Friday, July 27, 2007

Wetzel on Race

In the aftermath of Michael Vick's indictment on animal-cruelty charges, Yahoo! Sports columnist Dick Wetzel wrote a column stating that the case highlighted a racial divide. He's right in that it seems that most of Vick's supporters are black and maybe he is right that the animal-rights extremists who were there to protest against Vick were mostly white, but I think he completely missed the bigger point.

Why is it that African-Americans get the benefit of the doubt where whites do not? If Wetzel was truly concerned about racial divides, he might have done something to quiet the rush to justice in the Duke lacrosse case. But he didn't In fact, I cannot recall Wetzel writing anything at all in favor of those falsely accused players- accused by Crystal Mangum, a black woman. And I can only guess it was because those defendants were white men. No need to grant them any due process.

And that is the tragedy. It shouldn't matter what the defendant's color or sex might be- the Constitution promises due process for everyone. I have no idea if Michael Vick is innocent or guilty, and in any case it is not my place to guess or to tar him with accusations that may be untrue. I hope for hiss sake that he is innocent of everything except bad judgement in friends. But it is interesting that reporters seem to feel the need to call for restraint when the accused is black, yet do not grant that same privilege to white defendants. Did Wetzel call for restraint regarding the three (falsely) accused lacrosse players? No, he did not. He may not have fanned the flames, but he certainly did not make any effort to smooth them either.

I think it is time that the United States stopped pointing racial fingers. Race should be irrelevant to a crime that is committed- it is a matter of perpetrators and victims. If a crime was committed for racial reasons, whether by the Ku Klux Klan or the Black Panthers, then the penalties should be doubly harsh- no matter the color of the accused. And whether it is three white men falsely accused of raping a black woman, or a famous black man accused of killing dogs, we need to grant both of them the very privilege mandated by our Constitution- innocent until proven guilty.

It is a pity that our media has not yet learned that simple fact, but then they have long wanted to highlight excesses as opposed to restraint- evil over goodness and death over life. it is a pity that they can't be somehow put into the dock with Mr. Vick, for they are as guilty of exacerbating the situation as are those who actually killed the poor animals in question.

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