Friday, August 24, 2007

My take on the Vick case

Michael Vick is in for a dog fight.

Literally.

I'm sure by now you've all heard about the legal problems of the Atlanta Falcons star quarterback stemming from his involvement in illegal dog fighting. So I won't go into the details. I also won't provide any commentary on the fair/unfair treatment Vick is getting when compared to other animal/human killings in the world. Joslyn already did.

The point of this post is to see what good -- if any -- can come out of this case.

I hate to think that we can find good out of somebody else's misery, but we can. Really, we can. This story is loaded with important lessons that we can extract about how to conduct ourselves. This case may very well be the impetus that we -- especially black folks -- need in order to open our eyes to the consequences of our decisions. Yes, racism exists. Yes, judicial inequality occurs far more than it should. But somewhere down the road, personal responsibility must play a significant role in what we should and shouldn't be doing. This is especially true for people who are in the spotlight anyway. When you're making as much dough as some of these athletes and entertainers, you have to know that the public's eye will always be on you. As unfair as it might be, even your private life is fair game. There are no two ways about it: public images are moving targets. On top of that, being rich and famous doesn't somehow magically absolve race. Black people in America, no matter how prominent will always be at a disadvantage. If you think that another black athlete will be able to pull off an OJ Simpson or a Ray Lewis in court any time soon, think again.

Regardless of this case's outcome, this is a perfect opportunity to teach young people a few important lessons. As I said before, I don't like using bad things as a motivation piece. But you have to admit, bad circumstances often convey some of the best messages.

In this case, the moral of this story is simple: people need to be mindful about the consequences of their actions. We can use the snitches co-defendants who spilled the beans on Vick as an example of carefully choosing your friends (Although I have to admit that since I don't believe in merits of the Stop Snitchin' campaign, it was probably best that they came clean). I mean, even Vick's old man aired some of his dirty laundry. This story can also teach us that a person's fame and fortune does not make them above the law. That only happens when you become President. Further, this story shows us that we should reexamine how we assign role model status to people. Just because someone has talent and they're extremely well paid doesn't mean they have an image that should be followed. At the end of the day, these are just people who are good at what they do; and we get to see it everyday. But a person being good at something doesn't necessarily make them good. Case in point: Charles "I'm not a role model" Barkley. Maybe we should listen to him a little more and stop putting these folks on platforms.

In an unrelated note, Happy Birthday Sylvia!

- ACL

30 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

KC said...

Pretty good analysis Dre. This is another example of being able to take a person out of the hood, but not taking the hood out the person. I understand the intentions of not losing sight of where you came from, but too many athletes, entertainers, and people who "made it" try to stay connected with their old lives for all the wrong reasons. So they wind up engaging in criminal activities with their thug friends. Somewhere down the road, you have to cut some ties. They'll only get you in trouble.

KC said...

What I mean is giving back to their old communities is one thing. Actively engaging in some of the former (often illegal) practices of the old communities is something different.

Megan said...

Since I was a child, I've always been instilled with the idea that we have unfortunately been given special privilege as white people in America. This even extends into the celebrity world as well. Even now as we speak; as Michael Vick is facing up to five years for dog fighting and the Jena young men are looking at life in prison, Nicole Ritchie, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan are all walking free on DUI charges. That pastor-killing wife is walking free. There is a certain privilege with being white in this society. It's sad.

J. Alex said...

Tell me about it Megan. Nicole Ritchie just served a sentence of 82 minutes! One hour and 22 minutes! LOL!

This country's justice system is a farce.

KC said...

Good point, J. Alex. I've been in line at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles longer than that. This system is ridiculous.

Megan, I appreciate your insight. If there were more people like you in the world.

Diane J. said...

Most athletes and other famous figures knew going into their careers that their lives would be subject to scrutiny. Truth be told, a lot of them, possibly even most of them, get high on the fame and ego trip of public scrutiny.

