Pop Rocks

Gone To The Dogs

Hey, it's been a while since Tucker Carlson said something exceedingly stupid:

While setting up a segment on President Obama's recent telephone call to Jeffrey Lurie, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles (wherein the president praised the Eagles for giving ex-con quarterback Michael Vick a second chance after being incarcerated), Carlson casually stated that even though he is a Christian, he thinks Vick should be killed for the crime that the courts thought was only worthy of 19 months in the clink.

"I'm a Christian," Carlson quipped mere days after the celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace. "I've made mistakes myself, I believe fervently in second chances, but Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did 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 the pale."

A self-professed Christian who enthusiastically supports the death penalty? Are we sure Carlson isn't the Governor of Texas?

Carlson is perhaps best known as the guy Jon Stewart first practiced his super-pundit powers on (sort of like when Spider-Man beat the Chameleon in Amazing Spider-Man #1). His career since 2004 has consisted primarily of sitting in on various Fox News panels and calling in to Bubba the Love Sponge's radio show. With that in mind, it isn't hard to understand why he decided to grab some attention by calling for Vick to get the chair.

Let's not beat around the bush, the crimes Michael Vick committed were horrible and he was rightfully punished by a federal court. He served 18 months of a 23-month sentence. One can certainly debate whether the slightly-less-than-two-years is sufficient time for someone who bankrolled dog fights and participated in killing these same dogs when they lost, but the fact remains: Vick served his time. While playing an arguably MVP-caliber season with the Philadelphia Eagles, he's also been working with the Humane Society and speaking to schools about the evils of dog fighting.

So why isn't that enough?

Leave Carlson out of the equation for a second -- the holier than thou in this country calling for state sanctioned murder isn't really news -- because his is hardly the only voice demanding that Vick to suffer further consequences for his actions. Calls for his lifetime banishment from the NFL continue to this day, and those are the milder ones. Plenty of so-called "progressives" continue to advocate for Vick to suffer a similar fate as those to which his dogs were subjected. An understandable, if overly emotional response.

People like dogs. Hell, I like 'em too. And the thought of somebody who killed them for sport profiting in the National Football League is unacceptable to many, which is perfectly understandable, provided you apply some consistency to your outrage.

I assume everyone calling for Michael Vick's head on a pike commented with similar righteous indignation against the St. Louis Rams' continued employment (until this year) of defensive end Leonard Little, who killed Susan Gutweiler while driving drunk in 1998. He received four years probation and community service for killing a human being.

At least Donté Stallworth served a whopping 24 days in jail for a similar DWI manslaughter charge. He was also suspended a year by the NFL before resuming his career with the Baltimore Ravens (which you may know as Ray Lewis' team).

And presumably none of those clamoring for Vick's head are Pittsburgh Steelers fans, because their own starting quarterback is no friend of the NFL's personal conduct policy. Fine, no charges were ever filed in the two separate incidents where Ben Roethlisberger was accused of raping someone, but this is the same NFL that gave Brett Favre a slap on the wrist for sending a woman unsolicited pictures of his dong. Clearly even Commissioner Roger Goodell believed there was more to the Big Ben situation.

Time will tell if Vick is sincere, and I'm enough of a cynic to see a healthy dose of convenient jailhouse conversion in his recent model behavior, but until he proves otherwise, it seems like he's earned the benefit of the doubt. Or shouldn't we be supportive of a case in which the prison system actually, you know, rehabilitates someone?

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar