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Is Michael Vick Innocent Until Proven Guilty, or Should He Go Straight to the Dog House?

Aiden is Innocent!By Ann-Marie Murphy

I couldn’t care less about Michael Vick. And I would never ever advocate the harming of animals. But what does get my blood boiling is when we condemn a man (or a woman for that matter) before a trial of his peers has deemed him guilty. In this country, we’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.

In case you live on Venus and haven’t been paying attention to the news, Michael Vick, the quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on dog fighting charges. However, an indictment is not a conviction. An indictment only means that formal charges have been brought against Vick. The actual trial could be years away.

Yet, the NFL has told Vick that he can’t attend the Falcons’ training camp until they finish reviewing the charges brought against him. While they haven’t yet formally disciplined Vick yet, not allowing a professional athlete to practice with his team is punishment if you ask me.

And what does the NFL plan to review? They’re not a jury of his peers who are empowered with formally judging him in a court of law. Until a court finds otherwise, I think it’s unfair to condemn a person who hasn’t yet been found guilty in the ways our laws prescribe.

Like I said before, I couldn’t care less about Vick. And the idea of putting innocent dogs up against each other to fight to the death makes me physically ill. Anyone who is convicted of just such a crime should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Unfortunately, this sort of backward thinking – considering a person guilty until proven innocent – seems to be more and more pervasive in our country. It’s an illness. It’s the anti-DIFF. It’s representative of an oppressive form of government, not a democracy rooted in moral and civil fairness. I hope that I’m not the only one who values presumption of innocence. It’s a concept that follows from not one, but several amendments of the Constitution of the United States.

Just imagine: if you were indicted on criminal charges, would you want your neighbors, co-workers, local leaders, etc., assuming that you were guilty before you were even able to have your day in court and present your side of the story?

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  1. The NFL is a commercial enterprise which must maintain an image. Vick has tarnished that image, so the NFL has a perfect right to keep him away from practice and even the season if that is in the best interest of the NFL. Every employer with high profile employees would act the same.
    Another point: Consider what would happen if Vick were to play before his case goes to trial. There would be demonstrations for and against him outside the gates and in the stands that probably would result in fights. Every time Vick ran or passed, the sportscaster would remind all TV viewers about the charges pending against the quarterback. Who would benefit from that circus?
    Vick will have his day in court. If he is found innocent, he probably will be back in the game shortly thereafter. If he is found guilty, he will go to jail. It’s the American way, thankfully.

    Posted by: Roberta | August 4, 2007
  2. It’s not just about the NFL. It’s the media. It’s regular old Joes. We jump to conclusions and convict people before they’ve been found guilty by a court of law. And I think that’s wrong.

    Posted by: Ann-Marie | August 6, 2007
  3. The Feds in Virgina have a better than 97% prosecution rate on federal indictments. Safe to say, Vick should be sweating bullets. I’ll consider him guilty until I hear him explain why he had 60 dead dogs at this house. His silence on the issue has spoken volumes.

    Posted by: Feds | August 6, 2007
  4. Ann-Marie,
    Little story to tell here: My senior year in high school our men’s basketball team was up for the conference championship. It was of course against our arch rivals, a city about 20 minutes away. We despised this city and everyone in it, they just weren’t classy when it came to playing sports. Anyways, the star of their team had been caught the week prior to game, drinking and driving, of course all underage. He was thrown in jail for a night and the case was scheduled for trial the day before the game. Because he was such a crucial part to the team, the entire community rallied together against the school, which had suspended and banned him from playing in the game. It was a no-brainer: police had pulled him over, given him a Breathalyzer test, and put him in jail because of the zero-tolerance law. He was clearly guilty. Yet because there was this little “game”, the school and authorities allowed themselves to be convinced that he was innocent until proven guilty, and should be treated like any other law-abiding kid on the team. His court date was rescheduled and they lifted the suspension. He played in that game. And for the life of me I cannot remember if we even won, but I do remember such a clear obstruction of justice all because this kid was “SO” good that laws were bent for him. I think there will always be times when its just obvious that someone has done something wrong. It makes me wonder if we can just all break laws and find a good lawyer to *make* us innocent…

    Posted by: Kriste | August 6, 2007
  5. “Another point: Consider what would happen if Vick were to play before his case goes to trial. There would be demonstrations for and against him outside the gates and in the stands that probably would result in fights. Every time Vick ran or passed, the sportscaster would remind all TV viewers about the charges pending against the quarterback. Who would benefit from that circus?”
    I think this is exactly what Ann-Marie is trying to say she is against. Those protesters would be making conclusions and assumptions without knowing all of the facts.
    The only people who will have all of the facts presented out to them in the most accurate manner will be the jury, and it is our custom to let them decide.
    The thing is, that “circus” would be going on even if Vick went to trial and was found innocent. Everyone has already made the guilty conclusion in their mind, and his image will be tarnished forever, whether he is guilty or innocent.
    I don’t want to have to worry about my image being completely trampled because someone just decided to accuse me of something, and Vick shouldn’t have to either…until he is guilty, I have no opinion on his character.

    Posted by: Mark | August 6, 2007
  6. I think the difference with your story, Kriste, might be in that “rules were bent” for him. That’s clearly wrong. With Vick, there are no rules being bent. He’s going through due process. And, he’s losing his ability to play, along with being judged (“clearly he’s guilty,” so many people say).
    It’s a fine line, paying the price for simply the suspicion of something, no matter how clear it looks.
    Just ask my neighbor… he’s going through the same thing. He lost his job (and soon his house), before trials are even underway. Oh, and there is a shadow of a doubt… he may be totally innocent.

