I suppose it is appropriate after writing about proper etiquette among our four-legged fellow travelers that I should revisit our attitudes about them in a different light today. Sometimes I wonder if humanity is capable of proper balance at all. We either create a false sense of balance by giving equal weight to all arguments, or they throw balance completely out the window, showing more respect for a cluster of cells or for flightless avians with brains the size of my thumbnail, than for a born human being. In particular I find it distressing because so much of this lack of balance among the left stems from an unwillingness to address our own privilege.
Case in point: the demonizing of Michael Vick, especially when contrasted against the comments of Girls creator Lena Dunham on her experience in India. Michael Vick was party to barbaric acts. I am not a hard-core animal rights activist, far from it, but there are certain acts that go beyond the bounds of human decency and Mr. Vick crossed those boundaries. He also paid the price for doing so, losing his freedom for more than a year, and paying fines. He lost a great deal of public goodwill, something he had a surplus of beforehand due to his extraordinary prowess on the football field. That he lost all of this goodwill, however, is sad considering he has, as mentioned, paid his debt.
How is it that this crime is so reprehensible when athletes have been accused of worse crimes and the public was ready to forgive them? Certainly the color of his skin has a little to do with that, but more importantly the color of the animal rights advocated skin has maybe a little more to do with it. Ms. Dunham went to India and was more outraged by the poor, stray dogs, than she was with the human misery all around her. Her language was almost Rayndian in its cruel haughtiness. Seriously, read her comments about sanitation in the article linked above.
Too often the animal rights activists in the western world are pale, upper-middle class, privileged children who actually think they know what real suffering is. They see the (yes) cruel conditions of the factory farm and think that is about the worst humanity can do. They pontificate about these matters while sipping away on a latte made with coffee most likely picked by laborers who are mistreated, fair trade or not. They do so wearing clothes made in sweatshops. They do so living in gentrified neighborhoods. I am not saying all animal rights activists care more about animals than they do people, but I am going to say that their leadership, both in fact in the organizations and the figureheads among celebrities, make it real hard to believe otherwise.
I think many of these latte liberals (all regards to my bud Taylor) want to spend more energy on the abuses heaped on other life forms because then they don’t have to reflect on their complicity in the abuse heaped on other human beings. They don’t have to think about how their class or race privilege shields them from having to grab the cheap-ass chicken nuggets at the dollar store, or having no time to do anything but grab something from the dollar menu at Mickey D’s. No, they can wear their concern for the dogs like a trendy tee and say, “here, look at me, I am suffering because my heart bleeds so bad for those poor puppies.”
Please don’t mistake me, there is much that is unnecessary and cruel in the industries that rely on animal products. It also goes without saying that animal fights, be they dog, cock, or whatever, are also unnecessary and cruel. That said the plight of animals is not more important than the suffering of other human beings. It should also be worth noting that more and more our athletes, like Mr. Vick, are people of color, forced into human cock fights for mass consumption, and yet they are expected to value the life of a dog more than that of a fellow player on the field.
I wish I could say Ms. Dunham was an aberration among liberals. There is too much literature out there by people like her, and I have had too many personal experiences, to believe that though. By all means, care about how we treat other life, but don’t forget how we treat human life is of at least as much importance. If we cannot care for one another, how can we be expected to care for anything else? It’s obvious really and I wish more people would see it.