Friday, July 20, 2007

Michael Vick, Dogfighting, and PeTA

Unless you've been living under a rock somewhere as of late, I'm sure that most people have heard about the Michael Vick dogfighting allegations and indictment by now. Let me say that if Vick is convicted of the crimes with which he is charged, he ought to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Dogfighting, IMO, is a reprehensible crime. To take an animal that has been domesticated to be "man's best friend" and turn it into a savage killing machine so that people can watch this bloodbath as a form of entertainment and gambling is sickening to me. As I sit here and type, my German short-hair pointer, Winchester, faithful friend and hard-working hunting companion, lays not far off, snoozing in the cool breeze blowing in through the window. I look over at him and wonder how someone could do something like this to a dog, of all things. Anyone who would do such a thing to dogs has more than a few screws loose. Even though we might not all agree on issues such as vegetarianism, hunting, animal research, or the subject of whether animals are entitled to rights or not, I think the vast majority of us can agree that dogfighting is sick and wrong. Today, PeTA protested at the NFL's headquarters in New York asking the Vick be suspended and not allowed to play. For once, PeTA and I actually agree. Even though Vick has not yet been convicted, he has been indicted based upon preponderance of ample physical evidence that seems to link him to the crime. To me, that is enough to justify his suspension from the league. I don't think that the NFL can afford the P.R. disaster that will follow if they allow him to continue to play. Furthermore, players have been suspended for allegations of lesser offenses such as drunk driving.
Although I agree with PeTA in principle here, I must call them out on some of the tactics they are using. Here is PeTA's coverage of today's protest. Take a look at the very last picture with the little girl. Why does it seem like time and time again, when PeTA, as well as other attention-starved AR organizations, see the cameras rolling, they feel the need to drag kids into it? Why the incessant need to exploit kids in this way? Adults, say whatever you want, but leave your kids out of these kinds of issues for God's sake. Children cannot give informed, rational consent to be involved in protests about what are very difficult, ADULT issues. They are not your ideological pawns, and it reeks of irresponsible parenting to use them as such.
I would also like to direct the reader to PeTA's official statement on this issue. Notice this particular phrase: "celebrity is not sufficient excuse for breaking the law". A true enough statement with which I agree, but considering it's source, it seems to ring rather hollow. This is the same organization that contributed a total of $70,000 to convicted AR arsonist Rod Coronado. This is the same organization many of whose leaders are on record as using inflammatory rhetoric condoning violence or criminal activity against those with whom they disagree. This is the same organization who had two of its employees convicted of littering charges for illegally disposing of dead animal carcasses, that they themselves had just killed, in a dumpster behind a grocery store. This is the same organization that on its youth oriented website, PeTA2, posted personal information about a furrier, opening him up to harassment or worse, and in the same post, encouraged vandalism of traffic signs. Celebrity certainly is not an excuse for breaking the law, but neither is personal ideology. For PeTA to pontificate about law breaking, while they themselves have a track record of breaking it themselves, supporting those who do, and encouraging others to break it, is the height of hypocrisy.

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