Michael Vick is in prison; why is human torture OK?

(One of our missing Contributing Editors has arrived!!! Bumped out of sheer happiness! – promoted by buhdydharma )

Take a look at this tortured dog:

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(photo courtesy of the Humane Society of the United States, with permission)

This is one of the poor dogs that was lucky enough to survive the torture inflicted on him at Michael Vick’s fancy house (and dog torture camp) in Virginia.

Other dogs were not so “fortunate.”

According to prosecutors, Vick and his cohorts began purchasing pit bull puppies in late-2001 and would eventually “sponsor” individual dog fights with purses as high as $26,000. In the indictment’s most harrowing parts, federal investigators describe what happened to some Bad Newz Kennels dogs that either lost matches or did not perform well in test fights. After a March 2003 loss by a female pit bull, codefendant Purnell Peace, “after consulting with Vick,” electrocuted the animal. In April, prosecutors allege, Vick, Peace, and Quanis Phillips, “executed approximately 8 dogs that did not perform well in ‘testing’ sessions.” These animals, the indictment claims, were killed “by various methods, including hanging, drowning, and slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground.”

Source and link to indictment

Mr. Vick entered prison today.  He has pled guilty to federal charges related to illegal gambling and dogfighting.  He was scheduled to be sentenced on these charges on December 10.

Former American football star Michael Vick turned himself over to US marshals here Monday to begin serving a prison sentence for his role in a dogfighting conspiracy.

Vick, a National Football League star with the Atlanta Falcons before the dogfighting scandal ruined his career, and three co-defendants pleaded guilty to one count of interstate travel to aid illegal gambling and dogfighting.

Source ~ Agence France Press

How incredibly sad this all is.  

Notable for his 2001 NFL Draft pick from Virginia Tech, league records, and lucrative endorsements, his ban from the Falcons team in 2007 was due to involvement with illegal dogfighting and gambling activities and garnered him notoriety in animal cruelty awareness and enforcement.


A young man with the world by a string — a gifted athlete with a multi-million-dollar contract with which he could have done so much good.  And he chose to spend his money torturing dogs — apparently for fun and profit.

I cannot begin to comprehend what would motivate anyone to torture animals, for any reason.  Even more mind-boggling to me is the idea that someone with all the money in the world would choose to spend it to place bets on animal torture.

But countries, like fish, rot from the head down, and I cannot help but think tonight, as well, that we now live in a country where debates about the torture of human beings have become part of our lexicon — and acceptable.  We live in a country where candidates for the highest office in the land think it is okay to endorse (publicly) a form of torture used during the Spanish Inquisition:

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I abhor what Michael Vick did.  I am glad he is going to prison.  He deserves to go to prison.

But what kind of message are the Republican candidates for President sending to the children of this country with their pro-torture talking points? Or to the rest of the world?

Torture, cruelty in any form, whether toward people or animals, is simply not acceptable. Ever.  Not here.  Not in the country we live in.  That’s the message we should be sending.


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  1. Not of animals; not of people. Never.

  2. people were often drawing very concrete distinctions between the meaning torture as applied to human and animals and giving it a moral weight.

    I really saw it as a continuum, if one can subject animals to torture and abuse then a certain desensitization occurs that allows one to behave that way towards humans. Not an objective position but a gut instinct. A dog’s life is worth as much to the dog as mine is to me or you. Given our historical track record, I am not entirely comfortable automatically assigning  automatic superiority to humans. I actually don’t know where I stand on that, I haven’t sorted it out. Ultimately neither is acceptable.

  3. about our society when animals (who deserve our love and respect) are causes for people to go to jail when they (the animals) are mistreated and, yet, nothing happens (yet) when humans are tortured.

    • pfiore8 on November 20, 2007 at 16:18

    noweasels… so wonderful to see you finally on the FP and writing at DD.


  4. We really should start labeling it as we see it.

  5. Great essay….FANTASTIC point.

    • documel on November 20, 2007 at 17:29

    Many here will probably disagree with what I’m about to write–c’est la vie.  I worked in ghetto schools for 37 years and learned one important socialogical lesson–you treat kids like shit, they become shit.  Not all, but most.  Some get out of the toilet for awhile only to fall back in.

