Michael Vick is back. He has signed up with the Philadelphia Eagles, and the deal is estimated to be worth as much as $6.8 million.
So a ruthless dog killer gets back to life as usual, with little more than a rap on his knuckles for what most of us would agree was one of the most gut-wrenching, horrific crimes against animals seen in recent times. Before we know, Vick will once again be the huge sports star he was before April 2007, in a position to be a role model to thousands of children, and his sickening past will be all but forgotten by most.
I am all for second chances and rehabilitating criminals. I am not for glorifying them. If Vick had done this to human beings, would we be so ready and willing to forgive him? Of course not.
Here's what I don't understand. A dog who bites instinctively gets labeled "vicious" and is put down almost immediately. But when someone like Vick kills several dogs in a premeditated fashion and in the cruelest of ways imaginable, he gets away with the lightest of sentences. Are we saying that a dog is smarter -- and therefore we are holding it to a higher standard-- than Vick? Must be, because we are punishing the animal more harshly for a smaller crime than we are a human being for a much, much bigger one.
Or is it, as some animal rights advocates like Peter Singer have called it, just speciesism-- the act of discriminating against animals because we consider them lower species whose pain and suffering is simply not important?
Vick got away because the lives of animals have little value in our world. Every day we ignore animal abuse as if it were an unchangeable fact of life when the power to change it actually lies within each of us. Why else do we take our kids to zoos and circuses as if they are places of wonder and joy instead of animal suffering and abuse, which they are. Why do we eat animal-based foods, and then profess to love our dogs and cats? Why do we get shocked that people in other parts of the world eat dogs and horses, then turn to our plates and gobble down steaks and nuggets made from equally sentient cows and chickens?
Let's think about it.
Now here's another story that appeared this week in my hometown newspaper, The Washington Post. The Obama camp is criticizing posters put up by the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine in Washington's Union Station because they show a little girl, who happens to be a vegetarian, with a thought bubble rising from her that says, "President Obama's daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don't I?"
The outcry is over the fact that the president's daughters are mentioned and according to all the pundits that the Post spoke to, the president's children have always been off limits.
Frankly, I don't see what the brouhaha is about. The president's daughters are not mentioned by name, nor are their pictures on the ad, and what's wrong with making a great point very relevant to our changing times: that children who go to public schools should have healthy vegetarian and vegan options, just like children who go to private schools do?
Childhood obesity is at a record high. Wouldn't it be wonderful if children could choose from fresh fruits and vegetables and wholegrain foods at school instead of the meaty, cheesy, unhealthy stuff cafeterias mostly offer now?
Do you have a child in public school? If yes, do you think your kids should have vegetarian and vegan options at their schools? Now is the time to let your local Congressman know, because Congress takes up the Child Nutrition Act for reauthorization in October. What they decide will determine what your kids eat at school. It's important, and it's personal.
You can also sign a petition for healthy school lunches at PCRM's Web site right here.
Have a great weekend, all!