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Michael Vick Should Be Pretty Ticked
Posted by Chris Liss at 2/15/2008 10:32:00 AM
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It's come out recently that several prominent Dominican players like Pedro Martinez and Aramis Ramirez are heavily involved in cockfighting in their native country. Ramirez in particular, was ''prominently featured in a recent issue of a Dominican cockfighting magazine, En La Traba, in which he's pictured with several roosters that he raises for fighting. Of the roosters, he said in the magazine, 'When I'm in the Dominican Republic, I'm dedicated entirely to them.'''

Now, in America we eat more than 35 million pounds of chicken every year and also keep them in horrendous conditions and "mutilate them while they're alive", so we really can't get too worked up about a little cockfighting. But it makes you wonder about the harsh prison sentence given to Michael Vick who did the same thing Martinez and Ramirez did - only on American soil and with a different, albeit more lovable, species. Because even if it's legal to cockfight in the Dominican Republic, baseball could surely seek to ban those two players if it wanted to take a stand.

But it won't, and probably shouldn't, in my opinion, precisely because of the way we treat poultry in the U.S. - it would be hypocritical. So why the harsh punishment for Vick? I'd say there are two reasons (1) Because he was considered sort of a dirt bag generally with the "Ron Mexico" incident, his flipping off the fans and the behavior of his gun-toting younger brother; and (2) Because we love dogs (and most of us don't eat them) in America, and the idea that Vick would dogfight pushes emotional buttons in us.

But both of those reasons are flawed - (1) might be true, but has nothing to do with the offense in question and (2) isn't a sound basis for judging. If Vick had gone to trial on the charges, for example, it would be reasonable to disqualify jurors who owned dogs, just as jurors are disqualified all the time when there's reason to believe they'd be too emotionally involved to be objective.

I'm not defending Vick or the Dominican cockfighting baseball players - just pointing out that the application of justice here is woefully uneven.


To me this all turns on whether cockfighting is illegal in the Dominican. If it's legal, then the reason for the disparate treatment is obvious and, IMO, appropriate - Vick committed a crime and Pedro did not. If it's illegal, then it's more gray.
Posted by MPStopa at 2/15/2008 12:28:00 PM
While I find both cockfighting and dog fighting a horrendous thing to be involved in, bringing this whole story up is ridiculous. You cannot compare apples to oranges here. Mike Vick, was born and raised in the United States, and I am sure he was brought up in this country to know the difference between right and wrong as is proven by his college degree.
What he did does not compare with what is done in other third world countries, nor do you state the facts. Mike Vick also lied about his activities to all who inquired and then took a plea bargain to get out of serving more time. Now, if Pedro or A Rod were busted for cockfighting in America, I would back you 100%, but they were not. You cannot compare law abiding people to people who believe they are above the law and then hide behind there over priced attorney.
Posted by brower at 2/15/2008 12:57:00 PM
well, you have to separate the moral from the legal arguments. If Vick should know right from wrong, then so should the Dominicans - regardless of the country's laws. And if Vick did what he did in the offseason in a country where it were legal, would that change your opinion? It's no less terrible for the dogs. My point is that in terms of the moral issue, it's not that different, and the moral outrage is the reason that Vick had the book thrown at him.
Posted by cliss at 2/15/2008 1:46:00 PM
What's next, going after kids who round up ants and put them into one of those ant farms? Crazy. They're CHICKENS.
Posted by vtadave at 2/15/2008 3:35:00 PM
Why are ants more like chickens than chickens like dogs?
Posted by cliss at 2/15/2008 3:39:00 PM
Not taking a side here on what the punishment should be for Vick or any of the baseball players - just pointing out the unevenness of it. If dogs are more important than chickens, fine, but you'd think that if dog fighting entails the kind of condemnation that Vick got (I'm not talking just about the legal consequences), but the moral condemnation, that it's odd that these baseball guys are off relatively scot-free. (I'm sure PETA will say something, but I'm talking about the average fan). In other words, if only a sick bastard would force pit bulls to fight each other, but forcing razor-blade strapped roosters to do the same is just some other culture's idea of fun, I don't think we're really examining our responses very closely.
Posted by cliss at 2/15/2008 3:49:00 PM
Chris, I feel like I'm in law school again studying "morality and the law." LOL Often morality and the law coincide, such that when you enforce the law, you are also enforcing moral standards (or what most people would consider to be "moral"). It's when the law and morality diverge that something strikes us as amiss, as it does for you here. The problem is that you/we can't enforce morality unless the immoral conduct is also illegal, and chicken-fighting is not illegal in the Dominican. To me that's the end of the story.

