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My position on Michael Vick

I’ve been asked by some to clarify my position on Michael Vick. The Today Show interview may or may not get it right tomorrow, but I thought I would let my friends have the 411. I also share some thoughts on our site http://www.YourBlackWorld.com, and http://www.FIERCE411.com, our site for women. The poll on Vick that we took on YourBlackWorld shows that race plays a strong role in the Vick case, as people are somewhat divided in their perceptions.

Ok, I’ll be the first to say it. Michael Vick is NOT a monster. He’s not a menace to society. He’s not a scumbag or barbarian. He’s a young man who made a terrible mistake. There, I said it. Now crucify me, I can take it.

If you are looking for monsters, start with the hundreds of thousands of Americans who go hunting every year. Look for their spouses who stand to the side watching their mates shoot down innocent animals and stuff them for the mantle.

My position on Michael Vick is laced with a poisonous and highly unpopular ingredient called COMMON SENSE. It means that my goal is not to jump on the band wagon and behave like an animal when I see that someone may have hurt an animal. It means that you PROTECT animals by enforcing the law, and you enforce the law in a FAIR manner. You then allow the man to serve his sentence and reintegrate himself into the society to which he has contributed. Yes, Michael Vick HAS contributed to our society. No one is 100% good or bad, and this man has done some good things for his friends and family.

Imagine if your son were arrested for murder. He would be a criminal and he should be punished, but you would not evaluate him without seeing the good that lies within him. You would also consider the notion that he might actually be SORRY for his mistake and worthy of rehabilitation. You would realize that he is young and there is still a chance that he can continue to make a positive contribution to your household after the price was paid.

This is the way fair-minded Americans perceive Michael Vick. They see him as a young man who got caught up doing something he should not have done. Virginia Tech should see him as a man who has made ENORMOUS contributions to their university and athletic program (he put that program on the map). The idea that Virginia Tech, as well as the Atlanta Falcons are so quick to abandon Vick says something about their character.

Do I believe Vick is innocent? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But should he pay for the rest of his life for dog fighting? No, he should not. Why not talk to Karl Rove, who is leaving his position without a care in the world after killing thousands of Americans in Iraq and endangering the life of a woman in the CIA? To learn of animal cruelty, let’s visit Dick Cheney, who was not only hunting with full intent to kill animals, but shot someone in the face while he was doing it. He didn’t shoot a dog, he shot a PERSON.

Some wonder why leaders spend any time at all supporting Vick. Well, I can’t say that all of us are, since Rev. Al Sharpton and Russell Simmons went out of their way to condemn him. I did not agree with their position. The fact is that while Vick might be a big star, he is also a big TARGET. Bigger targets need bigger shields, so there is nothing wrong with protecting this young man’s right to justice. I don’t care if he’s rich or poor, educated or not, he’s still a black man, where the punishment does not always fit the crime. Remember: we live in America: One of the greatest countries in the world, but one with a lot of unresolved issues, particularly as it pertains to race.
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Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “What if George Bush were a Black Man?” He is a regular social commentator in outlets such as CNN, FOX, ESPN and BET. He is represented by Great Black Speakers, LLC. For more information, please visit http://www.YourBlackWorld.comor http://www.BoyceWatkins.com.

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