Even the ones who don't necessarily like their lives being made public by the media weigh the fame and MONEY and decide that they're willing to sacrifice their privacy for the money and glory.

And race has absolutely nothing to do with right and wrong here. White, Asian, Mexican, whatever, it's wrong.

Be sure your sins will find you out. Later if not sooner.

And the ONLY role model that will never lead us astray is Jesus. Choose carefully the man in whose footsteps you will follow - he is, after all, just a man and subject to sin just as we are, no matter how famous, rich or "good" he may appear.

Regarding MV's "friends", don't you know rats always desert a sinking ship?

Have a good one, Andre.

Love and hugs,

Diane

Joslyn said...

1. COPY CAT!!!!

2. I agree 110% with you on this one. EXCELLENT and brilliant analysis. I guess I never went through that whole "I'm overly obsessed with a celebrity" because of the fact that I had real parents who let me know that what i saw on TV was pretty much fantasy. You know that I'm HUGE on personal responsibility, ESPECIALLY if you're a Black millionaire!!!! (Michael Jackson and R. Kelly send help!) It's like DUH!!! Do you really think that you're exempt???? Same thing for this whole "Weeks-Bynum" situation. No matter who was right or wrong, what did'ya think would happen when two televagelisits (Celbrities in their own right) start whoppin ass in public......in ATL????

Sigh

Nic said...

@ KC: Well said, I couldn't have put it better myself, so I won't even try.

@ Megan, J.Alex, & KC: Comparing any two criminal cases can be like comparing apples to oranges. There exist too many factors in each & every case to blame the indictment, proceedings, or conviction on any one thing, race or otherwise. However, the cases you cited (specifically those pertaining to "The Hollywood Hoes") is like comparing apples to my shoe. It's simply a whole 'nother can of worms.

My point is that it's a bit unfair to compare this case to the pastor-killing-wife case, or any other case for that matter. Those two cases, among countless others, are entirely dissimilar. Are both cases messed-up? Of course. Is our justice system perfect? Far from it. But precedence aside, we should be very careful about how we use comparisons in defending/implicating somebody when the cases we're using to compare are of an entirely different nature or have had questionable outcomes.

-n

HeiressChild said...

i saw a couple of hours ago where the team vick played for has suspended him. i'm thinking that's just a prelude to his termination. i could be wrong, but we'll see. what's interesting is that paris hilton and linsay lohan are still being sought after for movie/t.v. roles and engagements, while his career may be about to end--at least temporarily. again, i say interesting.

good lessons for all, most definitely. sometimes when we're young, we do stupid things, but he's old enough to know better and too much in the lime-lite not to know better. it's so much that goes on in the media, that if you don't know on your own, then you should learn from others.

as for his dad, even though his words may hold true, they hold no credibility with me because he and his son are estranged, and it appears to be some hurt there on his dad's part due to the media saying he was an absentee father and offered no positive influence in his son's life. what kind of father would speak out against his own son--his own flesh and blood like that, especially when he knows that it would add to further damage his son's reputation?

charles is smart; he knows the deal.

thanx for my birthday greetings this whole month. only a few more hours until your special day. it is special, you know?

HeiressChild said...

@nic, i don't think it's the comparison of the vick case against the wife-pastor husband murder case per se, but it's more the principle of the whole JUSTICE system.

when more emphasis is put on animal killing vs human killing, and the animal killing outcome is harsher than the human killing outcome, the judicial system needs to be examined and re-examined.

even though in hilton's, ritchie's, and lohan's cases, no one was harmed or killed THIS time, it still shows the injustice and the un-balance of the system--3 beautiful, young, rich, white women on one scale and a black, male athelete on the other scale. oops, the scale is really weighed down on vick's side.

as andre said:
Black people in America, no matter how prominent will always be at a disadvantage. If you think that another black athlete will be able to pull off an OJ Simpson or a Ray Lewis in court any time soon, think again.

Greeneyes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greeneyes said...

