Please forgive me for being behind the media moment on this one but the reality check is relevant. And please forgive the length of this post but it took every line to make my point.
In July 2007 Michael Vick:
. Atlanta Falcons quarterback
. highest paid player in the NFL
. depending on who you ask, highest profile player in the NFL,
was indicted for his involvement in the operation, bet making, and execution of dogs, as part of a dog fighting ring. Vick was facing $350,000 in fines and up to six years in Federal prison. What he ended up with was:
. 23 months in prison
. suspension indefinitely from the NFL, loosing a 10 year/$130 million contract and lucrative endorsements. In addition to which, the Falcons wanted $20 million in bonuses paid back.
. $900,000+ was paid for the care of the dogs that were removed from Vick’s Virginia property.
Life as a superstar quarterback was presumed over, a diminished career probability as a running man was predicted by NFL insiders, and ESPN was showing all sorts of sensationalized love. He was demonized and demoralized. No one wanted to touch him accept the animal rights groups that made him their poster boy and whipping boy. He lost everything.
Vick came home in May 2009 after 18 months of incarceration to complete two months of house arrest. He spearheaded an anti-dog fighting campaign with The Humane Society where he was a model volunteer, after approaching them about the project. The NFL reinstated Vick in July 2009; he became quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, and he has since gotten back on the road to being one of the gridiron’s greatest. He paid his penance and is on the road to Redemption.
Despite Vick’s turn around and apparent success, President Obama set off a firestorm when he called Jeffrey Lurie, owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, congratulating him for having given Vick a second chance. People were outraged. Michael Vick, the convicted dog killer is scum; how could the President of the free world support him? Two days after Obama’s comments, pundit Tucker Carlson while filling in for Sean Hannity said he is a Christian and has made mistakes himself. He followed that statement with … “But, Michael Vick has killed dogs, and he did it in a heartless and cruel way. And I think, personally, he should’ve been executed for that. He wasn’t, but the idea that the President of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs? Kind of beyond pale.”
Correction Tucker, what is beyond pale is that we are desensitized about what is really heartless and cruel. So much so, that a man like Michael Vick is vilified for killing dogs and according to you should have been executed.
To the Tucker Carlsons of the world I ask, “Where do child predators rate?”
Currently in the news is a story about an 11 year old girl in Cleveland, Texas who (allegedly) was gang raped by a group of 17 (maybe more) men ranging in age from 14 to 26.
A 36 year old Springfield, Massachusetts man is convicted of four counts of rape and two counts of indecent assault and battery of a 14 year old child. His sentence will only be between 8 and 15 years.
In Middletown, Ohio Jerry Brit faces a grand jury for (allegedly) raping a 12 year old. If that wasn’t crime enough, Brit has (allegedly) been raping the child since the second grade.
Since candidate/President Obama has been on the scene, we have had national dialogs about race, religion, fatherhood, and bullying. And while Charlie and Lindsey make asses of themselves regularly and continually, we have even had national dialog around celebrities and their enabled lack of reality about their situations.
I am ready for the national dialog on Child Predators.
Louisiana has predator laws on the books as do other states. Hiring practices have to include background and information checks. Student/teacher relationships must be held to a specific level of appropriateness. Using a router to traffic pornography is illegal. And then there is the national legislation that gave us the sex offender registry and the Amber alert.
It’s not enough.
In 2005, a twelve year old Jessica Lunsford was raped and murdered by a previously convicted sexual predator. Previously convicted and sexual predator are two phrases that should never go together, so the Florida legislature created Jessica’s law. Some of the key provisions include a mandatory minimum 25 year prison sentence, lifetime GPS monitoring, and if the crime is committed against a child younger than twelve years old, there is a provision for life imprisonment with no chance of parole.
The 109th Congress proposed the Jessica Lunsford Act, modeled after Jessica’s law, but it was never taken up. It would have required GPS and twice annual re-registration in the sex offender registry. These two measures would have eliminated the main problem with released offenders … we can’t keep track of them, allowing them to re-offend! And what about the idea that child predators re-offend ? The sentencing provisions of Jessica’s law certainly make re-offending difficult after serving 25 years, and impossible if you’re a lifer. The proposed Act would have done the same.
Apparently, money was the issue. The states were going to have to pick up the costs for the GPS units and monitoring them, in addition to the costs of the re-registration mail-outs twice a year. The economy is worse now then it was then, and with Republicans cutting education and vital services to balance budgets, I don’t imagine that passing this Act would be any easier now, then it was then.
Michael Vick fought dogs and lost everything … shouldn’t a real monster who commits real heartless and cruel acts be subject to the same demonization and demoralization? Or is the group with the biggest lobby the winner?
What about the children?
For me the answer is all too simple. We have to do something … But what?
That answer is simple for me too. Get involved … But how?
Volunteer with the Girl Scouts of America (http://www.girlscouts.org/for_adults/volunteering/) and be the person that she turns to for help. Join the Court Appointed Special Advocates program (CASA) (http://www.casaforchildren.org/site/c.mtJSJ7MPIsE/b.5301309/k.9D58/Volunteering.htm) and be the person that stands up for him. Learn about the signs and be aware of the changes in the children in your lives. And when you hear about that long-winded-incredibly-wordy woman pushing to revive the Jessica Lunsford Act, get on board.
Thank you for joining me. Y’all come back now, ya hear.