Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

Who Deserves a Second Chance? Michael Vick? The Family?

Jeff Weiss, writing at Politics Daily, quotes me extensively on a Jewish view of forgiveness, especially connected to celebrities who have done wrong.

It’s never hard to find evidence of humanity’s foibles and failures. But boy, howdy, have we had a recent bumper crop in the news: Michael Vick, John Edwards, Rick Pitino, Donte’ Stallworth, Lynette Fromme, Mark Sanford, and on and on and on….
From lead stories in newspapers, websites and broadcasts to the comic strip Doonesbury, the past fortnight has been filled with story after story about celebrity guilt and contrition, followed by a dollop of redemption and rehabilitation.
Do these people deserve a second chance? How do we figure that out?
Pretty much every religion or ethical system worthy of the name spends a lot of effort struggling with these kinds of questions. Let’s dip into some of that struggle to see if we can find any useful answers. Rabbi Brad Hirschfield is the president of The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. So how about it, rabbi? Should we forgive any or all of these people?
“Let’s start with a basic premise found in Jewish thought: one can only forgive that which was done to them…This business of people running around forgiving others for what they did to third parties is ridiculous. It probably indicates that those doing all that forgiving are filled with rage at people who actually did nothing to them. They don’t need to forgive them and probably shouldn’t be so angry at them in the first place.”
The whole celebrity outrage thing makes no sense? I get that. But to the extent that someone like Michael Vick realized that his job description included “role model,” whether he wanted it or not, does he deserve some punishment beyond the strictly legal?
“The issue is whether or not people think he has been sufficiently punished. If he has, and if one believes in the law, he has, then he should get a second chance. Does that mean that he should be hired to sell dog food or pet sit, probably not. But should he wander the world like the Biblical Cain (or the one from the old David Carradine/Kung Fu show, “Caine,” for that matter) unable to restart his life because he mistreated his dogs? I don’t think so.”

Do you?

  • Cully

    “But to the extent that someone like Michael Vick realized that his job description included “role model,” whether he wanted it or not, does he deserve some punishment beyond the strictly legal?…because he mistreated his dogs?” Because he “mistreated” his dogs? “Mistreated” – is that what you think he did?? Rabbi, you break my heart.

  • Anonymous

    Cully, the quote which broke your heart, was not me. I am sorry it broke your heart, and I happen to agree with you, but the words to which you objected were Jeff Weiss’, not mine.

  • Cully

    Thank you, thank You. I am so glad that I misread… I should have waited, calmed down and re-read. Please accept my apology.

  • Laura

    Whether the word “mistreat”, “abuse” or “cruelty” is used what was done to those animals was horrific. But, I believe that he should be allowed to practice the craft that is his skill and make a life for himself and his family. We must forgive in order to be forgiven and we all do things that are wrong and (at least I) would like to be forgiven when I am repentent.

  • mussar

    Everybody respects Tony Dungy, for his menschlichkeit and principled convictions.
    If Coach Dungy believes that Michael Vick has turned a corner in his life and deserves a second chance, then: either Vick has genuine remorse for what he has done and has truly turned a corner in his life; or Vick is the greatest actor since Sir Laurence Olivier. And, quite frankly, I don’t think Vick has the intelligence to be able to out-act Olivier!

  • Your Name

    Isn’t forgiveness based not only on filling the punishment, but genuine contrition for the wrong that was done? ‘Yeah, I’m sorry I got caught’ is what I’m hearing from Vick. No one treat animals like he did and then means his apology. Many of those poor canines were not adoptable or had to be put down. He wants to prove he’s changed, let him put in some community time at an animal shelter, or donate a percentage of his income to one of the Humane Societies in this country.

  • Pamela

    Actually, “your name”‘s comment makes a lot of sense! Let Mr Vick donate a million dollars to the ASPCA, or Pit Bull Rescue, or some combination of like-minded organizations whose job it is to un-do the damage that Mr Vick & scum-bags like him have done!

  • Lucy

    i wish I had seen this post sooner; it is probably too late to comment, but I just have to say that Vick treated those poor animals in a sadistic manner, deliberately and I cannot believe he is deeply sorry about anything but getting caught. Moreover, how could anyone even do anything so horrible? His behavior was that of a sociopath and I hope he also stays away from women and never fathers a child. I am sure he would be quite capable of abusing them, also.

  • Your Name

    I just love all of you animal lover and dog lovers,who do not feel Michael Vick deserve a second chances, I believe God is looking down on you all if he felt that he would not have had 12 disciples he pick Paul and he use kill christians where is your kindness? Michael Vick has paid he price he did his time and loss alot of money. He can not chance things but he can start over and teach someone if happen to me it can happen to you. I just love all of you animal lover who do care about human life.I am sorry for the family of the dogs but Michael Vick have done his time. PETA give the man a break.

  • E.Brown

    I can not believe all of you so call animal lover who don’t give a dam for human live Michael Vick has done his time let him be

  • Karen

    The animals never got a second chance. NOR a first chance to have a safe life

  • Janet

    Would society give YOU a chance if you were in prison?
    Beware of idol worship. Could you “get away with” what celebrities, singers, atheletes do?? Rules does’t apply to them? So why do you allow them to get away with it? They don’t care about you, just the $$$ you throw at them

  • Orlando

    Hey, do you kill your pets? do you torture animals? If so, you are one step towards being an abuser – not to mention serial killer
    How could YOU call yourself a Christian and allow animals to suffer at great lengths at that hands of a TRUE ANIMAL – MICHAEL VICK
    Do unto others as you expect others to do unto you. Hey, imagine if Michael Vick got the same treatment for his “poor performance” as what he did to the dogs

  • tricia

    funny how people care so much for animals but don’t give a dam for human race

  • Johnathan

    Who says people don’t care for the human race? I bet if you go on sites for human rights, you see that people DO CARE.
    However, if you look at the thread we are writing on – it says Michael Vick. It doens’t talk about crimes against humanity, torture, abuses against women, children, Rowanda, International Tribunal Counsel, etc. Think about it. Do you go to a mechanic if you need a protologist?? No, you go right to that source – or thread. 😉

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