Andre ,
My very handsome Greeneyed KING ,
I know this is off topic , (your Post was excellent as usual but I wanted to fit this in )
♥♪♥♪♥♥♪♪♥♪♥♪♪♥♥♪♥♪♥♥♪♪♥♪♥♪♪♥
It is officially the big day , well it is here anyway and I would like to wish you a wonderful bliss filled Birthday , filled with love , memories and laughter, May God bless you and watch over you and Hope you take some Time to shine !
I hope you received my card , but just in case it is late check out my blog , TEE HEE .
Wish I could give ya a big Birthday HUG ,have fun .
Will be thinking about you !
TAKE care Andre and enjoy yourself !
Greeneyes

12:40 am aug/25/07

Diane J. said...

It seems that old GreenEyed heifer let the cat out of the bag, so to speak....

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANDRE!!

Hope you have a great day, my friend. ;-)

Love and hugs,

Diane

HeiressChild said...

sung to the tune of stevie wonder's song:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YA
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YA
HAPPY BIRTHDAY
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YA
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YA
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANDRE!
another year older
another year wiser
may God bless you with many more
ENJOY YOUR SPECIAL DAY!

Nic said...

Heiresschild said: "when more emphasis is put on animal killing vs human killing, and the animal killing outcome is harsher than the human killing outcome, the judicial system needs to be examined and re-examined."

More emphasis isn't put on animal killing than it is human killing. The two cases are not only entirely different, but the case of the preacher-killing-wife was a rarity (or @ the very least a far-less-than-often occurrence) which is why most of the nation, whether we be black, white, in-between, squint-eyed or none-of-the-above were all shocked when we learned of it's outcome.

I do see where you're coming from...but you really have to look @ our justice system, & EVERY single case within it, from 613264237323 different angles.

-n <----Hopes this all makes sense.

beachgirl said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANDRE

Now on the injustice of the Justice system. I have a nephew who got a DUI in Minnesota. Under age, wrecked his car only, no other car involved. He now has a steel rod in his leg. Now He learned his lesson. OH and he got 1 month in jail, a $2,000 fine and probation with mandatory counseling. And he's white. Population in his town. 500. No favors given for anything. They are teaching their youth what responsibility is.
Now all these celebrities getting off in California are very lucky they are in California. In Florida you are not getting out of jail. They just don't care what color you are down here. Your going to jail for a DUI. Under age DUI you have no license until your 25. It's not a joke and everyone who lives here knows it. Money or no money. It's costing a minimum of $10,000 to get out. Are we having fun yet?
As for the Vick case. I don't know him. But he has to be responsible for his own actions and those he lets on his property. We sure would. If my dog bit someone, I am responsible. If a party happens in my house and I am not home. I am still responsible.
As for him loosing his job. He just did. Now evidently he didn't like his career enough to keep his nose out of trouble or surround himself with less destructive people. I choose my friends more carefully. I was taught better.
OK, I've sounded off enough.

Have an awesome birthday.
Carol

HeiressChild said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
willemina said...

Happy Birthday Andre!
From a friend of Sylvia's (AKA Heiresschild) in California...

Josie said...

Hi, Andre, I'm here from Sylvia's site to wish you a Happy Birthday.

You have a great blog...! Do you mind if I come back?

P.S. I hear they "sacked" the quarterback.

Cynthia said...

Happy Birthday Andre!!!!

Um, you DO remember who I am, right? Ya old geezer! LOL!

Andre said...

@ KC: "...giving back to their old communities is one thing. Actively engaging in some of the former (often illegal) practices of the old communities is something different."

Good point. True there's an expectation (whether fair or not) for successful blacks to stay connected to 'where they came from'. But their connectivity should be for elevating their communities, not for revisiting some of the substandards that keep the community behind.

@ Megan: I didn't plan on speaking to the issue of inequity, but you raise an interesting point. Like KC, I can truly appreciate your views. A black person's response to this "privilege" is often discounted as incessant complaining. But when people like you address the same issues, it tends to offer more credence.

