Is Michael Vick the Voice of Reason in the Zimmerman Verdict?

Chuck D, Kevin Hart, Marcus Vick and the strange state of Twitter punditry.

In the wake of the George Zimmerman not-guilty verdict, was one of your first thoughts about Eagles quarterback Michael Vick? Me neither. But perhaps we aren’t following the right people on Twitter, and we definitely are not Marcus Vick. Before the jury announced its decision on Saturday, Vick’s ne’er-do-well brother weighed in on the trial:

Zimmerman better get 30+ years in prison. If my brother had to do 2 years it's a must. Not self defense when u chase down an innocent kid

The younger Vick could be considered an expert on the justice system, considering his 2006 dismissal from the Virginia Tech football program for “legal infractions” and his many run-ins with the law since then. But after Zimmerman was acquitted, Marcus moved beyond matters of jurisprudence:

Zimmerman u peace of DOG shit if I ever seen u I would run up n let u beat my ass then I’ll pop I right between the eyes u cricket Bitch

Interesting word to capitalize (and I have no idea what “cricket” means in this context). Marcus’s ranting is especially ill-timed, since just last year, Michael told Marcus to “shut off the Twitter” after his brother ripped the Eagles and begged the team to trade him. “You’ll never see that again, trust me,” Michael said at the time. Apparently dragging the Eagles QB into a current-events firestorm wasn’t part of their agreement. Marcus later issued this demand, which seems unlikely to be met by the federal government:

The system owe my people’s 2 year fuck that!

But Marcus Vick wasn’t the only person comparing Trayvon Martin’s death to Vick’s dog-fighting house of horrors. Chuck D, founder of hip-hop pioneers Public Enemy and a 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, weighed in with this:

MichaelVick went to prison for killing dogs,Zimmerman was let free after killing a blackman.All we need to know about the USA criminal justice system

That prompted more than 1,200 retweets and a number of replies from Chuck himself on the state of race in America (or “Amerikkka,” as he later tweeted, a reference to both an Ice Cube album and, of course, the Ku Klux Klan). He wasn’t the only celebrity thinking this way. Philly-born comedian Kevin Hart seemed to channel a little of both Chuck and Marcus in his comment:

Michael Vick went to jail for killing a DOG and Zimmerman killed a innocent human and goes free

Hart’s statement drew more than 6,600 retweets and 1,200 favorites, proving that it’s not just Michael Vick’s relatives who are connecting the dots between his sentence and Zimmerman’s freedom. My reaction to Marcus’s tweet was biased by my reaction to Marcus himself — he’s a guy who, if he really wanted to help his brother, would shut his mouth. Chuck D’s viewpoint was more thought-provoking. To me, there’s no comparing Vick and Zimmerman: Two separate cases, each with its own evidence and burden of proof. But for some who aren’t interested in dissecting legalese and prosecutorial strategies, the message is simple — in the end, all that matters is that six jurors decided the life of a young black man wasn’t worth much.

The trouble with engaging in debating one of our nation’s most fundamental and complex struggles on Twitter is that there’s little room for context and broader thinking in 140 characters. The subject of race relations begs for more than a thought bomb or a clever quip or an angry outburst. But dialogue is essential. Twitter can reveal points of view you may not have considered, if you can filter out the trolls, morons and washed-up college athletes still clinging to their brother’s fame for attention. (As for the all-out assault on grammar and spelling, that’s unavoidable.)

Oddly enough, buried in all this talk of Zimmerman’s freedom and Vick’s time in prison, perhaps it’s Vick himself (whose job status is currently up in the air, it should be noted) who offered the most level-headed take on the verdict:

I feel so bad for the Martin fam. We have a long way to go in America but please yall don’t do anything stupid. Let God be the final judge