. Vick will be alright in the end. God probably have another plan for him anyway that is why all this mess came to the surface. Be real folks, you need to know what life is all about. Vick will be okay and to all he is not a thug, just a man like you and I who made a mistake. SO what..that's life. Move on to another subject please and pray for our American soldiers dodging bullets all day long. Who's to blame for their torture? Is anybody calling names?

Harris, Richmond Va   ·  August 30, 2007 2:45 AM

Post a comment


April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

ANCIENT (AND MODERN)
WORLD-WIDE CALENDAR


Search the Site


E-mail



Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link



Archives



Recent Entries



Links



Site Credits