I often marvel at the hypocrisy that bubbles to the surface of American discourse and discussion when addressing issues of crime and punishment.
For example; there is a resounding chorus of “Just get over it…” that echoes through the blogosphere and other public forums of debate when the subject of slavery or the not-so-distant history of racial segregation is put on the table.
To many citizens, these crimes against humanity represent a past transgression that should be forgiven and forgotten by a people now rewarded with one of theirs calling the shots in the White House.
Memories of our African forefathers standing on Southern auction blocks being examined from tooth to toe before being sold to the highest bidder are just a manifestation of a different time and culture.
We are supposed to take the higher ground of forgiveness when confronted with the visceral images of burned, black bodies hanging from trees as throngs of white Americans smile and point at the result of their vigilante justice.
America expects redemption for its sins, yet seems reticent to offer the same to some of its own.
Michael Vick is one of America’s own who is finding that redemption is harder to receive than snow in South Florida.
In December 2007, the highly skilled and highly compensated quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison for his role, participation and complicity in dog fighting.
His career compromised, legacy tarnished and bank accounts depleted by his own irresponsible and inhumane activities, Vick remorsefully accepted his mandated punishment and traded in a life of luxury for the proverbial “three hots and a cot.”
After 18 months of incarceration in Leavenworth, Kansas, Vick was released in May of this year. With his time served, the debate about his future began before he even emerged from the shadows of the penitentiary’s concrete walls.
Animal Rights activists and associated trustees of morality waited and watched to see if the NFL would reinstate this transgressor of their ethical sensibilities, and in July of 2009, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sanctioned Vick’s conditional reinstatement.
When only weeks after the commissioner’s conditional blessing Vick was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles to a 2-year deal worth almost 7 million dollars, there was limited love for this brother in the “City of Brotherly Love.’’
Vociferous protests and threats to forego season tickets were but a few of the demonstrations of contempt directed at the football franchise that dared to offer redemption to a man who did the crime and served his time.
Somehow, in the minds of the moral crusaders who paraded their pit bulls in protest to the Vick signing, forgiveness for Vick is unthinkable, and thinking Vick can redeem himself is unforgivable.
Every day, an employee of a company somewhere admits to having a drug problem and is offered drug rehabilitation. Once they have completed their program, they are allowed to come back to work and earn a living based on the theory, “everyone deserves a second chance.”
Almost 20,000 wealthy Americans who opted to evade federal taxes by depositing their money in the Swiss bank UBS are eligible to avoid tax evasion prosecution by taking part in a voluntary disclosure program with the Internal Revenue Service, which will basically grant amnesty to any of the tax scofflaws who choose to participate. Sounds like a second chance to me, and from the IRS no less!
Clearly, America believes in second chances and redemption, but what I am trying to figure out is to whom it applies, and whether Michael Vick will be a beneficiary.
It has been said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
Though some of these Vick haters seem to have no problem throwing stones, they ought to realize that almost all of them live in glass houses.