    Posted by: christy | August 6, 2007
  7. People’s opinions aren’t tied to the same rules and regulations as the courts. Which is exactly why Mike Vick is walking around right now, big pimping, living large and ghettofabulous, instead of locked in a jail where he belongs.
    Just because the courts tell me he’s innocent until proven guilty, 60 dead dogs on his property tell me something different. He’s a scumbag and deserves whatever he’s going through.
    But be rest assured, he’s one of the richest athletes in the world and he won’t probably serve a day in jail or be convicted of anything. His money will get him off, but as O.J. has learned, it won’t get him off the hook. He’s damaged goods now and as as a high profile entertainer, the public has the right to boycott him, so Nike and the NFL are just protecting their interests.
    If they are smart, they’ll have nothing to do with him, even after he gets off. But then again, since his boys are ratting him out as we write, he may have a very tough fight to buy his innocence.
    My advice is that he give O.J. a call and learn to live life free but hated.

    Posted by: Clay C. | August 6, 2007
  8. Wow, Clay, you just made the whole discussion irrelevant.
    Way to kill a conversation. ;-)

    Posted by: Christy | August 7, 2007
  9. In my defense — because I never just let something die — the news about there being 60 dead dogs found on Vick’s property was not, to my knowledge, known at the time I wrote this post.
    In any case, I hear everyone. I do, I swear. But then again, that feeds my point. The Amendments to our Constitution cover some pretty important things and were written for many very good reasons. And just as I think it’s wrong to convict a person before he’s found guilty in a court of law, I also respect the First Amendment — and all of your rights to voice opinions that may be different from mine.
    Perhaps my favorite quotation of all time: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltaire

    Posted by: Ann-Marie | August 7, 2007
  10. I think there are 2 different topics being discussed here. The first being his criminal trial, which he is of course innocent until proven guilty in. The other topic is the court of public opinion. In that instance he is dead guilty, and people are disgusted by him. For that reason, his employer decided to protect his assets and suspend him. In this instance he is guilty.

    Posted by: Scooby Doo | August 8, 2007
  11. The evidence speaks for itself and in America we give the beneift of doubt all the time unless the CASE is soooooo stacked against the criminal like Vick. I can’t believe that you would want him to represent the NFL in pre-game stuff KNOWING the evidence against him. The NFL did a good thing and rid themselves of this EVIL. You never want kids watching someone and looking up to someone who did such acts of violence and immoral activities. As a parent, I am so happy they already took action and let the evidence speak so loudly through the media.

    Posted by: CJ | August 10, 2007
  12. How many times have we heard that ‘pride’ is a deadly sin? Its often overlooked, but we (Americans) callously judge others. Here’s an example…you’re watching your local news and learn that a drunk driver has killed an innocent child. In all probability this is a terrible thing, so in that instance he/she is a piece of scum. So is the man arrested for beating his wife and the person found to be growing marijuana in their back yard. Any crime or action that questions moral turpitude seems to allow (all those not involved) the right to judge those who are. In that moment we (Americans) bash others for their involvement. Are we any better? Michael Vick, dogfighter or not, is no different than one who commits, for example, adultery. Our Savior tried to teach us a lesson when He wanted each and every person who ‘had not commited a wrongdoing/sin’ to continue to stone the prostitute Mary. WE DID NOT LEARN FROM THIS. Americans have condemned this man with pride. And this pride says loud and clear that Vick is trash. And he’s being called trash by a nation full of prideful wrong doers. How critical are we of ourselves? Not much these days because we’d rather focus on others who do wrong. It would be nice to find that this young man, Vick, is being condemned only by those who have never done any wrong. Pride in this case causes the type of judgment used against Mr. Vick. I do agree that rules are to be followed (when of apt nature) and those who fail to do so should be punished. However, this does not warrant the condemnation of those who fail to do so. The presumption of innocence was embedded in the American legal system to prevent the sort of judgment used against Vick. Its twofold – idealistically, people were not meant to be punished for crimes they did not commit, nor were they to be robbed of their own preservation in the event of suspicion. On the other hand, the preumption of innocence protected someone from being subjected to public opinion where certain beliefs could harm someone’s livelihood. I must admit that the ‘Framers’ of our Constitution, when doing this, held a high level of morale – derived from the original foundation of America (Puritan values). Today…America lacks these values. And these values held the notion that passing judgment on someone was wrong.

    Posted by: RM | August 13, 2007
  13. I agree two separate things here. In the court of law Vick *IS* innocent until proven guilty. He wasn’t been locked up in jail nor did the court INSTRUCT the NFL to suspend him or Nike to drop their ad campaigns with him. NONE of that happened, he was still innocent in their eyes. In the court of public opinion, YES he was guilty. And thats okay. Nowhere in our constitution does it say people can’t think or say what they want.
    And it seems that RM isn’t practicing what he preaches. Please don’t talk about other people judging when you are doing it yourself right here!

    Posted by: Kriste | August 13, 2007
  14. Guilty as charged. I hope he gets what is due to him.

    Posted by: kris | August 20, 2007
  15. Go straight to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. I wonder if Vick will get attacked in prison the way he made dogs savagely fight each other. Now that would be justice!

    Posted by: Pitbull | August 21, 2007
  16. micheal vicks should not get as much time because alot of people have done it before

    Posted by: stephen | May 1, 2008

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Sunday, March 18, 2018