Hypocrisy in Vick case
L.A. Times-Washington Post News Service
While eating a porterhouse the other night, I began to see the steak for what it was: a hunk of meat, blood and bone. I managed to disgust myself even more by imagining that a charbroiled piece of pit bull would not have looked much different from the gristle of beef on my fork.
Then I came to my senses and continued to enjoy my meal.
Too bad for Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick that people like me love dogs more than cows. Otherwise, the federal agents who recently charged Vick with dogfighting would have to arrest nearly all of us for participating in far worse acts of animal cruelty.
Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney is credited with having said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” Well, they don’t ” and most of us are carnivores. We’ll kill a duck, deer, turkey ” name any meat ” for the sheer entertainment of our palates or for the fun of the hunt.
Yet Vick, 27, must take the fall. On Monday, the star athlete agreed to plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy, which could put him behind bars for more than year and all but end his football career.
Make no mistake: I have no particular affinity for Vick. You can’t defend a guy who apparently gets his kicks watching dogs mangle one another and risks losing a hundred million dollars in NFL earnings and endorsements. It’s just that all the hullabaloo about dogfighting seems hypocritical.
We revel in a culture of blood sports in which people and animals are pitted against one another. The knockout in boxing, the knockdown in football, the crashes at Daytona and Indianapolis ” those are the draw. Without video images of tigers ripping the hides from zebras and cobras fighting mongooses, the Discovery and National Geographic channels might as well go off the air.
Even our equestrian friends are not exempt from the cruelty of contest. Consider Barbaro, the horse that broke his leg during the Preakness Stakes last year.
“Caution: Tears will flow from watching ‘Barbaro,’ the HBO Sports documentary,” TV critic Richard Sandomir wrote in the New York Times on June 6.
“Barbaro became a tragic hero whose injury reports were given like presidential health updates,” Sandomir wrote. Sandomir goes on to say that the documentary’s producers “do not delve into why so few horses get Barbaro-level care when they break down.”
Anybody care about that?
“Like the other innocent animals we love, horses ‘trust us, live alongside us, honoring our many commands,’ the narrator, Liev Schreiber says,” Sandomir reported. ” ‘And when we ask them to ” they run.'” And when they don’t, well, they die.
Barbaro’s leg could not be fixed, so he was euthanized. For many broken-down racehorses, that can mean anything from lethal injection to having their throats slit ” killed just as surely as a wounded dog that can no longer fight.
Vick’s farm was raided by agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the same USDA that permits the wholesale slaughter of cows, chickens, pigs and lambs.
Vick’s case ought to be handled by a state’s attorney, but it isn’t. He is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. You’d think the guy had been caught smuggling a ton of heroin in the carcasses of dead poodles. U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson is presiding. His previous experience includes hearing cases that involve people suspected of being al-Qaida sympathizers or “enemy combatants.”
According to data recently released by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, nearly half of more than 10,000 guns recovered by law enforcement authorities in the Washington area came from Virginia. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been killed by these guns. But you won’t find any gun manufacturers ” or even many killers, for that matter ” being hauled into court on conspiracy charges.
Apparently you have to be a dogfight promoter for that.