Who am I?Where am I?

21 August 2009

PETA Hypocrisy and Michael Vick

Over the past several months, I have engaged in a debate, at times fierce, with friends over what should happen to Michael Vick. For those that do not know, Mr. Vick was convicted of running a dog fighting ring. He personally killed dogs that were not deemed to be championship material. Dogs were summarily drowned, electrocuted, etc. Dog fighting is illegal in the USA. Vick was convicted and served a two-year prison sentence.

The crux of the issue is that Vick, as a professional football player is viewed as a role model. As such, some feel that he should not be allowed to play because he this “sends the wrong message”. Furthermore, there are dog lovers who are appalled that he has been reinstated into the National Football League (NFL) and have vowed to protest. Many of these protestors are members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and are in a pother citing their love of animals as their reason for disliking Michael Vick.

I grew up watching Michael Vick playing. As a native Virginian, I watched Vick almost single handedly win Virginia Tech University a national championship. His electrifying play captivated the nation. As a professional quarterback, I rooted for Vick, even though I am not a fan of the Atlanta Falcons. I was a fan of Michael Vick the player. However, I have never viewed him as a role model. Therefore, I find the argument that reinstating Vick “sends the wrong message” utterly ridiculous. How many other athletes are not people we would want our sisters and daughters to date? Yet we continue to root for them. What kind of hypocrisy is this?

PETA is another issue. Generally, I support animal rights. I am a vegetarian. My main reason for choosing this lifestyle is because I believe it to be a far healthier lifestyle. (Vegetarians have a longer life expectancy and are far less susceptible to myriad diseases.) However, I have also read the book Fast Food Nation. This book, by Eric Schlosser, portrays how American society has been fundamentally altered by fast food restaurants. No longer are Americans abstemious about what we eat and drink. Rather, we spend half of our budget for food in restaurants, mainly fast food chains such as McDonalds, KFC, etc. Schlosser also graphically details how slaughterhouses operate:

“The animals keep strolling up, oblivious to what comes next, and he stands over them and shoots. For eight-and-a-half hours, he just shoots. As I stand there, he misses a few times and shoots the same animal twice. As soon as the steer falls, a worker grabs one of its hind legs, shackles it to a chain, and the chain lifts the huge animal into the air. I watch the knocker knock cattle for a couple of minutes. The animals are powerful and imposing one moment and then gone in an instant, suspended from a rail, ready for carving. A steer slips from its chain, falls to the ground, and gets its head caught in one end of a conveyor belt. The production line stops as workers struggle to free the steer, stunned but alive, from the machinery. I've seen enough.”

How many of these verdant PETA protesters are vegetarians? How many are religious. The Bible, Quran, and Torah all have passages referring to caring for all of God’s creatures. The horrors of a slaughterhouse do not live up this high ideal. Essentially, these protesters have a double standard. Many of these verdant protesters eat meat and could not care less how chickens, pigs, cows, sheep, and goats are slaughtered, but woe to the person who kills a dog. Asian countries where dogs are eaten for their meat are seen by these protesters as barbaric and backwards as is Michael Vick. PETA’s organizational mores dictate that they fight cruelty to animals. The organization has seemingly experienced a a tergiversation by waging a battle against a high-profile athlete who engaged in a criminal action and subsequently served a two-year prison sentence. PETA should instead be focusing its efforts on large businesses that make a huge profit from being cruel to animals.

The beauty of Michael Vick is that if you do not like him as a person, you have the right to root against him because he is an athlete. Make no mistake, Michael Vick does not represent a paragon of virtue. It just irritates me that so many are now saying they will not root for him because of high minded ideals, which are in essence hypocritical. I am not a Philadelphia Eagles fan, but I am more inclined to be one this year. I actually hope that Michael Vick has learned something from this experience and is a better person for it. I hope that he finds redemption on the football field and can make a positive contribution to society for the rest of his life as a result of these life experiences. So while some may hide their beagles because Vick is an Eagle, I say kudos to the Eagles for giving Michael Vick a second chance and unless the Eagles are playing my beloved Seahawks, I will be rooting for Michael Vick and hoping he is successful.


Anonymous said...

Richly thought provoking!

Anonymous said...

