Thursday, August 23, 2007

BENCHWARMERS' MINDS SOMETIMES TURN TO ANOTHER KIND OF "EXECUTION"

Wouldn't it be something if the media, along with gathering opinions from prominent African-American sports figures -- Stephon Marbury, for instance -- also sought out marginal white athletes at random and asked what they really think about Michael Vick's dogfighting conviction?

Thanks to the miracle of Facebook, it's not necessary, in one case. A couple Big Ten college football players from the University of Illinois, quarterback Jimmy Garza (top picture) and wideout Jack Eastman (second picture), have apparently been kind enough to start a group entitled All Those in Favor of Drowning Mike Vick and Then Electricuting Him! (That's their spelling.)

A Jimmy Garza is listed as "electricutioner" and a Jack Eastman is listed as "creator" of the group, which has almost 3,700 members as of this morning. Neither player is on the two-deep chart for Illinois, which has won only eight games across the past four seasons. Garza is stuck behind a talented African-American QB, Juice Williams, and Eastman plays a position typically dominated by black athletes in big-time U.S. college football. Evidently, the two guys whose path to success is blocked by black players also really, really despise Michael Vick, or think he's fodder for their sick so-called senses of humour. Funny how that worked out.
"Normally, I would be very much against any further mistreatment of animals. But I wouldn't mind seeing his dogs starved for a week, then let loose on Michael with his hands tied behind his back. We'll see how fast Michael Vick can really run."

Granted, these guys are benchwarmers, but they do represent a university and its values. (For the record, it would take something a lot more offensive to get this kind of article written about a CIS athlete. They are lower profile and most Canadians are too polite.)

It's one thing to get drunk on the odd weekend. What does it say about about developing qualities such as civility, expressing forgiveness and an ability to form an intelligent opinion - things that are part of being educated -- when you start a Facebook group that (at the least) jokes about Michael Vick being forcibly drowned, and no doubt help it spread like to thousands of likewise sick-minded people who need to get a life for Christmas? It doesn't say much, although it might say quite a bit to these two guys' African-American teammates.

These illiterati might say, "it's just for fun." But there's nothing about the words, "I wouldn't mind seeing his dogs starved for a week, then let loose on Michael with his hands tied behind his back," that suggests this is good old college humour.

No one's asking anyone to defend Vick, or forgive him, but joking about having him drowned? Get a grip. Oh, and anyone who thinks what happens on Facebook stays on Facebook has another think coming. It's right there smack dab in the middle of Reality.

It's just funny to see the ugly thoughts of young people are supposed to be getting an education out in the open like this. Sports thrives on control, especially college football. Thanks to a couple of, A-hole B-teamers, it's all out in the open. The Great American Football Machine has about as much chance vs. Facebook as Illinois does of winning the Big Ten this season.

(In case anyone has concerns about mistaken identity: The profile pic for the group's creator matches the one of Jack Eastman at CSTV. The "electricutioner's" profile picture depicts four young white men in jerseys that are Illinois' shade of blue. One wears No. 12, Garza's number, and the others wear Nos. 19, 16 and 14. A roster check matches those numbers to other quarterbacks, each of whom is white.)

Related:
Vancouver MP receives chilling threat on Facebook (globeandmail.com)

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to neatesager@yahoo.ca.

16 comments:

Dennis Prouse said...

Boneheaded comments, no doubt, and a pretty standard showing of lack of maturity from a couple of young guys. I don't think that testosterone-fuelled 20 year olds have changed all that much over the years, but Facebook now allows us to see their numbskull ways in all their glory.

In these kids' defence, the kind of stuff they are saying about Vick has been flying all over the 'net - not much original there. You hear similar sentiments of vigilante justice expressed about spousal abusers, child molesters, etc.

You and I have an honest disagreement about whether or not the Vick story, and people's reaction to it, is about race. I think it is more about the nature of his crime, and our society's love of, and borderline obsession with, their pets. People hear about what Vick did, and then imagine their own little Schnauzer being abused in the same way. You could argue that this is irrational, dogs aren't humans, Leonard Little's crime was much worse, etc. etc., and you probably wouldn't be wrong. I just don't think it makes someone a bigot if they find Vick to be a pretty vile character in general.

As for Marbury, you just knew that the media would seek out other high profile black athletes to comment, because they are the ones most likely to defend Vick. When someone defends him, that's newsworthy, and it is going to be reported. I'm not particularly scandalized by what Marbury said. I disagree with him, but the views he articulated are pretty consistent with what has been said in Vick's defence to date.

Tyler King said...

To say it's a group about some sort of brutal punishment for Vick is contradicted by the group's description - "Michael Vick and anyone else involved in this deserves to rot in prison."

I agree. So I joined the group.

Pete Toms said...

This story is huge because it is an example of the "man bites dog" adage. We've long since ceased to be shocked, surprised, outraged etc. by the violent actions
of pro athletes perpetrated against other humans. This is a new flavor though. Is it too cruel or racist to say we white folks find stories of blacks killing blacks pretty banal & pedestrian nowadays? Blacks killing dogs though, that's new & shocking.

As for Marbury, I bet he represents the opinion of many black pro athletes, most don't want the attention though and will remain quiet. Dog fighting has become part of gang culture. If you come from that culture ( i.e. Newport News ) you probably don't think dog fighting is as heinous as I and most others do. You could really turn this into a debate about cultural relativism.

Again, I don't feel sorry for Vick but I do find what we choose to be outraged over an interesting subject. ( and that extends to the non sports world as well ).

