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I received an email this morning, from blog friend and colleague WCG of Windy City Gridiron, that I immediately wanted to delete. As he heard it:

I have no idea if this has gone national or if it even will, but on my local fantasy sports radio show this morning the whole town was in a stir over comments Portis made at a charity event.  He supported Vick and apparently condoned dog fighting in a "it ain't all that bad" sense.

Half the callers were yelling about Vick the other half was anti-Portis.  People saying they are no longer fans and they will never wear his jersey again.

Yikes and see for yourself.

So what did Clinton Portis say, exactly? That people should mind their own business, that in Mississippi (where he's from) there wasn't much unusual about dog fighting, and that those are Vick's dogs and thus he can do with them what he pleases. When a reporter accurately pointed out that dog fighting was a felony, CP retorted "That can't be too bad of a crime."

While I'm no big city lawyer, my layperson legal understanding was that designating something as "felonious" was precisely the means by which society determined the "bad"ness of an act. Privation of "bad"ness is instead titled a "misdemeanor" or else, in the extreme, "legal".

It is obvious to me that Clinton Portis and Mike Vick were raised in environments substantially different from my own, as evidenced by the former's explicit and the latter's alleged impartiality towards humane treatment of dogs. I will refrain from moralizing on that issue as this is not a dog lovers website but rather a Washington Redskins site, though I'll briefly acknowledge doubts whether the dogs enjoy the activity in question.

What I will complain about is Portis' assertion that what one does behind closed doors is purely a private matter. Crimes frequently happen behind locks and society has a legitimate interest in preventing them just the same. Many of the most aggregious and despicable acts (with no attendant grey areas, if one is willing to grant that to dog fighting) occur outside the public domain. Portis obviously made a boneheaded statement. Even given his own experience with dog fighting (which differs significantly from my own -- none) he is simply wrong that privacy is tantamount to innocence. I suspect he said that based more on his (probably wrong) assessment that dog fighting is no big shakes rather than judicial philosophy. Or at least I hope that's the case else I have to wonder whether crimes are committed on the Portis estate.

Few positive things to remember. First, it isn't a crime to be on the wrong side of an issue so long as you don't act on it. CP made a public relations error, Michael Vick allegedly abetted in a felony. Second, Chris Samuels was also at the interview and responded to Portis' claim as a reasonable person might or should, by laughing at him. So maybe we can spin this into a story about how wise Samuels is?

Also, this stuff is great for print. As one example, Running Redskins (who also dominated the Vick story in the Redskins blogosphere) goes on a pun-running marathon:

I'd like to tell CP, doggonnit, this whole topic is really hairy. You should paws before defending anyone who treats an animal like a dog. Flea when reporters approach you about this bitchin subject because it will just bite you in the ass! Puppy lovers react rabidly to dog fighting. If they lung at you, it won't be to throw you a bone. It's a time bomb going tick, tick, tick. If there's no good dog at the end of this story, just play dead. What if you made a living by physical combat where you could be maimed for life?
On a serious note, boneheaded statements about crimes, and the crimes themselves, are useful catalysts for public discussion on contentious matters. Sports fans will have already spent more time this week ruminating on animal combat and the morality of, and perhaps that will end up being good for man and his BFF alike.

ED. Note: Clinton Portis is a documented fish lover, which might explain his lack of sympathy for this dude:

Ready for battle.