@ J. Alex: I read about Richie and her 82 minute stretch. I was pretty entertained by the story. The system really is a joke.

@ Diane: "Most athletes and other famous figures knew going into their careers that their lives would be subject to scrutiny. Truth be told, a lot of them, possibly even most of them, get high on the fame and ego trip of public scrutiny."

Good point. Most famous folks are quick to jump in front of a camera when they want to market their clothing line, advertise their new CD, or promote their new movie. And that's all they want. What they don't seem to understand is that their celebrity makes them a target waaaay outside of their limited interests. People's eyes are always them. They need to act accordingly.

"And race has absolutely nothing to do with right and wrong here. White, Asian, Mexican, whatever, it's wrong."

True, race doesn't have anything to do with right and wrong. But it has EVERYTHING to do with how soceity responds to right and wrong. That being said, we need to remind people; especially those whom 'the system' is historically against, keep in mind the racist, classist, and sexist practices that go on out there before you decide to do some of the knuckleheaded things you have planned. For Mike Vick, I would've simply said "Look dude. You're a HIGHLY paid black athlete. Find a LEGITIMATE way to keep yourself entertained."

You're correct Di, in saying that Jesus is the ultimate standard bearer. But it's simple human that do the day-to-day stuff around here. In Mike's case, it'll be 12 people in a jury, a judge, and a few court officers that will determine his fate. He'll need to think about that the next time he wants to dogfight.

Comments to be continued...

Andre said...

(cont.)

@ Jos:

(1) I'm not a copycat. My post was different. Besides, I gave credit where credit was due. Hater.

(2) What always makes me trip about people's support/obsession over celebs is that these die hard fans don't do anything to 'help' them when they're nosediving. Huey Freeman put it best when he said "If you love R. Kelly, get some help for R. Kelly. Introduce him to older women. Hide his camcorder."

Also, celebs get too much of a pass and somehow become exempt when it comes to doing the right thing. I guess every now and then, somebody needs to be made an example of. Maybe Vick's number was drawn.

@ Nic: I don't think most people are really trying to compare Vick's case to other cases. I think the ultimately thing to be taken from their statements is that our system -- at it's foundation -- is flawed. Crimes that have minimal -- if any impact on the greater society as usually the ones that have the most severe punishments attached. DUI's which have a long history of property damage and lost life get less than one month of jail time on average; while dogfighting can get Vick up to five years. Come on now!

I get your point about how comparing two different cases. But you have to agree that punishments are grossly inproportionate and not always fairly assigned. But above, my ultimate point was about allowing all of the nonsense to shape the things we choose to do.

@ Heiress: "i saw a couple of hours ago where the team vick played for has suspended him. i'm thinking that's just a prelude to his termination. i could be wrong, but we'll see. what's interesting is that paris hilton and linsay lohan are still being sought after for movie/t.v. roles and engagements, while his career may be about to end--at least temporarily. again, i say interesting."

Interesting you say that. Lohan was actually in the process of making a movie when she was busted for that strange altercation when cocaine was found on her person. Yet Mike Vick and others like him are gonna lose endorsements and their jobs for their off-the-field antics. Even FURTHER evidence that they need to think about the consequences of their actions.

"good lessons for all, most definitely. sometimes when we're young, we do stupid things, but he's old enough to know better and too much in the lime-lite not to know better. it's so much that goes on in the media, that if you don't know on your own, then you should learn from others."

It's interesting you say this, b/c Vick's dog enterprise was actually hidden from the public. Most of those silly party girls are getting wasted in clubs, hopping in their car, and putting everybody in danger. This says two things: (1) Vick knew what he was doing was wrong; which is why he kept it on the down low and (2) apparently, that's still far more punishable that taking your wrecklessness and stupidity outside where you endanger hundreds of other people. Hmmmm...

