Michael Vick — Why all the fuss?

Assume he’s guilty (as most people do, “innocent until proven guilty” being for the court fo law, not the court of public opinion.  What is all the fuss about?  Granted, he did a terrible thing, as I’m sure anyone who has a dog will tell you.  Dogs are man’s best friends and they deserve better treatment.  But really.  Is this really worse than domestic abuse, to name just one example?  Athletes beat their wifes and we tsk tsk.  They cheat on their wifes and we yawn.  Heard it all before.  But abuse animals and people take to the streets in protest.

Speaking of which, how many football fans do you think there are in PETA?  Sorry, I just can’t get excited about any cause PETA advocates.  Let’s fix the way we treat human beings before we start marching in the streets over how we treat our animals. 

 What am I missing?


20 Responses

  1. I suspect that the difference is (or at least one difference is) the abused wife can open the damn door and leave.

    The dog can’t.

  2. What you’re missing is that the majority of Americans are against dogfighting, not just PETA members. Dogfighting is barbaric.

  3. Hi Elaine,

    Well, sure, I’m against dogfighting, too, if I didn’t make that clear. But I’m also against wife beating (not to mention beheadings & a whole variety of things that human beings do to each other). But it seems a whole lot of people get more upset over the dogfighting than over the things we do to each other. That’s what I don’t understand.

    Hi JJ,

    Good point, although it’s not nearly as easy to leave as you might think. That reminds me, though. An awful lot of people who cry over the death of poor dogs who don’t have a choice in the matter, are perfectly fine with the killing of poor fetuses who don’t have a choice in the matter, either.

  4. It’s me, checking in from vacation (where we’re all having a very nice time). Re the dogs, I heard on Dennis Prager that Vicks reflects a growing trend in the inner city, which is to breed and raise dogs for this inhumane purpose. Prager sees the increase in this activity as a sign of growing incivility, since blood sports aren’t just about the harm done to dogs, but about the moral harm done to the people who glory in these savage sports.

  5. I love animals. I was had a dog for 13 years and loved her very much. However, I agree with DQ that we have have become desensitized to human pain and super-sensitized to animal pain. For the purpose of this discussion let’s exclude the PETA nuts. I think this phenomenon occurs in normal folk as well.

    An example from India: there are wealthy people here who leave their inheritance to organizations that help care for stray elderly cows. This is in a country that is wracked with true grinding poverty. I have a theory that the reason for this is that there is SO MUCH human suffering here that it is exhausting to even think of making a dent. But you *can* in fact make a few dozen old cows more comfortable. People want to know that they did something concrete.

    Also, people seek out absolutes. The dog (or cow) is purely innocent. People can always come up with reasons (valid and otherwise) why any human suffering is in some way partially the fault of the sufferer. So it becomes very easy to get upset about the “pure crime” nature of animal abuse.

    Someone who is wiser or more well read than I am might be able to correlate a decay in decency and morals in our society with an uptick in indignation at the suffering of animals. Possible?

    Anyway, I agree with DQ. It is very easy to get upset with those who abuse animals, but maybe we are just seeking an outlet for our charitable nature that does not feel futile. And maybe that is just a little lazy.

    Nice idea DQ.



  6. I agree that the coverage is hyperbolic. These are slow days for the 24-7 media. This case has video and if it bleeds it leads. (And boy does this one bleed.)

    However, the entire sport of pit bull dogfighting is barbaric. From the training phase to the extermination, there isn’t one single positive thing you can highlight. I can’t think of any form of entertainment that comes close to it.

    In Michael Vick’s case, in his state, it is illegal. Perhaps in all fifty states it has been declared illegal; I’m not certain of that.

    The torture of animals – especially among teenagers – is shown to be a powerful precursor to torture and deliberate cruelty towards humans. If a pit bull loses its fight, or during training does not show enough aggression, and is hauled up with a rope around its neck to slowly strangle, what does that say? Especially when OBSERVING this slow strangulation is a definite part of the slaughter?

    The media frenzy is the sad usual media frenzy, however.

  7. One of the differences is that an abused wife can leave, the poor dog can’t.

    What Vick did is a little less severe than domestic and/or child abuse. Animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence are all closely related. People that abuse their wives and children are usually animal abusers.

    All SERIAL KILLERS started out as animal abusers juch as Jeffrey Dommer, Charles Manson, etc., etc., etc.

    Vick should be suspended immediately and never allowed to play again if he is convicted.

  8. Cruelty against animals, children and the elderly is far worse than cruelty against wives or girlfriends.

    If a grown woman puts up with abuse, she shares the blame. She can figure out how to leave, where to find shelter and how to start a new life. Even if she FEELS powerless, intervention can teach her otherwise.

