Afternoon Inquisition

Afternoon Inquisition 3.2.09

As you may or may not know, Michael Vick has just been released from prison. He plead to excessive cruelty to animals, after being charged with running a high-stakes dog fighting ring. Included in his indictment were acts such as shooting a dog in the face; drowning, fatally electrocuting and hanging dogs for not performing up to his standards.  Not only is there still a hall dedicated in his honor at Virginia Tech, but he may be welcomed back into the NFL, with open arms, as early as July of this year.

While certainly the decision to let him play again is the NFL’s to make. They have to weigh the pros and cons of letting him back in.

But then you might want to consider the case of Pete Rose, a man accused of gambling on his own baseball team. He was never charged or convicted of illegal gambling. Although he holds the record for the most hits in MLB history, he will never be allowed into the Hall of Fame. He has been permanently banned from baseball.

Mark McGwire used steroids to improve his game. Cheating or not, back in 1998 he and Sammy Sosa put on a great show that had America enamored with baseball again. But because of steroid use, he will likely never make the Hall of Fame either. The mere mention of his name is likely to be received with an eyeroll and a headshake. There is very little love for McGwire these days.

Not to say that the name Michael Vick doesn’t evoke strong emotion, but how are gambling and steroids worse for a person’s career than what Michael Vick did?

Do you believe Michael Vick should be allowed to play in the NFL again? Do you believe that a double standard for athletes and celebrity entertainers exists? Does thata double standard apply more to football players?


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. I think if the NFL purged its ranks of thugs, drug addicts, and felons most teams wouldn’t have enough people left to field a team. This would suit me fine.

  2. I think the difference is that what those baseball players did was cheating at the game they were being paid to play…. What this Vick did was illegal outside of the game… Thus the NFL can say that his stats as a player are unaffected.

  3. Why is plagiarism cause for expulsion from a university but a DUI is not? It’s not because we’ve decided that DUI is more acceptable. It’s that plagiarism strikes at the very reason for being there. It’s a similar thing with your sports examples, I think. What McGwire and Sosa did was cheat *at the game*. Similarly, gambling has always had a close relationship with organized crime, and the fear was always that the games would be fixed.

    With Vick, regardless of the horrific nature of his crime, it’s much harder to argue that he did anything that would harm the integrity of the game. His crime was in no way football-related. I may not like him, but he served the time that the justice system deemed necessary. I don’t feel comfortable saying that he shouldn’t be allowed to resume his life, even if I do think that his punishment was not as severe as it should have been.

  4. Yes. He should be allowed to play. However, any NFL team stupid enough to hire him (and the NFL at large) will get so much heat from it, they’d be better off not hiring him.

    Yes, there’s definitely a double standard for celebrities. For example, that dude that’s boinking Miley Cyrus. She’s clearly underage but the cops aren’t going after her boyfriend. The double-standard applies more to athletes in general, not just football players.

  5. For fuck’s sake, if Michael Phelps can’t smoke some pot without being called “A BAD INFLUENCE! A BAD ROLE MODEL!” then a football player shouldn’t be able to ABUSE ANIMALS without the same. But the media doesn’t seem to be treating it the same. INTERESTING, dontcha think?

  6. I don’t see why he shouldn’t be allowed to do his job of choice despite his heinous acts. It’s not like they have to pet an animal before shooting the ball to the basket.

    But if he was a vet…

  7. Abusing animals by far makes you a worse human being than using steroids or gambling. I hope no team will be willing to hire him for fear of the heat they will receive but that’s unlikely.

    As far as the NFL is concerned abusing animals has nothing to do with the game unlike steroids or gambling and that’s the only thing they care about.

  8. The should let him back in and garnish his wages to pay for all of his dogs that are being rehabilitated at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

    I was disappointed to see that this incident did not prompt a larger, more useful discussion. One about how this dog fighting subculture is tied up with hip hop celebrity and black sports celebrity lifestyle. Michael Vick acts are reprehensible and he is personally responsible for his conduct. But his success graduated him into a culture where dog fighting is seen as acceptable, cool, masculine sport or hobby. Like polo or okie noodling is for some circles.

  9. If he were a serial jock strap snapper then the NFL would have a good reason to keep him out I suppose. Conversely most pro sport contracts have ‘morals clauses’ which allow for a team to cut a player for such things as criminal activity or using words in public like cunt or pig fucking cunt.

    @davew: Evidence for this assertion? I suppose if you wanted to deprive actors and musicians the opportunity to make a living if they committed a criminal or morally suspect act there wouldn’t be many movies made or much music recorded.

