Vick is sick. So is PETA

The Michael Vick dogfighting scandal is morphing into a broader NFL dogfighting scandal, as other NFL players also appear to be involved in this very weird pastime.

But as animal-rights groups get more aggressive in their accusations and demands, the whole scene is getting stranger and stranger. And the closer you look, the more you see the deep conflicts in core values that fracture our society.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) wants the NFL to “add cruelty to animals — in all its forms — to its personal conduct policy.” What, for PETA, is “cruelty to animals — in all its forms”? According to its Web site, we should not eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment or abuse animals in any way.

So PETA’s problem is well beyond the sick and cruel murdering of these creatures of which Vick and others are allegedly guilty. Dogfighting for entertainment, or any other use of animals for entertainment, is itself, for PETA, cruelty.

If it’s relevant to look for any kind of logic here, why would it be decent entertainment to watch hulks of men ram the daylights out of each other as they move a ball across a field, but cruel to watch dogs fight? Why would the NFL sign on to such a thing?

More specifically, among PETA’s prohibitions, is the use of animal skins. The ball, as in football, is an inflated leather object endearingly called the “pigskin.”

Why does PETA oppose existing NFL conduct policy, and not football itself?

J.C. Watts, Chuck Colson and others have asked why abuse of dogs is outrageous to so many who see no similar outrage in the 800,000-plus abortions that occur in the United States each year. At the most intuitive level, there is something unsettling about an attitude for which abuse of a dog is intolerable, but women destroying their unborn children with impunity is not a problem.

Logging onto the PETA Web site, I notice the PETA Files blog announces as one of the group’s supporters porn star Jenna Jameson. “In addition to being an icon of the adult-film world, Jenna Jameson … happens to be a good friend of PETA. Jenna first got involved in animal rights after watching ‘Earthlings’ a year or so ago, and we couldn’t be happier to have her on her side in our KFC campaign … She also happens to date …UFC fighter Tito Ortiz …”

Again I wonder. PETA is untroubled by pornography, the unapologetic exploitation and marketing of human flesh, but explains that we should not eat fish because they “are smart, interesting animals with their own unique personalities.” The blogger says Jameson is “beautiful, inside and out.”

The UFC — Ultimate Fighting Championship — where Jameson’s boyfriend fights, consists of “mixed martial arts,” where fighters do violent battle, for popular entertainment, using the full array of martial-arts forms. The PETA blogger obviously enjoys this sport and calls Ortiz “my favorite UFC fighter.”

PETA provides material on its Web site to explain the rationale of the “animal-rights” concept that drives its worldview. “When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy,” says PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk.

For more extensive exposition, the site refers to the writings of Princeton philosopher Peter Singer, author of “Animal Liberation.”

Now Singer has written on a great deal more than animal rights. He’s the author of “Practical Ethics,” in which he offers his justifications for euthanasia, abortion and infanticide.

According to Singer, parents should be permitted to kill a baby born with a tragic illness or defect. In “Practical Ethics,” he argues that “… the fact that a being is a human being, in the sense of a member of the species Homo sapiens, is not relevant to the wrongness of killing it; it is, rather, characteristics like rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness that make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings, or any other self-conscious beings.”

Thus, through a long and twisted road of logic, beginning with one man’s own premises about existence, we are led to a conclusion that killing animals is an outrage, but an infant, not.

Computer scientists call this “garbage in, garbage out.” Our conclusions are only as good as the premises we start with.

And hence, the cultural divide in our country. It all starts with where we get our premises.

The NFL is a bit, as they say, between a rock and a hard place. Michael Vick’s lifestyle is not one to hold up to young fans. But those who thirst for his destruction offer a picture that is no prettier.

(Star Parker is president of CURE, Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education ( and author of three books. She can be reached at parker(at)


  1. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    Star Parker compares animal cruelty to pornography!

    Don’t quit the Day Job Star, because your full of Krap like a Christmas Turkey

  2. RSW

    Football, dog fighting, boxing, ultimate fighting, pornog… excuse me… adult entertainment. Just a lot of Vegas time spent.

