Subhuman Behavior in the NFL

I've never been a big fan of Michael Vick as a football player, and his indictment for running a dog-fighting business pretty much wipes out any chance he ever had of winning me over.

Steve Verdon notes that, if convicted, Vick could be fined up to $350,000 and face as much as six years in prison, and that would be getting off easy. I think Jim Henley put it best:

A dog is a great big furry ball of trust, even a dog that has been trained into meanness and savagery. To traduce that trust is unforgiveable. It is inhuman.

It'll be interesting to see what the NFL does about this. They've been cracking down on off-field conduct, and the commissioner has handed down some serious suspensions, but none of the players affected has been a major star the way Vick is. I hope they drop the hammer on him, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him get off lightly.

If you'd like something to cleanse your palette to let you get on with the day, here are a few pictures of our own furry ball of trust:

i-7e4745ee08eef0ed7da9edd3887016fa-sm_flop.jpg

i-a4bbabf87e55adb290d5faf6c8689cc1-sm_pining2.jpg

i-4fc58cfa3da9ea075b347ee9be23ac1f-sm_cube_soccer.jpg

More are available here.

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I doubt theyll do a damn thing. Pit bulls are mean dogs and they deserve to be treated like shit.

Just a note that won't stop anybody from popping off: Follow the links, and you'll see that this is sarcastic.

I was about to respond angrily, as a former visitor here had two pit bulls, who were really sweet dogs, but I checked the links just to be sure, and saved myself some embarassment.

It really does take a special kind of heartlessness to abuse a dog... I can't quite get my head around it. BTW, did you read the article about Mitt Romney strapping his dog to the roof of his car on a 12 hr. drive? Not encouraging.

p.s. Our pack also finds the buster cube extremely amusing.

amazing how up in arms people are over the maltreatment of a few dogs while they continue to support our industrial scale factory farms which maltreat millions of animals daily. but at least that's for food, the billion dollar fur industry does the same solely for fashion. and lets not forget the running of the bulls last week which is celebrated every year by the media as a grand ol' time.

oh, but michael vick is scum i guess because it was dogs.

hehehe Sorry, Chad, I should have used [/sarcasm] tags :)

ron, anyone who abuses animals is scum. That should be a given. But tuna â  dog. Steer slaughter for food â  electrocuting a dog for losing a fight. Obviously there are moral gradients, so dont be a vego-jerk.

Ron,

Your point is taken, but I submit to you that's its not a completely random double standard. Both being pack oriented, humans and dogs can form functional blended groups. I'd jump in front of a car for my dogs without thinking about it. It isn't reasoned, but that's how it is with family. It's simply by extension that dogs in general get special (i.e. essentially human) status.

I've never seen anyone make a really compelling argument that hurting a human is ethically any different than doing the same to any other animal except on emotional grounds. So, as I say, I grant that you're right, but I think it's to be expected that things like this will hit a nerve, and in the process present you with an opportunity to make your case by means more effective than sarcasm.

Oh, and lets not forget that PETA (Ingrid Newkirk) wants to kill all pits, before we get all holier-than-thou.

Amen, ERV. This is a case study in how far afield people with initially (presumably) good intentions can get.

PETA? Good Intentions?

I used to work a couple blocks from their headquarters. not burning that collection of self righteous assholes to the ground was an exercise in extreme self control and frustration.

They're no better than the God Hates Fags crowd.

I agree with ERV. Have had a lab-pit bull mix for 11 years. Very sweet dog with Obsessive Compulsive Retriever Disorder [please, please, please throw this for me so I can chase it]. Totally uninterested in aggression and other dogs - would make a lousy pack member.

By natural cynic (not verified) on 18 Jul 2007 #permalink

As to dogs vs cows, there is that little issue that what Vick is accused of doing is illegal, while the admittedly cruel treatment of food animals is not. If you want to stop the latter, don't try to defend the former on the basis that the latter exists.

