Racism: One; Animal Cruelty: Zero

Posted: Sep 02, 2007 12:12 AM
Racism: One;  Animal Cruelty:  Zero

Is it just me? Or has some recent news about domestic animals and their unfortunate relationships with human beings been really, really weird?

The stories themselves are sufficiently bizzare, yet as I see it, the public reaction to these stories is even more troubling.

First, there was the news last April that a home in Virginia owned by Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick had been raided, and evidence of “dog fighting” had been discovered. Prior to this, I knew very little about “dog fighting,” nor had I ever given it much thought.

But the night that the news broke, I got an eyeful while watching a debate about Vick on a cable television sports talk show. As the program guests chattered away, video of two dogs mauling each other rolled on the screen, and I didn’t have to watch very much of this to understand quite quickly that “dog fighting” is inhumane. In fact, the images I saw were so raw and so absolutely disturbing, that I quickly came to believe that anyone who would pursue this as a “hobby” or “sport” must have some severe psychological problems.

Similarly, rap recording artist-turned-actor "DMX" recently had some damning news emerge, as well. After law enforcement officers raided his suburban Phoenix residence slightly over a week ago, they discovered some un-licensed cars on the premises; several high-power firearms; some substances that looked like illegal drugs (turns out they were not drugs); several "distressed" (read "unfed and un-watered") pit bull dogs; and 3 dead dogs buried in the ground, at least one of which was burned severely.

Thus far, it is unclear where the police investigators might be headed next in this case, and "DMX" has had nothing to say publicly about the matter. We've only heard DMX's Attorney Murray Richman of New York make inane comments to individual news reporters, saying things like "My client is totally innocent of all the charges here," and then following that up with the statement, "Well, there are no charges" (yo DMX - - you suppose your "dollah" might be better spent on a different attorney???).

But here is what we do know: There are two high-profile entertainers who have fairly recently been caught with some very suspicious evidence suggesting animal brutality. One of them has now confessed to "dog fighting;" the other has yet to explain why a dead and severely burned dog was buried in his backyard.

Yet since the raid on Vick’s home in April I have seen a disturbing number of people defend his participation in dog fighting, some even suggesting that dog fighting is commonplace among African Americans and those of us who might not like that are “racists.”

Days ago Vick himself said publicly that his actions were “immature,” which touched off some wild speculation in the news media about whether or not the Atlanta Falcons should let him return to play someday.

But Vick's so-called "apology" doesn't scratch the surface of what he has done. Vick’s behavior has not been merely "immature," it has been sociopathic - - and he hasn’t even come close to conveying that he understands this.

The respective fates of these men remain to be seen. Vick’s future will be determined largely by a decision of one judge, and the leadership of the National Football League, while the future of “DMX” (his actual name is Earl Simmons, for those keep track) is unknown pending a conclusive decision from police investigators, and whatever subsequent legal events that may arise from that.

But at this point, we can be assured of this: The world of American pop culture, a world usually very accommodating of every possible “animal rights” concern, has fallen silent in the face of some egregious behavior by two of their own.

Apparently, fears of appearing “racially insensitive” trump any concerns at all for un-fed, un-watered, dead, and possibly-burned-alive dogs.