Michael Vick killed dogs.
No, wait. He electrocuted, then killed. That means the dogs suffered intense pain before their premature deaths. But not as intense as the dogs he drowned. When you drown, well, it’s supposed to be unbearably horrific. Your lungs expand and expand and expand until …
Michael Vick now plays quarterback for the New York Jets. He lives what seems to be a normal athlete life, making good money, signing autographs, jogging this way and that way. I have no problem with this. Vick served his time, suffered public humiliation, hit rock bottom, then returned. That’s the way it should be. Fine.
But here’s the thing …
There’s no video of Michael Vick killing the dogs. We are left to our imaginations which, over time, tend to fade. Once, long ago, many of us pictures dogs being electrocuted, drowned, burned, bruised. It was a visceral experience.
Ray Rice has no such imagination-based luxury. He slugged his wife, then dragged his wife, and it’s all there, forever and ever and ever and ever branded on YouTube. One hundred years from now, should someone choose to investigate, he/she will be able to find the clip, perfectly preserved in all its awfulness.
If there were no images, Ray Rice would be, eh, free to play football. Even when we knew what he did—but didn’t see it in full—he was free to play football. It’s strange. We, as a people, don’t merely need proof. We need visual proof.
Michael Vick, dog killer, has an NFL future.
Ray Rice, woman puncher, might not.
All because of a camera.