  10. @marilove:

    The media aside, Vick isn’t getting a free pass, at least not here in the home of his former team. Southerners (including Atlantans) love our football, but there are two things we love more: momma and puppies (and, for some, Jesus). Mess with either and it doesn’t matter if you can throw a football completely over the stadium and run fast enough to catch it when it gets to the other side: you are not welcome here.

    But he went through the legal system and has now come out the other side. There’s no legal bar from him pursuing whatever career he wants. He would be wise not to step in front of MasalaSkeptic’s car, though — not that wisdom has been a hallmark of his character.

    It’ll be a big PR problem for whichever team signs him, as andyinsdca said (since it’s not just Southerners who love our puppies) but there are owners arrogant enough to ignore public opinion. I expect him to get signed, and he’ll be on a roster in either Dallas or Oakland.

    For awhile. He’ll do something else stupid, because that’s who he is.

  11. @fcmk:

    I’m about 99% sure Michael Vick won’t be shooting any balls into any baskets. I’m not a big sports person, though, so I could be wrong.

  12. @marilove: My thoughts exactly. Where’s the media-fueled outrage here? Why isn’t there a mob outside Michael Vick’s door? Our priorities as a society are ridiculous.

  13. Like fcmk says, I think he should be let back into the National fBasketball League.

    No, wait. Wrong sport AND wrong spelling. Damn.

    I’ve always been puzzled by the Pete Rose gambling thing. Sure, I suppose he could have thrown games. Sports fixing = bad. But sports betting = extremely normal. Hell, I did it in grade school.

    But I’m really puzzled by those outraged over steroid abuse. First, we all know it happens and has happened. Claiming ignorance of that fact is like feigning surprise when you learn that pro wrestlers might have an inkling of which way the match will go.

    Here’s how to solve the issue: First, allow athletes to reach the top of their game by any enhancements they see fit. Steroids. Stimulants. Cybernetic arms. Bionic ears. Ok. Maybe not the last one. But why the hell not? Yeah yeah yeah… it’ll encourage bad behavior in youth sports. It gives those willing to abuse their bodies an unfair advantage. I don’t buy either argument. Or rather, these things already happen, but to a lessor degree.

    As Keith Oberman once said: I’m not a role model. Hell, I’m not any kind of model.


  14. So for those of you who think that he should be able to go back to his job, whatever it is, let me ask you this:

    If he were your co-worker, would you shrug it off and share a cubicle with him?

    If he were your former employee, would you hire him back?

    And please don’t think that I’m being condescending, I’m honestly asking out of curiosity. If it were my business, I would not hire him back. If it were my co-worker, I would have serious issues with him being hired back.

    I’m fairly sure that if he were an accountant or a doctor, he wouldn’t be back. If he were a top chef in a large city, he’d probably be doomed to a career of failing restaurants.

    For most people, after pleading down to electrocuting and hanging puppies, getting another job would be difficult… but Michael Vick just has to be cleared to take off his monitoring bracelet.

    (In fairness, I am the proud owner of an abused pit, so I have a hard time being emotionally neutral on this.)

  15. Do you think it would have been different if Vick would have been convicted of the same crimes against people, not just dogs? (other than the severity of the sentence and the possibility he’d be on death row?) When does a crime become some abhorrent that no one wants to have anything to do with the criminal? When do we forgive for time served and when do we completely alienate the person from society?

  16. Ok, what the hell just happened in my head? I was so sure we were talking about footbaskets. NFL, NBA, whatever. I think he might be hired to play golf at the NGL.

  17. @marilove:

    You know, it’s not like I would be super proud if I found out my kid was boozing it up and getting high. At some point, though, I sort of expect that it will happen, and just hold out hope that he won’t do anything stupid while partying. We’d have a “we need to talk” moment.

    If I found out he was fighting dogs to the death and nailing them to trees by their ears, I think he’d be disowned.

  18. evoterra: Not to get into a debate on drugs but steroids are a controlled substance and using them for non-medical purposes is illegal in itself. So apart from issues of cheating it’s also an issue of whether pro sports should tell athletes it’s okay to break the law to enhance their performance. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t go over well.

  19. @Elyse: Exactly. Because with booze and pot, he’s only harming himself (possibly; if you teach him responsibility, he’ll likely be fine). But harming an innocent animal?! Disgusting, downright disgusting.

    But the media seems to think marijuana is BAAAD! but abusing dogs, not so much.

    It was just something I noticed and am rather pissed about.

    That said, if someone wants to hire him, by all means — they have that right. I wish they wouldn’t, but there’s nothing we can do to stop them.

    And I don’t think it’ll be as big a PR problem as some others have thought. He gets media attention, negative or otherwise.

  20. @Elyse: Well, your company could hire him if they wanted to — but they probably wouldn’t.

    A football team might, though, because the risk isn’t so great for them if they do, and indeed, Vick gets a LOT of attention for his antics, which is seen as a good thing by some, even if that attention is negative.

