I vividly remember the clamor and social unrest that erupted back when the announcement was first made that Michael Vick would be joining Philly's beloved Eagles football franchise. Having been anti-dog fighting / pro-puppies all my days prior I immediately empathized with the cries of disgust from the more civilized batch of Eagles fans (all five of them). Once the feeling of moral and ethical superiority faded after a day or two of proclaiming Vick as the anti-Christ to anyone who'd listen I realized two important things that began to shift my opinion. The first was that professional sports always have and will most likely continue to be as unimportant a factor in my everyday life as oral contraceptives are to the OctoMom. The second was that people have a tendency to be easily misguided lemmings. Once I was aware of these two nuggets of truth I proceeded to write an op-ed piece in which I oh so eloquently stated my reasons for giving two turds of a care that Vick would now be associated with my city. I utilized the enlightened language and ideas of the greatest sociologists and philosophers of our time when I stated that our country's obsession with the life dealings of overpaid assclown professional athletes is pathetic. Michael Vick's job description is to throw balls twice a week for twenty-five weeks out of the year with the occasional photo shoot with a cute sickly kid or the Pennsylvania SPCA thrown in for good measure. Viewing him or any athlete as a person to take moral cues from should be enough to have one committed and beaten with a sack of doorknobs.
While I originally thought I would be satisfied with my first write up / soap box rant I hadn't taken into account the fact that good ol' Andy Reid was probably 'advised' to let the heat die down around Vick before starting him as Philly nudged McNabb towards the back door. As is typical with all news hype the tension surrounding the Eagles newest personnel acquisition all but died out... that is until the start of this most recent season when Kolb pulled a McNabb and suffered a season ending injury during a preseason game. With Vick being next in line and subsequently showing that his time in our punishment system was spent doing more than just holding onto a bar of soap with a vice grip the social networking sites are once again aflame with people screaming (in lovely all caps of course) "Hide your Beagle, Vick's an Eagle!"
Some of you more astute readers may have noticed that I used the word "punishment" instead of "rehabilitation" when referring to our prisons here in the USA. I did this to introduce the point that for all of the moral posturing those five aforementioned civic-minded Eagles fans are doing in their renewed hatred of all things Vick their shortsightedness is sickening. For the most part those involved in decrying their new QB are soaring over actual important social issues that have led to individuals pitting Cujo against Lassie long before Vick kicked his first puppy.
Today's world, for those privileged enough to have daily and private access to a home computer and internet connection, is a place where it is extremely easy to skirt over doing something productive about a perceived injustice. The reason for this is because there's an innate and very gratifying feeling that comes with typing a few words, clicking a mouse button, and sending said (in most cases) poorly punctuated sentences out into the expanse of the interwebs. I'll be the first to admit that spelling out hatred for a driver on the expressway that flipped you off or that asshat who can't figure out what he wants in the Taco Bell drive-through lends to a rather real feeling of relief. I understand and embrace it wholeheartedly. My beef comes in when the same individuals harp on the same problem for months on end without even taking so much as a solid step towards addressing the cause. Should these individuals have stopped buying tickets to Eagles games or Eagles related sports paraphernalia? While that may help a few sleep better at night it would have no effect whatsoever because let's be honest; the whole adage of "we speak with our wallets and purses" is a 98.9% crock of bullshit. In a capitalist society all that equates to is a responsibility on the company's end to find a new way to sell the same old to the sadly ignorant and easily distracted masses. For those that insist on preaching the power of a massive consumer boycott, good luck on convincing an entire city to give up drinking beer, eating wings, and vegging out the day before their week of being underpaid and underappreciated starts. Instead why don't those who genuinely feel appalled at Vick's past dealings invest time looking into donating to or volunteering with local groups that work to curb dogfighting rings in Philadelphia or their city of choice? How about advocating for prison reforms that may actually stand a chance at teaching inmates to better their ways upon release instead of finding better ways to not get caught? The number of options out there is almost limitless but nowhere near as simple as clicking a "share" button on a Facebook page or Twitter feed.
I am well aware that there are those out there who have done all of my previous suggestions and then some while still yelling "who let the dogs out!?" whenever Vick steps out onto the field. To them I say good job for having the stones to get up and do something meaningful with that misguided rage. I prefer simply cutting people's faces but that's beside the point. Over the past few days I've heard a number of people equating supporting the Eagles but not Michael Vick with supporting our troops but not the wars they are required to fight. Are you fucking kidding me? Comparing international armed conflict due to a variety of socioeconomic, religious, and political factors that kills and maims thousands everyday with grown men whose only marketable skills involve playing recess games every weekend? I understand that spectator sports offer a safe and fun distraction from the toils of everyday life, as do many other brainless and entertaining pastimes like reality TV, videogames, and waiting for the next Lindsey Lohan cooter shot to pop up online. The danger in overemphasizing a grown man's aversion to Old Yeller is not found in the wasted five to ten seconds it may take to write a witty quip as a status update. The real harm rears its head when the mentality of "that upsets me so I'll post a status update about it" becomes so common place that the population believes that the revolution will occur through Facebook, a privately owned multinational and damn near one billion dollar generating company created and run by individuals in the highest tiers of society.
I heart people.