Monday, August 27, 2007

Sick Vick

After entering his guilty plea on federal charges relating to his illegal dogfighting operation today, Michael Vick apologized for his “immature acts.”

While he conceded that “dogfighting is a terrible thing” and took responsibility for his actions, I hardly think “immature” is the proper adjective, and his decision to characterize his crimes in this way causes me to wonder whether he really comprehends the nature of his actions.

Let’s review: Vick raised dogs and bred them to be aggressive; common tactics used to induce this behavior include starvation and a regular regimen of physical abuse. Vick and his friends enjoyed watching these dogs tear each other apart with their powerful jaws. Fights can last for hours; the losers usually die from loss of blood from a torn throat or virtual disembowelment and the victors hardly escape unscathed. Wounded survivors are not given veterinary care or allowed to “retire”; instead, in their weakened condition, they are simply recycled into the fray until eventually their number is up.

Some dogs, apparently, despite living in abusive care, just don’t display “sufficient” aptitude for the sport: they’re too docile. In Vick’s mind, a gentle dog was a worthless dog. Did he surrender them to a shelter or try to find or provide a loving home for these creatures he deemed too passive? No, he executed them (Vick concedes the death of “at least six”) using such methods as drowning, electrocution or slamming the dogs against the ground.

What a fate awaited these innocent creatures: rip each other to pieces to entertain their human masters or be killed in a heinous, painful manner.

To say someone is “immature” means that they are old enough to have outgrown behaviors we generally attribute to younger, less sophisticated people. But dogfighting isn’t childish or unsophisticated; it isn’t something one “outgrows.”

Fart jokes are immature. Torturing and killing animals for profit and pleasure is sick.


Gino said...

much of the outrage against vick is about the brutality toward dogs.
but we excuse bruatlity toward other animals.
underperforming race dogs and horses are also slaughtered.

the outrage needs to be not at the actions we are squeamish about, but at the mindset that finds allure in this sport.

i think i'll post again on it from this angle.

besides, vick found Jesus now.
Jesus, who seemed to have to moral issues with the ritual slaughter of sheep,doves, and bulls, and who personally drove a whole herd of swine to their deaths.

the point i'm trying to make is that the death of animals is nothing to fret over.
the real issue is the moral mindset that calls for it, but making judgements about a guys moral values is considered immoral in today's culture.

The Law Fairy said...

the point i'm trying to make is that the death of animals is nothing to fret over.

Cujo begs to differ.

Brechi said...

His apology is far too little too late.

DJRainDog said...

Actually, gino, we do NOT excuse brutality toward other animals. We also do not abuse them as a means of "training" them to fight and kill each other. Ritual slaughter, like hunting, is QUITE a different thing from provoking animals to harm each other for one's own amusement.

Andy is much kinder than I; I've posted on Vick twice. And lest there be any doubt, I'm not just "making judgements" about the guy's moral values; I'm condemning them -- and him!

As to Vick finding Jesus, I don't recall noting in scripture that He was ever lost.

Gino said...

it just seems like a double standard is all.
i've already called vick an asshole, at the very beginning (ask lawfairy, she reads me).

but, all the outrage, and i'm speaking the media and public outrage, not how you or i may feel individually, is summed up : he killed dogs. (and only 6-8)
yeah, well so what.

there is a bigger moral issue that is being widely ignored.

i wonder though, if he was charged with cockfighting, would the outrage be as large? i think not.

we love our dogs.
but, in the end, they are just dogs. just like the thousands of greyhounds killed each year.
and asians eat dogs. so, do we collectively get all raged at every asian nation and its people?

DJRainDog said...

I think I begin to understand whence you're coming (I can't bear the phrase, "where you're coming from"; it leaves a preposition hanging and is avoidable). Personally, I would be at least almost as enraged at the Vick situation if the charges were cockfighting, rather than dogfighting. You omit a crucial element in your distillation of the issues. "He killed dogs" is not quite the issue; "he killed, by vile and inhumane means for his amusement and that of others, as well as for potential financial gain" is, I think more accurate. What or whom he killed is less important. That dogs were the victims adds insult to injury because they're so familiar to us as friends in our culture. As to the plight of greyhounds, not nearly enough is done to expose the inhumanity of the conditions in which they live, work, and die; it's one of a shameful number of issues of which Americans are woefully ignorant. (My distaste for the lazy, willful ignorance of Americans across the board is another issue which I don't have time or space to adequately address here.) As to the Asian situation, I'm well aware that there are cultures in which dogs are considered food, just as there are cultures in which horses are considered food. Killing animals for food, too, is a broad issue, and one requiring much consideration if one wants to address the "humane-ness" of killing methods (the kashrut vs. factory debate rages, again, mostly unnoticed by Americans). The line between killing animals for food and taking pleasure from watching them suffer is, however, a clear one. It is at the flouting of this boundary that we are outraged.

