Saturday, August 25, 2007

Why the Outcry...explained.

First and foremost...achem...
welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out.
welcome back, to the same ole scene that we laughed about.....
Ah, welcome back Mr. Kotter. What a fab sitcom.

I have missed writing terribly. Oh you! Not writing terribly, the missing was the terrible part.

I feel compelled to weigh in on the Vick thing, the whole shocked reaction and then why is everyone freakin' out? I don't think I need to tell anyone what side I'm on....do I? But I have to say, I find it somewhat ironic that there was this massive consensus of disgust and venom towards Vick that I had to really think about. I had to get past the feeling of skepticism with people who consume foie gras and veal getting bent out of shape, in their full length fur coat and leather seats, and reach beyond the initial feelings of overwhelming hypocrisy. But I have it now, and I am ready to share.
Because I'm just that generous.

I don't think we have ever had this enigma, this anomaly before in the history of the relationship between man and animal. Never before have we had a human action that is so categorically contemptible yet, the animal is blamed. Blamed to the point of being demonized and registered as a killer breed. The pit bull, once the beloved buddy of the Little Rascals, is now the one dog that nationally, is considered unadoptable and across the nation in shelters everywhere, are without question picked up and euthanized. And the only reason is - dog fighting. These animals, these fiercely loyal, tenacious, clever animals have had their inherent chemical makeup used against them, forced to train while starving, forced into isolation, forced into a mindset of kill or be killed. When they perform below expectation, they are culled - what a cute little word for strangled, electrocuted, or ripped to shreds. When they perform to or beyond expectation, they are further pumped full of drugs and forced into a life of desperation. People lamely offer up the explanation of "dogs fight...it's in their nature." And actually, there is the minute nano-kernel of truth in that. Dogs do fight. As do cats. As do elephants. As do people. What renders this statement ridiculous is witnessing the actual events involved in dogfighting. There is nothing natural about it. When you hear the screaming, not of the idiots cheering them on, but the gut-wrenching screaming of an animal being dissected, then you realize that there is nothing natural about this. when you see two dogs initially, in the pit, released go and sniff and lick each other only to be threatened and driven into a frenzy so that they come back ready to rip their opponent to shreds...um..hmmm...not that natural. There is nothing natural about keeping pack animals isolated, chained to a buried heavy object with a five foot perimeter being his world. There is nothing natural about dogs having 20lb chains around their necks for their entire lives. There is nothing natural about stealing other people's pets, rendering them indefensible by breaking their back or legs, and then throwing them into a pit with a dog that is half crazed from starvation and fully cognizant that if they do not rip this other animal to shreds, they will be beaten to death. There is nothing natural about the cruelty inflicted upon these animals.
The fact that a "sport" that we all believed was practiced by the ignorant, by the uneducated, by a culture that perhaps wasn't quite so civilized as ours was suddenly smashed to pieces when a guy with a college background that was a leader for a football team that all races admired and supported was caught up to his eyeballs in this lunacy. Vick, the golden boy, the guy that wasn't privileged to be in the NFL, a guy that busted his ass and rose to the top and deserved all the compensation for years of sacrifice, this guy threw it all away because of something that is glorified by some as being the ultimate expression of machismo. It seems so unbelievable. So incredibly pathetic. One of those head shaking what on earth could you have been thinking moments. Can you imagine? It's not like he didn't know it was illegal. It's not like he was desperate for the cash winnings. One former participant of dog fighting, on the human side, claimed that "the rush" was unattainable through any other means. This isn't that strange really. Look at history. We humans have a history of loving gore - the Christians and the lions, gladiators, bull fighting, etc. But to a certain degree we can be a little more kind in our judgments of yore. Those that attended hangings, beheadings, etc. didn't have the internet or television. Those events were the highlight of a rather dismal and bleak existence.
So what's the excuse for dog fighting now? We have cage fighting for crying out loud. We have grown men willing to participate in ripping each other to shreds. Why still the fixation on animals? Why? Because it is the same as it ever was, same as it ever was (thanks David).
Power.
Power and greed.
The thought of being able to force something to do something we want it to do, simply because we can, is too alluring for some. It is too provocative for some to deny. It is why circuses still exist. Why people still go to the rodeo. It's why people still go and watch those horses that do that crazy stepping thing that is so monstrously unnatural I can't even begin to fathom what they had to do to those fine animals to make them do that. Shudder. It is why people like to go to the zoo to see animals that normally run miles, confined in an 8 x 10 box. Because if we can contain that kind of power, then we are more powerful, more mighty. And for those that feel powerless for whatever reason, in their day to day lives, exercising any kind of power be it by knocking their kids or spouse around, or kicking the dog, feels good.


So why the outcry? Because pit bulls, a member of the man's best friend club, has had to pay a phenomenally dear price for the sins of man. The pit bull terrier, the powerful, loyal, family guardian and friend has had to pay with a hideously erroneous title of killer because of man's propensity for violence and cruelty. No other breed has had to bear the brunt of such negative stereotyping.

Do not let the guilty plea end the focus on a human activity that has successfully demonized a breed of dog that has many positive attributes. Do not let the plea stop the lumination of a dark and dangerous human activity. This will only end with a concerted effort on everyone's part. M. Vick will serve a ridiculously short amount of time for the suffering he has caused, but it is up to us to put an end to the glorification of a bloodsport that involves unwilling participants. When you see pit bulls on heavy chains, snap a photo of the owner on your cellphone. Watch "Off the Chain" - a fantastic undercover documentary on the truth about dog fighting. Call animal control or the police when you witness suspicious behavior. Just as you would if you suspected child abuse. If you don't get involved, it will continue. Don't think it is up to others, it is up to you. It is up to me. Think of all the dogs out there that are desperate for love and a family. Think about what those animals must endure when they get caught up in the underworld of dogfighting. Start paying attention. You'll be stunned by how prevalent and in your face it really is.