  21. When I heard that Charlie Sheen was being brought in to replace Michael Phelps as a motivational speaker for some event in Canada I decided the collective thinking in the corporate world was pretty suspect. The NFL is a business and they will allow a level of player behavior that does not interfere with the bottom line. Having the good will of fans/consumers will be the deciding factor for Vick I expect. If an owner is willing to hire him and this results in winning and gaining X fans and only losing Y fans they he will be throwing passes again.

  22. @marilove:

    In all fairness, the press was pretty hard on Vick when the case first broke, just like they were to Phelps. Moreso perhaps.

    He immediately lost endorsement deals, just like Phelps, and the whole role model issue was debated as well.

    It’s just that Vick has now completed a portion of his debt for his crimes. The Phelps case is still fairly new.

  23. @Elyse:

    Call me cynical, but if Vick were one of the greatest accountants every to grip a #2, the kind of accountant who would save the company 20 times more money than the average accountant, then yes, I think he’d be hired back.

    That’s not to say I’d want to work with the guy…

  24. Forgive me if this has already been said, but the way I see it he should be allowed to play again, sure. His crimes technically had nothing to de woth the sport he played so there is no reason for the NFL to ban him or anything like that. Whether any team would be willing to have him or fans willing to go see him play, however, is another matter.

  25. A few things-

    Saying that Pete Rose was never convicted of gambling is a bit disingenuous as the evidence used to convict him on the tax charges was his gambling. And after more than a decade of lying in the face of a mountain of evidence, he admitted doing it. Rose is not allowed in the HoF by *rule*. Betting on the game is carved into stone as the worst sin because it almost destroyed the sport (1919 Black Sox scandal). This rule is pounded into new players’ heads. He also bet on games that he managed. Simply put, the integrity of the game itself was violated.

    McGuire and Sosa broke no such rule. Steroids, though illegal, weren’t against the rules of the game at the time. Neither has been “proven” to have used them (I think they did). They are both eligible for the HoF and if they don’t make it, it will be because the voters made a judgment on their own; with Pete Rose, even if you write in a vote for him, it simply won’t count.

    Mr. Vick should not be allowed to play, and I think there’s a good chance that he’ll get an additional suspension once he tries to get back into the league. Roger Goodell has been a hanging judge since he became commissioner, and I think he’ll add to Vick’s exile. Having said that, if my team picked him up (Oakland), I’d notify them and the league that at least until he is gone, I won’t watch the games and won’t buy the gear.

    The idea that he has paid his debt is fine, but he can’t have changed that dramatically. This guy wasn’t someone who attended a dog match once, or entered his dog into one event; he was a kingpin. He ran an organization and personally tortured and killed multiple animals. He’s a sick piece of garbage and I certainly wouldn’t re-hire him.

  26. @Elyse:

    If he were your co-worker, would you shrug it off and share a cubicle with him?

    If he were your former employee, would you hire him back?

    I’d have a hard time with it. I don’t think I’m alone in having a hangup about cruelty to animals. I would probably end up leaving the company.

    But my company can decide to not hire him. The NFL has its own rules in place, and they cannot start implementing new ones. For whatever reason, dogfighting is not a bannable offense in the NFL, and if the commissioner tried to unilaterally declare it to be one, the player’s union would crawl up his ass, which would be much worse for the game than letting Vick sit on an Oakland Raiders bench dodging paper cups filled with beer.

    Ignoring Vick himself, though — what if I was sitting next to someone who was a non-celebrity dogfighter? What if he pleaded not guilty, maintained his innocence, served his time, and said he loves dogs and would never hurt one? Errors do happen in the courts. And if a jury is made up of animal lovers, they might be as quick to condemn as everyone here in ATL was, even before charges were filed. I would have no way of knowing it’s true.

    Or what if he did admit to it, but had been successfully rehabilitated? We’re supposed to believe that’s possible in our jails. What if he now donated to the ASPCA and volunteered at an animal shelter? As a coworker, I wouldn’t know if he did that or not. Should I be so cynical to assume once a dog killer, always a dog killer?

    And what if Vick himself expresses some sincere regret? Not the “I’m so sorry I lost all my money” regrets we’ve seen from him, sincere as they likely are, but something substantial. Should there be things that I can’t forgive?

    I’m not comfortable with the idea of someone being irredeemable in my own eyes. I’m not saying I’d ask Vick to dog-sit for me, but I’m not sure we should force him into living his life with no income and no hope of re-entering society.

  27. @Mr. Funnypants:

    Mr. Vick should not be allowed to play, and I think there’s a good chance that he’ll get an additional suspension once he tries to get back into the league. Roger Goodell has been a hanging judge since he became commissioner, and I think he’ll add to Vick’s exile.

