Although it is best to try not to pass judgment on the character of others, particularly those whom you have never actually met, sometimes neutrality is an impossible task. The recent actions of Mike Vick have pushed us to really question whether or not he has inherent character flaws that make him unfit to be a member of society.
Incident A: Knowingly Exposing a Partner to Herpes
Certainly having herpes or any other STD does not make Vick a bad person. One of the kindest people I have ever met died of HIV. Poor decisions about one's own health are in no way indicative of character. However, deliberately putting at risk the health of another person makes us wonder whether Vick has any consideration for anyone other than himself.
Allow me to refresh you on the details of this case. Vick was well aware of the fact that he had genital herpes. He sought treatment at a clinic under the alias of Ron Mexico. The fact that he used an alias should not be overlooked: such an attempt to hide the fact that he had contracted herpes confirms that he did not find it some small "nuisance," but understood the general embarrassment and personal shame that those infected with STDs often feel. Vick seems to have been acutely aware of the stigma that society attached to the contraction of an STD, particularly an incurable one like herpes.
With this knowledge in hand, he made many pleas to convince a female companion to have sex with him without a condom. They had previously had safe sex multiple times. She resisted, but he kept begging and eventually she relented. Within two days she had to go to the hospital to be treated for symptoms stemming from her infection with Herpes type 2. What kind of a person begs someone to have unprotected sex with them when they know they have a disease which can be transmitted sexually? This virus seems to have had a substantial effect on Vick's quality of life, so he purposefully exposed another person -- a companion he supposedly cared about -- to the virus? I wonder what he would do to someone with whom he did not have an ongoing relationship? Good God.
Incident B: Cruelty Towards Animals
Although not yet convicted, I am convinced that Vick participated in the fighting and killing of a number of dogs. Breeding and training dogs for aggression is not only detrimental to the dog, but also puts people at an undue risk. Overly aggressive pit-bulls can and do attack people. Whether the dogs responsible for these attacks were deliberately bred to fight is besides the point. Breeding any "race" of dogs with the intent to make them more aggressive will have a negative effect on other dogs of this same "race." Puppies that result from the breeding of "fighting pit-bulls" sometimes do not show adequate aggression and are either sold as pets or given to the pound and adopted as pets. The aggression may come out later in their lives or it may come out in subsequent generations. This puts the owners of these dogs, their families, and others in their community at high risk. I would not be surprised to learn that many pit-bull attacks stem from dogs descended from pit-bulls bred for fighting.
Dog fights result in very painful injuries for the dogs. It is a cruel practice. Perhaps even worse is the alleged murder of dogs that did not perform adequately by Vick and his friends. Acts included electrocution, drowning, and blunt force trauma (i.e. they slammed the dog against the ground multiple times). Why? Why not just humanely kill the animal by lethal injection? What is the point of punishing the dog for performing poorly? It will never be fighting again so it won't be "motivated" by the cruel treatment. Other dogs don't know what is going on, you aren't going to intimidate them. It seems that Vick just has a plain disregard forthe value of life.
Vick has a lot money. Multiple millions of dollars. So why did he risk his livelihood to fight dogs? No single fight has a purse higher than $30,000. Clearly, he was not in it for the money. It was an act of sport and he did it for enjoyment. This is all the more condemning of his personality.
Conclusions -- Does Vick Have an Inherent Character Flaw?
Since he was a high school star in Newport News Vick has been surrounded by yes-men. They agree with everything he says; they tell him how great and infallible he is. It now seems obvious that this "star" treatment has gone to his head. He thinks he is above the law and does not really care about how his actions effect other people. However, it must be noted that many stars, be they in entertainment or sports, are treated in the same manner. Nearly all of them show respect towards the lives of others and value the lives of animals. Vick does not. It may be that deep down he is a decent person and that this quality has only been buried by the narcissism brought about his huge success. We suppose that only the time will tell the truth about Vick. He will likely be going to jail where he will have both the time and incentive to really turn his life around and decide if he wants to be a contributing member of society. Only after this will we really know whether his actions arose out of a matter of circumstance or whether he indeed has some inherent, permanent character flaw. While we hope the former is true, we unfortunately believe that time will show that Vick is nothing more than a compassionless criminal.