Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cotton Candy Press Conferances and Media/Organizational Sellouts (Reply)

AMBY111 Writes: Not only has the animal community failed to adequately address and confront this disgrace, but one major "animal welfare" organization is, in fact, embracing Vick. He is now an HSUS spokesman. Outrageous! Nathan Winograd posted a strong essay on his blog pointing out the hypocrisy and absurdity of such an association, likening it to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network having rapist Josef Fritzl as a spokesman. What kind of message does HSUS' endorsement of Vick send to the general public? If the country's largest animal welfare organization places such little value on the lives of the dogs Vick abused and killed, why should anyone else place any more value on them?

Reply: That is the salient question that gets to the heart of this issue.

Apparently, Politics -- and Animal Work sometimes makes strange bedfellows, doesn't it?

While it sometimes occurs that the greatest advocates for animals are those who have (on their own) reformed from histories of past abuse, this does not seem to be the case with Vick.

First of all, Vick did not experience some "epiphany" moment of enlightenment on his own, as sometimes occurs with ex-trappers, hunters, slaughterhouse workers or even the occasional vivisector.

Rather, Vick was unfortunate to get "caught" in the dirty deeds of dog fighting and all the attendant horrors that go along with it.

Therefore, when Vick speaks of "regret" it is not clear whether he regrets the abuse and killing of dogs or just getting caught. One unfortunately suspects the latter, as after all, Vick did have to pay dearly (mostly in the wallet) for his dastardly actions.

I have never seen or heard Vick utter a word of any true awareness, empathy or understanding for what he actually put countless dogs through and for others that he had killed.

Rather, Vick speaks in vague, mostly politically correct abstracts that no doubtedly came from the mouths of lawyers, advisors, agents or PR representatives.

His assurances of having "matured" bear no discernable evidence.

Where is the book recounting all Vicks past crimes or explaining to the public the true societal costs of dog fighting? Where is a video directed towards the estimated 40,000 dog fighters across the US?

If anyone has proof of any of these things actually existing, please share.

In the meantime, it seems you are absolutely correct in your assessment of this debacle. It is comparable to a rapist being hired as "spokeperson" for a women's protection organization.

What's more, with HSUS giving a stamp of approval to Vick, why wouldn't the NFL hire him back? Why wouldn't the rest of society say, "He's done his time so now we can invite him on The View or the Tonight Show!"

We should mostly be distraught with media. Media coverage of events molds the way people think on an issue. When this story first broke two years ago, there was extensive coverage of Vick's property, many of the scarred dogs confiscated and reports of the dead dogs dug up. As a result, thousands of letters were generated to NFL President, Roger Goodell, as well as protests against those companies then sponsoring Vick. None of that occurred this time.

The main reason it didn't occur now is because the "coverage" was only of Goodell's smaltzy press conference reinstating Vick to the NFL. There was little mention of dog fighting specifically or the number of dogs abused and/or killed by Vick. There has certainly been ZERO coverage of the horrendous impacts of dog fighting on our culture in general, nor the costs to taxpayers nor the abuse, overbreeding and daily killings of these mostly magnificent dogs.

When the media (and organizations like HSUS) present a false and saccharine picture (via PR "press releases") to the public then that is what the people believe. Unfortunately, there is an ocean's worth of difference between what's in a press release or (spoken at a press conference) and hard, brutal FACTS. The reporters didn't ask any hard questions of NFL President, Roger Goodell. They were like a bunch of pansies.

This issue is thus, once again wrapped up in cotton candy and swept under the rug. Most of Vick's dogs were rescued and rehabilitated, while incalculable numbers continue to be abused, killed in fight rings or by gunshot, electrocution, hangings, beatings or gassings or lethal injection in pounds. Most of the abusers go free. And the public is led to falsely believe (once again) that all problems have been "solved" because Vick did a little time and now says he's "sorry." (Man, put some whipped cream and a cherry on top of all that!)

The reason this is so distressing is because it is so symptomatic of the larger problems we face in animal work and quite frankly, many other important areas in our modern world.

Our efforts to bring truth and fact to the public once again get swept up in a tidal wave of "PR bullshit" and media and/or organizational sellouts.

We should all take time to write our local newspapers to express our disdane with their anemic coverage of this event and total lack of coverage to the overall issue.

Dog fighting is not something to be glossed over and "forgiven" with lollipop press conferences and "Welcome Back!" signs -- PCA


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