Webster defines a crime as “an action or an instance of negligence that is deemed injurious to the public welfare or morals or to the interests of the state and that is legally prohibited.” As red blooded Americans, we’re supposed to trust in and believe in our country’s legal system, although we don’t always agree with it. It is not perfect, but for that matter, nothing is. Nevertheless, Americans believe that it is the best form of legal judgment in the world.
In 2009, I think it’s safe to say we’re at a road crossing as a people and as a country. Sadly, it seems that we live in a world where a dog’s life is worth more than that of a human. We must not mistake intent with result, nor should status be a determinant of a sentence. Donte Stallworth is a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. He was the number two receiver behind Detroit’s own Braylon Edwards. Stallworth was convicted for killing a pedestrian while driving his Bentley under the influence. He killed an innocent human being and was sentenced to thirty days in jail, house arrest and is forced to serve community service hours.
Donte Stallworth is not a household name; in fact, few people beyond the football faithful would even know who he is, let alone know what he does, yet he received a slap on the wrist for what is clearly a heinous crime. Obviously the judge and jury deemed that the crime was unintentional and punished him with jail time suitable for a repeat jaywalking offender.
Michael Vick and a ring of accomplices intentionally fought, killed and in some instances tortured dogs. The act was thoughtless, heartless and inhumane. Michael lost approximately $100 million of potential earnings, served two years in prison as well as house arrest. He was released in May
Vick became eligible for reinstatement into the NFL in July of the same year. Mentored by former Super Bowl-winning coach and humanitarian Tony Dungy, Vick was able to regain employment with the Philadelphia Eagles. Since then, Dungy, as well as the Eagles organization, have lost several sponsors for signing the convicted quarterback. Rest assured, PETA and other protesters will be present at games, and Vick will take the field to the welcome of boos.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell personally suspended Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth indefinitely after his thirty day vacation. Stallworth paid the family of the slain human an undisclosed settlement. Odds are whenever Stallworth takes the field again, he won’t be met by a plethora of protestors. Sponsors won’t pull millions of investment dollars from whatever team he laces up for. Why should they? He only killed the man by mistake! Had Vick paid off the families of the dogs he killed, maybe there wouldn’t be such a nasty aftermath.
“He who is without sin cast the first stone.” None of us can pass judgment on either man. The notion that Michael Vick is not deserving of a second chance is absurd. If a man who harms another human is granted a second chance, surely a man who harms dogs should be afforded the same treatment.
There are men in the NFL guilty of everything from rape to murder and they’ve moved on unnoticed. Are we so used to crime and acts of violence that it is now acceptable? The fickle nature of humans will once again prove that if Vick keeps his nose clean and performs, this will all blow over.
Look at Kobe Bryant and his rape case, or Ray Lewis of the Ravens and his murder trial. They are no longer topics of discussion. What Vick and Stallworth did was wrong. That is obvious. The difference is, in the case of the slaughtered pedestrian, that man’s family will grieve for a lifetime, possibly affecting a generation to come, with no sense of retribution
after only a thirty-day sentence.
If in this day and age a dog’s life is equal to that of a man, as a society we are truly lost, going out of this world “bass ackwards.”