    Animals, children and invalids, however, are a different story.

    Abuse is always wrong, but abuse against the helpless is especially heinous.

  9. What am I missing?

    Book makes a good point. Also I think you are missing the fact that most people believe in the Noble Savage and thus believe that animals are purer of soul than humans.

  10. Hi T.S.

    Good points, although I really hesitite to place any blame on the woman for acts before intervention. One question, though. If “abuse against the helpless is especially heinous” why is the killing of fetuses okay? Lord knows, they are the most helpless of all.

    Hi Y-man,

    I’m not sure most people even believe in souls anymore, but I think you are on to something. At a gut level the PETA types seem to think that animals are purer than humans, that humans are the cause of all the world’s problems, and that the world would be a better place if we could just get rid of the humans. Such self-loathing can’t possibly be healthy, I think.

  11. I don’t think there’s much doubt it comes back to control. In one form or another, most things do.

    And as for the “it’s not as easy to leave as I might think,” well: as a shrink I know a fair amount how easy/difficult it is to leave. But at the same time I’ve noticed that even the toughest situation out of which to get (proper English occasionally comes across weird, doesn’t it?) is a relative snap compared to the flatly impossible, which is what animals face.

    I would posit that the “noble savage” doesn’t enter into it – probably fewer than 100,000 people nationwide have even heard of the concept, these days. Do Locke and Rousseau get even a cursory airing in school any more?

    The argument regarding feti (one fetus; two feti) is a different argument, which centers around the concept of viability. I doubt if even the most rabid abortion supporters believe they are putting an end to a living being. They are quite certain – they have to be – that what they are flushing is nothing more than a melange of cells. As long as a date certain – or even a “moment” certain – for viability/sentience cannot be established, they’re okay. As long as it can’t be more than an opinion, then they are free to hold a different opinion.

    Michael Vick’s dogs are clearly viable. They are also very clearly dependent, as are all dogs who live outside of nature. (Dogs who live within nature are called wolves, coyotes, dingos, and African wild dogs – they are not in the least dependent, being in fact very good at taking care of themselves)

    But it is perhaps the most fundamental of all betrayals to take a completely dependent creature, and torture it to death for sport. The same problem (for me) exists with bull fighting: why an entire nation would regard spending an afternoon torturing a bull to death as its national sport I do not know. The Spanish have always been uniquely cruel, and it is not a surprise at all that it was they who came up with the Inquisition.

    At the same time I have little use for PETA. My eye teeth mark me out as belonging to a race of omnivores, which includes the carnivorous component, and I do eat meat. I hope that the slaughterhouses are humane; I know they often aren’t. Hope and reality collide – but I still eat meat.

    And I don’t believe the slaughterhouses feature pits wherein the animals are compelled to fight to the death for the gratification of an audience of screaming halfwits in bloody aprons.

    Ernest Hemingway (say what you like: he wasn’t just talk and never failed to put himself physically where the action was: bullets whizzing past his ears did not faze him) once remarked (and I do quote him exactly): “People put the arm on fighting cocks as cruel, but what the else does a fighting cock like to do?”

    Got me, I have not yet been reincarnated as a fighting cock, so I don’t know – but is it a terrible or stupid question? If two Siamese fighting fish happen to encounter each other in all the vastness of the southern Pacific, they won’t go in opposite directions: they will go at it until one dies.

    None of which excuses Michael Vick. Perhaps at base the reason for the manifest disgust is the betrayal, and the knowledge that the world is sufficiently cruel, and we need not add to that.

  12. Good points, although I really hesitite to place any blame on the woman for acts before intervention. One question, though. If “abuse against the helpless is especially heinous” why is the killing of fetuses okay? Lord knows, they are the most helpless of all- Don Q

    It’s not a matter of blaming the woman who is abused, it’s the reality of the fact that, even though she might not see it herself, she has a way out. Animals and children don’t.

    I have never felt that the killing of fetuses is OK. But from what I’ve gathered, those who approve of abortion seem to feel that the abortionist is killing a clump of cells and not a human being.

    Abortion seems wrong to me, too. But I dont beleive that most peole who have abortions or perform abortions are doing it to be cruel.

    Imagine if people gathered to watch drs perform late-term abortions as a matter of sport? And bet on how far along the fetus was and cheere when the fetus felt pain?

    That would be deliberate cruelty. And yes, it would be far worse than dog fighting.

  13. Every entry at dictionary.com lists fetuses as the correct plural for fetus, though one does list foeti as the plural for foetus.

