Monday, November 19, 2007

Apologize to the dogs

Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons, who has spent the last few years participating in the torture of dogs for fun, is trying to avoid lengthy prison time with as much effort as he once exercised avoiding linebackers.

On Nov. 19, Vick turned himself in early to start serving his federal sentence for animal cruelty. The sentence itself hasn't been handed down, but his willingness to serve, Vick and his lawyer seem to hope, will show to the court that he is contrite and deserving of a lesser sentence than the max five years and perhaps even less than the expected 12 to 18 months. Writes his lawyer, as quoted at "From the beginning, Mr. Vick has accepted responsibility for his actions, and his self-surrender further demonstrates that acceptance. ... Michael wants to again apologize to everyone who has been hurt in this matter ..."

Vick's first efforts weren't to accept responsibility. In fact, he denied his involvement and initially pleaded not guilty. The plea changed to guilty only after Vick's buddies offered to give him up to prosecutors. And who is the "everyone" hurt by his actions? Talk about self-aggrandizement. Vick shouldn't apologize to "everyone." He should apologize to the dogs he helped kill.

A sidenote: I'd probably not have written this post had the Washington Post's reporters pointed out that the lawyer's statement was wrong regarding Vick's acceptance of responsibility. Publishing his statement without a challenge to its false underpinnings strikes me as a significant lapse.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dear Jed Gottlieb ...

Dear Jed Gottlieb,

You were right. I needed to read books by the Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski. I've just finished The Soccer War, and I hope to read more of Kapuscinski's work soon. His episodes -- told with wit, restrained grief, and a sharp sense of irony -- add up to so much more than a thousand press dispatches ever could. Thank you for being my teacher.