Why am I not surprised by the results of the following poll? A Marist poll released this month shows men are more likely than women to approve of the Philadelphia Eagles’ controversial decision to allow Michael Vick back into that exclusive club otherwise known as the National Football League.
"Although Vick was convicted and served prison time for his role in operating a dog fighting ring, a majority of football fans nationwide — 57 percent — agree with the NFL commissioner’s decision to allow Vick to return to the league. 36 percent disagree with that decision. Younger fans and men are more likely to be in favor of the ruling compared with older ones and women."
Thirty-nine percent of women, compared to 69 percent of men, agreed with the NFL’s decision to allow Vick back in (and thus the Eagles’ decision to hire him.)
I’m not a believer in redemption. Very, very sick minds rarely heal and they remain menaces to society. It takes a sick person to abuse dogs in the way Michael Vick did. He not only trained them to fight to the death with each other, he beat them, electrocuted them and enjoying watching them suffer and die.
Michael Vick will have completely defied the odds if he is not later found to be abusing people. Police study after police study shows animal abusers go on to abuse people — sometimes murdering them as in the horrid cases of Jeffrey Dahmer and other renowned mass murderers.
Vick says he now wants to help bring awareness to animal cruelty and that’s a good sign. But it’s not proof positive his prison stay made him well, as he claims it is. Prison may be, as he has told interviewers it was, a good place to think. But absent psychotherapy and a strong will to change oneself in fundamental ways, it’s rare for people to understand and override the deep psychological need to act out sadistic impulses.
On the plus side, Vick is working with the Humane Society as a spokesman preaching the gospel of dog love to young inner-city Americans while warning them away from the evils of animal abuse. I commend to you the videos on the Humane Society’s Web site that bring to life the positive effects such training has on young men.
Why am I not surprised that women (and older people) are less supportive than men (and younger people) of Vick’s return to major league football? Women, as the givers of life, are less likely to hunt, less likely to fight and less likely to abuse animals than men. Older people come to appreciate life in all its forms, as they head toward the end of their own.
In a "60 Minutes" interview Sunday night, Vick told an interviewer he felt "pure disgust" over his prior treatment of his pit bulls. But he also said some other things that did not ring true to me:
"Vick said he cried in prison about "what I did, being away from my family, letting so many people down, letting myself down, not being out on the football field, being in a prison bed, in a prison bunk, writing letters home. That wasn’t my life. That wasn’t the way that things were supposed to be."
Going over what Vick said, the part about animal abuse seemed much less a critical part of his thinking than his life wasn’t going the way "things were supposed to be." Yes, he agreed he deserved to lose his $130 million Atlanta Falcons contract. But if things were not going as they were supposed to have gone, that leaves one thinking he still believes his biggest problem is getting caught, not committing the crime.
I’m glad he’s volunteering for the Humane Society. I’d feel better if he’d commit most of his future earnings to animal rescue and rehabilitation. I’d feel even better if he’d stop sounding so coached, and speak more honestly about having committed unimaginable cruelty against creatures incapable of freeing themselves from him.
(Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and columnist. E-mail bonnieerbe(at)CompuServe.com.)