    You think the Player’s Union will be okay with that?

  28. @phlebas: Depends on what was in his contract. All NFL contracts contain some form of morals clause and all contracts are OK’d by the union.

  29. href=”#comment-53609″>ordinarygirl: When the crimes first came to light, one of my co-workers, who was raised in an environment where dog fighting was an activity still nominally “accepted” as entertainment or sport by some in his community, told me that although he certainly didn’t condone it, he understood the attitude. It really caught me up short, as although intellectually one knows such things happen, I’d never encountered anyone whose cultural background included this attitude (that I was aware of). If such anecdotal evidence has any value, then it appears there is some percentage of the populace have a different view of Vick’s crimes, as they see animals solely as property to be abused as the owner desires. So yes, I’m sure on that level, had his actions been against humans, their attitudes towards Vick would be different. Personally I think complete and utter ostracism would be too good for the bastard, but that’s just me…

  30. @James Fox:

    If Vick had a tight lock down on his morals contractually, he never would have gotten on an NFL team. No one who pays attention to the sport was exactly surprised that he did something illegal (although I never would have guessed dog fighting — I figured him more for cocaine possession or murder).

    Speaking of which, we seem to have gotten over Ray Lewis.

  31. @phlebas: True true. Isn’t Michael Vick’s brother in prison too, or had some kind of criminal conviction which got him tossed out of college and messed up his pro prospects?

  32. @Phlebas:

    I think the NFLPA is a hilariously weak union and Roger Goodell will answer any protest with, “Too fu**ing bad.” He suspended Adam Jones before he was even convicted of anything.

  33. @James Fox: “Evidence for this assertion? I suppose if you wanted to deprive actors and musicians the opportunity to make a living if they committed a criminal or morally suspect act there wouldn’t be many movies made or much music recorded.”

    It was more of a rant dressed up as an assertion. The relevant piece of data I have is from my old university. If you were to teleport the sports dorms and their inhabitants into deep space (also fine by me) crime on campus would drop by about 3/4 and violent crime would drop by more than that. (My brother in law used to be a campus cop and those dorms made up almost the entirety of his case load).

    I’m glad you brought up music because I do consume a lot of music and I do care who does it. The great thing about the interwebs is almost everyone I buy from now has a website and a blog and I can buy directly from them. I can get a sense of how their values line up with mine. Would I drop an excellent musician if I learned something unsavory about them? In a heartbeat.

    One reason I am hostile to sports leagues in general is that they, like the catholic church, spend more energy covering up bad behavior than attempting to prevent it.

  34. Regarding steroid use, one reason that Major League Baseball is tougher on performance enhancing drugs (compared to the NFL) could be because baseball fans are much more interested in player stats than football fans are. Using steroids taints those stats for some people. At least, that’s what some random DJ on a classic rock station said last week.

  35. I think a lot of you are forgetting just how big of a media kerfuffle this story was when it first broke. He was getting front page headlines for months. PETA was getting all the air time they could ever want. People were decrying the culture and being called racist in turn.
    As for if I’d hire him, it comes down to this: he’s probably one of the top twenty people in the world at what he does, out of hundreds of thousands of people who’ve tried, in a field that’s extremely competitive. Would I want to work with him? No. Would I invest a moderate sum into the gamble that he’d make me millions of dollars? Yes.

  36. I think what he did was disgusting and he was given much to light a punishment. But if a team wants to hire him that is the team’s management’s choice. I would hope that people would be so disgusted by this that the team would be adversely effected in their economic outcome but I would be surprised if this was true.

    Yes there is a double standard. Athletes don’t have to study in college. If they are in a money sport they will skip out of college at the first opportunity. Often times they have classes created for them so that they can maintain eligibility. I have read many cases of athletes raping co-eds and the college coming to the defense of the athlete against the victim. This makes me sick.

    I don’t know what to do about it beyond not giving my money or allowing my kids to attend a college or university that is a sports powerhouse.

  37. I wouldn’t be comfortable anywhere around Michael Vick or any other dogfighter. There is a strong correlation between animal abuse/dogfighting and violent crimes such as spousal abuse, murder, rape, etc. Many serial murderers began their deadly ‘careers’ with torturing and killing animals. As my breed is one favored by dogfighters as training “bait,” I would have a very difficult time being in the same room with him without vomiting on his Gucci’s. Repeatedly.

    I doubt any team will touch Vick now. The chances of bad publicity and a public backlash are too great. PETA is just waiting for someone to hire him – bet on it.

    That being said, I’m not overly familiar with the details of the Pete Rose case. I will presume that Mr. Funnypants’ explanation is essentially correct. If so, Pete Rose got what he deserved under the League rules.

