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We Have Michael Vick to Thank for . . .

Last night, my husband queried, "Honey, why not give your peeps a break tomorrow and write about something positive?" Am I that much of a downer?

I spent ten or so minutes doing research and then realized my topic was right under my nose the whole time. Due to Michael Vick’s celebrity and bad behavior (let’s face it–people here in Florida do what he did every day, but they’re not getting any attention. It’s all about the celebrity.), people are talking about dogfighting, yes. But more important, they’re asking questions like (and this is just a smattering. Google the topic and see how any dozens of stories you get):

The good news is all of the conversation about dogs being the same as cows (or not, but at least there’s a discussion and people respond to those who use the culture argument or whatever for why dogs aren’t the same as cows). Yes, there are many disconcerting comments by people who see nothing wrong with killing animals for food (or even fun), but at least there are some reasonable people attempting to kindly, tactfully educate them.

It is rather shocking to spend so much time reading blogs and websites that have to do with respecting the natural lives of nonhumans and then go to a mainstream site and read what the average American is thinking about the issue. Though the existence of the debate (?) is definitely good news, the comments, in toto, remind us of the depth and the breadth of the struggle we have before us.

UPDATE: There’s also an article by actress Emily Deschanel called, "The Sad Truth About Dogfighting" at, and it has generated dozens of comments. Because of the popularity of CNN and the vastness of its audience, maybe that’s a good place to submit a well-crafted, dispassionate comment.

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  1. Mary – I thought I should inform you of a couple of [distasteful] articles about a Canadian syndicated newspaper columnist's views about animal rights people [you may or may not want to post this – it is up to you]. Also, I saw an interview on CNN yesterday morning with Washington Post reporter Mark Maske who wrote a story (based partly on information provided by Vick's father, Michael Boddie) that Michael Vick was cruel to animals as a child and that Boddie suspects that Vick "became involved in dogfighting in 1999 or 2000, before he became the top overall selection in the 2001 NFL draft." The story is headlined "Vick's Dad Traces Dogs to Son's Childhood":

    "Boddie said two of those friends, co-defendants Tony Taylor and Purnell Peace, introduced Vick to dogfighting. But Boddie added of Vick: "Nobody dragged him. My son has a fascination with animals anyway. He's a natural dog lover. In our neighborhood in the projects, little boys would get dogs to chase cats in the lumberyard. The big thing with little boys, [they'd] get a dog and sic 'em on the cats. That's what they'd do for fun . . . Yeah, [Vick] did that as a kid. Every little boy in the projects did that. It's a fascination thing. That's just part of his culture growing up."

    Here are the two 'anti-AR' articles by Canadian columnist Michael Coren:

    Edmonton Sun
    August 18, 2007
    Doggone fools: Sometimes we forget people matter more than animals

    OK, the evidence is in. People who are obsessed with the welfare of animals and become hysterical when they hear about a dog or cat being abused are mentally ill. No need here for compromise or silliness. Animal rights types are mentally ill. Which was shown once again this week when 50 protesters assembled outside the offices of the Humane Society in Toronto after an officer was suspended for not doing his job properly. [note to Mary – here is a link to the actual story –

    What the man actually did was handcuff to a car door a twit who had left his rottweiler in the vehicle on a particularly hot day. The handcuffed dog-abuser was then attacked by some locals and given a few slaps around the head. He could, of course, have been knifed, beaten to death or hit by another car. The Humane Society zealot had a duty to both save the dog and guarantee the safety of the accused.

    But rather than see the obvious and realize that even people who are cruel to doggies have basic human rights, the usual suspects from neurotics anonymous staged a demonstration in support of their new hero. Good God, get a grip! People matter more than animals. Even bad people matter more than animals. Even very bad people matter more than animals.

    No relativism please, no soppy arguments about cute puppies compared to mass murderers. The human spirit and soul is unique and deserves respect, dignity and reverence.


    Animals, on the other hand, are there to be used. Not abused, but used. So we can eat them, wear their skins, experiment on them if we can thus improve the human condition. A million kittens do not one human life make. So if by testing medication on a million kittens we can find a cure for cancer, we should have not a second's pause.

    Animals have no rights, but we have responsibilities. To treat them properly. Farmers do this best because they treat them precisely as animals. Keep them fed and warm, show them affection and care, make them better when sick, but kill them if need be.

    The lunacy in Toronto is repeated every day all over Canada and all over the Western world. Less so, however, in countries where there is mass poverty and people work the fields. In those places there is far more balance and an understanding of nature not tainted by Hollywood sentimentality.

    Nor should we accept the argument that people who care passionately about animals also care passionately about people. Some might, but most don't.

