By John Aloysius Farrell, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Benjy, Cappy, Talleyrand, Sadie, David, Kit, Duffy, Maggie, Ben and Charlie.
Ten dogs have shared my life.
Duffy was evil. Talleyrand, the Irish setter, easily the dumbest. Ben the Aussie, hands down the best. I miss him still.
The point is, I am eminently qualified as a dog lover. And I still think Michael Vick should be given a chance to play in the National Football League.
The reason is simple, and has to do with that old, largely-forgotten word: redemption.
There used to be a time, in the last century, where society actually tried to rehabilitate lawbreakers. Not so much, anymore.
Read U.S. Sen. Jim Webb's new book about American incarceration rates. It is difficult to resist his argument that we should be treating and counseling and trying to rehabilitate more offenders, especially drug offenders, instead of abandoning them in prisons that operate as schools for crime.
Vick did a really lousy, hateful thing. And it is good that he was penalized as harshly as he was, since it sent the message that our society views cruelty to animals as a terrible crime.
But if Vick were a plumber jailed for such a felony, would we ban him from resuming work as a plumber when he was let out on parole? Not likely. Indeed, his parole officers would probably encourage him to seek work in his old profession.
So with Vick. The National Football League has vowed to counsel and watch him closely. It is best for him, and best for all of us, that he be allowed to try and live a productive life, in the profession he knows best.
He may not make it. He may crack under the pressure. He will, no doubt justly, be scorned and heckled by football fans across the country. But if we don't give him his chance, then we are the cruel ones, not Michael Vick.