    Steroids are a different matter to me. Essentially, those taking steroids are cheating, but it goes on in almost every sport. Barring urine/blood testing before every game, I don’t know what can be done to stop it. Steroids ultimately ruin the health of those using them long-term, so they come with their own built-in justice, so to speak. They also have a bad reputation for dangerous behavioral changes.

    I agree with James above that there is no real comparison between Vick and Phelps cases. No feeling creature was harmed by Phelps toke.

  38. @Gabrielbrawley
    “he was given much to light a punishment.” By much to light of a punishment you mean he should have gotten more than the maximum? And should have lost more than all his money? This seems like the reverse of the alleged double standard. If you or I had done this, odds are we’d have gotten off with a fine.

    And damn you all for making me defend Vick, one of my least favorite players even before this.

  39. What about politicians? Bush killed frogs by stuffing firecrackers up their ass. What about Bill Frist? He got cats from a pound, claiming he was going to adopt them, then he experimented on them and killed them.

    What about Sarah Palin “hunting” wolves from a helicopter? What about Rush Limbaugh abusing drugs? Why is he still a “role model” of the GOP?

  40. If I were to inspect the lives of all the artists, entertainers or service providers in my life to see if their morals aligned alongside mine I’d be one lonely bored sap.

    The distinction pertaining to this post is what Kaylia_Marie brought up:
    I think the difference is that what those baseball players did was cheating at the game they were being paid to play…. What this Vick did was illegal outside of the game

    Vick’s illegal activity had nothing to do with his job. If he was fighting dogs on the field and maybe siccing them after opposing players then yeah maybe that would be different. ;)

    MaineTim is onto something here too.
    If such anecdotal evidence has any value, then it appears there is some percentage of the populace have a different view of Vick’s crimes, as they see animals solely as property to be abused as the owner desires.

    We all see animals as property to do so as we wish. We contribute to similar if not worse abuse of animals every time we eat. Why is Vick such a scoundrel when we get off scot-free?

  41. @Pweep:

    If you or I had done this, odds are we’d have gotten off with a fine.

    This was not some guy in his back yard with a couple of dogs. Michael Vick was involved in a serious, ongoing, interstate criminal enterprise. If you or I were engaged in such activity, we’d be lucky to be out in 23 years, let alone 23 months, half of which is to be spent in home confinement. I agree with @Gabrielbrawley, he got off light.

    @BrianB: I like my steak rare, but I do not like it eaten alive.

  42. @ Augustus
    “If you or I were engaged in such activity, we’d be lucky to be out in 23 years, let alone 23 months, half of which is to be spent in home confinement.”

    Well, since the maximum sentence for his crime is 3-5 years, depending on if he was charged in GA or Federal court, and that defendants who plead not guilty almost always get lighter sentences, Vick got just about what he should have gotten. To say that he should have gotten worse, is just getting carried away with moral outrage.

  43. @Elyse: he did complete his sentence so shouldn’t be held back from being eligible to play, but I would hope that no team actually picks him up since with him on the roster their entire reputation may be tarnished.

  44. @Pweep:

    Perhaps the issue isn’t what Vick got, but rather what the punishment should be for such a crime.


    Unlike Augustus, I prefer my steaks to be made of soy. I don’t think the treatment of food animals should present a double standard compared with pet animals.

    Factory farming is a pretty disgusting practice, but to say that because the abuse of livestock is more or less standard, the abuse of dogs should be no big deal is a pretty weak.

    Shouldn’t it be the other way around? That we don’t tolerate this for some animals so we shouldn’t tolerate it for others? Or is your argument that animal torture is just something we have a right to do?

  45. As Mr. Funnypants pointed out Pete Rose violated the most important rule in baseball, Don’t Gamble. He knew that from the beginning.

    Steroids have never been treated the same untill now. Players like McGuire, Sosa, Bonds, and the rest came into the league at a time when steroids were considered acceptable by both players and management. Baseball will have to deal with that legacy for a long time, especially considering the importance of stats to the fans.

    Michael Vick was suspended from football before he was convicted because he violated the morals clause on more than one occasion. If that suspension is lifted this year he would still be under contract to Atlanta till 2013. And that is still a big contract, making his return to football very interesting.

    I don’t care in the least about what Phelps is going through. He was at a party, everyone has a camera in thier pocket, it was stupid. Kids don’t need anymore excuses to do drugs these days. Adding ‘If it’s okay for an Olympic Gold Medalist’ doesn’t help.

  46. Also, let me bring this back to steroids:

    Was it really cheating? I don’t know how accurate my numbers are, but I’ve heard it estimated that at least half of MLB players were using performance enhancing drugs. If that’s the case, is it cheating to do what everyone else is doing in order to compete? If everyone is doing it, you’re not gaining a competitive edge that others don’t have. Shouldn’t you give yourself the same advantages that the others have?