    If you doubt me, ask an animal nut if they would kill a beast to save a child. Notice the pause, the ambivalence, the pain. We've become so confused in our understanding of humanity that we adore anything that seems to be cute or vulnerable. The broken, bleeding human may spit in your face, may scream at you, may be a pain in the rear.

    But not little Rover or cuddly Whiskers. Because they are dumb they must be special and because they give us pleasure they must be kind. Nonsense. Animals can be cruel, are invariably selfish and exist for us and not us for them. At its most basic it's little different from weeping over a Princess Diana you never knew or teenagers hugging in front of the television cameras when a tragedy occurs at school. We lost our sense some time ago.

    Tragedy is, we hardly notice.

    Copyright Edmonton Sun 2007

    [Apparently Mr. Coren got a bit of feedback about the column]:

    Edmonton Sun
    August 25, 2007
    Dogged by oddballs
    Responses from animal-lovers helps prove the point

    Last week I wrote a column arguing that people who are obsessed with animals to an extreme and irrational degree are mentally ill. I wrote that we need to care about animals and should never abuse them, but that people matter more. Even bad people.

    I would like to take this opportunity to apologize. I was wrong. People who treat animals as if they were human and have an animal rights fetish are not mentally ill. They are psychotic and dangerous.

    In the past week I have received hundreds of supportive letters, but at least as many that disagreed. No, not disagreed. Perhaps 10% made some sort of argument, but the rest exhibited an anger, stupidity and sheer craziness that I have only previously encountered from neo-Nazis. All of the e-mails I now present have been confirmed as genuine. I have retained the original spelling, but used asterisks in most of the foul language.

    Bill wrote: "Someone who cares about something else is definitely not mentally ill. We are the voice of the other species, protecting them from insanity of the likes that froths from your venomous mouth. You shame all religious people with this column.


    "Your self-serving, fanatic, lunatism, thankfully isn't mainstream in the Christian world of today and tomorrow. I really think that you should take your ugly faggot face and go to hell. But then again, people from your cult are to evil, even for hell. If it is a fact that peole who are cruel to animals go on to abuse women and children, you should be locked up … with [Canadian serial killer Paul] Bernardo. You two would probably have a great time comparing notes."

    Liz wrote: "You've p***** me off several times before but never quite like this….Are not ALL creatures God's creatures??? Come on buddy, being the f***-head christian that you are, you should know this!!!…you
    go on believing that we humans are better than animals — we are NOT, and you're the perfect example of how stupid MOST humans are.

    "Oh and by the way, I have NO pets but unlike you god-fearing a*******, I treat ALL creatures, including us humans (and like it or not, we too ARE animals) with the same f****** dignity and respect.

    "Go to hell you f****** no good for nothing piece of dumb a** s***!!!!"

    Doreen was interesting. "You wil have a painfilled life now. We will find out were your children go to school, where you do shopping, everything. You will suffer."

    Aggie agreed. "Now you will know what it is like to be a dog being abused you filthy Jew."

    Then there was Drew. "i just finished reading your 'article' from saturdays sun where you refer to animal rights types as being mentally ill. just exactly who in the f*** do you think you are? animals have no rights?! i suppose you can justify micheal vick's actions of profiting from violent animal abuse as well, seeing as though you're so high and mighty. heres an idea, why dont you come over to my house and try to infringe on my dogs rights and see what happens you f****** dim witted piece of s***.".

    In other words, the vast majority of people who wrote to oppose me were illiterate, abusive and nuts. Rather confirms my point really. And for that I sincerely thank them.

    Copyright Edmonton Sun 2007

    Michael Coren's website is
    Michael Coren's email address is:

    August 26, 2007
  2. Mike Grieco #

    Mary–i think Terry(above) has gone 'Dog-Gone' crazy :). He took up most of the space here.
    Well i hope the Mr. Vick's case at the very least bring's to light the distinction between the "legal" use/abuse and murder of nonhuman animals, and the "illegal" use/abuse and murder of nonhuman animals.
    The difference for the nonhuman animals is…there is No difference! Period.

    And no,your not a "downer", Mary. "The truth is sometimes an unpleasant way to achieve good, like it or not."

    August 26, 2007
  3. Ellie #

    I have no respect for this journalist, Michael Coren. Granted, part of the problem is the media's misunderstanding of animal rights, likely the result of groups and activists who claim to represent the movement, but are in the business of exploiting or killing animals themselves. If the activists assembled to protest handcuffing a pet owner who left his dog in a car, that has absolutely nothing to do with animal rights. And neither does leaving a dog in a car, because that concerns so-called "humane treatment".

    But Coren wants to smear the entire movement as mentally ill, and reminiscent of Nazis. That's discrimination of the lowest order, just as his blatant speciesism is.