I can understand where your friends are coming from. Yes, Mr. Vick is a role model and the gruesome way he killed the dogs (drowning, electrocution) is inhuman to everyones’ eyes regardless of whether they believe in the Bible, Quran, and Torah and this act does not reflect well on the society and what about those young fellow who look up to him? and yes he should be punished for it just like any other American citizen and he was and served his jail term. There is nothing wrong with him being reinstated into the league so I don’t see any need to protest. But then this is America and the sport is illegal. In other parts of the world, I have heard of bull fighting, cock fighting, there is even horse riding which are all sports and not seen as oppressive to the animals. What about donkeys which are used for transporting heavy loads or oxen that till land? and the list is endless. But the fact that these sports are not illegal where they happen, there are no protesters.
I have one problem with your argument though. You cannot try to distort the food cycle just because you are a vegetarian. The plants are also alive and I do not suppose you eat them alive or when they are still standing in the garden. I am sure at some point you cut them or uproot them so in a way you kill them to make them fit for your consumption. The only difference is that they do not produce a sound to express pain so it’s considered okay to kill plants. Talk of conserving the environment, never mind the global warming. I think shooting is the most human way of killing an animal for slaughter because it’s less painful/not painful at all so please do not compare that with drowning or electrocuting a dog! There are vegetarian fast foods too. I have an observation too: despite many Americans being vegetarians, they are still obese and eventually die of heart problems at very tender age and they also tend to get sick often which I think has nothing to do with diet. I think the key issue here is eating in moderation and regular exercising.
Then again this is just my opinion….

Richard the Nomad said...

Anonymous, there are several factual inaccuracies in your critique which I would like to debate/contest:

A)The biggest source of carbon gas on this planet is from cow farts. Seriously. Domesticated cows emit more carbon/methane pollution than all the cars on the planet combined. Kind of ironic that one of man's first steps towards "civilization" is leading to his downfall...but I digress. That is not the end of the story. It takes seven pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. Therefore, the planet could be fed on a fraction of the grain produced if meat was not a part of the human diet. There are myriad other facts relating to this topic, but that was not the major issue of the blog. The major issue is the hypocrisy of PETA in protesting against a man who killed a few dogs when almost all of those protesters are directly responsible for the gruesome killing of myriad animals on a daily basis.

B) There are vegetarian fast foods as well. If you want to get into the evils of fast food as it relates to society, read Schlosser's book. He discusses exactly this problem. McDonald's essentially sets the price for potato farmers around the globe. They consume so many potatoes that they can essentially dictate price. Same with apples and apple farmers (in the US at least) because of their apple pie. This creates an unhealthy situation in which food is mass produced and the common workers suffer while the fast food chain reaps huge profits.

C) Most Americans are not in fact vegetarians. While I do know one or two obese vegetarians, the vast majority of obese Americans are the victims of the shift in culture towards fast food that I was discussing. Because Pax Americana is essentially taking over the world, this shift towards obesity is becoming global. The arrival of McDonald's in China has ushered in an age where suddenly Chinese youth are beginning to battle obesity. Before, this was unheard of.

I welcome the debate and thanks for taking the time to read the blog and comment!


Richard the Nomad

Nathalie said...

Hi Richard the Nomad, Welcome back after nomading for a while!!.

I've already sent my comment,not sure it was sent
Well,don't want to debate about PETA but the passage 'caring for all God's creature'has ticked my mind .Of course, we are God's children and we are His so ,we don't eat or do whatever we want to,we don't have the same level as the other creatures like animals and vegetations,as I said we are a bit lower than the angels,so we can cut trees ,flowers to survive to get furniture :chairs etc.We can kill animals but not all are allowed to.As for me I can just eat beef,chicken,mutton,goats but not the others,it's my own style if I'm not going to eat these formers but God's prohibition is found in Leviticus 11.I think everyone is merciless if a tiger runs after him/herlol!!, or an ant eating his/her lip ,giving you another beauty,ugh!!,you will kill them for sure though they're God's creatures.As for cockfighting,bullfighting,horseracing.These are just like gambling as it's not good for Christians as I am a Christian believer.God give us the food we need, and that's why we work,but not the animals work for us,it's cruel.They are our earthling fellow,share and enjoy the same space on earth My advice is to look up in the life's dictionary "The Bible"



Anonymous said...

My guess is, Vick did his time for what he was accused of, he paid the debt, he shouldn't be punished any further for that unless he does it again... In other words, how would you feel to be followed the rest of your life with boards calling you cruel for the ant you burnt with matches when you were a kid...
What about the mosquitoes we kill daily by speeding, do they count on the cruelty against animals, or are we free to go?

Richard the Nomad said...

Well said anonymous!!! I couldn't agree more.