    If it’s one or two guys, that’s one thing… but if it could cost you your career by taking the high-road because the top contenders in your field are all on roids? It’s not really fair to tell someone not to, is it?

    The steroid thing gets me a bit cranky. It’s just baseball for fucks sake. It’s drugs they’re taking for our amusement, to their own detriment. It’s not like they’re shooting dogs in their basements or anything.

  47. This is one of those topics where I should just back away from the keyboard slowly.

    And actually – for once in my life that’s what I’m really going to do.

  48. @Elyse you are correct – performance “enhancing” drugs – if they at all improve performance, were done by many players – at least one third in one random testing. So how many did it in that era? And how many did it because their trainers told them it would be advancing their healing? Don’t know. Many physicians that work for teams are more into woo woo medicine than any group of doctors I have met. But, that is their problem.

    Mistreating animals is not a good thing. The treatment of cows, forcing corn, antibiotics, and steroids – -and wondering why they become bacterial overloaded with Salmonella and E. Coli is not cool.

    I am a dog person — love dogs. I hope Mr. Vick has changed, and that he is rehabilitated.

    In professional sports – owners should hire more than talent, they should hire intelligence – all the best quarterbacks were not the most talented, they were — however bright.

    What to do with Mr. Vick? I suspect if some team hires him most dog lovers will boycott those games. The NFL – besides standing for “not for long” is entertainment. Entertainers are often forgiven and brought back.

    But I still think eating baby carrots is wrong- why take them from their mothers?

  49. @Elyse:

    That would be true if they seperated today’s numbers from the numbers of the past. In baseball, the history of the records plays into their importance. Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, as far as we know, didn’t cheat to get their records, so for many it seems wrong for them to be second to someone who did.

  50. How is shooting a dog in the face or electrocuting it any different than one of us going to the store & buying beef???

    FYI, hogs & cattle are killed with a sledgehammer or maul blow to the head on “non factory farms”. Why is this any more “moral” than a throat slashing???

  51. @Elyse: If there is no double standard are we all (except you and your soy steaks) as guilty? Why aren’t we questioning the actions of Vick’s teammates? (unless they are all vegan as well, i haven’t looked into that)

  52. It might not make a difference to the animal, but from a human perspective, eating meat and dog fighting are world’s apart.
    I do not take joy in a cow’s suffering and indeed hope that its death was as quick and painless as possible (a naive hope perhaps…). I do not go to the slaughterhouse and cheer on the carnage.

    The moral difference is that the sledgehammer blow is supposed to deliver as instant and painless a death as possible. Again, I know it is not perfect in practice, but to equate what is supposed to be a quick death with drowning a dog, or removing it’s lower jaw for breeding purposes, or throwing weak dogs and even stolen pets into a pen to be torn apart is idiocy.
    I daresay that if you had to choose a way to die, you’d prefer a massive blow to the head over being dropped into a tank full of piranha.

  53. @mxracer652 & @BrianB:

    I have a hard time reconciling that with my conscience. It’s why I don’t eat meat.

    However, there is a difference between watching two animals slowly and painfully attack one another for hours until one of them dies, and brutally slaughtering ones who don’t perform up to your standards and doing it for the rush and the glory compared to using an animal for sustenance.

    But my point was that we shouldn’t take the stance that since pigs are treated poorly, dogs shouldn’t get special treatment. We should look at this and say if dogs deserve better treatment, livestock should as well.

  54. @Augustus:

    Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, as far as we know, didn’t cheat to get their records, so for many it seems wrong for them to be second to someone who did.

    But Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron weren’t playing against competitors who were using steroids.

    Let’s take Barry Bonds. Yeah, he used steroids. Did it make him a better home run hitter? Probably. But it didn’t make him a better hitter, that’s a talent that you either have or you don’t. But if half the pitchers he faced were on steroids, they would have a huge advantage against him. He would never have achieved that record. Did he cheat? Or did he use drugs to increase his performance to adapt to the new demands?

    If Bonds, Sosa and McGwire were the only ones using, or the only big names using. And they’re out there destroying records, sure, that’s cheating. But that’s not the case. It was them, and everyone else, and the people they broke records against… they were all doing it.

    Babe Ruth probably couldn’t have accomplished what he did against today’s players without “playing their game” so to speak.

  55. It’s not Sports’ concern what any sports player does outside of Sports – but defiling Sports with gambling or cheating has to do with Sports, so it matters to Sports.

    I get that.

    So why would Sports care what Michael Vick did in his private time that wouldn’t affect his sport-life?

    We’ll see what the public thinks of Michael Vick’s “antics” once/if he’s back.

