I'm seeing all sorts of arguments from people that support the NFL's decision to allow Michael Vick to get another chance to play in the NFL.
"He's served his time." is one.
Playing in the NFL is a job. The player is employed by a football team. We all know of jobs that people are disqualified from after they've been convicted of a crime. If I had gotten up before a Judge as Michael Vick did and admitted to these crimes, after I had finished serving my prison sentence, I would not be eligible to return to my job as a social worker. The NFL could have said that these deeds made Vick ineligible to play for an NFL team. Their decision to do otherwise is unfortunate, and exposes that the NFL culture is more steeped in the "Just Win Baby" attitude of Al Davis than any sort of culture that acknowledges that being a public figure requires a higher standard than that.
What is really perplexing about the "He served his time" argument is that it is mostly made by people that otherwise don't ascribe to this idea that people can break the law, serve a prison sentence and start anew, rehabilitated. Most rabid football fans that I know are a reluctant to employ such compassion for others found to have broken laws. They advocate the "permanent punishment" and "lock the cell & throw away the key" justice.
Others will try and discount the concerns many of us have by pointing out that this player drove drunk and killed another person: he's still in the NFL. Their larger point is to say that we are taking up this cause because the victims are dogs, yet there was no such outcry against this other player's reinstatement.
That's a strawman.
The thing about Vick, for many of us, is not the dogs. It's the extended period of planned cruelty. It wasn't an impulsive decision, or a decision that was made under the haze of addiction. Those can be regretted, and the influences that brought the people to those tragic impulses could be addressed, corrected and kept from repeating.
Vick did this over a period of years, for ghastly sport and money. He tortured dogs that did not fight. He went to the pound and got dogs that weren't ever intended to fight, but were intended to be slaughtered by the bigger, meaner fighting dogs that he kept, and for his entertainment. Watching a little dog that was, at one time, someone's family pet, get torn apart by another dog trained to kill was this man's entertainment. He's football's Dick Cheney.
It's the extended period of depravity and cruelty that should disqualify him from being a figure in the public eye, not the fact that the victims were dogs.