Gino said...

"The line between killing animals for food and taking pleasure from watching them suffer is, however, a clear one".

good point, now i want to add another twist.
i'm a UFC fan. do i take pleasure in watching another man get beaten?
or is my interest in the athleticism and skill of the fighters?

these dogs are athletes. and compared to humans, all animals have tremendous athletic abilities.

i love cats because they are cats. its not so much the cuddly freindship that i keep them for. (i have 3). i love them for the remarkable creatures they are, and i get pleasure from watching my cats be cats. the highly tuned predators,stalkers, acrobats and theives they are.
if it didnt require a bloody mess, i would buy live mice to see my cats be what what they were made to be.
i could never love a dog the same way.
but others do.

maybe what drives much of the dog fighting is a love of the creature's abilities? unfortunately, to experience them at their athletic finest requires something most of us, me included, abhore.

DJRainDog said...

This one took a little research and some thought, as I want to be careful not to apply a double-standard or to split hairs. I can't speak to what you enjoy about UFC (I know what _I_ would enjoy about it, had I a TV set and time to watch it, and his initials are S.S.), just as I can't surmise what WWE fans enjoy (In that case, for me, anyway, the initials would be J.C.). UFC, however, is carefully regulated. There are rules -- lots of them (yes, I know, this has developed over time). Furthermore, the fighters are humans, capable of making their own conscious decisions, most likely participating of their own volition, not being forced to fight, fighting to the death, or living in inhumane conditions. Certainly, they do not live under abuse from their trainers or the threat that if they don't perform well, they'll be killed in some heinous and painful fashion. Cute as I think mice are, I do not want them in my dwelling. For your cats to hunt and kill mice is perfectly natural and wildly different from forcing and provoking them to fight each other. For you to facilitate the mousing is...well, perhaps a little odd, but people keep pet snakes and feed them live mice, so I suppose there's an analogue. Is what drives dogfighting a love of the creature's abilities, though? Absolutely not. Hunters have a great appreciation for their dogs' abilities. You could even make the argument that the folks watching the races at dog tracks have an appreciation of the animals' abilities. But anyone who destroys an animal in a gruesome and heinous fashion for its failure to destroy another exhibits an utter lack of appreciation for life itself.

kr said...

Y'know what, if Vicks et al had taken mighty good care of those dogs when they were not in the arena, then perhaps, as abhorrent as the fighting itself is, I could almost maybe see them as not just chosing evil for the thrill of it. (Greyhound racers and horse racers should be required to treat their animals with reasonable kindness too. Appreciation for them, even love for them, would be even better.)

But really, Gino, dogs DON'T naturally fight each other to the death. Even if we hadn't bred dogs specifically for the first 10,000(?) years to fight OTHER stuff for us (bear dogs, anyone?), wolves don't fight each other to the death, I don't think, unless they are rabid. I don't think dingos or hyenas do, either. Fighting for authority or territory, sure. To the death, not so much, and fighting usually involves a lot of posturing to try to avoid engagement. (Cats too.)

It speaks to a certain relaxation of the need-to-survive that people started ever wasting dogs this way ... wasting life this way ... and a certain paucity of spirit that they thought--and think--this is amusing or somehow positive. "Illness" is a lack of health. This crew clearly has what we so delicately nowadays call "issues," but what used to be more plainly confronted as a lack of health.

On the other hand, I suspect they are merely a gross reflection of issues endemic to at least their part of our society if not society as a whole, and Gino is right to ask why this guy is taking the fall.

He had too much money and too much free time; feeling invincible, he pandered to his desires rather than facing his demons. Really, I'm sure all of us do that to one degree or another.