Chris -

1. this 'pack animal' justification is rather problematic, I think. For one thing, lots of animals live in large and complex groups. For another, do you really want to relate the importance of entities to how many other entities they live with, or worse, how many entities enjoy their company?

2. I'm also astounded by "I've never seen anyone make a really compelling argument that hurting a human is ethically any different than doing the same to any other animal except on emotional grounds." Even the less kool-aided members of PETA (such exist, I hope) would balk at that. Certainly no philosopher on animal rights that I know of (Peter Singer for example) would make that strong a statement.

[I make make the above points reasonably sympathetic to Ron's notion that there's a certain tension between our treatment of dogs and our treatment of pigs. I myself would rather neither be killed for trivial reasons like food or sport. If, however, we can kill pigs for bacon, I see no reason why I must be legally (!!) forbidden from eating dalmatians.

Things like cuteness / lack of body odor / weight / physical beauty must - on principle - be strongly divorced from our assessments of the moral worth of different entities. This is one reason I don't like "cuddly animal rights", where some people get all worked up over pandas / seals / koalas etc for no better reason than that they look pretty]

Wildebeest and skunks are God's creatures too, 'sall I'm sayin'

[sarcasm]
While we are getting all worked up over the mistreatment of animals, why does no one consider the flies?

Or the lobsters, crabs, and clams that are cooked live?

[/sarcasm]

not sarcastically abuse is correlated to intent. Putting down a dog because it is a mutt (as discussed on the blog a while ago) leans towards abuse, putting down a dog because she has lung cancer, is having trouble breathing, and isn't eating or drinking is considered the right thing to do. Killing an animal for spectacle is abuse, killing an animal to make use of it's body is ok (even if the use seems frivolous)

On a similar note is it animal abuse when a pack of wolves kill and eat a prey animal? From descriptions of how modern cattle slaughter houses work and how wolves hunt I would wager that being killed by the wolves causes a good bit more pain and suffering.

And on dogs vs cows, I have been told by people I trust (and have connections in to the Cornell Vet school) that you do surgery on a cow by having some one pet it's head and then just cutting them open. If they have that kind of pain tolerance, undue pain and suffering is a hard sell.

By a cornellian (not verified) on 18 Jul 2007 #permalink

and killing deer because there are too many of them for the eco-system to support and they are starving to death is ok too.

"I make make the above points reasonably sympathetic to Ron's notion that there's a certain tension between our treatment of dogs and our treatment of pigs. I myself would rather neither be killed for trivial reasons like food or sport."

I ask why pigs were domesticated? If they are not raised for food why would anyone raise pigs?

"1. this 'pack animal' justification is rather problematic, "

I think the point he is making is that humans and dogs can (and do) form very mutual caring and working relationships. It is questionable if you can train rabbits to recognize their owner's voice (to bring another animal with very large eyes in to the discussion). Because we can form such relationships with dogs people we treat them differently (again with the pigs, i don't know of anyone who has a close personal relationship with a domesticated pig (excluding those pot-belly pigs as pets), but I could be wrong)

(as a totally random side note the ad I see on the bottom of the page is this
)

By a cornellian (not verified) on 18 Jul 2007 #permalink

I must comment on ron's post (#4). The same argument was used to assail Robert Scott in his failed attempt to make the South Pole and safely return back in 1911/12. Scott refused to use sled dogs because the British have a particular (and perhaps peculiar) lve of dogs and it was highly likely they'd have to be used for food along the way. Amundsen, on the other hand, unburdened by sentimentality, used dogs for transportation and then for food and successfully made the trip. Scott and his group all died (something like 10 miles from safety after hiking almost 1600 miles). Of course, one might question the rationality of such an undertaking to begin with, but hey...

not sarcastically abuse is correlated to intent. Putting down a dog because it is a mutt (as discussed on the blog a while ago) leans towards abuse, putting down a dog because she has lung cancer, is having trouble breathing, and isn't eating or drinking is considered the right thing to do. Killing an animal for spectacle is abuse, killing an animal to make use of it's body is ok (even if the use seems frivolous)

That's pretty much my opinion on this question as well. I'm ok with the idea of raising animals for food, even if I'm not happy with "factory farms" (and when it's possible, I do pay the extra money for organic/ free-range/ whatever meat). Torturing animals to death for amusement, however, is simply beyond the pale.

