Here is the video from yesterday’s The Ed Show:
Let me begin by identifying my bias. I not only love dogs, I live and breathe dogs; I breed, raise and train dogs, I engage in a variety of competitions with dogs. My morning began with training a three year old greyhound, not my own, to go potty on command, on leash. This morning we ‘proofed’ the success of that training with the challenge of requiring the dog to comply with the command while a number of other dogs ran free around her playing, as an intentional distraction.
She did wonderfully well with the command, but her real success was that she was bouncing around like a cartoon Kangaroo at the prospect of her training collar being put on before we began. Before she could learn any new commands, this dog had to be rehabilitated to overcome her fears. She used to shake with anxiety when she was expected to do something, because if not exactly abused, someone – I don’t know who – had been horribly, unnecessarily harsh with her. Now she can go to a new home to bond with a new owner, as a happy, well adjusted, well mannered dog.
So understand, as you read this, how very much I hate the actions of Michael Vick. I hate, more than even the average dog loving pet owner, that he caused pain and fear, and horrific deaths to those dogs. More than that, I live in Minnesota; as of the recent announcement that Brett Favre will not come out of retirement, the Minnesota Vikings are among the most likely teams in the NFL to hire Vick. One of my friends, the dog-loving wife of a die-hard football fan, refers to the NFL not as the National Football League, but as the National Felons League. She is angry enough to have written a letter of protest to Roger Goodell; I am sure she will not be the only person to do so. This decision by Goodell may be the most controversial one he ever makes.
I respectfully disagree with my friend. However much I deeply deplore what Vick did, he served his sentence. Has he genuinely changed his values and his feelings? I don’t know. I am familiar with the science that PETA is relying on to determine Vick’s sincerity. There are huge ethical controversies surrounding this science; and those ethical dilemmas have not been resolved. At the core of the controversy is simply this, do we judge people on their thoughts, and their feelings, or do we judge them on their actions?
People may feel that Vick got off too lightly for what he did, but we have courts that make that decision. What they decide, we need to accept, reluctantly if not enthusiastically. We don’t have to like Vick. But we should not allow that dislike to prevent him from lawfully seeking employment in his area of expertise after he has fulfilled the penalty he was given.
Most of all, we should not allow anyone, least of all an organization like PETA, to require something as intrusive as a brain scan, as a condition of employment. Vick must, going forward, act appropriately. Sanctions to enforce and ensure that behavior are available, by contract, and the authority of Goodell.
If you are like my dog-loving friend Amy (who I expect will be commenting here any minute now), demonstrate your objections to Vick playing football by not supporting whatever team hires him. Write letters to the team owners, don’t give them money by buying tickets, don’t watch their games on television. Or, support the rest of the team by attending and watching, booing Vick when he plays.
But do not support PETA’s demand for a brain scan of Michael Vick.
Do not support PETA, or the HSUS. Don’t give them money, don’t give them the power of influence. Research who they really are. As much as I dislike Vick, as a dedicated dog lover, I dislike PETA and the HSUS, even more than I dislike Vick. In a different way, they do more harm as organizations than Vick could ever do as an individual, bad as he was.
If you love humans, as well as loving dogs, do not endorse judging people by their intentions as determined by intrusive brain scans. Support judging people by what they do; whatever their thoughts or urges, their is no definitive way to anticipate what ultimate decisions they will make about their feelings and their impulses. In the end, that is all that matters, their choices, their actions; anything else is simply their private demons to battle.