    I will agree that Vick is a last class street moron made rich by the NFL and of the sort the NFL seems to love.


  3. Paolo

    Still another Paradox:

    We all rightly abhor the barbaric practice of dogfighting. Yet we condone warfare, on the flimsiest of premises, with enthusiasm.

    In war, men are thrown into kill-or-be-killed situations, with no choice to refuse. This is somewhat like dogfighting, but in the case of the dogs, maybe a few hundred per year die or get killed because they didn’t fight well enough. In war, human beings die by the thousands or even by the millions.

    Man, are we a defective species, or what?

  4. geyser

    Why are we trying to compare Dog Fighting to anything? Dog figting is illegal, end of that story.
    If you don’t like Boxing, Wrestling, UFC, Bull Fighting, Football or any other physical activity, don’t watch or particapate in them. If these two are still not sufficent, write and call your lawmakers and ask them to make laws to ban them.

    Vick’s statements of apolgy and self criminations, were typical and expected. He ruined them saying he found God. He didn’t explain what finding God, will do. Can he continue with Dog Fighting with the feeling, God will forgive him? That put aside, there are many Sport Heads calling for the NFL to add more punishment, above what the law will issue. This year, he will not be able to participate in Football. Depending if and what the NFL does, it is possible, Vick could play in 2009, the Sport Heads want the NFL to ban him from playing, for a season after the jail sentence ends. In other words he won’t play until 2010.
    Of course this depends if the NFL allows him back and if a team will take him.
    There is plenty of time to debate these issues, his sentence hearing is not until December 10, 2007. Vick is free until then, I guess nobody is concerned Vick will take off to parts unknown.

    Vick also said he made a mistake in judgement. This was a statement I couldn’t buy. Deciding to start a Dog Fighting ring, purchasing Fighting dogs, transfering them across State lines, setting up Dog fights and killing those Dogs that didn’t win, were not competitive or vicious enough then, lying about everything, are not mistakes or errors in judgement.

    A racial overtone was brought out saying, if this had been Tom Brady or Payton Manning, it would have been down played and not headline news. I don’t agree for a second. This is a situation that would have been viewed with the same scrutiny and headline news. There are too many animal lovers, to keep it under wraps.

    PETA PETA PETA, I think of them on the same level as any ultra radical group. They over shadow the good that they do by, throwing Pies in peoples faces, throwing Red Dye or Red Paint on those warring Fur or Leather apparel.

    The Vick story did bring some good. Awearness of how big Dog Fighting is in the United States. It educated people that not all Pit Bull’s are vicious. Only the one’s that are bred or conditioned to be vicious are fighting Dogs.
    The sad aspect of this, Dogs that are Fighting Dogs can’t be or do anything else. They can’t take the Fight or viciousness out of the Dog. Making them pets are impossible and very dangerous. They may be okay around people but, other Dogs will be attacked by these Dogs. They will attack a human without cause or reason. Dogs that no longer can fight are destroyed. There are 53 Dogs confiscated from Vick’s property, they waiting for the order, to be put down. that is their only fate.

    Taking One Day at a Time

  5. The Dogfather

    The Dogfather

    Here is a copy of a letter I sent to several Pittsburgh area newspapers, written as if to Michael Vick:

    No, Mr. Michael Vick, you did not make a “mistake.” A mistake is when someone hands you a ten-dollar bill for a $5.39 purchase, and you give him any amount other than $4.61 as change. These are the sort of mistakes to which each of us is prone. What you did was to pervert creatures whom God had already declared perfect, (see Genesis 1:31) and use them for your own selfish purposes. What you are, sir, is a sadist.

    But you’re in good (?) company: back in the 1980s Mitt Romney lashed a dog carrier to the top of the family’s vehicle for a twelve-hour trip. Unfortunately, Seamus, the family pet, was in the carrier at the time. I suspect Seamus is no longer among the living, but he is in heaven where he will never see Mr. Romney again.

