MICHAEL VICK, BLIND HYPOCRISY and the SYSTEMIC CRUELTY of FACTORY-FARMING

“Just like a red-light district, I would also push all fast-food restaurants and slaughterhouses to a fast-food district, maybe call it an animal-cruelty district, and people can go there if they really can’t stop themselves.”

Every time I hear about professional football player Michael Vick, I feel both sadness and disgust at the dog-fighting racket he was a part of. Most people would. And then I feel sadness, disgust and hopelessness at the hypocrisy and blind stupidity of most of the articles written about him—that by their blindness promote mass animal cruelty.

For the record, how much of Vick’s rehabilitation was about decreasing his consumption of cruelty-produced meat? The first thing he probably did upon release was take his contrition and go to a McDonald’s drive-thru. Ah, yes, free again.

This is an article from the Boston Herald summarizing his interview on 60 Minutes.

[60 Minutes interviewer James] Brown asked, “You cried a number of nights? About?”

Vick replied, “About what I did. Being away from my family. Letting so many people down. Letting myself down. Not being out on the football field. Being in a prison bed, in a prison bunk, writing letters home … All because of the so-called culture I thought was right, I thought it was cool, I thought it was fun and exciting. It all led to me lying in a prison bunk by myself — with nobody to talk to but myself.”

Why else do we eat fast food other than “because of the so-called culture I thought was right, I thought it was cool, I thought it was fun and exciting”? It surely isn’t remotely good for us, and it runs the inherently brutal and cruel factory-farm food producing culture. Perhaps, like the undeniably sick things that were done to those poor dogs, both processes are, in different ways, addicting. We are blindly addicted.

Brown asked Vick whom he blamed for what happened.

Vick said, “I blame me.”

Yes, first and foremost, blame Vick, by all means, for the torture of those poor dogs, and then perhaps mention a culture whose biggest businesses are things like weapons that are too foul to describe what they do, drugs whose illegality support incarceration and massive wealth and privilege for suppliers, and utterly cruel animal slaughtering factories that produce the raw materials for disease-producing fast food. All this in a rich (okay, bankrupted) culture where millions of children have no health care whatsoever.

Similarly for the cruelty of fast food production, I blame first and foremost the fast food giants and their advertisements for addictive, disease-inducing food—food served in schools, no less.

And how about a political (and parental) culture that can actually continue this endless, vital, yet possibly hopeless debate about health care reform, and not mention such white elephant-in-the-room-reasons the costs are so out of control? Three main reasons: fast food (and processed food), alcohol and cigarettes.

I blame the consumer, of course, too. It ain’t easy being human.

The “60 Minutes” piece recounted the downfall of Vick, who bankrolled and participated in an interstate dogfighting operation called Bad Newz Kennels on a farm he owned in rural Virginia. Police removed 66 injured dogs and exhumed the bodies of eight more. Vick pleaded guilty to being part of an operation that engaged in a litany of cruel acts upon animals that included beating, shooting, electrocuting and drowning them.

Is this not an accurate description of at least a proportion of a massive (and thus the proportion is massive) factory farm industry that does this to multi-millions of animals everyday? Animals systemically abused for food that often is anything but healthy. Is that not, by some definition in a sane world, criminal?

Brown said pointedly [good job, James], “Horrific things, Michael.”

Yes James, they were horrific things. Please do a truly in-depth expose on factory farming, and the fast food market that is a monstrous and important reason health care reformation can never really work in America (and is difficult everywhere else)—people just do not take care of their own health. Politicians will barely, if at all, speak out against eating food that is a nutritional wasteland—indeed, supports countless ugly diseases, from heart disease to diabetes to obesity.

Imagine the outrage if a craze for putting shit into gas tanks actually swept the nation. But these aren’t gas tanks, these are consumers—I mean kids.

Vick said, “It was wrong, man. I don’t know how many times I got to say it. I mean, it was wrong. I feel tremendous hurt (by) what happened. I should have (taken) the initiation to stop it all. And I didn’t. And I feel so bad about that now. I didn’t step up. I wasn’t a leader.”

