James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Who Gets To Presume What

"It's not about race, it's about black street culture." Okay, so Neal Boortz didn't actually use those words, but that's how it comes across in his column on Michael Vick and dogfighting." In the same piece, Boortz both denies that dogfighting it's a "black thing" and suggests that it is.

I don't know if African-Americans are disproportionately involved with dogfighting or not. But leaving aside the question whether or not dogfighting should be banned, I know one thing: the argument that anti-dogfighting laws are racist, or that Vick is being prosecuted only because he's black, will not fly with anyone who isn't into dogfighting. It will, in fact, provoke a reverse reaction. False charges of racism actually provoke more racial hostility than had previously existed.

Boortz raises another interesting point, about "innocent until proven guilty":
A person who kills a girlfriend because she merely wants out of the relationship is a murderer as soon as his victim's heart stops beating .. you don't have to wait for a jury to come in with a verdict.

So, where does this "innocent until proven guilty" stuff come in? The presumption of innocence is, in my view, a limitation that is primarily place on government. Generally speaking, only government can use force – deadly force – to deprive you of your property, your liberty or your life. If the government is going to do so as punishment for the commission of a crime, then the government must afford you your constitutional rights and prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It is the government, then, that must consider you to be innocent until otherwise proven. After the act, the rapist is only innocent in the eyes of government. The victim views him quite differently.[emphasis added]

I don't disagree. The only people who must presume Vick is innocent is the jury of his peers. Everyone else, including employers and others in an economic relationship with the accused, has the right to come to their own conclusions and proceed accordingly, even if the State's verdict isn't in yet.

Unless Vick has a convincing case that he knew nothing about the dogfighting "camp" on on his property, I doubt he will ever play a down of football again. His pariah status will be more of a liability than his athletic skills an asset for a franchise.

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