Thursday, June 18, 2009

Someone Tell Me How This Makes Sense?

This has nothing to do with my being an Atlanta Falcons fan or the owner of a Michael Vick jersey and everything to do with how mangled the justice system of the United States of America - and the ridiculous acceptance levels of the general public - have become.

On the left, of course, is Michael Vick, the former NFL superstar who was recently released from United States Penitentiary- Leavenworth after serving 18 months for operating a dog fighting ring on his property in Virginia.

On the right is Donte Stallworth, a wide receiver with the Cleveland Browns. Just a few days ago, Stallworth was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 8 years probation and 2 years of house arrest for DUI Manslaughter in the death of Mario Reyes.

Let me give you those numbers again: Vick served 18 months in the prison that one held "Machine Gun" Kelly and is the current home of King Tone, the leader of the Latin Kings gang, while Stallworth will serve 30 days in a South Beach jail.

How is this right?

Now, Stallworth took ownership of the situation right away, while Vick denied everything until he was cornered and that counts for something. But could it really count for that much?

Yes, what Michael Vick did was a heinous act of cruelty and certainly deserved to be punished. That being said - and as much as Cool Hand Luke is one of my best friends in the entire world - he killed dogs. Dogs, not people.

Stallworth, on the other hand, struck a pedestrian between the hours of 7:00 and 8:00 AM with a blood alcohol level of 0.12. While admitting to officers that you had been drinking the night before and being cooperative should count for something, if you blow 0.12 in the morning, you were either drinking fairly recently or were still pretty damn drunk when you decided to cruise down a busy street.

Again, allow me to repeat: Stallworth was drunk behind the wheel sometime before 8:00 AM and hit another human being with his car.

I don't care that the deceased was running outside of the crosswalk; he was trying to catch a bus after a long night at work. The fact that Stallworth flicked his lights only goes to show me that he knew the situation could potentially be dangerous.

What makes all this worse, in my eyes, is how quick some members of the media and society in general have been willing to accept the punishment handed out to Donte Stallworth. Many of these same people were aghast when the revelations about Michael Vick's dogfighting ring came to light, yet news of Stallworth's 30 day sentence and sundry other penalties has been met with a feeling of "that's fair" and "if everyone agreed to it, it's okay by me."

Neither action - Vick's dogfighting or Stallworth's DUI - are acceptable, but let me be brutally honest: how do we place stiffer punishments on a man who was responsible for the murder of a family pet greater than a man who killed a father and husband?

Have we become so desensitized to the murder - and make no mistake, that is true crime committed by Stallworth, regardless of what the charges laid against him read - that we offer up no resistance when a human life is exchanged for 30 days in a county jail, yet seek the harshest penalties imaginable when animals are hurt and killed?

Donte Stallworth knew he was intoxicated when he got behind the wheel of his Bentley and took another man's life. If you or I were in the same position, we would be facing an extended stay in prison.

There is absolutely nothing anyone can tell me - factual or stipulated - that will make this right for me.

Sadly, this is the world we live in; a world where the life of a dog is placed at a higher value than that of a father and husband.

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