I was reading several Philadelphia Eagle fan blogs yesterday and was mildly surprised to see that the pro/con ration was maybe fifty/fifty.
I was over to my buddy Cookie's blog, the Cook Shack, this afternoon and read his take on Michael Vick's hiring by the Eagles and decided to examine my own feelings about his recent good fortune and to delve into the reason why I react to his situation the way I do.
About six years ago I was conducting some initial surveys of missing persons and unsolved homicides in our part of the state. I also got interested in the studies of serial murderers and found that some of them displayed their homicidal tendencies by killing animals.
This 2003 study cities the interview of violent and nonviolent offenders in a Florida correctional facility. The study found that there is a much higher likelihood that violent offenders, as children, committed acts of animal cruelty, particularly on their pets. What was even more chilling was that the manner in which these animals were tormented or killed resembled the manner that they tormented their human victims. This was not true for nonviolent offenders who also committed acts of animal cruelty as children.
Let me be clear, I am not suggesting that Michael Vick is a serial killer, nor am I suggesting that he could be a serial killer in the future, nor that all those who engage in this activity are potential serial killers or potential violent felons.
I am suggesting that dog fighting is not a "sport" like hunting or racing. It is an ignoble exercise designed purely to satisfy a base human appetite for gambling, violence and bloodshed.
And I am suggesting this - that dog fighting will attract people who desire to see animals tear each other to pieces. Same thing goes for cock fighting.
This amuses them; this excites them, this entertains them. And perhaps for a small percentage of them, this will not be enough. And these are the people that will prey on humans. They have already become insensitive to suffering and bloodshed and like low grade pornography, they are ready for the next step.
It not only amused Michael Vick to witness this savagery, he provided an organized outlet so that others could satisfy their immoral, bloodthirsty appetite for suffering and death. And for this reason he should not participate in any professional sport.
It's not that I hate Mr. Vick; I don't hate him - I don't know enough about him to say whether or not he is an evil person. I realize that anyone can change their ways and that people can be redeemed (Jesus has done this for us) and conduct themselves as useful, productive citizens. And indeed I welcome the opportunity for Mr. Vick to prove himself. But there has to be an element of accountability. Professional sports must prove itself to be a haven for role models, not ex-offenders. We cannot, as a society, keep sending the message to our youth that no matter how completely you screw up, it doesn't matter. It does matter, it matters a lot. Our prisons are full of this message. Mr. Vick should be free to pursue any career he chooses (except perhaps as an animal trainer) but he should not be allowed to reenter professional sports. He had his shot and blew it.
Now I like to hunt. Last November I only had one chance to take a shot at a deer running by me. I completely missed it. I was very relieved that it was a complete miss because I did not want the animal to suffer while we tracked it down to dispatch it. I wanted a clean kill and then harvest the meat. If I did not intend to harvest the deer, I would not be out in the woods.
Hunting is a sport, a great sport. I feel acutely alive when I am hunting. Every sense is heightened. I am completely focused. Thoughts of work, finances, stress factor - all is gone as I concentrate on my physical surroundings and prepare myself for a possible encounter with some prey. Even if I do not see a deer (or a turkey), I walk out of the woods refreshed and revitalized; joking with my family and friends who have joined me for the morning.
This is hunting, this is sport. Dog fighting is a bloody, idle diversion that must be eliminated.