Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Outrage Over Abuse

Hardly anyone in the United States today does not know who Michael Vick is. He has come to symbolize public outrage against the bloodthirsty and criminal “sport” of dogfighting. He is not, however, the first sports figure to be involved. More than one black sports player has expressed astonishment at Vick’s arrest and defended him. After all, dogfighting abounds in their home state. Well, those guys might know where all the local dogfights are held, but that doesn’t make dogfighting popular with the masses or an integral part of their “culture.”

Vick’s defenders claim the clamor is racially motivated and he is being unjustly persecuted. Well, I am not racially motivated in my outrage against any dogfighter. I don’t care if he is black, white or pink with purple polka dots. What he is doing is despicable! Thankfully, today it’s also illegal.

Dogfighting is not a harmless sport! And the victims are not those like Vick who are arrested, but the dogs which have been trained, specially bred and sometimes pumped up on steroids to fight other dogs. The humans might go to jail, but the dogs are killed. Even though they are gentle and obedient with humans, they are trained to be dangerously aggressive toward other animals.

In fact, in this “sport,” one of the tools used to train one of these dogs might have been the Labrador Retriever, the Chihuahua, or the cat that was stolen from your back yard. Or it might have been the kittens or puppies you gave away “free to a good home” in the Wal-mart parking lot or with a sign on the tree in your front yard.

What stirred me to write this is an article by Rowland S. Martin. He echoes the sentiments of other editorials written in recent months, which purport that the outpouring of outrage was solely because Vick is a celebrity. I understand what he is saying. Readers and viewers are more interested in Britney Spears or any other famous person than unknowns who are violently and senselessly abused and often killed.

Because where, he asks, is the outrage when violence is perpetrated against humans? I don’t know about you, but I am still outraged when I read or hear of any type of abuse. There is so mind-numbing much of it worldwide, but the outrage still exists.

For many of us.

But for others, their consciences have been seared, their hearts hardened, and all traces of empathy have been washed away. There are no tears left for the pain and suffering of another living being, whether man or beast. Society often faults latchkey children, the popularity of violent video games, gory movies, the necessity of joining a gang to survive in some areas, etc.

Shouldn’t misplaced hero worship be added to the list? Just because an actor or a sports player earns – excuse me, is insanely paid - an astronomical sum, that person is not automatically a person of character or one to be emulated. But young folks don’t understand that, any more than they understand that if Dad takes them to a dogfight, a cockfight, or a hog-dog rodeo, the violence they encounter in such an atmosphere will condition them to become insensitive to bloodshed and the pain of living beings.

And so we are inundated in the news with horrid details of teenagers and even young children perpetrating unbelievable abuse against animals. It is basically only a matter of time before they graduate to criminal abuse against humans – if they haven’t already. The lack of remorse some of these young people demonstrate concerns law enforcement and the judicial system.

Shouldn’t we be grateful there has been a vocal and sustained outcry against what Michael Vick subsequently admitted to doing? Let’s teach our youth that it is not okay to hero worship and imitate Michael Vick, who played football well but was cruel to animals and gambled heavily. And let’s put all the Michael Vicks out of business! There are too many like Michael Vick who believe their fame and money places them on a pedestal and protects them when they mess up or break the law. Vick, the hero Quarterback, let his team down when he gambled and lied about it. He let his idolizing fans down. He broke state and federal dogfighting laws. His actions deserved a public hue and cry of outrage. Prominent people are not above the law - man’s law or God’s law.

It should be no more permissible to abuse an animal than a human being, and although many will be quick to protest that animals are not human, that is no excuse for the pain and suffering of the animals men subject to dogfighting, cockfighting or any other vicious blood “sport.”

Don’t support abuse by ignoring it, condoning it or participating in it.

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