Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Charles Dickens' novel called A Tale of Two Cities (1859) depicted the plight of French peasants' civil conflict with its aristocracy in the years leading up to the French Revolution. Despite their linguistic differences, Dickens showed many parallels with the social atmosphere of London and Paris during that time period.

In contrast to Dickens’ work, my commentary today explores the dramatic difference in the value of human life (versus the value of animal life) in privileged versus impoverished communities in the same city - Philadelphia. I am concerned that Philadelphians seem more committed to protecting the lives of animals than they seem to be committed to saving the innocent lives of unborn children and their young mothers. Let me explain.

Last month, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was forced to cancel a planned book tour because of credible threats on his life. According to his publisher, “protests escalated into threats of violence.” Threats were made to harm Vick himself and the employees of bookstores and other venues planning to host the athlete as he promoted his new book, Finally Free. Everyone concerned decided it was safer to keep the athlete out of the public eye for the off season. The anger against Vick stems no doubt from his role in the death of between six and eight dogs in a dog fighting and gambling operation he owned. Vick pled guilty to felony charges in 2007 and has since been released from prison.

In contrast; two years ago, another Philadelphia man was indicted for the murder of seven human babies and one adult woman. Kermit Gosnell ran a late term abortion facility in Philadelphia and had been sued at least 15 times for malpractice before the FBI discovered the squalid conditions in his clinic during a prescription drug raid in February of 2010. Yet the same media that excoriated Vick— has been eerily silent on the murder of poor mothers and the murder of fetuses.

When Vick’s crimes first came to light, there was understandable outrage from all corners. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell denounced Vick’s actions, calling them “cruel and reprehensible.” Animal rights organizations like PETA predictably not only condemned him, but staged protests until sponsors like Nike and Reebok cut all ties with the quarterback.


Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.