Paying the Michael Vick dues

On Friday night I had dinner at a popular Ann Arbor pub, and my otherwise delightful evening was ruined by something very unpleasant on the widescreen TV -- a long ESPN interview with dog torturer Michael Vick.

I realize people say that by serving his sentence he "paid his dues" to society, but how does that give him the right to spoil my dinner? The interview was clearly a puff piece, and I can't help notice that there's a lot of money at stake in building up this psychopath -- doubtless to please his creditors. (Yes, psychopath. I don't agree with PETA on much, but I agree with Ingrid Newkirk that Vick fits the clinical profile. What he did went far beyond dogfighting, bad as that is.)

Whether his "dues" are "paid" or not, the man makes me sick to my stomach, and I say shame on the Philadelphia Eagles for inflicting him on my former hometown. I'd boycott them if I could.

Lots of people commit crimes and serve their sentences. If someone wants to hire them, that's their business. But if they put them on TV in such a propagandistic manner as to ruin my dinner, then it becomes my business. I suppose I could have gotten up and left, but that would have made the people I was with uncomfortable and made the evening even more unpleasant, and I don't like to act like a sanctimonious moralist in public, and ruin more people's dinners. I did tell one guy how I felt, tried to ignore the TV, and figured the world is just a fucked place and I'd have to live with it.

Hey, at least I have this blog. There's no better place to say that I can't stand Michael Vick, and don't want to watch him being glorified over dinner.

Having to sit there and watch him made me feel like I'm the one having to pay his dues. Against my will.

MORE: Clayton Cramer has written a piece about offensive in-flight entertainment, and while the sexually explicit themes he discusses would not bother me, he analogizes to torture and violence:

I'm not upset that the entertainment industry is making TV shows and movies like these. My complaint is that you can't walk out of an offensive presentation on a plane. (Well, you could, but most travelers don't bring parachutes.) If you think I'm being a narrow-minded fuddy-duddy, let me change the equation a bit. Imagine if in the middle of an otherwise unoffensive film shown on an airliner, there were two minutes of very graphic torture with fingernails being pulled out with pliers. Is that something that you would want your eight-year-old watching?
I don't have children, but I see his point, and I don't think children -- or anyone else -- should be made to watch graphic torture scenes any more than Michael Vick. Frankly, the former would have been easier for me, but it wouldn't have been shown in a restaurant.

Like passengers on a plane, I was essentially part of a captive audience. I was free to leave, but not without making a big scene and upsetting myself further and upsetting others.

But unlike the case of an airline, this was not the restaurant's fault. They did not select a Michael Vick video and play it for people; they did what they always do and simply ran the sports channel, and that features the celebrities from the genre.

That's the problem with the Eagles paying millions of dollars to a dog torturer; by virtue of his lucrative position he becomes dinner entertainment, like it or not.

It could have been worse; at least I wasn't forced to subsidize him.

(Which is why I'm hesitant to link ESPN's cowardly puff interview with Vick. Not one word about the nature of his crimes, much less a questions about them. Apparently neither ESPN nor interviewer Sal Paolantonio think it matters.)

posted by Eric on 09.27.09 at 12:49 PM


Thank you. It has been a real eye opener for me to see that animal torture is acceptable to so many folks. Like he stole a car or something. Since I first read about it I have not been able to shake the images. Those electrodes. Those men. I just didn't know. And CBS 60 Minutes. How could they?

Susan Cotton   ·  September 29, 2009 4:42 PM

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