I read in William Houston's column today that Keith Olbermann will be up on his soap box about Vick Sunday nite in his debut network show on NBC leading in to Sunday Night Football. No doubt he'll be controversial, his goal will be to bring as much attention as possible to his new show. He's made a name for himself as a Liberal, so I gotta think he'll be spouting some bleeding heart, guilt ridden diatribe a la Naete and myself.

sager said...

Did you see the part where one group admin said he was "owner of the pool Vick is to be drowned in"?

Don't be a follower, be a leader... go start a group demanding NFL players get their disability benefits. That's a lot more important and socially relevant than Mike Vick.

Anyways, it's shameful these guys are in their third or fourth year of university and don't realize the optics and the historical context of saying, even in jest, that an African-American should be forcibly drowned. That's beyond ignorant. If these guys don't know better, shame on whoever quote-unquote educated them.

The University of Illinois -- alma mater of Roger Ebert, Ang Lee, Hugh Hefner and Will Leitch -- should be above this!

Tyler King said...

"Blacks killing dogs though, that's new & shocking."

So you're implying that people wouldn't be as outraged if Michael Vick had killed a human being? That's a bit of a stretch.

And are you, Neate, implying that it'd be okay to jokingly imply Vick should be drowned if he weren't African-American?

sager said...

Tyler, you know better than to ask that. It's never OK -- white people of privilege saying it about an African-American, considering the United States' racist history (and some of that school's history with cultural sensitivity -- Chief Illiniwek ring any bells?) is just higher up on the hierarchy.

Tyler King said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tyler King said...

I'm just not the sort to judge events on the race of those involved, sadly. So I doubt we'll come to any agreement, and I won't argue.

sager said...

The issue is about the poor job we as a society are doing of teaching people to have show a little humanity, friggin' perspective, some common sense and a concept of what's really important.

At least 37 hundred people think, possibly in jest albeit, that a man should be forcibly drowned. It's noteworthy that the guys who got the ball rolling play the same sport as Vick, just not nearly as well.

We're judged as a society by how we react to and treat our least deserving citizens. Ever hear of "love the sinner, hate the sin."

Tyler King said...

It's not "possibly in jest", it's clearly in jest. In the same vein as the multitude of groups that say they wouldn't brake if they saw Pierre McGuire crossing the street.

And on the topic of showing 'humanity' to him, has Vick shown even a hint of remorse at this? He lied to the public when he said he was innocent.

It seems entirely justifiable that people would be outraged, and incensed at what he's done and his conduct after being caught, especially given he himself holds a position of privelege in society (the same reason we hate multi-millionaire tax evaders more than the average one).

Tyler King said...

And I thought we were judged by how we treat our least well-off citizens... at least that's how anti-poverty activists phrase it.

In fact, doesn't seemingly everyone have their own "we're judged as a society by how we treat our (insert group here)"?

Is anyone judging north american society as cruel for reacting so negatively to Michael Vick?

Dennis Prouse said...

Neate, I think that Vick will encounter some forgiveness eventually, perhaps sooner than we think. First he needs to enter his plea, be sentenced, and express some genuine remorse. If he does that, it won't be long until people start coming around a bit to your point of view. First, though, the public and media will demand that he wear the hairshirt for a bit.

Pete Toms said...

Hi Tyler, yes I am saying that people would be less outraged if Michael Vick had killed a human.

Just off the top of my head, Pac Man Jones violence recently left a man quadrapeligic, Ray Lewis killed 1 or 2?, I believe 2 people a handful of years ago, Rae Carruth killed a woman pregnant with his child....if I surfed for 10 minutes I'm sure I could find plenty more examples. Somebody on this blog mentioned Leonard Little, I'v no idea what he did.... Dave Meggett comes to mind....

I believe NONE of these incidents has created the amount of publicity or outrage that Vick killing dogs has created. We are racist both here and in the US and we don't care about blacks killing blacks. Blacks kill blacks in the Jane & Finch corridor and it is not remotely as newsworthy nor is there a fraction of the outrage as when a white girl is shot by blacks at the Eaton Centre.

Blacks killing blacks is "dog bites man". Blacks killing dogs is "man bites dog".

Tyler why do you think this is such a huge story? This story transcends the NFL. People, i.e. my wife, who could give a crap about the NFL are talking about this. I suspect you are caucasian. Only those of us in the majority could stake a claim that race doesn't matter. I doubt that opinion is as common amongst the Indians in our country, the Somalis in our city or amongst African Americans in the US.

Why can't we all just get along? Tyler, Dennis, Naete I am inviting you to join me in the ceremonial release of a half dozen white doves as a gesture of good will and peace on earth. Can someone bring a recording of "We are the World".

Dennis Prouse said...

Pete, you big soft lefty you! :-)

As I said earlier, I think this story really had legs due to the animal cruelty angle, and the fact that it is unique. Hey, any pro athlete can crash his sports car, take drugs, get into a domestic dispute, etc. etc. That's not news anymore. But bankrolling a dog fighting operation? Killing the dogs himself? Now THAT'S news, regardless of the colour of the guy's skin.

You could argue that people place too high a premium on this issue relative to many others out there, but there is something uniquely creepy to what Vick did. It's a little like the stories you hear about kids torturing, and sometimes killing, cats on Halloween. Sure, they are "just cats", "there are thousands of them roaming the streets", etc. etc., but still, when a kid goes out of his way to set one on fire, it turns your stomach somewhat.

Tyler King said...

People would be just as offended if Joey Harrington had run a dogfighting ring.

sager said...

That might have been true when he was starting for the Lions -- since it would have meant the Vikings wouldn't have got to face him twice a year. ;)