    August 26, 2007
  4. Coren's articles show so much ignorance of the topic he attempts to address (animal rights) that if I were to attempt a reply, I wouldn't know where to start, and a reply would perhaps require several pages. In situations like this, I would choose to ignore him, and press on with our own individual animal rights campaigning.

    Coren's wise selection of replies he published clearly shows his true agenda…that of discrediting (even by misrepresenting views) true animal rights and lumping animal rights with welfarist sentimentalism for the sake of a reactionary pro-animal slavery agenda.

    My only reply to Coren would be "read Introduction to Animal Rights by Gary Francione".

    I also would remove Coren's article – he doesn't deserve the publicity. Of course, that's entirely up to you (Mary).

    August 27, 2007
  5. Ellie #

    I just posted (what I hope are) sane replies on CNN. Let's see if they pass the moderators.

    August 27, 2007
  6. Jim #

    Hunting Deer and Killing dogs are two different things. It is sad that hunting has to be brought into this.

    August 27, 2007
  7. Jim,

    Deer hunting and dog killing are identical in that they are the intentional slaughter of sentient beings, without necessity. For people, such as myself, who are vegans, that is our primary concern. What we often say is "killing sentient beings without necessity is morally unjustifiable." It's a mouthful, for sure, but it perfectly describes what we believe.

    Thank you for reading and commenting.

    August 28, 2007
  8. Ellie #

    Just checked the CNN board. My 3 replies ( including one which addressed hunting) have not been posted. Maybe they'll show later in the day.

    It's really disheartening to put thought and caring into messages that don't show up.

    August 28, 2007
  9. Ellie #

    Unfortunately, CNN has closed the message board to further comments, so we can't say anything more about "The Sad Truth About Dogfighting". A number of posts have been deleted. One was from someone who claimed hunting helped animals by controlling their population. That post is gone. My response, explaining that hunting actually increases animal populations, was never allowed.

    I copied another message that was deleted, along with my response that wasn't allowed. I'd like to post it here, in case anyone wants to talk about, and maybe figure out why it was not allowed.

    Please keep in mind that several posters complained about Deschanel linking African Americans to dogfighting. In fact, most people associated with dogfighting are Southern white males– which is something I noted in another reply that also wasn't allowed.

    Here's the >:


    And here's my forbidden post:

    In answer to Peter, animal welfare is about race and class to large extent. Beginning in early 19th century England, the animal welfare movement has accepted and even promoted 'acceptable' cruelty to animals, such as eating meat and sport hunting, which at the time was the realm of elites. Yet the same protectionists actively prosecuted other forms of cruelty committed by the lower economic classes. As Harriet Ritvo explains in "The Animal Estate", controlling the animals was a way of controlling the people.

    But that's only part of the answer. Underlying our class and racial distinctions is the notion that humans are entitled to exploit other animals to suit our purposes. As it happens, Americans think of dogs as pets, so we're usually not interested in hunting them– but in the bigger picture and despite this ruckus over dogfighting– dogs are not more protected than hunted animals. Dogs are property and property does not have rights.

    As a result, millions of healthy dogs are killed each year in facilities across the country, or by private vets. (That's not euthanasia.) Thousands are bred for profit, and many don't live to see their first birthday. Add to that hundreds subjected to medical research (millions over time), thousands bred for fighting, or as guard dogs, or sled dogs, or racing dogs, or novelty dogs– who are killed just as surely as Vick's pitbulls, when they don't behave; look; or in other ways fail fulfill our interests.

    So instead of blaming everything on Vick, I think we should be asking ourselves why we think we're entitled to own dogs as property– because as long as dogs are owned, we'll excuse 'acceptable' forms of cruelty, and prosecute others.

    So what's so wrong with the above? Why can't we say what we want to say?

    August 28, 2007
  10. Ellie #

    Whoops, looks the post CNN deleted doesn't show up here either. But my forbidden response does.

    August 28, 2007
  11. Ellie,

    Do you mean you pasted text onto my comment section and it disappeared?

    August 28, 2007
  12. Ellie #

    From what I can see, CNN doesn't show posts until they're reviewed by a moderator. When I posted yesterday, the board was open to comments. If only my posts failed to show today, I'd say it's possible they closed the comments before they put the notice up, and I got caught in the middle. But the blog was clearly moderated after I posted, because a number of posts (the ones I replied to) were deleted.

    August 28, 2007
  13. Ellie #

    Sorry, Mary, I misunderstood your question. Yes, I pasted text (the other poster's comment which CNN deleted), and it disappeared here.

    August 28, 2007
  14. Ellie #

    If you'd like, Mary, I can try to paste it again.

    August 28, 2007

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