Weekend Mea Culpa
I'm positive this will make me lose some credibility out in the yard, but not as much as my forthcoming article on why I'm glad I don't play basketball. You all brought it on yourselves by reviving the "our culture values dogs" line in the comments section. Also, I just slept eleven hours, and am either pissed at myself or grossly complacent about my right to speak.
First, let's get it settled: I could give a fuck less about dogs. They are needy, fulsome, smelly, loud, inane, and a poor excuse for stupid children. There's exactly one dog I like on this earth and ironically, he's a pit bull. Here he is, doing his finest:
Thus, for some time, I have been tempted to play devil's voicebox and brush aside all this Vick stuff. He's a major disappointment on the field, but I still like seeing him run around on SportsCenter. While I'm not in favor of slaughtering puppies, I can't say it would forever damn a human being in my eyes. It's just not that clearly a sin in my moral parlor. And unlike any number of other internet sports fans, I always knew full well that dogfighting existed in mass quantities, that it was in many ways a culture that could swamp individual agency, and that, like it or not, there are probably other athletes caught up in this same pastime. In my eyes, Vick was neither a scapegoat nor a devil in need of ritual torching.
When he decided to turn state's evidence, though, something clicked in my head, something that I'm a little red-faced over right now. See, like many of you, I'd been hung up on the valence of the act itself: whether or not being mean to animals is the end of the world. The whole conspiracy aspect of it seemed like a fancy way to make a monster pay. How naive I was, much like those scoundrels who believed, at the other end of the spectrum, that Vick was without peer in this kind of activity.
You can have a rational debate over whether or not gambling should be legal all over. The same goes for drugs, as Wire fans know well. Since they are illegal, though, there's a whole infrastructure of human evil that springs up around them. Bookies beat the shit out of dads. Crews shoot at each other over territory. It's called "the game," and it's the ruthless system of checks and balances that takes the place of rational regulation. Putting things outside the law not only raises the amount of money involved: it leaves appetites unchecked on both sides of the consumer equation, and means that only power and intimidation can erect some semblance of a stable market. But you all knew that already.
(Sidenote: How the fuck is this "illegal gambling" if it's on an illegal operation? Whether it's redundant or contradictory I'm not sure, but it has some logical flaw in it.)
I'm now seeing that the "criminal" part of this might not just be about its being illegal to lynch puppies. We can argue over how much the public should or shouldn't care that dogs died. That's akin to the problem of government-sponsored junk. What I couldn't or wouldn't see is that, duh, this is a highly-profitable network of unsavory dudes making money; there's a ton of unsightly human-on-human shit involved in this—if not on Vick's end, than with the people he's got information on. I don't think I'm being hysterical or sensationalist here, any more than it's paranoid to suggest that gambling and dope slangin' operations might not be the most stable, safe places of employment.
For some reason, I'd always believed that dogfighting was laid-back because of how easy drug money was to come by. Thousands were changing hands in casual pet wars the same way teenagers buy a nicer car than me. That was stupid of me; if dogfighting involves a lot of the same humans as the street wars, why wouldn't it take on a similar form? If only the state had emphasized this more—that Vick is A CRIMINAL EXEMPLAR, not just a twisted dude—it would have fully vaccinated itself against cries of a witch hunt.