Michael Vick is a scum, sucking pig. He deserves to be sent up the river for a very long time and to never be allowed to even watch football again. What he did and allowed to be done to those dogs was cruel and inhuman, but (to me) the part that he truly needs to be punished for is taking the gifts that he was given and flushing them down the toilet.
I don't know a lot about his childhood, but my understanding is that it wasn't very "Leave it to Beaver". When I looked up Vick on Wikipedia there were a lot of references to the crimes that he pled guilty to, but there is also plenty of insites into the neighborhood and public housing that he grew up in. It didn't sound like a fun place, but his parents were together and both (according to the article) were honest and hardworking and he had something that a lot of people in that situation do not have... A WAY OUT.
I feel for the poor, the needy, the uneducated. I am constantly looking for ways to help them, although I am usually disapointed in my own efforts. Michael Vick did not need my help or anyone else's. His talent, whether you consider it God-given, genetic or just pure dumb luck, allowed him to receive an education and then elevated him to a place that most only dream of. He was a shining example that hard work and dedication will allow a person to fulfill their dreams (although maybe not the tune of a $40 million signing bonus for everyone). And he blew it. Not only did he break the law, but he thumbed his nose at every single person (and the list includes me) who has cheered for him through the years. He basically said "Eff off" to all of us who appreciated where he came from and what he had made of himself.
I do not feel that he should be punished any more or less than any other NFL quarterback because he is black. If Rex Grossman (my fave QB because he is a former Gator) were caught in this situation, I would be devastated, but I would feel he deserves the same punishment. I don't believe this has anything to do with race. I think it has to do with basic human decency and anyone committing the crimes that Vick committed obviously does not understand what those words mean.