Will 60 Minutes, or any major media conglomerate or newspaper, be a leader?

Brown asked if he agreed or disagreed that it showed “a lack of moral character” that he did not stop it.

Vick said, “I agree.”

I agree too. For both parties. One, evidently a damn good athlete of not that great intelligence. The other party? Well, you decide what they are, if not hypocritical, unrepentant and ignorant…

I am a freedom guy. A vice is seldom a crime. I would not criminalize hard drugs, cigarettes, alcohol or fast food. However, fast food production in a sane society actually may be a crime for what it systematically does to other sentient beings, who have no choice in the matter (this includes not only the animals, but the kids who eat them ad nauseum).

Crime or not, if I had a bigger voice, I would make fast-food cost its true cost, which would be exorbitant. Why? Just take out all tax-payer subsidies to agribusiness—which are anti-free market after all—and charge companies (and the consumer) for environmental externalities.

And just like a red-light district, I would also push all fast-food restaurants and slaughterhouses to a fast-food district, maybe call it an animal-cruelty district, and people can go there if they really can’t stop themselves.

It wouldn’t be pretty, but at least it would be more honest. Both Jim Brown of 60 Minutes and Michael Vick could do the interview there, over the factory-farm carcasses I am sure they enjoy.

Here’s to trying to support as many beings at being as happy and free as possible, in a demanding world,

Pete

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3 Responses to “MICHAEL VICK, BLIND HYPOCRISY and the SYSTEMIC CRUELTY of FACTORY-FARMING”

  1. Karen says:

    Hi Pete,

    Just read an article which pointed out that following Michael Vick’s arrest and subsequent trial and sentencing, dog fighting came under fire and lessened a bit. However, after the initial outrage subsided, it became obvious that the situation surrounding Vick had actually served as “advertizing” for dog fighting. Its popularity has rebounded and then some.

    The Vick case drew the cruelty of dog fighting, especially the brutal killing of dogs that were no longer winning, to light. I wonder how many people know that racing dogs (predominantly greyhounds) and horses from many professions are equally disposable. When they are no longer making money, they are put down, unless rescued. Alas, most are not. The dogs are usually euthanized here in the states, but the horses are usually shipped to Canada, and to a lesser extent Europe, to be slaughtered for food—animal and human. These animals are intelligent and above all trusting of their handlers, and this is their reward.

    So could you save a corner in that red-light district for these creeps too? Maybe their living accommodations could be above the slaughter houses?

    Also, good article in Time (Aug. 31 issue) about cost to the consumer for food from organic/sustainable farming facilities vs. CAFOs. The author, Bryan Walsh, was brave enough to consider in print the concept of humans eating less meat as well as eating less in general because the earth and our health can’t sustain consumption on this scale. Excellent read.

    Love to you and those you love. Eat well, eat sustainably.
    Karen

  2. Hey Karen!

    I’ve been away so much lately, I forgot to respond to your great comments. This is really something:

    after the initial outrage subsided, it became obvious that the situation surrounding Vick had actually served as “advertizing” for dog fighting. Its popularity has rebounded and then some.

    I don’t know if you’ve heard this story, but the labels of decaying teeth and promises of lung cancer and torturous death on cigarette packages also, I have read—where I can’t remember—eventually, due to the immediate pleasurable response to lighting up a butt, create a Pavlov’s dog situation. In short, the foul pictures and warnings still act as advertisement for the product: when a smoker sees the rotten teeth or the black lung on the package, said smoker starts to salivate for a cigarette, just because of the conditioned connection! Oh the complexities of being alive!

    What a world. Sending you tons of love, and may the majority of our Pavlovian responses be towards love, sustainable living, and real food. May all beings be a little happier,

    Pete xox

  3. [...] blind attack on Vick’s undeniable ignorance and cruelty, even sickness, was, for me, a profound explosion of unconscious hypocrisy in the [...]

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