About dog fighting -- I’m just asking!
by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, Warren, PA, Sept. 1, 2007.)
The notorious Michael Vick dog-fighting scandal is raising lots of questions.
How is a federal felony comparable to
a legal sport that millions participate in?
You’d have to be holed up in a coyote den not to know about the news that the quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons recently pled guilty to an animal cruelty charge. Vick is one of the most exciting quarterbacks in a violent game called “football.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not the world’s biggest fan, but I do not oppose football, not at all. I watch a little of it on TV, I’ve attended some pro football games, and even saw a high school classmate of mine play a few times during his days with the Detroit Lions.
But football is a violent sport. And it’s one which PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, not People Eating Tasty Animals) is trying to influence. But not because it’s violent.
PETA wants the National Football League to agree to a clause in its personal conduct policy that prohibits "cruelty to animals – in all its forms." Sounds OK. After all, who could be in favor of animal cruelty?
Except that PETA considers a whole range of everyday animal uses to be forms of cruelty, including eating them, wearing their skins, medical study involving them, or using them for entertainment in any way. Good-bye fish dinners, shoes, heart research, and the zoo. And oh yes – good-bye to that inflated leather thing called a football. To PETA, it’s all cruelty.
The odd thing is that PETA doesn’t oppose football as a game – one where enormous men knock the stuffing out of each other, while other men watch from their couches stuffing themselves with carbohydrates. Nor does PETA oppose pornography, euthanasia or abortion. If, as PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk famously said, “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy,” then why doesn’t PETA oppose all of these things?
Let’s forget PETA. It’s a radical fringe organization that equates dog shows, dog sledding, and hunting with dogs with dog fighting, and wants to eliminate them all. But others not so radical also raise questions. R. L. White, President of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, believes that there is no difference between Michael Vick’s illegal dog fighting and the deer hunting that millions of people legally enjoy.
Yes, occasionally deer don’t die quickly. And when they don’t, hunters have regrets. In fact, it’s fair to say the average hunter grieves. The objective is never to prolong the death of an animal. Even if you think hunting is bad, it’s ridiculous to suggest there is no difference between dog fighting and hunting. If I’ve ever seen an apples-to-oranges comparison, that’s it.
Yet, in a news article on the CNN web site, it’s reported that Mr. White (remember – he’s from the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP, and Mr. Vick is the Atlanta Falcons quarterback) doesn’t “understand the uproar over dogfighting when hunting deer and other animals is perfectly acceptable." He is quoted as saying, “[Vick’s] crime is, it was a dog.”
How is electrocuting, hanging and drowning dogs like deer hunting?
How is a federal felony comparable to a legal sport that millions participate in?
How is an appalling uncivilized practice similar to a practice that has helped create civilization?
Has a once-great civil rights organization lost its moral credibility?
I’m just asking.