Michael Vick Did A Bad Thing

Michael Vick hurt dogs. Michael Vick tortured dogs. Michael Vick drowned dogs. Michael Vick murdered dogs. Michael Vick did some of the most horrible, unspeakable things to dogs that I have ever read. He lied to federal prosecutors and they threw the book at him.

Michael Vick spent 21 months in federal prison contemplating the horrible things he did to those dogs. He spent 21 months thinking about turning his life around.

Michael Vick is out of jail. He has been out of jail for over 6 years. He has played football in the NFL for most of those six years, both with the Eagles and the Jets. And now…

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Tuesday that they have signed Michael Vick to a 1-year contract as back-up quarterback after Bruce Gradkowski sustained a season-ending injury during Sunday’s pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers. The former dog fighting ring lord and canine assassin is now a Steeler.

Some fans are outraged. Some of my hard-core Steeler fan friends have even said to me that they will not watch a single Steeler game because Vick is on the team. At today’s practice, there were even protests!

Michael Vick murdered dogs. Michael Vick went to prison for murdering dogs. Michael Vick is now a Pittsburgh Steeler.

And I am okay with that.

There is a lot to be said for honoring the rule of law. Vick pled guilty to the crimes of which he was accused by the federal prosecutor. He served his time. And since his release from prison has shown a remarkable 180 degree attitude adjustment. After serving his time for his role in the dog fighting ring, Vick became an advocate for humane animal treatment. He has volunteered his time and notoriety for The Humane Society of the United States, supporting their Pets for Life program and helping to spread their message with public appearances. He even helped to get the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act passed in Congress.

In this case, justice was served. Whether one agrees with his sentence is a moot point now. Unfortunately, in our society, we often make it extremely difficult for ex convicts to lead meaningful, gainful lives. In some cases, it would be better to keep convicts imprisoned than throw them on the streets without the means to provide for themselves and their families or enjoy a sense of accomplishment after serving their time. The resulting lack of opportunity leads to re-convictions and life behind bars. This is why Rand Paul and Cory Booker have brought justice to Congress with their REDEEM Act; and why many Americans seek to “ban the box” from employment applications.

Michael Vick served his time; and he deserves a second chance. He’s not perfect. He’s just a football player. Michael Vick is a Pittsburgh Steeler. And I’m okay with that.

But I still wouldn’t let him babysit my cats.

Edit:
The illegal dog fighting culture is alive and thriving in Western Pennsylvania and throughout the United States. Therefore I feel like I have not done justice to this issue without encouraging everyone to write to your legislator and encourage him or her to support legislation that strengthens the laws against dog fighting. In Pennsylvania there are bills sitting with the Assembly waiting on them to take action. I encourage everyone to make a phone call to your legislator to ask them to support laws that aim to end dog fighting for good and put dog fighting ring participants behind bars.

The Feminist Double Standard

When we talk about the influence of feminism on women’s rights, we often enter into the conversation about the double standards women are held to by society. Whether it is in our sex lives, our work/life balance, or our looks, feminists object to any unequal application of restrictive convention on women as a matter of basic principle. And the fact that we women are often judged by our looks over our intellect is a very sore point in that exchange.

So when President Obama introduced his good friend Kamala Harris this week during a DNC event, along with another elected official, many people were quick to call his remarks out as sexist.

“Congressman Mike Honda is here.  Where is Mike?  (Applause.)  He is around here somewhere.  There he is.  Yes, I mean, he’s not like a real tall guy, but he’s a great guy.  (Laughter.)

“Second of all, you have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake.  She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country — Kamala Harris is here.  (Applause.)  It’s true.  Come on.  (Laughter.)  And she is a great friend and has just been a great supporter for many, many years. ”

What is really wrong here is that, by chastising President Obama for remarking on Attorney General Harris’ looks (as opposed to the same about Mike Honda), we are really imposing a feministic double standard on him. President Obama makes flattering (or not so) comments about the physical appearance of accomplished and good looking people as a matter of habit. And for the most part, those accomplished folks upon whom he has heaped compliment have been men. President Obama is an equal opportunity flatterer.

Obama remarked over Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s appearance last year.

