When it comes to the inhumane treatment of animals, the charges can sometimes be a bit silly. For instance, Al Gore was recently castigated by the Humane Society International for serving Chilean sea bass, one of the worldâ€™s most threatened fish species, at his daughterâ€™s wedding. You know what? I believe I can find it within my heart to forgive him for that.
But thereâ€™s inhumane — and then thereâ€™s really inhumane. Case in point, Michael Vick, Atlanta Falcons star quarterback and — get this — â€œregistered dog breeder.â€ Just seeing or hearing that name now makes me sick to my stomach, literally.
You donâ€™t have to be a dog lover to be repulsed by the â€œsportâ€ of dog fighting. Sure, there are worse things that plenty of other well-known professional athletes have done or been accused of, like assault, rape and murder. But thereâ€™s just something so despicably base about taking pleasure from watching dogs tear each other apart — and being utterly clueless that thereâ€™s even anything wrong with it.
Youâ€™d think that someone who managed to reach such a stratospheric level of fame and fortune, a life that the rest of us can only dream about, would spend his free time engaging in more refined pursuits. Well, forget about yachting, symphony box seats and collecting fine art. Thatâ€™s for a bunch of stodgy olâ€™ bores. Vick apparently yearned for something a lot more stimulating, like establishing a dog fighting empire that would service a large region of the country.
Okay, allegedly. But it doesnâ€™t look good for this quarterback who, at the very least, has always projected a thuggish image with his doo-rag, mangled English and surly attitude. According to a document filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond, not only were dog fights being staged on Vickâ€™s property for fun and profit, but â€œat the end of the fight, the losing dog was sometimes put to death by strangulation, hanging, gun shot, electrocution, or some other method.â€ One of those other methods? Slamming a dogâ€™s body to the ground.
My God! What kind of depraved people take pleasure in such abject cruelty? The thought that one of them could be the star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons is shocking and repulsive.
But yo, whatâ€™s the big deal, Washington Redskins player Clinton Portis wanted to know in a television interview. Portis was of the opinion that if Vick gets convicted, then the authorities would be â€œputting him behind bars for no reason — over a dog fight.â€ Furthermore, Portis said that â€œitâ€™s his property, itâ€™s his dogs. If thatâ€™s what he wants to do, do it. I know a lot of back roads that got a dog fight if you want to go see it.â€
As Portis delivered this erudite mini-lecture in situational ethics, his equally classy teammate, Chris Samuels, laughed out loud at the absurdity of everyone getting upset about what somebody does with his own dogs.
The cluelessness of these large men with miniscule minds is dismaying. So was an initial statement issued by the Falcons over this latest Vick debacle: â€œWe are disappointed that one of our players — and therefore the Falcons — [are] being presented to the public in a negative way, and we apologize to our fans and the community for that.â€
Yeah, well, thatâ€™s what happens when the feds make a case against your star player for fighting, torturing and killing dogs. Hey, Falcons. Forget about the weasel words and the perfunctory, half-hearted apologies. Because of the particularly disgusting nature of the charges against Vick, youâ€™ve got a serious public relations problem on your hands. If you donâ€™t want the season to be a total disaster, you need to make sure that Vick, an alleged sadistic felon and obvious low-life, never sets foot on a playing field unless and until he is proved beyond the shadow of a doubt to be spotlessly innocent.
In the meantime, and unfortunately, according to Mark Kumpf, a member of the National Illegal Animal Fighting Task Force, dog fighting is on the increase nationwide: â€œItâ€™s a multibillion-dollar industry and itâ€™s partly because itâ€™s glamorized in the entertainment industry in hip-hop, rap, and professional sports.â€
Huh. Imagine that. Yet another cruel and unsavory feature of life glorified by hip-hop and rap. Who woulda thought? Guess it just goes to show, you can take the boys out of the ghetto and put them in the NFL, but you sho â€˜nuff canâ€™t take the ghetto mentality out of some of the boys. Ya know what Iâ€™m sayinâ€™?
But donâ€™t take my word for it. Read the words of St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist, Bryan Burwell, who happens to be black himself:
â€œThe ultimate symbols of black athletes in our society used to be men of substance and positive image. Men . . . such as Jackie Robinson, Curt Flood, Jim Brown, Bill Russell and John Thompson used to be our heroes. They carried a burden and deep-rooted responsibility to portray themselves with a sense of dignity, pride and purpose. . . . But somewhere between Jackie Robinson and Michael Vick, things got all fouled up. â€˜Street credâ€™ became the anthem of the modern black athlete, this misguided notion that the only way to appeal to the young demographic . . . was to adopt the negative attitudes of the thug life popularized by black hip-hop/gangster rappers.â€
Mr. Burwell has absolutely nailed the larger issue on the head and Michael Vick epitomizes what went wrong. Vickâ€™s not much for â€œdignity, pride and purpose,â€ but heâ€™s all about that all important street cred. Hopefully, heâ€™s in for the kind of upgrade in cred that only comes with serving time in the joint.
Word to the Falcons and the NFL: If youâ€™re going to take the route of letting Vick play while the legal process works itself out, Iâ€™ve got news for you. The fans donâ€™t have to wait for the conclusion of a trial or for Vick to cop a plea. They can turn away in droves from day one if Vick suits up and sets foot on a playing field.
Maybe Iâ€™m dreaming to think that a significant number of fans will stay away if Vick is allowed to play. But when the leader of the team is alleged to have been involved up to his neck in an activity that should have been left far behind after mankindâ€™s long, upward climb from a state of savagery, thatâ€™s when I, personally, throw in the towel.
Greg Strange provides conservative commentary with plenty of acerbic wit on the people, politics, events and absurdities of our time. See more at his website: http://www.greg-strange.com/