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Michael Vick

A quick word on this. As a current two-dog owner and friend of dogs most of my life, I simply cannot comprehend — even remotely — how anyone could take any pleasure or enjoyment out of this kind of a bloodsport. Yet, people do. Lots of people do, and it just goes to show the vast disparity of values in this country, and indeed worldwide. That means: unless me or my dogs — or some person I may presume unwilling — is being harmed, or clearly going to be harmed, then it’s just none of my (or your) business.

Those who have various business dealings with Michael Vick — Atlanta Falcons, Nike, and others — certainly do have a  moral standing in the affair. So do you, indirectly; if you go to Falcons games, buy products with the Falcons logo, or buy Nike. If those and other businesses do what you’d have done had you possessed their authority in the matter, then you’ve discovered another business that reflects your own values and you might happily spend even more money on them. But if they don’t do as you’d have done, then your business and the business of others like you is less important to them than their relationship with Michael Vick, in which case it’s up to you to decide whether their acting contrary to your values is something you’re willing to live with because you like the values they produce more, or you take your business elsewhere.

It’s all very simple, people. Why does everyone think jail cell? Why not do what and only what is exactly within your moral authority to do? Why do you insist on a claim to authority to materially destroy someone’s life, or sanction others to do so, when you’ve not been harmed in the slightest? Why do you, as does Michael Vick, behave so primitively and savagely?

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

8 Comments

  1. Billy Beck on July 20, 2007 at 21:10

    Politics is for humans. Not animals.

  2. Richard Nikoley on July 20, 2007 at 22:15

    Linda:

    Para 1: That person has the right of self-defense and that right can be delegated. Under sufficient facts and circumstances, it's reasonable to assume such agency if they don't have the ability to cry out for help, which is an explicit granting of such agency to anyone who can hear it. I think they also have the right to delegate the right to pursue damages to be made whole. Beyond that is retribution (punishment) and I see no moral justification beyond being made whole to every reasonable extent possible.

    Para 2: Well, it's my dog, i.e., my property, so I have the right to recover it. If that's no longer possible then reality affords me no real options. I can't make him make the dog come back to life.

    Para 3: Equal. In the first case, through agency of self-defense, and in the second, the direct right to recover property and recovery of damages to property. In neither case is there any right beyond recovery of damages, whether recovery is successful or impossible.

    But I realize it'll be a thousand years before human beings don't automatically think of punishment when recovery of damages has been foreclosed (or in addition to recovery of damages).

    The one exception to all the above is if the offender is a clear and present danger for continued mayhem and destruction, which is often the case. It would be impossible to live a proper human life without being able to nullify clear and present threats before irrevocable and irrecoverable damage is sustained.

    If I were a predator, either against people, their property, or both, then I should expect that someone is going to rightly nullify that threat ahead of time, and the fact that I may never have harmed them means little, because they are not in a position to take the risk, given clear facts. The bottom line: being a predator is and ought to be a very risky proposition and I don't much care what happens to them.

  3. Linda Morgan on July 20, 2007 at 21:00

    unless me or my dogs — or some person I may presume unwilling — is being harmed, or clearly going to be harmed, then it's just none of my (or your) business.

    Ratchet this thing up, then, and say that Vick and crew had kidnapped someone unknown to you and set one of their dogs on him just to see how he'd fare. That'd be your business — an unwilling person being harmed. What would be within your moral authority for you to do about it?

    Or how about if he stole one of your dogs and used it to "train" one of his? What could you do about that, without overstepping your moral authority in the matter?

    In which case would you have greater moral authority to act against Vick — harm done by him to one of your dogs, or harm done to the human with whom you have no relationship? Would either of these situations give you the authority to "materially destroy" Vick's life, or to sanction others to incarcerate him?

  4. Linda Morgan on July 21, 2007 at 19:56

    Thanks for answering my questions, Richard. I’ll say one thing. It sounds like you’d be a pretty cool customer in the case of someone making off with your dog and basically feeding it live to his. A lot of people would go absolutely apeshit over something like that and, though you and I will never know, I suspect the average person will still be inclined to demand punishment for such an offense a thousand, two thousand years down the line. If not, it’ll likely be for reasons other than general moral enlightenment.

    I’ll interject here that, so far as I know, neither Michael Vick nor anyone else involved with Bad Newz Kennels stands accused of anything quite so base as stealing – or acquiring from thieves or obtaining under false pretenses – erstwhile pets for use in training their dogs to kill other dogs. The worst accusations I’ve seen pertain to the drowning and hanging to death of various fight-injured dogs, which Vick and company presumably acquired without misleading any sellers about their intentions. So to spell out what I indicated in my earlier comment, my questions along these lines were of course hypothetical.

