August 31, 2007

Conflicting Values - Not

I mentioned the Michael Vick case earlier this month. Whereas I find the libertarian take on cruelty to animals, that places property rights above the suffering of a mammal, unethical albeit intellectually honest, I happened to come across a liberal take I find hypocritical and -- worse -- dumb. At a blog called Daily Kos, which is part of a liberal blogging network, I found the following statement:
Michael Vick is an All American, of this America more than any other time. He may have to go to jail, but surely he deserves the Medal of Freedom every bit as much as Donald Rumsfeld, L. Paul Bremer and the rest of the cast of characters who lead our country into our international arena of violence. Vick brutally wantonly and without empathy killed a hundred dogs, while these men destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of humans.

Vick is a product of our culture, in fact, he epitomizes it. He is a criminal because he picked the wrong species to torment. Pigs, chickens, and, of course, humans would have been just fine; but not man's best friend.

So he must pay for his mistake. But, let's not get too much satisfaction out of his punishment, since he is also the victim of a larger injustice, that most of us quietly condone every day of our lives.
Excuse me, WHAT is the tu quoque- (or rather iste quoque-) argument doing here? Should the fact that other people did criminal deeds (whether real or perceived is not relevant in this context) make Vick's treatment of dogs any less cruel?

And the "you are only denouncing Vick because it's about that soppy 'men's-best-friend' thing"-argument would be nothing but yawn-worthy if it weren't so vile. Of course there are people who give an aviating fornication for what happens to humans or to animals who are expressing their disapproval of dog fighting, but then, there are many who DO care for all that (myself included) and STILL find dog fighting and tormenting animals to death wrong. And again: Does the fact that hypocrites and morons are denouncing dog fighting and other cruelties make those cruelties any less repulsive?

And if the writer of the above REALLY thinks that an individual like Vick "epitomizes" his (and the writer's) culture, it should be considered a miracle that nobody has fastened electrodes to his balls yet and electrocuted him slowly to death as punishment for his drivel. [sarcasm on] That this did NOT happen must be one of the disadvantages of a free society. [sarcasm off]

But the last paragraph tops it all. What is wrong about getting "satisfaction" out of a punishment? Of course, the gloating of revenge is disgusting and detrimental to society, but what is punishment for? Deterrence? Theoretically yes, in practice a doubtful thing. Rehabilitation? The same applies here. Incapacitation is often mentioned, but that's a measure, not a punishment. A dangerous lunatic, who is not responsible, has to be incapacitated as well as the responsible dangerous criminal. Restoration can under certain conditions be part of it, but rarely is. However, I think that punishment is about honouring the values cast in law, values that mirror society. And any satisfaction based on that is not just appropriate, but necessary. But then, "values" are slowly becoming anathema anyway.

And the "victim of a larger injustice" bit? What "larger injustice" might that be? Because Vick is Black? Because (I presume) he grew up in less-than-privileged circumstances? Don't those bleeding-heart-apologists don't see how unjust and condescending their stance is towards the millions of Black and underprivileged people who do NOT torture dogs to death? Or do not turn to crime at all?

But I guess one needs values to see that.