The Final Proof That Michael Vick Doesn’t Get It

In the finale of “Animal House,” after the expelled Delta House members have sabotaged Faber College’s parade causing wanton destruction, mayhem, panic and riots, the fraternity’s  president approaches the dean (who is lying in the ruins of the stands toppled by the Delta House “Deathmobile”) and hopefully asks for “one more chance.”

I thought of this classic moment when I read that Michael Vick, the serial dog-abuser now seeking redemption by winning football games for the Philadelphia Eagles, had told an interviewer that he really missed owning a dog and hoped to have one as a pet some day. In my view, this settles for all time the question of whether Vick’s contrition and rehabilitation is genuine. It isn’t. It couldn’t be. If he had any idea how wrong his treatment of his dogs had been, and how heinous animal abuse is, he would understand why such a statement, coming from him, is by turns horrifying and, like Hoover’s final plea in “Animal House,” ridiculous.

Let’s see…what would be some equivalent statements?

I love children, and hope to adopt one some day.” —-Andrea Yates

“My ambition is to return to asset management; it’s something I love, and I’m good at it.” —-Bernie Maddoff

“I am announcing my candidacy for Governor of Illinois.”Rod Blagojavich

“I am announcing my candidacy for Governor of Alaska”—-Sarah Palin

“I am announcing my candidacy for President of the United States.—John Edwards

“I am ready to reprise my role as Nordberg if they remake The Naked Gun. I love making people laugh!”O.J.Simpson

“I am announcing my candidacy for House Minority Leader.”Nancy Pelosi

Wait—that last one actually happened, didn’t it?

If Michael Vick doesn’t realize that every pitbull, Rottweiler, Havanese or poodle reading his comments in the special canine edition of the USA Today was silently screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” and soiling his master’s rug, then his pretensions of enlightenment are public relations nonsense. He doesn’t understand what’s the big fuss over animal cruelty, and he never did.

Anyone who would entrust him with a dog, ever, would happily license a registered sex offender to open a day care center.


ADDENDUM: The Best of the Web blog posted a commentary on this story. A regular feature of the blog features James Taranto’s application of  the spirit of the old journalism saw,”If dog bites man, that’s not news; if man bites dog, that’s news!” to a current headline. Responding to the Philadelphia Magazine headline, “Michael Vick Wants a Dog,  Tarnto wrote “A Dog Wants Michael Vick–Now That Would Be News.”

NOTE: Special thanks to Penni Kimmel, who alerted me that I had referred to “wonton destruction” in the first paragraph, meaning, of course, wanton. The wonton destruction takes place in another movie, “Big Trouble in Little China.”

6 thoughts on “The Final Proof That Michael Vick Doesn’t Get It

  1. Wow Jack, you have managed to put me in the uncomfortable position of defending Michale Vick! I believe your argument by analogy is defective, at least with respect to your first example — Andrea Yates who drowned her children. I’m guessing you do not place killing animals on the same level as killing humans. Further, I would argue that while Vick’s crime of torturing animals is extremely ugly, it is not unreasonable to believe that he has been rehabilitated through the combination of a harsh prison sentence, the moral outrage rightly directed at him, and education. In fact, given his experience, I think it is very likely that he views dogs in a whole new light. We live in a society that believes in redemption and, in this case, I think that is appropriate.

    • Well, I respect that point of view. I just think it’s naive. I think most people hear his comment exactly the way they hear the ones I quoted, and think, “WHAT??? He’ GOT to be kidding!” I think if Andrea Yates made that statement, it would taken as proof that she was deluded.

      The legal system still has an order in place prohibiting Vick from owning a dog, and I think that’s appropriate. Society does believe in redemption despite ample evidence that it is exceedingly rare.

      Go ask your dog if he’s forgiven Vick. My guess is no.

  2. If you think my point of view is naive, I’m not sure why you would respect it. Be that as it may, and not to beat a dead horse (pun intended), Vick knows the level of scrutiny that he would face if he owned a dog, so in this specific case I think it is extremely unlikely he would be a repeat offender. What I find a bit odd about this whole case, is that some people seem to be more concerned about crimes against animals than humans (I’m not accusing you of this). I produced a film a few years back where a dog was shot (no animal was actually harmed in the making of the film), a character was murdered and another character committed suicide. At screenings the most frequently asked question was “why did he kill the dog?”

    • Yes, Kurt, I respect the opinion because it is noble, well-motivated, kind, sweet and optimistic. I mean that sincerely. It is naive, but those instincts will usually be better supported. The fact is that it not normal for a human being to inflict pain and cruelty on an innocent animal. A no point in my life, and I did not actually own a dog until I was 30, would I have entertained the thought of hurting a dog. Someone who, as Vick said, has had dogs all his life and STILL inflicts horrible cruelty on them, even once,has a character deficit at least, and a personality disorder at worst. THis is waht Bill James would call “signature significance. He “learned” that cruelty is wrong? Baloney. You don’t have to learn that; if you do, there’s a bigger problem than missing a lesson somewhere. Vick learned that 1) you get punished for being cruel to animals, 2) people won’t like you and 3) it is not accepted in society. In other words, he’s learned compliance….that doesn’t mean, and I doubt it does mean, that he himself understands at a visceral level that abusing animals is inhuman behavior. You hint at this yourself—he won’t abuse a dog now because he is under scrutiny. Is this supposed to be reassuring? Being kind to animals is what normal human beings do when people aren’t watching. It’s 1:30, and my Jack Russell is asleep on my desk. Anyone who would inflict pain on him, or any living thing in his species or pit of it, is missing the “living thing empathy gene.” That includes Michael Vick past, present or future. I see no connection between suffering a personal loss of dollars, freedom and reputation as the result of gratuitous cruelty, and a sudden genuine respect for animals. It’s possible, I suppose, that Vick is a unique case, but I sure wouldn’t bet Rugby on it.

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