    But to return to the actual Vick case, you say the businesses that have been dealing with Vick, along with their various customers and clients, “have a moral standing in the affair” that you don’t grant to persons who haven’t at least indirectly put money in Vick’s pocket. I don’t understand what you mean by this. I can see how these businesses have the means to register their disapproval of Vick’s activities by depriving him of the benefits of further business association. And I can see how the customers of those businesses can contribute to this sanction of Vick indirectly. But how does this constitute a special moral standing – or any kind of standing – unavailable to persons who’ve heretofore never given Vick or his business associates a dime? Such persons are not without means to register their own disapproval and in fact those means are essentially the same – to advocate against future business dealings with Vick. Tell it to the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons that it’s none of those persons’ business how they handle this affair with Vick.

    And here’s something else. What purpose other than punishment – and on the order of "materially destroy[ing]” the life he’s become accustomed to living – does depriving Vick of his career and expected future earnings serve? It doesn’t bring any hanged dogs back to life. Is that an aspect of their moral standing here that the NFL et al. should consider? Or is it okay because their real and proper concern would be to mitigate the damages they are sustaining through their ongoing association with a person as depraved and deplorable as it looks like Vick will be shown to be?

  5. Linda Morgan on July 21, 2007 at 20:01

    Politics is for humans. Not animals.

    The truth of this is obvious to me, Billy, but its pertinence here is not.

  6. Richard Nikoley on July 22, 2007 at 07:53

    "A lot of people would go absolutely apeshit over something like that""

    Me too. Hell, if you're just talking about gut emotional reaction, I can play with the best of them on any given day, when I perceive a wrong; and if intent underlies such wrong, all the worse.

    But ultimately, I just can't make a rational case for retributive punishment. Stop the theft, destruction, fraud, or what have you. Seek and obtain rational, measured damages; and when the threat of continued harm persists, do something about that too. But where there is no ability any longer to quantify such damages or to deliver on them, then what you are talking about is finding a way to assuage feelings and those can be all over the map — and not necessarily with sound or objective reason. Some people just can't be satisfied no matter what, and indeed, in some cases they just can't through no fault of their own. This does not constitute moral license, in my view.

    "But how does this constitute a special moral standing"

    I don't think it's "special" and I don't know I used that word. Nonetheless, it does make what Vick is doing their business to the limited extent of their direct and indirect business with him, and no further. I suppose you could say the same thing about everyone, and I'll grant that. Anybody's business is "your business" to the very limited extent that you are in a position to observe it, denounce it, and vow to do nothing to further such business directly or indirectly. Indeed, that's good and rational and it's really how a rational society ought to function. And when it comes down to it, we're simply talking about freedom of association.

    Beyond that, we're talking about expanding that very limited context of "my business" to apply retributive punishment to Vick in order that we'll feel better. Well, nobody's feeling are Vick's business or responsibility, and you don't get to force him to be the sacrificial animal to your feeling by invoking "We the People," which is exactly the way it's done.

    You know what? If someone observed what Vick was doing and went in there and dropped a bomb on the thing, so to speak, I wouldn't give a hoot for what happened to Vick or his associates. But I'll be dammed if an "authority" is going to go in there and claim morality for his actions by invoking me and other people ("We the People") who simply have no standing in the affair.

    "What purpose other than punishment – and on the order of "materially destroy[ing]” the life he’s become accustomed to living – does depriving Vick of his career and expected future earnings serve? It doesn’t bring any hanged dogs back to life. Is that an aspect of their moral standing here that the NFL et al. should consider? Or is it okay because their real and proper concern would be to mitigate the damages they are sustaining through their ongoing association with a person as depraved and deplorable as it looks like Vick will be shown to be?"

    You have the unequivocal right to associate (at whatever level you want, including business dealings or business patronage) with whomever you want, for whatever reasons (values) you enjoy. And it goes the other way. You have the unequivocal right to disassociate to whatever extent prior oaths, vows, agreements, and understandings allow you to do that.

    You don't owe anyone beyond the context of the association, so you're not "doing anything to them" by ceasing such association.

  7. Billy Beck on July 22, 2007 at 08:27

    Well, Linda, the widest integration of the principle highlights the fact that animals can be property. They simply don't rate the political distinction of protection against destruction by humans, because they're not human. Of course, it leads to all kinds of perhaps gut-wrenching possibilities, but it's a fact, nonetheless.

    Rich is on the right track when it comes to dealing with something like this.

  8. Kyle Bennett on July 23, 2007 at 15:10

    Linda,

    "What purpose other than punishment – and on the order of "materially destroy[ing]” the life he’s become accustomed to living – does depriving Vick of his career and expected future earnings serve?

    A rational person judges others at every interaction with them. The purpose is not to punish them (i.e. to express that judgment or try to force the person to accept the judgment), but to predict their future value or disvalue. A person who tortures dogs for sport is a disvalue to me.

    I don't disassociate myself from him economically because of the effect it will have on him, but because of the effect that not doing so would have on me.

    Note that this is purely hypothetical, I've never had any economic association with Vick nor with any organization he is a part of.

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