Friday, August 14, 2009

On Michael Vick. To resort to a cliche....

"...this is what is wrong with our country."

Michael Vick perpetuated horrors and promoted bloody violence utilizing animals. Research has shown over and over that violence against animals (let alone using violence for personal glory and benefit)is linked to violence against humans. Not just hitting some guy on a football field. But a disregard for the suffering of others. People who actively seek violence against animals are people who are broken. People who need help. Lots. Of. Help.

I have had a number of occasions to speak with animal hoarders. The denial hoarders exhibit, their smooth ability to lie, their charm, and their absolute disregard for reality, is absolutely frightening. The first few times I spoke with a hoarder, I was so baffled I was unwilling to accept what I was experiencing. After about the third or fourth time it became clear--these were people who were not like other people. And these were people who were not going to be "fixed" because there really was no mental health support system to help "fix" them. And because they did not think they needed help, they might go through their court-ordered ten sessions of counseling, but they weren't going to actively seek "help" after that.

Imagine a person who literally and regularly killed failed, torn dogs with his bare hands, to benefit gambling and the pleasure of watching animals die. We aren't talking a man who takes a job in a slaughter house to pay the bills and ignored the cries of animals because he is beaten down by the overall sensory and physical abuse of his own job.

In the face of the certainty that violence against animals is a frightening and insidious illness, the NFL nonetheless released Vick to be signed again, and the Eagles (not some desperate team grasping at straws to survive)felt free to take him.

They did not care if they were embracing and rewarding a person who had, with his own hands, tortured large, strong animals until they died. This wasn't just breaking the neck on a chihuahua. This was taking continued long bloody personal steps to destroy animals.

I have killed animals. When rabies went through, I killed a lot of snarling, sick raccoons. It isn't pretty. Even with rabid animals, taking on that continued responsibility takes an ability to suspend pity and accept witnessing an animal's suffering. I cannot even begin to understand the lack of compassion in a person who drowns or hangs a dog after forcing it to be torn apart by another dog.

Had Vick raped fifteen or twenty women, and "paid his debt to society" in prison and with fines, and agreed to go on the road mouthing platitudes about violence against women, would the Eagles be signing him up?

Absolutely not.

In other words, the Eagles are counting on....COUNTING ON...the American tendency to say "Oh, well, after all, it was just an animal..." so that they can profit from Vick's amazing ability to "scramble" on the field.

They are not accepting responsibility to shun him, as he should be shunned. Imagine the message they would have sent had they stood up and said "We considered signing Michael Vick. We realize he has paid a debt in prison. But research shows that this is a larger issue, and we feel it is important that--in a physical sport played for profit--that we not give the impression we are supporting bloody violence for pleasure. By not signing Vick, we wish to send the message to all dog-fighters, and all those who resort of violence over humans as well, that rehabilitation takes longer than a mere two years, and violence ought not be rewarded with multi-millions of dollars."

Whether or not Vick is "likeable" has nothing to do with it. If he's "likeable" then someone should be helping him. And helping him would include, as a society, not rewarding him for his fame. How would you be treating him if he were your neighbor? Maybe you might be speaking with him and being polite as neighbors ought But you'd be worried. You'd be slightly scared. You'd be keeping your eye out. You certainly wouldn't be inviting him over for beers and dinner and embracing him as your best friend. You'd be hoping he gets help. If he had been a friend, you might even be actively asking, even insisting, he continue to get help. You probably wouldn't be saying, if it happened next door to you "Well, at least they were just animals."

I have to say, I have mixed feelings about animal welfare organizations using Vick in their messaging. I feel that it is quite likely that the NFL looked upon the formalizing of Vick's relationship with the HSUS as an excuse to permit him to play again. It gave them the ability to foist their responsibility off on HSUS ("Would HSUS work with him if he were not rehabilitated?"). Just as the Eagles will likely foist their responsibility off on the NFL ("the NFL says it's ok")

Just as everyone will foist it off on US...expecting us to just sigh and say "Well, at least they were just animals."


Anonymous said...

What rings the loudest in my ears after reading this is the NFL "COUNTING on us thinking "it's just an animal"..I can't believe what the Eagles have done, and can't understand the HSUS for believing him

Beverly L Martin said...

I agree one hundred percent.
thanks for all you do

las794 said...

It's never "just an animal"--it's a living creature who feels pain same as any human. Vicks is vile. I'd say I can't believe the NFL took him back & gave him a pot of money, but unfortunately, I *can* believe it. Football is a culture of violence, after all...and animals, to too many Americans, are nothing but property. It just makes me ill.

Connie, Orlando said...

Donna at BADRAP in Oakland was one of the first evaluators on the Vick property following the bust. She says, on the BADRAP blog, that she is still haunted by the deep scratches on the side of the pool from dogs who had been connected to a battery and thrown into to the pool to be electrocuted. Can a year in prison rehab someone who could not only conceive of this horrific death, but perpetrated and witness this?

You are so right. The message to the people who continue to believe "they're just dogs" and to those still fighting dogs is that it's no big deal. Unfortunately, violence toward women hasn't kept many (if any) players off the field or court either. Kobe Bryant, while not convicted, is still playing and still seen as a hero to many.

Thanks for putting this statement out there.

Stephanie said...

I'm not usually a Bible quoter and this was not likely referring to animals, but it fits- "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to Me." Matthew 25:40.
Unfortunately, human beings don't seem to remember that reasoning regarding each other, much less regarding the animals they are charged with caring for.

Felyne said...

Hear Hear!

I have a friend who was at College when Vick would play there, said he was a vile piece of filth back then.

Your wording is absolutely spot on, I'm going to blog that, if I may.

Lynn said...

Really well written. I hope this goes viral. I wonder if Emily would allow it on PF?