Friday, July 20, 2007

No, Really. Let's Go Ahead And Rush to Judgment.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has been indicted on federal conspiracy charges related to a dogfighting ring in Virginia. Vick will also likely face state charges. Dogfighting is a heinously inhumane practice (Hipparchia, from whom I stole the picture at left, links to a video report). No person with an ounce of humanity could defend dogfighting with a straight face.

So, the NFL has to disassociate themselves from Vick posthaste, right? Not so fast, according to ESPN columnist Mike Sando. Sando entreats us to let the legal wrangling run its course. The NFL, he says, has to "protect its long-term interests" by allowing Vick simply to sit out, just in case. According to Sando:
...a civil society can't let emotions interfere with due process. No matter how repulsive the charges, no matter how much we love our pets, no matter how bad the indictment makes Vick appear, it's unfair to judge without weighing the evidence.
This is ESPN folks. They've excoriated Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire for alleged steroid use, even though neither of them has been indicted for any crime. Why, then, should Vick be accorded the full protection of "innocent until proven guilty?" The difference is the victim. In the case of Bonds and McGwire, the perceived victim is "the integrity of the sport." In the case of Vick, the victims are just a bunch of dogs. Not nearly as important as 2,474 yards of total offense, right?


Keifus said...

Yeah, I suppose I don't much get it myself. There have been a few NFL players convicted of serious human-on-human crimes too, and never was the integrity of the sport at stake. And you pretty much never hear big stories of steroid abuse in that league, even though those guys are ten times the size. Maybe they have better public relations (the league anyway), or less of the bullshit nostalgia. I mean, Barry Bonds has to be every bit the player in baseball as Vick is in football. Strike that--he's bigger.

I didn't have the nerve to mention this to hipparchia, but to tell you the truth, looking at how people treat pigs and cows (and birds!), not to mention other people, it's hard to elevate cats and dogs to such a high level as all that, much as I've loved individuals of the either species. (As a matter of fact, I'm real awfully close to cat blogging.) But torture--I read some of his vile means of euthenasia--is evil no matter how you slice it.


hipparchia said...

that's ok keifus, i tracked you down.

hipparchia said...

to be fair[er than i was], things are changing in the nfl, even if only gradually.

the new commissioner, goodell, is cracking down a lot harder on off-the-field behavior than did his predecessor, paul tagliabue, who only retired a little over a year ago.

also, the various players goodell has come down hard on already had long records of bad behavior, including multiple arrests. vick certainly hasn't been a good boy all this time, but it's his first real offense, so i can sympathize to some extent with the more cautious approach.

on the other hand, it's a truly heinous offense, and if goodell wants to clean up the nfl's image, he'll do more than just wait and see.

arthur blank, the falcons' owner, really does seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place, with a possible contract violation if he does anything drastic before vick is actually convicted. not that i have even a speck of pity in my heart for him [blank].

hipparchia said...

ps. keifus, it's ok. i know that some folks would be offended if they knew that i hold cats and dogs [and pigs and snakes and frogs] in higher regard than i do most people.

i'm opposed to torture -- of people, dogs, chickens, rats, snakes, whoever [heck, i even catch spiders and toss them out the door, rather than kill them]. beyond that, i don't require my friends to agree with me on the relative merits of every species.

Keifus said...

I was pretty sure you'd track me down, hipp. It's not a matter of not holding them in higher regard than most people (that's a piece of cake), and more of keeping a consistent-ish worldview. Sometimes I notice the cognitive dissonance of munching a burger while I pet Fido is all.


Catnapping said...

i blame the bible - genesis.

people in america's dominant culture are indoctrinated to believe that humans have dominion over the planet. they believe that everything here exists for them. (it's all so 3 years old, yes?)

so what's the life of a dog (or labrat) when compared to the needs of god's people?

Archaeopteryx said...

Keifus--it is indeed the curse of the heterotroph. We must consume other organisms to survive, just like every other living thing that can't perform photosynthesis. To quote Homer Simpson, "if we're not supposed to eat animals, how come they're made out of food?"

I've been embarrassed in the past to admit that I feel more of a connection with particular cats or dogs than I do with most people. But the more I think about that, the less embarrassed I feel. Some of that is understanding the common evolutionary origin that we share. The part of a cat's or dog's brain that feels emotion isn't very different structurally from ours. The main differences are in the cerebrum--the location of higher reasoning. My cat can't do calculus or write a moronic blog post, but she still worships the ground I walk on--why wouldn't I love her in return?