    Even wealthy African Americans are falling into this trap because the drug/gangsta culture is glorified by the money hungry media.  No Black kid keeps his cred listening to Chopin publicly–and even Kanye West extols the glories of po boys in the hood.

    We have succeeded in making America the home to two separate societies, the one criticizing the other.  Read the Kerner Commission report for the early dx.  Vick’s misdeads are a symptom of the effects of bigotry–of the callousness that protects one society from the other.  Most won’t understand this next sentence.  Whitey criticized the poor Blacks for remaining in NOLA because the evacuation buses wouldn’t take dogs/cats and criticizes Vick for killing dogs.  Two sides of the same coin–treat them like shit, they become shit.

    Please watch the Wire on HBO, the show powerfully demonstrates this principal.  I was taught not to blame a bleeding man for the blood stains on the carpet.  This is especially true if I inflicted the wound.

  6. are in favor of torture, routine bombing, Presidential violations of the War Powers Act, the use of DU weapons on civilian populations, and so on.

    I noticed in your article you picked out the Republican candidates.  Why, then, don’t the Democratic candidates do anything about it?  

    See, torturing animals is bad because ethnics do it, and they’re un-American anyway.  (This is America, the “melting pot” nation.)  Torturing people, on the other hand, is justified for them because “America’s enemies” deserve torture.  How is warfare to be a proper instrument of state policy, they reason, if America doesn’t have servants desensitized enough to do what the CIA did in the Phoenix program, again and again and again?  After all, they reason, America has enemies out there, and their will to resist must be decisively broken — what better method than torture to do it?  Who dares to shut down the School of the Americas?

    Why don’t the Democrats in Congress impeach Bush and Cheney for torture?  Remember the Nixon impeachment?  There were four articles of impeachment in committee — I don’t remember two of them, but one of them was the Watergate break-in, and one of them was the illegal bombing of Cambodia which terrorized that nation into submission to the genocidal Khmer Rouge, which quickly took over thereafter.  Which article of impeachment do you think made it through committee?

    The right to torture, you see, is just one item in a repertoire of malicious powers which the Republicans exercise in full public view and which the Democratic Party elite refuses to contest.  See the new header in Feral Scholar if you want to know why the Democrats won’t take a firm stand on this one:

    When I went to a meeting with my Congressman, Democrat David Price, in 2003, along with other military families opposing the war, we directly asked Congressman Price why the Democrats were failing to cite the United Nations Charter – to which the US is a signatory – when it was so clearly violated (therefore violating US law) in the invasion of Iraq absent a Security Council Resolution. Congressman Price told us – with atypical candor – that they could not cite the UN Charter because Democrats had overwhelmingly violated the same law when they authorized President Bill Clinton to take military action in Yugoslavia.

    In the case of the current crop of candidates, the Republican defense of torture makes the Democratic non-position possible.  So if you want to go after torture, you might take a whack at the idea of warfare as an instrument of policy, a la Madeleine “It was worth it” Albright.  

    (And do tell this, out loud, to the folks at Big Orange who accuse Dennis Kucinich of being a “purist.”  Dennis, who unlike most Democrats in Congress opposed Clinton’s war against Serbia, has hit upon the weak link in the chain.)  

  7. And each point on that continuum is equally valid. Cretins such as Vick who beleve and act as though they are above it all find out eventually their own REAL position on that continuum, as will Cheney/Bush, sooner rather than later one would hope.

    As an aside, The Daily Show re-run of the day just came on, talking about Michael Vick, don’t ya just love syncronisity?

  8. here at the personal petting zoo!! It’s impossible to imagine how or why anyone would want to inflict pain or what possible benefit there might be. But the levels of anger and hostility in this country seem to be off the charts. What happened to compassion, and to taking care of those who can’t take care of themselves, like children and animals?

    Thank you for reminding us that cruelty is never, ever acceptable.

    (PS: Glad to see you here. Isn’t it a great place?)      

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