(This doesn't particularly depend on the cuteness of the animals, though I'll admit being more distressed with the idea of killing fighting dogs than, say, fighting scorpions. It's the motive that's the problem.)

In a similar and totally non-controversial way, I'm absolutely fine with the idea of using animals for scientific testing, provided that the testing serves some genuinely useful purpose. Until PETA members start stepping up to volunteer for toxicity screening of untested cancer drugs, I'm all in favor of testing them on animals first.

Cosmetics, on the other hand, are not worth inflicting suffering on another creature. If you really want to know whether your new brand of mascara irritates the skin, leave the bunny rabbits alone and hire some teenage Goths at the local mall to test it for you-- if it works, you're that much farther along, and if it doesn't, they've got something to write angst-ridden poetry about. Everybody wins.

a cornellian - the outward indication of pain is behavior that I think is fairily strongly selected against. It makes sense, since carnivores often attack the weakest-appearing members of a group of animals. Also, if you happen to have a dog, you will know that they sometimes do not show pain unless it is very bad, indeed. Thus I would not automaticallly assume that a cow does not feel (or has some incredible tolerance for) the pain involved in cutting it open.

Is it animal abuse when carnivores kill and eat animals? No, since we define animal abuse in terms of human behavior. I might be persuaded to make an exception for cats.

Chris, you say that there are no compelling arguments for ethical treatment of animals, as they are based all on emotion. I'd maintain it's actually the opposite. This is to say, all arguments that stratify life rely on essentially arbitrary metrics (such as intelligence, lifespan, industriousness, culture, power, etc.) The obvious problem with such metrics is that they can readily be applied to other humans as well

The importance someone places on a life, be it human or insect, is extremely subjective and based on emotional relations.

By Shawn M. O'Hare (not verified) on 19 Jul 2007 #permalink

Regarding the comparison of dogfights vs. livestock for raised for slaughter:

There *are* laws regarding the ethical treatment of livestock. It would be just as wrong, and illegal in most places, to fight swine as it is to fight dogs. Having recently moved out of Louisiana, by the way, there were in fact swine fights, as well as fights between swine and dogs (so called "hog dog fights"). They were banned in 2004. Cockfighting is also, finally, banned in every state. Assuming Blanco signed the ban, that is. I haven't checked up on it recently, but I don't think it's in much doubt.

It's quite possible to raise livestock humanely. The end will never be pretty, but their lives up to that point can be as humane as we choose to make them. As an omnivore, I think I, like most people, can be ok with that.

Shawn,
I don't think I was very clear, and I certainly don't mean to say that I don't think there are no compelling arguments for ethical treatment of animals. Rather the other way around actually. I meant to suggest that most of the arguments that give humans special status (i.e. the sort that prevent people from shooting humans to keep their numbers under control when they think the same practice reasonable for other species.) break down rather easily if one insists on being carefully dispassionate. I think we're actually on exactly the same page at this point. I just thought it worth recognizing that the impulse for double standard is emotional, and therefore admittedly baseless, if none the less compelling, and not just a case of poor logic.

D: In fact, I don't want to make any assessment of the relative importance of beings on any basis whatsoever. I am, however, given to evaluating the relative importance of other beings to me. This is obviously not as it should be, and calls for suppression. However, the instinct will always be there in most of us, and the proper response is not to treat it as a philosophical position, but to tell folks to go take a cold shower and come back to the table with their heads on straight.

Wow... I think it might be time to wind down the 48 hr workday (a possible contributor to my escalating nuttiness in these posts? I hope so.)