Vick And Media Hysteria
How can this nation preach â€œfamily valuesâ€? while remaining quiet about the carnage in our streets? Is the message really that America cares more about dogs than people? Put more precisely; does this country care more about dogs than Black people?
[Speaking Truth To Empower]
Michael Vick apologized on Monday after pleading guilty to felony charges of conspiracy related to his involvement in dog-fighting. Yet, Vick’s media crucifixion highlights the pathologically illogic hypocrisy of a nation that lectures on the virtues of “family values” but practices something else.
Michael Vick’s behavior is by no means admirable. Those who engage in dog-fighting and the like are symptomatic of the spiritually shallowness in our world, where man thinks he has the right to always control, rather than to understand all that is in it, often to disastrous consequences.
If a hobby is what Vick wanted there are many things he could have engaged in that wouldn’t have betrayed the trust of those kids that he admitted he let down. He could have engaged in projects to bring betterment to the lives of many Black youths—in his community and beyond—who are neglected by an American system that often recognizes them only if they can bounce a basketball or throw the football.
Indeed, Vick is a symbol of America’s selfish obsession with celebrity “success” and excess that is defined by a lack of real civic responsibility, that’s devoted only to manufactured public relations.
Now, there are many American athletes who live lives of wanton indulgence. This reality is a cultural one, since, this society in some not so subtle ways reinforces the message that “success” and self-worth is to be defined by one’s bank account. That’s why some athletes—including Black ones—are often brawny, brainless individuals who have failed to cultivate their mental faculties.
Therefore, why should we be surprised when they do dumb things like bet on baseball like Pete Rose, murder their girlfriends like Ray Carruth or engage in dog-fighting like Michael Vick.
But there is something exceedingly unseemly and unbalanced about the national lampooning of Vick. This case has made it quite clear that this nation is sinking into the quicksand of the abyss because of an unconscionable lack of prioritizing. For while Vick’s actions were idiotic, I must ask: why is it that this country can raise up its voice with vicious vitriol in this case but can’t seem to do so for things that threaten to destroy the nation?
For example, across this country the homicide rate is devastating many cities. In New Orleans, two year after Katrina there is an upsurge in murder and misery. Baltimore averages one murder a day, and in Newark, New Jersey the killings there were underscored by the execution of three college students; a story which is now all but forgotten by the larger society. How can this nation preach “family values” while remaining quiet about the carnage in our streets? Is the message really that America cares more about dogs than people? Put more precisely; does this country care more about dogs than Black people?
Then there is Iraq. We know that the government led this nation into a war based on lies; this is an impeachable offense. According to the John HopkinsLancet study we also know that the Iraq deaths are now climbing close to one million, assuming this marked hasn’t been surpassed by now. Why have we not seen similar anti-war demonstrations similar in intensity to the protests staged by PETA and the Humane Society?
Isn’t the murder of a million Iraqis more inhumane than the killing of dogs? Many now clamor for jail time for Vick. But why aren’t most Americans calling for those war-criminals who plunged this nation into war to be flung into jail? Apparently, the ethical treatment of people, especially, if they aren’t white, is not a priority.
Yet, segregation and selective outrage based on skin color will be the undoing of this country. We cannot ignore killings in Black communities and hope that they will be contained there. Tragedies are now “coming home to roost” in white America. The climate of neglect that has been allowed to fester in Black America and the attendant violence that comes with it, is seeping into white America. How else can we explain such mass murders of students in Columbine and more recently in Virginia Tech. Then when it happens, the media talking heads invariably say, “You wouldn’t expect it to happen in a community like this.” (Translation: “This is supposed to happen in Black neighborhoods.”)
There are other glaring contradictions. Every day, many people in this increasingly obese nation sanction the mass killing of animals to satisfy their over-consumption. There are many slaughterhouses that kill chickens and cows to keep McDonald’s, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken stocked; many of these same people who find Vick’s actions so abhorrent fill their stomachs with these slaughtered animals.
Moreover, this is a country where the National Rifle Association (NRA) rules, mainly, because hunting is an accepted American way of life.
In fact, on cable television there are shows relating to hunting animals. Have people already forgotten that when Vice President Dick Cheney filled his friend's face with buck-shots he was hoping, or so he says, to kill quails?
If Vick had been a hunter, he could have shot as many animals in the wild for “sport” and there would be no hue and cry. What kind of country is this?
Benjamin is a member of The Black Star News' Editorial Board.
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