Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2007
Way Down South
Vick 'reaction' has racial aspect

As the reaction to Michael Vick gets louder, pressure builds to make an example out of a black icon.
As the reaction to Michael Vick gets louder, pressure builds to make an example out of a black icon.

* Greg Cote's blog | Is reaction to Vick shaped by race?

We are watching Michael Vick's glorious life fall apart on TV. The details of his cruelty to dogs are shocking, nauseating and illegal. He is wrong, case closed. To defend him is to defend the indefensible, and the felonious. If a white quarterback such as Peyton Manning had been at the center of this, he would become just as radioactive, maybe more so.

How could anyone take any other side on something this black and white?

If you are asking that, you must have missed that little trial involving O.J. Simpson.

There is so much baggage and history and emotion and volume here that a lot gets lost in translation. I don't hear many black people defending Vick's actions today. What I hear is many black people objecting to the size and intensity of the reaction. Those are two very different things. But they start to sound the same when white people yell with disgust, ''Not the race card again!'' and black people counter with, ''Race impacts everything.'' Not a lot gets heard clearly when people are trying to talk while standing that far apart.

And the louder and angrier the reaction gets, the more pressure is put on authorities -- usually white authorities -- to make an example out of a black icon.

Quibble with our country's laws if you like, but you have to abide by them if you want to be free here. That's nonnegotiable, and it is going to get Vick jailed. But it is after that when things get muddier. The question isn't whether Vick should lose money or freedom today. The question becomes how much of his money and freedom he should lose. The difference there is between penalizing a black icon and ruining him.

It makes sense, based on past history and personal experiences, that black folks might not trust the system to treat one of their own fairly once we go from letter-of-the-law jail to subjective suspension.

The people making the decisions about how much of his life Vick gets to keep post-jail are white and applying their sensibilities -- which is how you arrive at rules that ban the black athletes who like to celebrate from dancing too much in the end zone. All the team owners and the commissioner are white, as are the richest of Vick's endorsers and most of the consumers of all this product. You'll forgive black people if they aren't terribly comfortable with white people making the rules for them. That hasn't gone so well in the past.

Then there's this: The white athlete tends to get more room to rehab his image than the black one. There is no black equivalent to reckless addict golfer John Daly, throwing away talent but nonetheless popular and embraced. Some of that has to do with Daly harming only himself, not teammates or fans of that team, but not all of it. Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden aren't perceived quite like drunk heroes Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin. Some of that has to do with Mantle's more innocent era, but not all of it.

It would be interesting to see the reaction if it were an NBA team instead of baseball's St. Louis Cardinals (Tony La Russa, DUI arrest; Josh Hancock, drunk-driving death; Scott Spiezio, rehab) that had the substance-abuse problem. Would they feel more like the Bengals? And how is the reaction different if Michael Doleac, Chris Quinn and Jason Kapono fought fans in Detroit instead of three giant black guys with braids and tattoos? Have you noticed how differently basketball fights are covered than baseball brawls? Is the pressure and penalty as large on Quinn as it was on Ron Artest? If the action is exactly the same, is the reaction?

DAN LA BATARD Is a Miami Reporter. He blame the white man for vicks actions. Now where is Rev Al Sharpton on this? Rev Al Sharpton is a HYPOCRETE!! But when a White guy like IMUS called a girls basketball team HOs and Rev Al Sharpton demanded IMUS Gets Fired why isnt Rev Al Sharpton speaking out on DAN LA BATARD?