    T.S. — I loved your point about abortions not being for sport, and you are quite right. I’m troubled by your and JJ’s comments that those who approve of abortions feel that the fetus is a mere clump of cells, not a human being. I’d actually argue it’s something in between those two extremes, but my point is that the fetus is equally innocent and helpless. Vick probably figured that dogs aren’t human beings, so he did no wrong in being cruel to them, but that does not excuse what he did. Why should abortionists get away with supporting partial birth abortions of fetuses that have brain waves and heartbeats and obviously feel pain, but happen to still be connected to their mothers by umbilical cords? Maybe they aren’t yet human beings, but aren’t they entitled to as much concern and support as any dog?

  14. Quite clearly the procedure popularly referred to as “partial-birth” abortion violates the comfortable notion that abortion is about a clump of cells. It also incidentally violates the strictures placed on Roe, but these days who’s counting?

    I do not know how Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Harry Reid et al reconcile that. In the first trimester they were able to hide behind the idea that it was indeed a clump of cells, and they weren’t in fact legitimizing murder, (which is what I referenced in my earlier post), but this is indeed a bit different.

    I don’t actually know any Ob/Gyns (abortionists, if you prefer) who are in favor of or willing to perform this procedure. It’s admittedly a small sample (five – 4 male, 1 female) but they are 100% opposed and view it as perilously close to, if not outright, murder.

    I guess it comes to what’s socially acceptable then, and for that there is rarely any cogent reason. (Why should I open the door for her – in an actuarial sense she is both physically stronger than I, and entirely likely to outlive me. She should be opening doors for me!)

    English. (A) Develop your sense of fun, Don. (B) There are often rules that make no sense (“i before e except after c – except when it’s not” would be a proper and much more realistic restatement of the “rule,” wouldn’t it?) but I tend to hold to the Latinate interpretation, believing that the language descends in part from Latin.

    Therefore: one taurus, two tauri; one incubus, two incubi; one nexus, two nexi; and, inevitably: one feotus, two feoti. (And a fleet of those overpriced Toyotas are Lexi, too, just as more than one Mercedes is Mercedi!)

  15. Why should abortionists get away with supporting partial birth abortions of fetuses that have brain waves and heartbeats and obviously feel pain, but happen to still be connected to their mothers by umbilical cords?- Don Q

    I’m not advocating partial birth abortion, or saying that it’s OK. It is for some people, I suppose, though I cannot comprehend why or how. Perhaps, as you say, they dont think of the fetus as having feelings or emotions or souls the way dog fighting advocates assume dogs don’t?

    Both stances are 100% wrong, in my mind.

    However, abortion is not a blood sport. People don’t engage in abortion because they find it “fun.” They dont grab pregnant women against their will and force them to have abortions while others cheer and wager on the outcome.

    To me, this isn’t about people caring more about animals than humans.

    You asked, “why all the fuss?” and I’m offering an explanation.

  16. Batterers abuse their wives and girlfriends for power. They use violence and aggression to intimidate and control another person. Batterers can be sadists. Usually they are narcissistic, infantile people who blame others for all that goes wrong in their lives. Even as they are beating, they rationalize that it is the victim’s fault.

    Dog fights are the modern day Roman colloseum diversion. They are sadistic for sadism’s sake. The audience derives pleasure out of gore and pain.

  17. Let me give another example of what DQ is talking about – it goes back a decade or so, to the time shortly after the people of California decided to manage wildlife by majority vote of the citizenry and banned the hunting of mountain lions.

    East of Sacramento, near Folsom Lake, a young woman was running on a trail when she was killed and partially eaten by a cougar. She left behind at least one child (memories fade) and a fund was started to help care for the child.

    The cougar was hunted with dogs, and a female was killed. When it was discovered that she was lactating, there was a fund started to care for the baby mountain lions.

    The mountain lion fund brought in at least twice as much money as the fund for the child of the dead woman.

    Try explaining that one.

  18. “I suspect that the difference is (or at least one difference is) the abused wife can open the damn door and leave.

    The dog can’t.”

    Great point.

  19. Try explaining that one.

    Humans just like fluffy animals.

  20. And neither can the partial birth abortion fetus open the darn door and leave, which is why I keep coming back to that.

    Good points all, and thanks for the story, Earl. I vaguely remember that and my impression was that the cougar got several times as much as the human being. Nicely illustrates the point.

    T.S. — great point as I acknowledged in 13, and a good explanation. Don’t suppose it makes much difference to the fetus, though. Or the dog, for that matter.

    Lulu — I think your descriptions are right on the money.

    Those who haven’t joined in — Please feel free to do so. We may disagree with enthusiasm here in the Bookwormroom, but we try to do so civilly, if not positively.

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