The Michael Vick Project

February 3, 2010

Black Entertainment Television is currently airing a documentary series/reality show featuring Michael Vick and his family. Michael Vick was at one time, the highest paid player in the NFL. Vick was arrested in 2005 and served two years in prison on a felony conviction for running a dog fighting ring. Vick, now out of prison, has been signed to play NFL football again for the Philadelphia Eagles, despite much controversy and derision.

I happened to catch last night’s episode of the Michael Vick Project (I believe there will be six more installments) while I was channel surfing after dinner.  What I saw on that show was a good deal of crying, stories of hardship and struggle growing up, and recollections of dog fighting in childhood that included such reflections as “We never knew there was nothing wrong with it” and “We gravitated to it.”  During this particular show Vick stated several times in various ways that he had done “cruel and inhumane things to dogs”, but at least in this episode, Vick did not state exactly what those cruel and inhumane things were. In it’s entirety, what I took from this show is that it is an attempt to garner sympathy from the public for Michael Vick and his family so that we all can accept and forgive him for his mistakes and allow him to come back into the public spotlight to resume his career with a clean slate.

I was really curious after the show to find out more about why it was on the air. I cannot recall ever seeing a documentary series about a convicted felon. I have seen plenty of documentary *episodes* on felons, most still in prison, some dead before shows were aired about their lives.  It seems to me that there has always been an effort to prevent felons from making money as a result of their criminal acts as well as serious attempts to prevent felons from gaining attention and publicity for their crimes.

I visited the Black Entertainment Television Website and nowhere could I find a justification from those that run BET for the airing of the documentary series.  What I did find was a Blog for the series that has probably gotten my ire up more than the documentary itself.

Here is the link for it so that you can check it out for yourself:

http://blogs.bet.com/ontv/primetimeplayback/2009/10/231/?cp=6#comments

I believe the majority of those comments were very critical of BET for airing the documentary, many said they were ashamed of BET, and some said they were asking their cable companies to remove the channel from their listings.  Time and again, BET was urged through those comments to pull the documentary off the air.

However, peppered in with those comments were a lesser number of responses from those who are supporters of Michael Vick. Those comments truly give the reader an insight into why this documentary is on the air despite the protests about it.

Here are some of the common themes of supportive comments contributed to the Michael Vick Project Blog on the BET website:

Haters/Judgers

If you don’t support Michael Vick, you are a hater and a judger. People shouldn’t hate. God is the only one who should judge people.

Good points. I think what we ought to do is abolish all laws as well as law enforcement, the criminal court system, and shut down all the jails and prisons. We’ll just save all the judging and punishments for God to do. He knows what’s best for us and I am certain this would make for a much better world. Why let’s just look at a few countries now who have no rule of law and no functioning government……. Shall we start at Haiti or Somalia perhaps? Hmmm……that’s probably making me some kind of hater though.

The Mistake Argument

Michael Vick made a mistake and has now paid his debt to society and should be allowed to move on with his life. No one knew that dog fighting was wrong until Michael got in trouble for it. Two different sentiments but both are closely tied together. Both thoughts infer a “minimizing” of the illegal behavior. Should we be allowed more leeway when we choose to do illegal things that we are not aware are illegal? Are so many crimes committed because people don’t know what they are doing is illegal………..or does it just not matter? Maybe there are also a lot of people convicted of felonies and serving time in prison because they weren’t aware that robbing, drug peddling, car theft, and murder are wrong? (and also illegal).  Maybe people who claim ignorance of the law ought not to be prosecuted? How do you find those kind of things out anyway?

Here’s the big problem with the “No one knew it was wrong” argument:

If dog fighting was *right* and legal, and if Vick was going back to Virginia to check on his Pit Bulls every Tuesday, then why didn’t Michael share that with the media? It was a hobby he enjoyed to do. He and his cohorts wanted to raise the baddest fighting dogs ever in their kennel. They wanted to be the best at dog fighting. If it was an “okay thing”, then why didn’t we ever read an article about it in Sports Illustrated, see a video clip of it during a Monday Night Football Show, or see a Michael Vick special on the Animal Planet Channel? The highest paid NFL player gets plenty of exposure and media opportunities. If this was right and Michael spent so much time on it, why didn’t everybody know about it?? Could it be that Michael knew it was illegal when he was doing it?

The Race Card

The only reason Michael is getting beaten up for this is because he is a black man.

Well if nothing else will shut people up then you always have this argument to throw out there. For those of you who aren’t aware, the Race Card also applies to light skinned black people (a particularly offensive slur is used to describe that group of people).

There were apparently some white people cock-fighting down the road from Vick but nobody heard about them. Well, gee, the media hasn’t ever found that poor, unknown criminals make for great ratings. Rich, high profile law breakers do.  Then, of course, Tiger Woods’ name got dragged into the argument because the only reason he’s on the news for his infidelity is because he is black. Apparently these contributors don’t watch the same news that I do, because Mark Sanford and John Edwards have certainly got their share of media attention for their behavior as well as other politicians in the past several years. I am certain that if any white NFL football player had been convicted of running a dog fighting ring that they’d be thrown under the bus too with no regard for their skin color.

Improper Grammar, Spelling, and Usage of the English Language

Another commonality that I must mention among those supporters of Vick on the BET Blog was that those comments were often poorly written. Those who cannot spell and do not display a halfway decent mastery of the English language are also people who’s opinions are ill-educated too. In reading blogs and blog comments poor writing immediately affects my perception of the writer’s intelligence.  So I am of the opinion that at least some of the people who are supporters of Michael Vick are supporting him because they are incapable of clearly understanding the issues present in this situation.  Those people are typically influenced by the unintelligent opinions of others because they cannot weigh these opinions critically for fact and truth.

Perhaps BET’s air time could better serve people by producing shows that educate the viewers. A very helpful docu-drama might be one that features behaviors that are illegal and that should be avoided. Maybe a show about how people choose their behaviors and should accept responsibility for the consequences of those behaviors. Some grammar, spelling, and writing programs could also be very useful for those who want to work on self-improvement and moving up in the job market.

So let me leave you all with a few pictures of what happens when people want to raise the baddest fighting dogs ever. I’ll let you all be the judge.

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4 Responses to “The Michael Vick Project”

  1. Nancy said

    Thank you for your article. I only hope it will help and reach those who are ignorant about dog fighting and Vick.

  2. Faye said

    Good job. You make very valid points, especially concerning how secretive Vick was with his hobby. He knew it was wrong. I can’t believe they have aired this show.

  3. I just wanted to chime in and let you know that you are quite possibly one of the best writers ever on this subject. Everyone else is very hard to comprehend as I am not exactly A original English speaker, but I am trying. So I truly appreciate you breaking it down for me.

  4. Kathy said

    That is sad he knew what he was doing was wrong. Its horrible seeing dogs treated like this all while vick encourages it.

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