    Kobe Bryant and Mike Tyson didn’t seem to fare irrevocably poorly due to their, uh, antics..

  56. Dave W @38: “Would I drop an excellent musician if I learned something unsavory about them? In a heartbeat.”

    Define “unsavory”, pls?!

  57. @fcmk: “It’s not like they have to pet an animal before shooting the ball to the basket.”

    C’mon, dude. Man up! It’s FOOTBALL! They use a stick, or a mechanical rabbit.

    Pretty sure.

  58. @marilove:

    Usually yours are the posts I most agree with, but I’m lost on this. Re: your reply to davew, could you point out the “possible racism” for me? I must have missed it.

  59. @mxracer652: You have been watching too many PETA videos. There is a tool that is used in individual slaughter, but it is nothing like a sledgehammer, and it is fairly humane. It’s more like a gun than anything.

    More and more of the US regulations on slaughter of meat animals have been designed by Temple Grandin:

    She has written eloquently that we are required ethically to give meat animals a good life and a good death.

  60. BTW, she’s not afraid to call out abuses when she sees them:

    It took me a while to find this: Her philosophy on eating animals:
    “I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we’ve got to do it right. We’ve got to give those animals a decent life and we’ve got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect.”

    There’s an interesting interview with here here:
    (also a printable transcript)

  61. @Reverend Kel: Because assuming all football players (many of whom are african american) are drug dealers and gangsters isn’t racist? Or at the very least, a fucked up thing to assume.

  62. I see a difference in the examples you used to ask the Vick question.

    “Do you believe Michael Vick should be allowed to play in the NFL again? Do you believe that a double standard for athletes and celebrity entertainers exists? Does thata double standard apply more to football players?”

    Sure the question is about Vick but the examples are of two men who are up for honors from their leagues. They are not examples of whether they should be allowed to earn a living in there sports again but if those leagues should give their repective highest honor to them. This is a different conversation. For Vick you are asking if he should be allowed to compete again.

    Do you believe Michael Vick should be allowed to play in the NFL again? Sure, he served time for his crimes and if someone wants to hire him then he can play again.

    Do you believe that a double standard for athletes and celebrity entertainers exists? Yes but it is natural that someone with more exposure, more chance to have people like them will have more chances after mistakes. I think it comes with the territory of performer.

    Does that double standard apply more to football players? Sure, and there are many cases where players have been caught doing illegal or just not nice things and been given a pass.

  63. I don’t ever want to see him in the NFL again. If for no other reason, sheer stupidity. And sadism.

    Make no mistake; I’m not objective at all on this. My dog is my best little buddy in the whole world, and I can’t abide anyone that is cruel to animals like Vick is.

  64. Re: accepting Michael Vick as a co-worker
    I’d work with him IF
    1) He actually believed what he did was wrong
    2) Demonstrated through his ongoing actions that he felt remorse
    3) Made voluntary restitution commensurate with the evil he perpetrated

    I do not personally believe Vick has met any of those conditions.

  65. @Mr. Funnypants:
    A naive hope indeed so why continue to support it? You may not cheer the carnage but you knowingly support it. If the difference between killing an animal for sport and killing one for food is intention then does the same hold true for any other crime? What about hunting, rodeos, horse racing etc? If it’s for the suffering inflicted, there is a whole lotta suffering going on with the animals we deem food.

    Assuming that cruelty towards dogs is repugnant because of the pain the dogs receive, how is the pain inflicted with one intention different than one inflicted with a different intention? What is the difference between one animal we call food and one we call pet? Why make a special case about Vick’s involvement with one species and not another?

    Actually if you did watch the PETA videos you would see the captive bolt guns in action.
    Maybe it’s because I don’t have a brain development disorder but “humane slaughter” and “killing with kindness” are oxymorons in my book.

  66. @BrianB:
    “If the difference between killing an animal for sport and killing one for food is intention then does the same hold true for any other crime?”

    Intent is frequently taken into consideration in law. And again, if you can’t see the difference from a *human* perspective (as I said before) between how we treat food animals and dog fighting, then we’ll just have to leave it there.

    “What about hunting, rodeos, horse racing etc? If it’s for the suffering inflicted, there is a whole lotta suffering going on with the animals we deem food.”

    In order: against it personally, but see no realistic way to stop it, ignorant of the specifics so won’t comment on it, dead set against it.

    As for our food animals suffering, that argues for regulations to reduce or eliminate that suffering. That goal is achievable. Instantly forcing everyone on the planet off meat is not.

  67. @Pweep: He could have been convicted of mutltiple accounts the evidence was there and it was ample. The convicting judge could have sentence him to serve his term consecutively instead of concurently. This could have put him into prison until he was an old man, along with fines and court cost that could have eaten up his fortune. Then he would be released as an old man without any money. This would have been the correct punishment.