“A couple people I want to thank for their outstanding work. First of all, our Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, is in the house.  (Applause.)  He’s the guy in the nice-looking hat.  Not only does it look good, but it protects his head, because the hair has gotten a little thin up there.  (Laughter.)  He is a good-looking guy.”

If President Obama’s comments on Harris’ looks crossed the line, so should comments about every other politician’s looks he has ever made. The fact that Harris is a woman should not render comments or compliments about her looks taboo. Such a rule, in itself, is a double standard. To hold President Obama to a different standard when the subject of his praise is a woman undermines the goals of equal treatment, equal rights and equal opportunity for women and men.

I compare this situation to the flawed logic of me getting offended when my male coworkers fail to censor themselves in my presence. The fact that they would curse up a storm or tell jokes in casual conversation with me shows me that they do not view me in a different light. Some people may think they should watch what they say in front of a lady. But I say, “SCREW THAT! I want to hear the joke about the polar bear walking into a bar too.”

If the President’s remarks about good looking people are evenly uttered about men as well as women, I see no reason to censor the handsome conversationalist for the sake of feministic ideals.

Why Atheists Should Care About the Pope

Like many other atheists, I’m sure, I emitted a distinct air of indifference about all this pope selection business. I did think it was wise of the old guy to step down. Popin’ aint easy, ya know. And it is not like I could have had any influence whatsoever over the outcome of that conclave thing. Though I did think the @SistineSeagull thing was hilarious.

But in hindsight I find myself actually caring who becomes the next pope. Not because he is a spiritual leader. Not because he is the first non-European pope in eons. I care about who becomes pope because the man who assumes this position is given a very lofty soapbox. And what he uses that soapbox for can be really scary.

Will he use his soapbox to spread a message of love an tolerance? Will he use his soapbox to spread a message of respect and equality for women? When he dons that big white tiara, will he advocate for the freedom of homosexuals to live their lives as they see fit and experience love without persecution or violence? 

Atheists should care about these things. The pope has a billion faithful (to some degree or other) hanging on his every word. And these Catholic people run our schools, sit in our government (though, thank goodness we got rid of that Santorum craziness), and work on our police forces. A pope that uses his pulpit to bully and demean atheists as confused, contemptuous children who have been duped by Satan is a detriment to us all.

Here’s hoping he uses that soapbox for something constructive.

The Scourge

It wasn’t a good day. Or a good week.

It started with a flu shot.

Waiting in line, I realize my nose is congested. But I think, “Oh, it’s nothing. I don’t get sick.” Then, post inappropriately public strip tease – to remove the pullover sweater and long-sleeve, button-down shirt I wore that day – I start to cough just a little.

Then I start coughing a bit more.

Then, uncontrollably.

And then, I puke. By 3:30 pm: I’ve gotta go home, hurry get the keys, no time to power down, no time to forward the phone, no goodbyes, coughing while driving, I need a doggie bag!, hurry up and unlock the door, pass out on the bed with a fever, delirious, freezing my ass off in my blouse and pullover because I’m a cheap-ass and hadn’t resorted to turning the heat on yet, brrrrr. It wasn’t a good day.

Or a good week. Two days later, I return to work with a head “thing.” I obstinately try to ignore it for weeks. I try drowning it in Dihydrogen monoxide. I try drowning it in beer. I even try downward dogging it away in a steamy, sweaty, hot room. But the perseverant little microbes have me by the proverbial balls. And everyone knows, balls are not good for grabbing.

I lose.

Hard.

On the fourth lost workday, I make the walk of shame into the doctor’s office. I haven’t seen the doctor in over a year. The last time I saw him, he looked like he’d lost at least fifty pounds. His belt cinched up his hanging pants and his shirt hung loose like he was a 1990s street kid who just wasn’t quite getting it right. This time, he is still svelte; but his clothes fit. A crap load of questions for the truant face. Deep breath. Ear poke. Germs. Sinus infection. Antibiotics.

Two days after the obligatory stint of pill popping – reenter the cough. The next day, not a cough; but UNMERCIFUL ATTEMPTS BY MY INDIGNANT LUNGS TO EMANCIPATE THEMSELVES OF THEIR SQUISHY, BROWN PRISON AND STRIKE OUT ON THEIR OWN so violent I pull a muscle in my chest.

A call to the Teladoc. Post-infection syndrome. Lame.