    And then there’s that other renowned sadist Dick “Ready, Fire, Aim” Cheney. A duck is a beautiful thing to contemplate, perfect in God’s eyes. This does not stop Mr. Cheney from shooting them by the dozen, or even by the hundreds, all in the name of “sport.” No. Cheney, you moron; baseball is a sport, hockey is a sport, but murdering God’s perfect creatures is sadism. Of course God meant for us to shoot ducks — with a camera, you idiot! And all those beautiful ducks you shot, along with the flower of America’s youth you sent to die in an unnecessary war for people who are not even grateful, are in heaven, where they’ll never see you again.

    The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (Psalm 24:1)

  6. vietnam vet

    vietnam vet
    What is the difference between paying your money to watch two men in a boxing ring beat up on each other, than to watch two dogs beat up on each other?
    Do we put more value on dogs than man?

  7. JoyfulC

    Because the men in that pit have a choice. They weren’t born and bred for fighting with no other options. They choose to do it. My understanding is that the dogs that didn’t want to fight for Vick were the ones that were bumped off, sometimes quite cruelly.

    If it were up to some of us, sports like what passes for wrestling (not true wrestling) and UFC fighting would be illegal. They’re certainly disgusting. One wonders what kind of person could enjoy such a spectacle!

    And as for abortions, oh please! I hardly think they can equate. Women don’t get abortions for entertainment. They don’t take great glee in getting abortions. It isn’t a spectator sport to kill a fetus. It’s a tough decision that a woman bears sole responsibility and guilt for all the rest of her life — and tinges every bit of joy she takes in the children she was able to have. In case you haven’t noticed, for all the damned value we place on fetuses, women and children don’t seem to rate as high — and that reality is one that every woman who has chosen abortion has to consider.

    If Vick is sick and so is PETA, then Star Parker is just as bad as the both of them.

  8. JoyfulC

    Oh, and one more thing — I believe that there are strict rules in boxing. It’s not a fight to the death, as it often is in dog fighting.

  9. lindaj

    I think it’s a stretch to expect a professional football player Vick’s age and background to think it is so terribly wrong to run dogfights or to kill non performing dogs. I don’t mean to say a person of his age can’t have good morals, but football players are paid huge amounts of money to do something not too different from what Vick expected of his dogs. I don’t think dogs are more valuable than people, on an individual basis, and I can’t see why Vick is expected to value a dog higher than himself, or to ask less of a dog than the coaches ask of him, free choice notwithstanding. I do watch football, not wrestling or boxing, and I do agree with JoyfulC above on the rest of it.

  10. Sandra Price

    Vietnam Vet, this is all a huge problem in our sports activities and we have all seen our football stars carted off to the hospital. They get big money for playing on these teams just as boxing matches brings enormous wealth for the winner. I think the difference is that dogs have no choice and are trained from puppies to kill. We have seen many pit bulls taken into homes with disastrous results.

    I am a great dog lover and have rescued many from monsters like Vick. Most have to be destroyed as they were trained to kill not to love. I have a friend who is building a monument to the war dogs in D.C. I can only fear his reactions to Vick.

    But rest assured, that Vick has seen the light and returned to Jesus where he will be forgiven to kill again. There’s your values!

  11. Stoney13

    A while back I was given a pure-breed pit-bull puppy by a friend of mine.

    I knew the pup’s mother and father well, and had spent many enjoyable days with their master. All of the above were of gentle temperament, and the father, “Animal” loved kittens and cats, and would lie for hours with my friend’s cats curled up next to his muzzle. The first time I saw this dog, he was sprawled on his side, with a mother cat curled up against his neck nursing her kittens!

    The puppy grew up to be a gentle, friendly dog who loved children, and animals smaller than himself, and was fiercely protective of them. My nieces and nephews loved him, and he adopted a skunk that moved in under my house, and bore young!

    When the young skunks got big enough, and the mother kicked them out of the nest, they took up with Brutus, and followed him all over the neighborhood.

    He would meet the elderly couples who took long walks along the mountain rad we lived on, and join them in their strolls. He was the neighborhood dog, and the neighborhood loved him!