  68. SkepLit, restitution to who? The “victims” were dogs which were killed. How can those victims be compensated?

    What about training cats to kill mice? Or lions to kill antelope? Or wolves to kill elk?

  69. Oh, boy, looks like we’re going down the ethics of meat road. I have recently been amused by the craigslist vegan forum, and how far out of whack a lot of the posters seem to be regarding animals..

    Death is inevitable. Abuse is neither inevitable nor necessary. I see no problem with a cow living a nice pastoral life, then being slaughtered humanely (this is not an oxymoron. You think letting a sick animal starve to death or die of age related disease is more humane than swift slaughter?). I see even less of a problem with a deer running free and wild and then being hunted by a skilled marksman, an instant death.

    The vegans on the craigslist forum mostly think that taking eggs (unfertilized, mind you) from chickens is “stealing”…

    Factory farming is an abomination, sure, but geez. The way that a lot of the vegans seem to think is along the lines of “child prostitution is evil, therefore so is consentual BDSM” or something.

  70. Steroids Was it really cheating?

    Given that no one has shown it helps. No. Mythbusters had an episode that showed that using a humidor reduced the flight of a ball and that a couple of years ago MLB added a humidor to every park.

    I think it’s a little disturbing how quickly some posters will just repeat what the talking heads of the media will say without looking into the statements to verify what is said is true.

    I also think it’s funny that people bring up Aaron as the non steriod era. His teammate, who caught HR 715 in the bullpen, was on steriods at the time. So I would say yes Aaron played in the steriod era.

  71. @Harknights:

    Good point. Not only that, but amphetamine abuse was rampant as well (even worse in football).

    If you are a fan of pro-sports in this country, you need to grow up and realize that due to the money that is on the line (which we are responsible for giving them), these guys are going to go for any edge, legal, illegal, real or imagined, that they can. They always have and they always will. Get over it.

  72. @daedalus2u:
    Certainly Vick can not pay restitution to the animals. Nor would they find much use for the green if they got it.
    The question was “would I share a cube with him” and the answer I was trying to give was “not with the man he was when he committed the crime”. He would have to be a new man who had been changed by what he had done. In order for him to demonstrate he had changed he would need to meet the criteria I laid out.
    In my concept of ethics, I should not define the restitution. I wasn’t injured. His guilt and shame should motivate his level of restitution (and its form). If I find his actions convincing, I will see him as a changed man and can forgive him.
    Re: cats trained to kill mice, etc – if I trained the cats to kill mice for my prurient amusement I’d say that was immoral. Death may be necessary, but it should never amuse me.

  73. Re: cats trained to kill mice…

    Huh? In my experience, you’d have to train a cat to not kill mice. Not that that would work…

  74. @bug_girl: I eat meat & I fucking hate PETA more than racist assholes. I also have hands on experience in the slaughtering of meat animals, which is why I brought it up. My point remains that “factory” farms are no better/worse than “non factory” farms as a whole, and ethically, killing animals for sport is no less different than killing for food (at least for most people in this country).

  75. I’m vegan and I fucking hate PETA more than racist assholes too. My reasons for being vegan are not based on the killing of animals, lets face it that’s a pretty normal and natural event. The reasons I’m vegan have to do with the animals’ lives, not their deaths. All animals are just as evolved as we are, they’ve just evolved differently, and I don’t think that means that they are lesser creatures. I think modern farming doesn’t really treat most of these animals with the respect due. Death is natural, being forced to live a shitty life, not so much. Things like “free range” and “cage free” are nice ideas, but they don’t really mean anything by their current definitions.

    As for Mr. Vick, I think any team that were to hire him on would be met with a huge public backlash, it doesn’t really matter if he’s allowed to play or not. The issue kinda sorts itself out. Does that make me a free-market libertarian?

    Professional sports are an entertainment industry, and therefor are subject more to public opinion than anything else.

  76. @mxracer652:

    So, to clarify, you see no difference between, say, feedlots and grass-fed cattle raising as far as one being better or worse than the other? Or a large hog “farm”/confined animal feeding operation and a setting in which the hogs could actually move about?

    From an animal well-being standpoint, feedlots and CAFOs are abysmal. And comparing grain-fed to grass-fed beef from a human health perspective shows significant differences. Grain fed beef is higher in saturated fat, for one thing.

    And I have to disagree with you on the ethics of killing animals for sport vs. food. The former is entertainment. The latter is (to some, at least) a necessity.

    Disclaimer: I’m a vegetarian (and I hate PETA too!). I’ve got no beef (heh!) with people eating meat, or even hunting for food, but I do object to how the animals are treated during their lives.

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