perspective \•/ BY ANDREW FEINSTEIN
Dateline: 07/27/2007 Denverpost.com
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) protesters carry signs and shout slogans calling for the suspension of Atlanta Falcons football player Michael Vick, outside the NFL’s headquarters in New York, Friday, July 20, 2007. Vick was indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday for his alleged involvement with dogfighting. (AP / Bebeto Matthews)
Like most of you, I was appalled when reading the ghastly details of the indictment against Michael Vick, which accused the Atlanta Falcons quarterback of violating federal laws against dogfighting, procuring and training pit bulls for combat and conducting this illegal enterprise across state lines.
As we’ve all read by now, the indictment also included allegations of torture by electrocution and drowning of the animals, employing rape stands and at least one incident of slamming a dog’s body onto the ground until it died.
I don’t have to tell you that this is beyond the pale of sick human behavior, and if the allegations prove true, I hope Vick gets a lifetime ban from the NFL and whatever jail time is coming to him – and, if we’re lucky, maybe they can throw a few rabid pit bulls into his jail cell.
In addition to the allegations and gruesome facts of the case, there’s been a debate raging on sports radio about whether or not Vick is in the cross-hairs due to his race – implying that if Vick were white, perhaps the court of public opinion (if not the federal government itself) would somehow play a more wait-and-see approach.
So I’ve spent the past few days searching for a case in recent history in which a prominent white celebrity got caught committing a vile act of inhumane torture against animals and got off easy. And I found one: Dick Cheney.
During a weekend quail “hunt” in February 2006, Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot his pal Harry Whittington in the face. And while the national media, pundits and late-night talk show hosts had a field day with the shooting, the coverup, Cheney’s delay in alerting his boss (who just happens to be the president) and so forth, the real story was overlooked. The real story is that Cheney, like others of his ilk, travels to private “hunting” ranges throughout the U.S., where birds and mammals are placed in cages or nets for weeks at a time, only to be released when the “hunters” arrive to shoot them at close range. The animals aren’t just released with an open hatch or the untying of a net; they are released in a way that disorients them, enabling the “hunter” to get a quick, easy shot. You see, the “hunting” range only collects a fee for animals killed, and thus it’s in their best interest to have as much carnage as possible. Is this not torture?
Cheney and Vick – or Dick and Vick, as I like to call them – actually have a lot in common. They’re both obscenely rich, travel with an entourage of cronies who’ll take the heat should their ringleader get in trouble, dropped out of college early (although in fairness to Dick, after flunking out of Yale, he did finish his degree at the University of Wyoming), starred on their high school football teams but can’t throw an accurate pass, and, of course, seem to revel in the caging, torturing and killing of helpless animals.
And much like Vick, Dick is a repeat offender. According to an article on the Humane Society website, in 2003 Dick, along with former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach (what is it with quarterbacks?), U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and several GOP fund-raisers went pheasant “hunting” at the exclusive Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier Township, Pa., where 500 pen-raised pheasants were released from nets, so that Dick and his entourage could gun down 417 of them. After lunch, according to the site, they also knocked off a hundred or so penned-up mallard ducks. The article didn’t mention what they did during happy hour.
While the sports media debate whether or not Vick should play football this season, perhaps the mainstream media should start engaging in a debate about how we treat animals in this country. The Humane Society pointed out in 2003 that in the U.S. there are more than 3,000 canned bird-shooting operations, more than 2,000 private hunting facilities with mammals, including exotic “game” like zebra, in addition to the scores of illegal dog- and cock-fighting outfits we don’t know about.
While some people on the extreme left may want Dick tried for war crimes (which will never happen), let’s make caged hunting illegal in this country, so the likes of Dick could join his fellow animal torturer Vick in being prosecuted.
Then, when they’re both in jail together, they can work on their anemic passing games.
Denver native Andrew Feinstein is the co-creator of “Girls & Sports,” a nationally syndicated comic strip (www.girlsandsports.com).