My body is punishing me. She is wicked pissed off about the neglect, mad about the flu shot, about the H2O, about the beer, about the vinyasa. It’s a full on revolt up in this bitch. I hope I win.

African-American Metal Head

I dunno if you know it by now, but I’m Black.

***!!!*** [That is my husband reading this and gasping. And then saying (or texting) to me, “But I thought you were Brazilian!” (Our little inside joke.)]

Yep. Black girl – pretty awesome. What’s even more awesome is the reactions I get when I tell people that my whole freaking body hurts because I spent all day Saturday wading through crowds of thronging metal heads at the Mayhem Festival. Seriously, my legs hurt. My stomach hurts. My arms hurt. I have a massive bruise on my ass and another on my left arm. My voice is so squeaky hoarse it sounds like I’ve been sucking helium for the past two days. And I literally cannot remember the last time I was so dirty. It took two days to get the mud from under my nails. (Wait, there’s still some in there.)

AND IT WAS AWESOME!!!

I was absolutely ecstatic when I heard Slipknot was getting back in the game and even more elated when they where announced as the headliner of Mayhem Fest. (I’ve waited nine years FOR THIS!) When I met my friends at the car, my husband asked what happened to me during the show. I just said, “I don’t know. Slipknot came on. And I just started rocking out.”

The reactions I get from people who aren’t my husband:

  • My friend Mike, as I dragged him to the front of the stage to see Whitechapel: “I love you dude.”
  • Angela as I limped into work today: “I never would have thought you would be into kind of music.”
  • Two guys at work: “[Head shaking.] You young people,” and, “Whoa! REALLY?”

Generally it’s a lot of raised eyebrows and surprised expressions. But if you think about it, what kind of person only likes one kind of music? (A boring one, I say.) So next time one of your Black friends says she is going to a concert, don’t assume you know what kind of music she likes. You just might see her on the other side of a mosh pit.

And seriously, if you missed Mayhem. You are so lame.

Cast Iron Joe Stands No More

Some people aren’t so happy in the Happy Valley today. The statue of Joe Paterno that stood outside Beaver Stadium as a tribute to the  longest serving football coach in history has been removed. Though the statue has been stowed away, the Paterno name still hangs on the school’s central library.

When the light first shown on the crimes of Jerry Sandusky, I was one of the first to accuse Paterno and fellow Penn State management of orchestrating  a cover up. I am not some big name, influential journalist of public official. So my opinion didn’t carry much weight. But I live in a place in Pennsylvania where the fact that I am a Buckeye makes me the sporting enemy of most of my neighbors and friends. Love for the Nittany Lions runs deep where I live. So you can imagine that my open defense of the Penn State administration’s decision to fire Paterno as the right decision was met with intense disagreement. (But no bar fights, I swear!)

Though I knew this was a grand cover up from the beginning (it seems Judge Freeh agrees with me), I was indecisive about whether the statue of Paterno should have remained standing. This could be partially attributed to the fact that I don’t believe I have standing to make that kind of decision – I have no love for the school or the man, though I did enjoy seeing that old guy down on the field when the Buckeyes played them and lamented when he was relegated to the box for health reasons. Even knowing the depth of Paterno’s crimes – and he DID commit a crime, mind you – I was surprised that the decision to remove his likeness came so swiftly.

Paterno did many good things for Penn State University. But it appears those good things are overshadowed by the unconscionable disservice Joe did to all the children Jerry Sandusky went on to abuse after Joe and his coworkers brushed that abuse under the Lion rug. Paterno’s shadow will not stretch across the hallowed grounds of Beaver Stadium anymore.

Be Like a Hawk

I miss the red-tailed hawk that lived in the wooded area behind the building I work in last summer. It was an awesome, inspiring animal. Sometimes I would see it cutting through the air diving into and through the other birds desperately trying to fend this perfect predator away from their precious nests. No amount of panicked squawking could scare that bird away. Other times, it would just soar agains the sky in wide circles bragging of its dominance.

I need hawk’s sense – to see three times better, to hunt three times better. I’d spy with my little eye all those things lurking in the woods below me and go in for the kill at 120 miles per hour. No trick would be safe. Top of the food chain – yes, that’s where I belong.

Friggin’ AWESOMENESS!
I want to be THAT kind of badass.