This July Michael Vick will be released from Prison. Actually he will be released from a half way house that he will go to shortly to finish out the rest of his sentence. If you don't know who Michael Vick is, he is the famous professional football player that funded and ran a dogfighting operation. He directly and indirectly participated in the deaths and injuries of dozens of dogs. As a result he has spent the better part of two years in a federal penitentiary. Not a country club, Leavenworth. He hopes to continue his football career this fall. This depends entirely on the commissioner of the NFL who suspended Vick indefinitely once the charges surfaced and Vick pleaded guilty.
So why am I bringing this up? This issue has gotten ink all across the country tens of thousands of articles have been written on it and one thing has not been really addressed and that's the public and media's inherent racism in the collective response to these acts.
For those of you that are football fans, you will know that my favorite team, the Bears are historically the worst team at choosing quarterbacks, the position that Vick plays. While reading a discussion board weighing the merits of the Bears possibly bringing in Michael Vick after he leaves jail, one Bear fan responded by saying this:
The NFL will not bother reinstating this fool, he had his chances. Yes we treat dogs better than we treat thugs from the hood, with good reason.
This was not the only remark like this in fact it's the norm. During Michael Vick's visits to court several protesters held up signs that said "Neuter Michael Vick". Not realizing or caring that it is quite possible that one of Michael Vick's ancestors could have been neutered on a slave plantation not all that long ago.
Why do I think it is racism. To some the examples I've just given will be enough but to others it will still be unclear. This is what I'm saying. The fact that people are outraged that these innocent dogs were unnecessarily tortured and killed is not the problem. The problem is how people express that anger. The United State Prison System, of which Michael Vick is a resident, is the most racist institution in this countries history since Slavery. The reprehensible way people are treated, the unjust manner in which people are convicted, and the disproportionate numbers of Poor Whites, Blacks and Latinos that make up the prison population are so thoroughly unacceptable for a so called "advanced" nation that it makes me sick. And yet where is the outrage. Where are the demands for justice. We just let it continue. Even though the vast majority of us no that something is inherently wrong with our justice system.
And yet when the Michael Vick story came to light, PETA came out and demanded that he be sent to prison. It's ironic that the organization that demands the "Ethical Treatment of Animals" would want to send the ancestor of American Slaves to one of the most unethical places on the planet. I got an idea why doesn't PETA start a committee called "People for the Ethical Treatment of Criminals". And than maybe I will listen to what they have to say.
Are you still horrified that a man that has committed such reprehensible acts may have a chance to reclaim his wealth and fame on the football field? Well there is horror to spread around for people like: Roman Polanski. The Director of the film The Pianist won the Academy Award for Best Director in 2002. He wasn't there to receive the award but received a standing ovation. He of course wasn't present because he is a fugitive living in France. Why is he a fugitive you ask? Because he refuses to return to the US and serve time for the crime that he pleaded guilty to of "unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor." The child was 13. I didn't see any protesters at the Academy Awards that year. But there is always Senator Robert Byrd currently the oldest active member of the senate and former KKK member. I haven't seen many "Get Robert Byrd the Fuck Out of Washington Protests" lately.
So what's my point? It's two things. One I think people that engage in reprehensible acts are still human beings and should be treated as such. Not without punishment, just with a justice that doesn't attempt to take away their humanity. But also I realize that sometimes we may have the urge to think of people that do awful things as less than human. I'm merely saying that the collective consciousness of the United States has a much easier time doing that when the person, engaged in the terrible actions, has black skin.