Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Does dogfighting work?

The Phliadelphia Inquirer's new columnist:

PHILADELPHIA - The publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer is defending his decision to make former football player Michael Vick a regular columnist who will write about breeding and raising dogs.

Vick was "the key figure” of an extensive unlawful interstate dogfighting ring operating over a period of five years that critics call cruelty to animals. One critic of the Inquirer’s Vick columns says it’s like having O.J. Simpson write about the criminal justice system.

Inquirer Publisher Brian Tierney says that’s a silly comparison. He says Simpson has been found liable for wrongful death of a human being and Vick had been through no such legal process.

As Tierney put it: “Speech that is most important to defend is the speech that you hate; it’s easy to defend the speech that you like.”

I tried very hard not to laugh at this. But I failed.

That said, I think it's time we cut Vick a break and let him ball when the time comes. Whether people - or PETA - are satisfied with the sentence or not, Vick has paid a very serious debt for his crimes.

I have rarely, if ever, seen this sort of sustained derision reserved for an athlete accused of spousal abuse, DUI resulting in a death or any of those dozens accused of assault and battery or drug possession. Then again, public outrage directed at professional athletes who run afoul of the law very rarely has any sort of rhyme or reason.

At some point, we have to start integrating our ex-cons back into society if we're serious about the alleged rehabilitative goals of incarceration. And that includes Vick.

h/t Atrios

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