In a recent article on ESPN.com Rick Reilly was wondering why, with everything Michael Vick has done to improve his name, are people still against him playing football - against him in general? The article is titled "Forgiving Michael Vick is not forgetting what he did." Yet Rick Reilly is asking us to do just that: forget.
I decided to help Mr. Reilly understand and wrote him this...
I believe in forgiveness and I believe that once a person has paid for their crimes, meeting the requirement of the law, they should be free to live their lives. Under the law he may have paid for his crimes but I think its naive of you to think that people who care about animals will ever forget about what he did, or welcome him back with loving arms into their homes. Forgiving and forgetting are two different matters. Especially when the law fails to require sufficient punishment.
No matter how contrite or how much community service Michael Vick performs he still did what he did. Michael Vick considered the lives of living beings as worthless. The judge declared that Vick's actions were not a momentary lapse in judgment but that Vick was a "full partner" in the dog-fighting ring.
How quick would you be to forget Vick's crimes if it was your dog that he had tortured? What if it was your dog that was thrown into a ring with a pillowcase over its head, enduring multiple fights, defenseless, so that other dogs could "train"? What if Vick electrocuted or drowned your dog because it was no longer useful? You may be able to forgive but how would you feel seeing that man re-accepted by the media, a new team, and the sports-watching public?
If you are your true self when no one is watching, when no one was watching he was a very very bad man. Is he sorry now only because we are watching? I think this is the question that sits heavy on the hearts of animal lovers. He saw the consequences of his actions every day but did not quit. He saw the mutilated dogs, or at least (according to testimony) knew what was being done to them on his property, but did not stop it.
He stood by while animals were killed for sport. But the law does not take that into account.
His deeds came to light and he went to prison. Now he forgoes the company of his old friends. He speaks at shelters and for animal rights groups. He is living right and treating the world better. But for over five years he participated in extreme animal cruelty. He had five years to stop. And did not. This was not a chemical addiction. This was not a psychological dependency.
I met a woman this last weekend that lost her best friend and is herself now troubled by epilepsy because of a drunk driver hitting her car. It was his 11th DUI. Driving drunk one time is bad. But some judge allowed him to drive after 10 DUIs. She believes it was because that man had money.
He could have stopped. He should have stopped. But he was not required to. His penalty for taking a life was the same as if it were his first offense. He paid the price, according to the law. But justice was not served.
Spend some time at dog shelter. Get up close and see what their lives are reduced to, coming out of situations like Vick's Pits. You can't help but wonder, "How could someone continue to allow this to happen? How could a person continually do this to another living being?"
Who knows the final number of dogs maimed, tortured and killed. Eighteen months in prison and 2 months of probation, punishment for his crimes. He's paid the price, according to the law. But justice was not served.
I do not hate Michael Vick. But the law failed those of us who value life. Some of us believe in it's sanctity. Don't you dare ask us to forget.