Monday, July 23, 2007

Okay, Everybody, Just... Breeeeathe....

I love me some animals. I am a big-time animal lover. Regular readers of this blog don't have to be told this. I have cats, have had dogs, used to be owned by a horse, lived on good terms with a snake and two Oriental firebelly toads.... I love animals. I especially love and feel protective of pit bulls, one of the most maligned, misused and misunderstood breeds in existence (the truth, ladies and germs, is that -- when not raised to be mean by callous, inhumane owners -- they are big, fat babydolls, with terrier smarts, bulldog loyalty and compassion and enough energy to light the city of Minneapolis for a week).

It seems that Atlanta Falcons' quarterback Michael Vick is, according to the police, deeply ensconced in a dogfighting ring that purchased, trained and fought dogs using Vick's money, and used facilities built on property he owned. The evidence is pretty damning to be sure. The police seem to have put together a strong case against Vick. Protestors for PETA and other animal rights groups are demanding that Vick be released from his contract with the Falcons.

Here's my problem. He hasn't been convicted yet. I don't care how much evidence you collect against someone, or how guilty they appear to be, until they're convicted in a court of law, neither the Falcons, nor PETA, nor any individual or group in this country, has the right to treat Vick as if he had already been found guilty. I'm deeply, profoundly disturbed by the rush to simply do away with due process so everybody can feel better about everything. On the day that Vick is convicted, or decides to change his plea from guilty to not guilty, then everyone can demand that he be treated as a convicted criminal (because he will be one). But until then, our Constitution (pesky little document that it is) keeps insisting that Vick is innocent until that wonderfully prolific evidence against him has been presented for consideration to a jury of his peers.

The dogs are out of harm's way, people. The ring is out of operation. So let's let the law do what it's supposed to, and either coax a change of plea or prosecute to the fullest the crime before us. But let's stop treating Vick as if he's already had his day in court.


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