Archive for July, 2007

As long as advice is being offered …

Monday, July 30th, 2007

U.S. congressman Walter Jones isn’t my representative, which means that I didn’t hire him and therefore his job performance is somebody else’s worry. But since he’s sticking his nose into other people’s business, so will I. Specifically, his business.

Last week, Jones saw fit to get himself involved in the Michael Vick affair. As you may know, Vick is an NFL quarterback who’s been charged in federal court with being involved in an illegal dogfighting ring. Although this seems like something for the courts and the NFL to deal with, Jones decided that it’s worth the attention of a member of Congress. He subsequently drafted a letter to the NFL commissioner insisting that Vick be suspended.

Well, if Jones can shoot off letters over matters that have nothing to do with his life or job, then so can I. Here goes:

Dear Rep. Jones: Don’t you have more important things to do than worry about Michael Vick? You’re supposed to be helping to run the globe’s most important nation, for God’s sake. What possible justification — other than just political grandstanding — can you offer to explain this investment of your staff’s time in this matter? I don’t mean to be indelicate here, but do you have a hot thing going with a PETA chick? That’s about the only thing that could explain it. Men sometimes do strange things to endear themselves to women.

Even more alarming is your casual disdain for the due process of law. Oh sure, your letter to the NFL commissioner makes the obligatory nod toward the concept of innocent until proven guilty, but I was stopped short by this phrase later in the missive: “Unless and until Mr. Vick can clear his name in what can only be classified as a disgraceful and sadistic criminal pursuit, he should be suspended from play in the NFL.”

Surely you understand that Vick doesn’t have to clear his name, which is another way of saying ” … until Mr. Vick can prove himself innocent.” We start with the belief that his name is just fine, and that it’s the jury’s job to decide otherwise. (You haven’t already forgotten the lessons of the Duke lacrosse case, have you? Does the name “Nifong” ring a bell?) And it sounds like you’ve already decided there was a criminal enterprise at work here. Again with the guilty stuff. Here’s an idea: Leave the summary judgments to Nancy Grace. She’s got a lot more practice at whipping up the torch-and-pitchfork crowd.

The NFL doesn’t need help or advice in this matter. And if it does, all it has to do is dial into any sports-talk radio show, where every blowhard has a firm opinion on the Vick matter. If you feel the need to weigh in on this topic, call one of the talk shows — at night, when you’re off the public’s time clock.