As for Vick, it's not like he didn't know what he was doing was immoral AND illegal. I have no pity for him. I can cite many other situations where morality and the law did not coincide in far more egregious ways - like that 17 year old kid (a high-school football player actually) who was sentenced to 10(?) years in prison for having consensual oral sex with a 15 year old under an antequated Georgia statute that penalized oral sex more harshly than statutory rape. (The kid just got out via a majority decision from the Georgia Supreme Court.) Feel bad for somebody like that, not Vick.
Posted by MPStopa at 2/15/2008 8:29:00 PM
I don't feel bad for Vick personally - just saying he got a raw deal because the public and the league came down on him with not only legal condemnation but also moral. And that the moral climate is what served to exacerbate his legal penalty. Where these other guys are morally in a similar boat, but no one really cares because we're not as emotionally attached to chickens as dogs. Basically he was no more inhumane to animals - he just picked on the wrong animal!
Posted by cliss at 2/15/2008 9:19:00 PM
Crime of the century? Nope, but the financial consequences might be. Fed's on a power trip and the misguided 'holier than thou' social conscience of america strike again!
Posted by twinbulls at 2/16/2008 8:05:00 AM
Had M. Vick told the truth there still would have been an outrage going on in the states. However, his punishments were harder then they might have been for not standing up and admitting that he was involved.
Do you think Barry Bonds issues would still be going on if he just said I made a mistake and for that I apologize. His fans here in San Francisco don't seem to mind, but having an 11 year old son, when steroids are brought up he and his pals say he did it and they are no longer his fans. But if you ask them about Giambi, they say he is cool because he told the truth. When kids who play baseball, have on the back of their baseball cards the names of their favorite player listed as being Barry Bonds, then over the last two years, not to even mention his name, tells us all, that if you cheat, it is better to fess up then to keep denying it. Did Bonds use Roids, It does not matter to me anymore, no tin the least. Regardless if he did it, Bonds will be remembered as the player who helped stop the use of steroids. For this I am greatful.
On another note, if you want to pick on the fighting of dogs and penalties, does this mean we should take it further and deport people from other countries who ate them? Sick, yes, but when does it all end. We police to many things, and not enough of others. On a positive note, this has been a good discussion.

Posted by brower at 2/16/2008 9:12:00 AM
I dont think anything was unfair with Vick's punishment. He violated American law and the nation's moral code and was handed a punishment that attempted to represent the people's outrage at such behavior.

As far as Pedro goes, what his involvement in the chicken fights tells me is that hes not a real enlightened guy. I understand that his behavior is legal, but I dont have to like him for it. As an American, I find his behavior less outrageous than Vick's because (as Chriss said) we eat chickens and they are brutally treated before they are killed. They are not our pets and we don't show much respect for them. Dogs are obviously a different story(as our reaction to the Vick controversy illustrated).
Posted by djm1144 at 2/16/2008 9:38:00 PM
Chris- I agree with some of what your saying though. Taking the laws of countries out of the equation, our ideas of right and wrong are guided by moral codes or natural law. And a case could be made that dogs and chickens are equally deserving of respect from humans. It follows that we should feel similar outrage toward Pedro as we felt toward Vick.
Posted by djm1144 at 2/16/2008 9:47:00 PM

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