    When he passed from this life at the ripe old age of fifteen, I mourned the best dog I had ever had, and the neighborhood mourned the passing of it’s most beloved characters.

    Pit-bulls aren’t the monsters that many make them out to be. When raised with love and gentleness, they grow up to be big lovable clowns with a great capacity for affection.

    I’ve come to love the breed, and people doing what Vick was doing burns my ass!

    Stoney Browning

  12. Paolo

    There are many paradoxes in human outrage over dogfighting.

    I think dogfighting is disgusting. In nature, canines establish “alpha male” status (usually) by short skirmishes in which the defeated male gives up and moves on. In a dogfighting ring, dogs have to keep fighting because the loser isn’t allowed to slink away as he would do in nature.

    On the other hand, killing and eating animals is pretty gross (when you think about it), but unfortunately, that’s how nature operates. I like a good steak or a roasted chicken, but if I knew the cow or the chicken beforehand, I wouldn’t enjoy eating it. Very paradoxical.

    Lions in the wild will sometimes attack and kill water buffalo, a process that takes hours of agony for the buffalo and is arguably just as cruel as dogfighting. Perhaps we should pass laws making it illegal for lions to kill water buffalo. Again, paradox.

    And we don’t have to go back too far in history to find examples where we did force humans to fight each other to the death (in the Colosseum). And the crowds loved it!

    For the life of me, I don’t see why thousands gather and cheer to see a matador kill a bull–slowly and agonizingly. What the hell is that all about?

    Human beings, it seems, are very paradoxical creatures.

  13. Jeffers


    You’ve finally made the correct analogies and brought up the appropriate paradoxes. Society accepts hunting, bull fighting, eating killed animals. None of this is pretty.

    I would personally abhor dog fighting. And also, dog eating. But is this cultural?

    Is this a difference between the poor rural black community and over-educated whites? Or a true ethical absolute?

    It’s so hard to know without Imus to ferret out the truth!


    Peace without freedom is still slavery.


    Football is for couch potatoes. Animal torture is one of the warning signs of a psychopath. Bush tortured frogs with gay abandon.

    John Hanks, Laramie, Wyoming

  15. Carl Nemo

    “The Falcons in 2004 signed Vick to a 10-year, $130 million contract, at the time, one of the largest in NFL history. The bonus and guaranteed money he received in his contract totaled $44 million, and the team might try to reclaim part of that.” extracted from article by Larry O’Dell AP Writer

    Setting the dog-fighting issue aside, the reason Vick needs to go to jail for a long time is for the crime of “capital stupidity”…! This guy demonstrated he’s a 13th octave moron, regardless of the fact he can run and pass the ball.

    Allowing dog-fighting to be conducted on his property for “chump change” after having been awarded such a lucrative contract and a signing bonus demonstrates the need for getting him off the street and out of circulation.

    This is a case of a toxic mix;ie., greed with stupidity! I wonder if the guy is a Republican too… :))

    Carl Nemo **==

  16. bryan mcclellan

    Nice shot at the underbellies of the neocons Carl.The corporate mantra is to let the little guys eat themselves and then pick up the pieces and build another Babylonian edifice to glorify themselves.Dog fighting ,sub human style.13th Octave moron,what a hoot,where does smirk fit on a scale of 1 to a gozillion?

  17. lexiedogmom

    Lexie Homewood
    I am a dog lover of the first order. I have dogs, have fostered dogs, and have rescued dogs. Whenever I take the leash of a dog to take for a walk, or come live with me as a foster, or what I had to do last week, put to sleep the most wonderful dog I ever had the pleasure to share my life with, I am struck by how utterly powerless the animal is. He/she comes with me because she has no choice. Dogs try to do what is asked of them, and the training for these fighting dogs is cruel beyond belief.

    A dog’s life will be whatever the person on the other end of the leash makes it. Because they have no choice in the matter it is up to people who care to try to protect them from people like Vick. And that can certainly be done without going to the extremes that PETA does.