"as for his dad, even though his words may hold true, they hold no credibility with me because he and his son are estranged, and it appears to be some hurt there on his dad's part due to the media saying he was an absentee father and offered no positive influence in his son's life."

I think you're right on this one. The estranged relationship between Vick and his old man is sure to raise questions about the sincerity of the man's comments.

(Comments continued again...)

Andre said...

@ Greeny: Thanks for the birthday wishes, although I have NO IDEA what you're talking about. Birthday? Whose birthday? Not mine! It can't be!

@ Diane: Again, I don't know what the deal is with all this birthday jive. The devil is a liar, Di. Don't be fooled by his tricks! :)

@ Carol: For starters, thanks for the birthday wishes. Thanks also for sharing your story. I can imagine that it's not always easy to speak to something so close to home.

It's reassuring to know that Hollywood (in)Justice isn't a prevalent theme all over the country (it's times like that when I thank the Constitution for granting states their own powers). But it's also a little unnerving to realize that fines and punishments are equal for people who AREN'T equal. For example, a $2,000 fine to me or you is HARDLY the same as a $2,000 for a wealthy businessman or a celeb. Most of them play with that kind of money in a single game of poker. I think that if laws and punishment were congruent with a person's status, there wouldn't be so many rich people making a mockery of the law.

@ Willemina: Thanks so much for the birthday wishes. You're too kind. Really!

@ Josie: I wanna thank you as well for the birthday wishes!

"You have a great blog...! Do you mind if I come back?"

Nooooo! You can't EVER come back. In fact, as we speak I'm looking for the "Block Josie from my blog" button. But since I can't seem to find it right now, feel free to make yourself at home! But when I do find that button, you're in for it. :)

Seriously, as I've said before: any friends of Sylvia's are friends of mine.

God bless!

Andre said...

Oh, Cyn: It wasn't my "old age" that made me ignore your comments.

Ooooh! Punk out! Punk out!

Ha!

Cynthia said...

LOL @ Punk out! We used to say "P.O., P.O."!

ROTFLOL!

GA girl said...

Hi Andre,

I don't have much to say about Michael Vick. Personally, I'm sick of hearing about him AND the rest of the Atlanta Falcons. I just wanted to tell you Happy Birthday! God Bless you!

Will Luongo said...

I am going to start by saying this: Andre, you hit the nail right on the head when you started looking at the financial discrepancies of justice. It seems that nothing happens to the people with the money. Why? Because money is part of the fine system, money will get you better defense, etc etc.

That being said, there are actually several grave undercurrents in this post and the comments following it that will need to be addressed before any of us can hope to live in a world without racial prejudice.

In your post, Andre, you say that: "If you think that another black athlete will be able to pull off an OJ Simpson or a Ray Lewis in court any time soon, think again."

These miscarriages of justice are to be desired because the perpetrators were black!? We shouldn’t want black people to get off scott free for crimes they committed, we should want black and white people, regardless of social status, doing time when they do the crime. What kind of Hollywood (in)Justice are you espousing here?

The problem is that racist people will continue to be racist, regardless of whatever kind of reasonable argument is presented to them, on both sides of the issue.

The people who are ruining our understanding of justice, our understanding of what it means to have privilege is not the white people. It is the people with money, white or black. Where is Vick right now? What standard of living is he enjoying right now? Remember, he plead guilty. He is an alleged perpetrator no more, he has been found guilty by his own confession. What do you suppose the standard of living a poor black (or white) man would be enjoying here in Flint, having plead guilty to the same charges?

Andre (or any of you), if you came over to my house and the whole time you were here, I was guarding you, making sure you wouldn’t steal any of my possessions, how would you feel? Would you call me on my bullshit? I know you would recognize it as bullshit, as well you should. But the irony here is that you perpetuate the same environment of hostility here, in your home on the web. One of our first encounters was an argument about whether I was “privileged” because I was white! Who is prejudiced here, really?

