Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Are We Much Better than Michael Vick?

This is an excellent opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The author, an assistant professor of sociology at Tulane University, poses some important questions. While I don't agree with everything he says, I do think he makes some legitimate points.

The media and society is vilifying Michael Vick (rightly I believe.) But is he relatively that much worse than the rest of us? Is what he did consciously to his pitbulls that much worse than what we do unconsciously to animals every day?

This is part of the piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer...
Some of us forget that dogs are mere animals, and that animal mistreatment is as American as Apple iPods. Like Vick, most of us shamelessly abuse and kill animals.

Homemakers employ deadly rat traps and poisons to rid their dwellings of vermin. Chefs place live lobsters in pots of boiling water. Hunters shoot down animals in cold blood for mere sport.

In university labs nationwide, scientists inflict spinal-cord injuries on dogs and cats, inject rats with carcinogens, test dangerous drugs on monkeys, and do all kinds of evil things to guinea pigs in the name of scientific research.

Americans systematically exploit and kill animals - sometimes for scientific progress; sometimes for leather jackets, ham sandwiches, or horse-racing.

So why is one type of animal cruelty (dogfighting) more reprehensible than another (lobster-boiling)?

If you are a non-meat-eating, non-leather-wearing, non-shampoo-using, animal-rights activist for PETA, then it is not hypocritical to judge Vick for animal abuse. But the rest of us rat-killing, horse-racing, lobster-boiling, deer-hunting carnivores should take the planks out of our eyes before trying to remove the speck from Vick's.

It's true. Many (though not all) animal lovers kind of suck too, including myself. I still eat eggs that come from battery hens, even though I do try to buy free range, and I wear leather, even though I only buy it used. None of us is pure. But the author ends with this thought, which I do NOT agree with.
Vick lost millions of dollars in income, spent hard time in prison, and faced public scorn for actions that did not lead to the abuse of one single human being. In contrast, athletes who beat their wives or drive intoxicated often spend not a night in prison and endure little damage to their finances and reputations.

I think we have it backward. Let's give the federal prison sentences to athletes who harm humans by beating them or jeopardize their safety by driving drunk. And let's give slaps on the wrist to animal abusers.

Sorry, hurting any living thing is wrong. Just because we are hypocrites in so many ways does not mean that we simply accept that behavior from ourselves or others. We just need to be willing to look at our own actions and hold ourselves to the same standards to which we hold others.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some of us are much, much, better than Michael Vick; some of us are not.

Firstly, let's determine that there is a difference in the human interaction relationships between domestic companion animals, and livestock which are only and specifically bred to be slaughtered--these animals do not exist in the wild in their current form. The former feel familial bonds with their owners, and indeed are members of the family. The latter require kind care and handling, fresh, appropriate natural diets, clean water, comfortable living conditions, and a humane slaughter (not seeing the animal before them killed, not being pushed, shoved, or beaten into the trucks, fully unconcious when killed).

If you are a free-range eater who buys locally and only wears leather from non-factory-farmed animals, and treat your pets well, then yes, you are better than Michael Vick.

If you buy grocery store meat from factory farms preferring price over compassion, wear cheap consumer-goods leather from the hides of those poor, mistreated, crowded factory-farmed animals (that were fed a diet that was created soley to fatten them and upsets their stomachs requiring antibiotics), don't spay or neuter your pets and put them down rather than give them medical care, then think again.

Whether an animal or a human, abuse is unacceptable.