Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Daily Rant: Lay Off Already PETA

In case you didn't know, Michael Vick had the best season of his career last year. He led the Philadelphia Eagles to the playoffs, was an MVP candidate, and was voted BY THE FANS as the starting quarterback for the NFC in the Pro Bowl. So when EA Sports decided to leave its Madden NFL cover player up to the fans in a 32 person, one from each NFL team bracket, it made sense that Vick was chosen to be the Eagles' representative in the bracket, right? (Nod your heads with me people).

Vick made it all the way to the finals of this bracket, and yesterday it was announced that he lost to Peyton Hillis, the Cleveland Browns runningback/cyborg. Seriously, have you seen Peyton Hillis? The dude is jacked. If there was a steroid siren, it would go off whenever he was in the room. How did Arkansas not win a national title with him, Darren McFadden, and Felix Jones in the same backfield? But I digress. Vick said he was proud that his fans voted him all the way to the finals, and that it was just another sign of how far he's come since being released from prison. So imagine my surprise when it was found out that PETA, the animal activists more commonly known as crazies, constantly requested Michael Vick be removed from consideration from the Madden cover contest. Seriously PETA? Give it up. The guy messed up, we all know this. The things he did were despicable. No animal deserves to be treated like that. But everyone deserves a second chance.

PETA activists, in case you didn't know, after Michael Vick was convicted of his activities relating to the dogfighting ring, he served 18 months in a federal penitentary. As in real, hardcore jail. Not like the county holding cell that you crazy folk head to after you get a little too aggressive with your picketing activities. I'm talking about the type of setting you see in the TV show Oz, the movie The Shawshank Redemption (a little more updated), or during Christian Bale's lock up time in The Fighter. He probably got to go outside for an hour a day, ate crappy food, probably was involved in a few fights or five with people who have killed, raped, and who knows what else. Because of his celebrity, I'm also going to go out on a limb and say Vick was probably a target for some of the other convicts.

But there are two main goals of the penal system in America. One is to deter both the convicted criminal and other individuals from repeating criminal activity. Second, there's a theory behind the penal system that is called "rehabilitiation." Being sentenced to prison and then a subsequent release deems Vick as "rehabilitated" under the law. Meaning he has served his time, and that he should be deemed an average citizen. Sure, there are restrictions, and it doesn't always work out like that (for example, if you're an 18 year old kid who holds up a gas station, you may not ever be given a fair shot to succeed), but the system is supposed to have done it's job when people are released from prison. And PETA, wake up. In Vick's case, the system worked.

All of that, and we haven't even talked about what he had to give up financially. He lost a $135 contract with the Falcons. He lost part of a $37 million signing bonus, and lost millions more in endorsements. Sure, he created the situation that led to those losses, but let's focus more on what he's done after being released from prison. Understandably Vick filed for bankruptcy. Now when you undertake such an act, one is faced with two options: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy means that you are not obligated to pay back the debts that you owe into the future. Chapter 13 means that you are obligated to pay back the debts, but you do so through an organized financial plan that is set by the court. Vick's lawyers tried to get him to file Chapter 7, so he could be alleviated of the debts he owed. Vick refused to accept that plan. He filed Chapter 13, and now for the next five years - the prime of his career - over two-thirds of every dollar he owes is going to taxes or to people he owes money. In my mind, that was an honorable move, and an additional factor that PETA needs to consider before calling Vick out publicly into the future.

Since his release Vick has been nothing but a model citizen. Sure, a gun was fired at his birthday party, but Vick was found not to have had anything to do with it or even been there when it occurred. Vick has been an ambassador for both the NFL and the cause to curb dogfighting, a very serious underground epidemic in our country. He's participated in the Humane Society's national anti-dogfighting campaign since his release. Hell, just this week Vick spoke out against a cell phone app called "Dog Wars" that is a simulation of a dogfighting enterprise. By the way, how did that app even get created? Vick has visited schools, churches, and camps to talk to children and adults about the importance of preventing violence, dogfighting, and criminal activity. He talks of the need to keep children out of falling into situations such as his, and the importance in his life of being given a second chance. To make things right. To right the wrongs that he committed.

Vick is no longer associated with dogs. He's not even allowed to own one, although he did come out and say that he'd like to own another one someday (which I found admirable and a sign that he had changed his attitude toward dogs, but Vick got slammed by the public and PETA for those comments). Don't protest at his games, because he's not doing anything wrong anymore. PETA, Vick served his debt to society - physically, financially, emotionally. So PETA, please move on to harassing someone else like Lady Gaga or something. There's tons of celebrities out there that wear fur, ivory, or various snake, crocodile, or ostrich skin. Why not attack them, because they continue to do harm? Don't throw someone under the bus who is willing to stand up and say what he did is wrong. Support him, thank him for being an advocate for the cause, and applaud him for being an example of what every person should believe in: a second chance.

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