I had no intention of weighing in on the Michael Vick dog fighting story, but some of what I’ve read around the InterTubes™ just begs for some enlightenment as to the media’s handling of this.
Lawrence O’Donnell wrote an article at the Huffington Post that he ironically titled “What’s Wrong with Killing Dogs?” The point was to suggest that compassionate people who are outraged by Vick’s treatment of dogs ought to be equally outraged by the inhumane treatment dished out by the beef and poultry industries – to say nothing of hunters and others who kill for sport. O’Donnell correctly observed that people have an irrational preference for the welfare of dogs and an indifference to the suffering of other species. This is an angle that the media has thoroughly ignored.
Let me say, unequivocally, that I think Vick’s activities are disgusting, but I think Dyson Foods is 1000 times more disgusting. I mourn for the dogs that Vick harmed, but I also mourn for every gentle, peaceful cow that ended up in some glutton’s Big Mac. And what of all the birds and fish and what are perversely refer to as “game?” I think everyone who laments the fate of these dogs and does not feel the same about all the other animal victims of mass murder in the this country, are hypocrites.
However, this news eruption is just a new flavor of the “missing pretty white girl” syndrome that our media loves so much. Vick is this week’s Paris Hilton. They’ll exploit him for ratings because of his celebrity, and ignore 100 other atrocities that occur contemporaneously. This story further reveals how the media values one type (race?) of victim to the exclusion of all others. It reeks of a disingenuous compassion with blinders on.
If I thought that the promotion of this story would lead to a deeper examination of animal cruelty in America, I might be consolable. But all the talking heads are concerned with is whether Vick will still have a place in the NFL when he gets out of jail. It’s just pathetic.
6 thoughts on “Michael Vick: Flavor Of The Week”
Not all hunters kill for sport. When we were young, my father hunted during the long winter layoffs, for food for his 5 children. We had many a meal of rabbit, pheasant or squirrel. The food on our table was killed efficiently with one shot. My father did not hang his quarry. He did not drown them. He did not drench them with water and then electrocute them. There does exist a difference between raising [humanely] or hunting an animal for food, and training animals to fight and kill or be killed for sport/fun/gambling.
I personally have a problem with killing animals, even for food, if there is other food available. But I get your point and I do think there is a huge difference between what your father did and factory farming or hunting for sport.
However, the main thing I am addressing here is the hypocrisy of those who are outraged by Vick, but not by all of the institutionalized, commercial animal torture. And, of course, the media’s failure to elevate the dialog to include these larger issues.
Let me see if I can help a bit. We invite dogs into our “care” as partners, either as companions, co-workers or protectors. For many of us dogs are family members. We “keep” cattle, pigs and sheep for a specific reason(s), one that we accept will result in their death. When hunting we at least keep the animals (for the most part, Cheney and his other rich hunter friends, notwithstanding) in a wild setting that gives them some chance, or at least provides a random chance at being killed. Vick’s dogs were kept in cages.
It is a truth of our celebrity-obsessed culture that when the rich and famous do something wrong that crime results in increased publicity, regardless of whether the population at large is as interested as the media itself. Combine Vick’s celebrity with our national Zeitgeist concerning dogs and you have a volatile mix.
Let me say, I can not reconcile your disgust with carnivorous habits of the general public because I like meat. I wish that cattle were treated more humanely up to and including slaughter. But I’m not going to stop eating meat if that doesn’t happen. As for hunting, I tried it once and was completely put off by it, but I consider that a personal choice. I do not deny hunters the respect and acceptance of their own choices, nor would I demonize them for those choices. I shudder to think what the deer population in the southern Maryland area I’m from would be without them.
Finally, I would say that the tendency to argue that there are worse crimes we ignore is valid to a point. On one level these other crimes are so ubiquitous that, while we are shocked they occur, we do not tend to think of them as surprising. We are not, however, confronted by dog cruelty on the national level, though it, of course, exists at all times. So while I agree that there are worse crimes we tend to ignore nationally, it does not negate the fact that we can feel outrage at this particular crime and its perpetrator.
And should you need proof of our ability to concentrate our national attention on the most mundane and inconsequential events, remember the whales stuck in ice story? Had the media not told us to ignore all else and worry about this, would we have bothered?
I shudder when remembering how many GD’ed poor people were are walking around in the streets of India when I was visiting a few months ago. Realizing that the streets of India are publically owned, I came up with an interesting proposal.
Point is, I don’t see why we think we have the right to control animal populations if we won’t take a realistic look at the overpopulation of our own species.
My other point is, just because certain animals have the gall to be tasty, doesn’t make it any more culturally appropriate for us to slaughter them en masse while forcing them into physical and psychical confinement in digusting and unsanitary conditions.
This story, in my opinion, captures part of the reality that modern man’s mind works both irrationally and in an artifically constructed environment. How else could one be so casual about the systematic murder of millions of one species while being so ferociously indignant about the murder of a handful of another species. It’s no wonder we live in a world where the rich see the poor as either human capital to be used, or even as expendable, as they offer no immediate benefit to them otherwise.
If one of the dog lover’s here can give me irrefutable evidence that dog’s have greater universal value than cows, rabbits, pigs, or chickens; I’ll gladly back down from those statements.
Excellent points. People really need to break out of those “artificially constructed environments”
Well, gee, Dave, I suppose you can show me irrefutable proof that YOU have greater universal value than a dog? Or, for that matter, show me that my children have greater universal value than anyone else’s children. What the hell, show me that there is a universal scale to measure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, value. Does someone who reviews movies have more value than someone who works a dull job and collects toys as a hobby?
Guess what? I love my dogs and I have great concern for global policy. Look! I can do both, and with a certain level of universal value in either area. The big difference is, I can actively care for my dogs and I can do very little for the poor of the world. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel strongly about the World Bank’s failure to help them.
You can assign whatever universal value to meat animals you wish. My particular U.V. for them is they taste good, are easy to procure, and wouldn’t even be around if they didn’t serve that purpose. Every single species of cattle, pig, and chicken was domestically modified to its use. However, I agree that we should at least treat the yummy things more humanely.
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