But certainly you wouldn’t come back to my house after being treated so boorishly. You would recommend other people stay away from my close-minded corner of Flint.

Over time I’ve realized: I keep coming back to your house. I send other people to your house. But your attitude toward me never changes. It bears notice that in your links section, you say Mea Culpa “Cuz it’s fun to disagree”, but the funny thing is, aside from abortion, the only thing we’ve ever disagreed about is race, in that I am white and underprivileged, and you are black and maybe not so underprivileged. Is our race really that much of an issue? If we were both black would you say it is fun to disagree? Are our differences so severe that it overshadows all that we truly have in common? Who is racist here?

I don’t have hurt feelings, I don’t dislike you as a person or anything: this is entirely not personal. But I can only show my lack of support for your ideology by no longer frequenting your home, nor telling others they should do the same.

Andre said...

@ GA girl: Thanks!

@ Will: When I noted the OJ and Lewis cases, I was pointing out the reality that black folks in court -- even those who are rich -- will always be targets; especially because of their race, but often too because they really ARE guilty. So, putting together a "dream team" of attorneys doesn't dismiss the crimes you do or the wall of opposition built against by others. But, since you mentioned it, the aforementioned cases were (for lack of a better word) 'celebrated' in the black community not because blacks were happy that guilty men got off. No. Rather, they cheered because the cases represented a payback point in the injustice column. I think that most people agree that those two cats were guilty as hell. But for once, the system 'screwed' white people. I totally understand your desire to find racial unity; and I admire that about you and others like you. But you also can't sit back and say "why can't you people get over it?" while institutions still operate off injustice. You can't completely rest on OJ's guilt, for instance, when you have a racist like Mark Furham planting evidence at a crime scene. Why should blacks be the ones to initially smoke the peace pipe when it's the institutions thriving off racial inequality? Reconciliation goes both ways.

This sort of leads me to my next point: the tagline I put on your link. For one, if you remember: our first real discussion with each other was about some race-related issue on Hippie's site. Since then, I've forgotten what it was about. But I do remember that you and I went back and forth for about 40 comments or so discussing whatever it was we were discussing. So when I added your link to my page, the tagline I attached to it was reflective of our initial confrontational relationship. I thought it was a pretty funny line and a testimony to how I can have a heated disagreement with somebody without getting dirty and ugly about it. But since that time, I never gave it any more thought. But if it offends you, I'm removing it. It should be noted for the record that there are also quite a few BLACK people with whom I have varying opinions and with whom it's "fun to disagree". To name a few, Joslyn and Malik come to mind. So, I'm REALLY hoping that I misunderstood your comment about how our differences in opinion 'based' on race makes me a racist. I'll let you think about that one and get back at me if you so choose.

And, before I forget: though I didn't provoke the "privilege" idea on this particular post (it was a white girl, of all people who did), I certainly don't disagree with it. I don't think that "privilege" is always direct nor does it always show itself in a social/materisitic fashion. It's likelihood; applied or not, that puts whites in a better position to prosper than anybody else. Whether they actually DO prosper is another story. Simply put: it's just being apart of the majority group in a country. I equate "white privilege" in America to a form of nepotism. Let's say the Luongo family has a rich history of fame and success. Even if you personally aren't a beneficiary, you stand to benefit from the Luongo legacy than...let's say...me. So in the case of white privilege, the affinity that's established is not done by bloodline. It's done by skin color.

To wrap it all up, if I've offended you I sincerely apologize. And please know that it wasn't my intention. But if you feel compelled to turn around and walk away, do your thing. While I've always thought that our exchange of thoughts and ideas was pretty healthy, I can still survive if you decided not to 'frequent my home'. I'll be OK.

HeiressChild said...

can't we all just get along.

ok, just a little early monday-morning humor to lighten the moment. no pun intended.

Andre said...

@ Sylvia: No offense taken. In fact, I got a little chuckle out of your humor. Thanks!