Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Michael Vick Is Not Free: The Non Rule Of Law

Not so fast, Mike
So here's a sad little story from the AP... Michael Vick has written his auto biography. Well, probably worked with a ghost writer on it, but what the hey, that's pretty standard. And the book-selling tour is.. halted due to threats of violence.

Now, the realpolitick of such things is that no one making the minimum wage and threatened rate of a book store employee should ever, for any reason, put his or her life in any form of jeopardy for the vanity project of a felon who has made nine figures for playing football and making commercials. I'd also argue that anyone who really wants to buy Vick's book just so they can meet him and have a brief amount of eye contact and an autograph is also all kinds of sad. The world of literature will not suffer for a moment for the lack of another as told to athlete book, and anyone with a modicum of patience will be able to find "Finally Free" in a remainder section within three to six months. Also, as an Eagles' fan, I don't really want him to be my quarterback any more, though I'm not so certain that he's not the best idea that is currently on the roster.

But all of that, is, of course, irrelevant.

What's relevant here is that a man who pays his taxes, has First Amendment rights and walks the earth as a free man does not, well, actually have those rights. What's relevant is that a man who has been a model for reformation since leaving prison continues to be treated as if he were defiant about his past. And the reason why he does not is because individual citizens have decided to put themselves above the law and commit terrorist threats to censor him.

This isn't a good moment for America, folks. It's also really not a good moment for all of those folks who want to talk about responsible gun owners, since the reality of this threat is predicated on the wanton availability of deadly force. It also makes everyone who is able to discern the difference between racial backgrounds in America wonder, well, why infamous white athletes don't get their book tours halted to thugs.

Which makes Vick's book, or at least the title, a lie. Vick will never be free. Or at least as free as he should be, because as a society we don't really believe that the rule of law should trump what we think as individuals.

The folks on the other side like to demonize the American Civil Liberties Union, which has always struck me as one of those indefensible intellectual tactics, since the ACLU is as apolitical (and downright heroic) as any organization can hope to be in this day and age. Fighting for the rights of Skokie Nazis and the Fred Phelpsies to march is, well, just one of those moments that tell you that it really is about the rights, not the activists.

Because this is what you get when you don't protect unpopular speech.

Less speech.

And the chilling but real note, for anyone who has ever tried to turn their life around, that second chances don't really exist.

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