Crime and Useful Punishment

My wife and I were discussing Michael Vick, the Atlanta Falcons Quarterback who is admitting he set up dog fights and killed some dogs by drowning and hanging. The people defending Vick are a bit out of line, in my opinion, especially those claiming that “dogfighting is just a sport.” Uhuh, right. The guy committed a heinous, cruel crime. And he should be punished for it.

Now, should his career end as a result? Should the NFL bar him? Would that be useful punishment? I suspect not, but I couldn’t figure out what might be useful punishment. Then my wife thought of a great idea: let him play, but require that half of his earnings (salary and endorsements) go to the ASPCA or the Humane Society as long as he plays in the NFL. Oh and he’d have to do TV spots, of course, for the rest of his career. The legal system likely couldn’t enforce such an odd penalty, but the NFL certainly could, since they can write whatever they want in their contract.

Genius, no? The guy gets to keep playing football while raising awareness of animal cruelty, and actually helping the cause of animal protection significantly. Sponsors might consider keeping him on board, given that, overall, their money would be doing a lot of good. And as far as the NFL and athletes setting a good example as role models… well this would be quite a message.

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