I admit cognitive dissonance, too, when munching on a burger. Then I remember the words of Troy McClure: "If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about."

(Two Simpsons quotes in one post indicates the highest form of intellectual dialogue.)

Keifus said...

Dude, as far as I'm concerned, there can't be enough Simpsons quotes in any dialogue, intellectual or otherwise.

hipparchia said...

there's probably less cognitive dissonance in the fido/hamburger scenario than you think.

we've spent 5000 or so years becoming friends and working partner with cats and horses and probably 10,000 years building such relationships with dogs. killing and eating one of them comes a bit closer to killing and eating one of our own.

we haven't invested quite as much emotionally and intellectually in cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, etc, though even this varies somewhat between cultures and regions.

[probably the lack of opposable thumbs is hampering their blogging, but are you sure they're not doing calculus?]

Keifus said...

One science fiction book that I particularly enjoyed (the first time anyway--it was still good on a reread, but less so), and one that I could see some of you in if pressed, was The Fortunate Fall by Rafael Carter (I don't know if she ever wrote anything else).

It was a sort of hodgepodge of ideas, a lot of thoughts on all-connectedness when it's made a lot more literal by means of technology, a speculation of the writer's ability to get in the minds of others. If we could tackle human thought, Carter asked, then why aren't we trying to talk to animals? (Possibly a spoiler to mention how one of her characters turned out to be one.) An honest question, and it was made more engagingly than when J.M. Coatzee asked it. (Hee hee, "science of quixotic sons" wasn't bad.)

I think that 5-10 kiloyears of domestication is an interesting way to look at the question. (We've been domesticating cows for about as long, yes? If those ancient Egyptian theists are an indicator?) Maybe these creatures are slowly evolving toward domesticity (which is an interesting note on gradualism regarding the book I'm reading for Arch right now).

I find the idea that they are somehow evolving in a cultural context even more intriguing. The same genetic creatures accumulating learning over hundreds of generations until we're nearly symbiotic with them. It's enough to give me hope that human cultures can yet evolve past their current suckitude.

I think Arch's argument regarding the animals' emotional brains to be a good one. The argument I favor for eating cows is that growing them for food is what keeps the species going at all. (More "cultural" evolution?) Doesn't work so well for pigs though. If pigs were cuddly, they'd be pretty cool.

K (maybe I should take this to a top post...)

Keifus said...

(Oh, and blogging animals would be cool. That's what made me think of the Carter book.)

Dawn Coyote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dawn Coyote said...

I suspect the difference between taking steroids and running a dog fighting ring has to do with relative manliiness more than anything else.

Here's a scale:
Gay pro athlete: girly man.
Steroid use: fake manly.
Dogfights: manly.
Wife-beating pro athlete: manly.
Rapist pro athlete: manly.

I've never loved a cow, but they have such funny faces and placid natures that I bet I could. I'd avoid it, though, becuase I like eating meat. I didn't do well on a vegetarian diet. I suspect I could easily grow attached to a fish. Again, something to avoid.

I don't think I could eat my cats, or any cat, having the attachments that I do. I wouldn't mind if they dined on me, though, should the necessity arise.

Gypsy, though not over Maui, nevertheless has a new friend

Kiefus, please, please, please do cat blogging.

Keifus said...

I like to think some of them just concentrate on playing the game, but you know. I'll have to watch football like I eat my steak, I guess.

Kitties, I was saving them for when I had nothing else going on. (Like now, I guess, but I'm tired.) I am not one of nature's cat bloggers, but they have been amusing me lately.

Came back with a correction. Raphael Carter (note correct spelling) is evidently of indeterminate gender.

Archaeopteryx said...

Gypsy's blog is still pretty sad--she doesn't appear to be any less devasted now than she was when Maui died. And I always thought there was nothing that a new kitten couldn't cure.

hipparchia said...

that would be a great top post, keifus.

we've been domesticating a lot of species for several thousand years, but we haven't invested our emotions in all of them equally.

pigs are adorable

hipparchia said...

i dunno, arch. grieving takes time, even with kittens to help the healing process. i see some hopeful lines in there.

plus, he's a got a way cool name.

twiffer said...

on the plus side, it has helped inspire an onion article. silver lining and all.

my love for cows is directly related to how tasty they are.