Thanks to the Cantankerous Gentleman, I just found this curious article by one of the "Gang of 88" who – rather than keep her odious comments to herself in the wake of the Lacrosse scandal – offers us this little bit of (extra) sanctimony on race. The thrust? What Vick did was wrong, but he's being censured because he's black. And if we look in the mirror, we'll stop eating hamburgers:
As a strong advocate of animal welfare, I despise dogfighting. I have worked in dog rescue for many years, and know firsthand that pit bulls are among the sweetest, most devoted animals on earth. The pit bulls used in the dogfighting ring operated from property owned by Atlanta Falcons star Michael Vick deserved a far better life.
Yet, I find what's happening with Vick, who pleaded guilty Monday to a felony charge, alarming.
We need to face the fact that dog fighting is not the only "sport" that abuses animals. Cruelty also occurs in rodeos, horse and dog racing (all of which mistreat animals and often kill them when no longer useful). There are also millions of dogs and cats we put to death in "shelters" across the country because they lack a home, and billions of creatures we torture in factory farms for our food.
Vick treated his dogs very cruelly; there is no question about that. But I see one important difference between these more socially acceptable mistreatments and the anger focused on Vick: Vick is black, and most of the folks in charge of the other activities are white.
I'm not sure what's more disconcerting, that Kathy Rudy has such an early-1990's view of race in America, or that she's factored animals into the social contract. This so-called ethicist sounds more like a race-baiting hack with a vegan streak than an academic. And while she makes one valid point – that there are other ways to harm animals – it actually works against her position.
Without launching into any deep philosophical treatises on the very idea of animal rights, I'd say that what Michael Vick did merely crossed the bounds of our culture's sense of decency — right or wrong, black or white. And while in the strictest sense, Vick may not have violated anybody's rights with his behavior (because animals don't have those), the practice has been proscribed by law precisely because people like her have been shaming people into throwing animals the scraps from our moral and legal tables. On the question of whether the law is right in the Vick case? Let's just say I don't really have a dog in that fight.
But to compound her bass-ackwards notions of animal rights with accusations of racism? Wow. Not only have many whites defended Vick, but many blacks have excoriated him. Whether people want to protect puppies comes down not to the color of their skin, but how much empathy they extend to animals. I would encourage people to mock such "ivory" tower diatribes (see picture above), take note only long enough to know what you're paying for at Duke, and suggest that your kids not to take classes from lecturers like this — whose ideas of scholarship are little more than how-to guides on self-loathing.