Michael Vick and Moral Outrage

Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine for a moment that you are walking down the street, and you pass a small boy sitting on the curb. He looks to be about eight years old. You do a double-take when you notice that he has a cricket in his hand. Just as you pass, he grasps the cricket by the legs and yanks them off. How do you respond? Perhaps you would think, “That’s a little cruel. I guess boys will be boys.” Would you even stop to say anything to the boy? Maybe so, but maybe not.

Rewind to the beginning of the story. This time as you pass the boy, however, he’s pulling the legs off of a frog. How do you respond? Perhaps you might think, “That’s uncalled for. I’m going to find and tell his parents.”

Rewind again. This time as you pass the boy, he’s pulling the legs off of a small dog. How do you respond? This situation calls for a little more immediate action, doesn’t it? Perhaps you would try to rescue the dog while being careful not to manhandle or mistreat this little boy that you don’t even know. After intervening, you would certainly feel compelled to inform his parents.

Rewind one more time. This time as you pass the boy, he’s trying to pull the legs off of a human baby. How do you respond? You would move heaven and earth to save that baby, wouldn’t you? Even if you had to physically restrain the boy, you would do it. Not only would you inform his parents, you might also inform the civil authorities. After all, his parents may be negligent, and someone has to protect other babies from falling into his hands.

Do I have this about right? Wouldn’t you be more willing to take coercive action to save the baby than you would to save the cricket, the frog, or the dog? Why is that? The “sin” was the same in all four scenarios; the boy was simply pulling the legs off. So why would you react one way with a cricket and another way with a baby? For most of you, the answer is self-evident. The heinousness of the crime is measured not by the crime itself but by the nobility and virtue of the one being assaulted. There’s a world of difference between a cricket/frog/dog and a baby. A human baby—which is created in the image of God—has a dignity that no other kind of creature possesses. Thus only the most morally perverse person would think to do less for the human baby than he would for the cricket/frog/dog.

Why is it in our culture that there is almost universal disgust at Michael Vick’s dog-killing, but at best only ambivalence toward the nearly 50 million unborn human babies that have been cruelly and legally killed in America since 1973? Only the most morally retrograde culture would be outraged by the former while thinking very little about the latter. God help us.


  • Ryan K.

    Denny you hit the nail on the head.

    Last week I was appalled by all the Vick outrage in contrast to the deafening silence of Rick Pitino, basketball coach at one of America’s top basketball schools, funding an abortion.

    The logic to me was utterly sickening. Protests and billboards for killing dogs (which I agree is heinous) silence, and lots of legalese when it came to another sports figure funding the murder of a baby. Astounding.

  • Matthew

    This continues to confuse me. The strange thing is, many of the people picketing the Eagles for signing Vick are the same people who would defend abortion. How does that reconcile in one’s mind?

  • Dave Miller

    When you come to a point at which you consider the killing of a baby in its mother’s womb as an acceptable option, you have a society that is so twisted that moral inconsistencies like this will become commonplace.

    The scandal of homosexuality is now that someone would dare to call it sin.

    Pitino receives praise from his president and AD for his “honesty” and the fact that he betrayed his most precious trust is glossed.

    An immoral society cannot develop a consistent moral ethic.

  • Ben

    My critique is that we who are against abortion have not done a good job educating on the ramifications of what it means.

    For instance, in Denny’s thought experiment, if it were a birthed, living baby that was being tortured, people would indeed be outraged. In fact, Vick would be in prison for life if that were the case.

    However, those who are pro-abortion do not see the unborn as living. Until those against abortion address why we should universally consider these beings to be independent, living humans, we will not see change.

    In other words, in the mind of those for abortion, Denny’s example boils down to pulling the legs off a cricket, a frog, a dog, and a GI Joe doll. (And whom among us guys never did that?)

    In other words, one reconciles it in one’s mind by not considering the unborn living in the human sense. (Though late-term and partial birth abortions are getting more airtime because the question of “living” is harder to deny.)

    With the people I’ve talked with, the debate needs to occur farther upstream as to what it means to be “living”, and what it means to kill that which is not self-sufficient. Instead, we tend to start with murder, which puts us and our opponents on different planets right off the bat.

  • Matthew Stokes

    All of this is well and good, but I’m still shocked by how many Christians, ostensibly pro-life, are at ease with Michael Vick’s behavior, or are at least willing to snicker at it.

  • jenikki

    I find this to be an odd comparison, although I understand what you are saying. The difference between the two is abortion is legal so we don’t often hear about it in the news. Dog fighting is not legal and M.V. is famous so it made headlines and people reacted, rightly so. I think what he did is completely digusting and he does NOT deserve a second chance.

  • Ashley

    I encourage all those who don’t believe in second chances to consider what forgiveness really means. I’m eternally grateful I serve a God of second chances, or else I would never have the opportunity to spend eternity with him. I tend to screw things up repeatedly. I’m thankful God has never ending forgiveness and third, fourth, and fifth chances for me.

  • Ryan K.

    So jenikki what is legal is how we define what is right? What if it is legal to beat gay men like some parts of the Middle East? What if it is legal to own slaves? What if it is legal to round up certain people groups and putting them in camps?

    As I said in my first post hiding behind law does not in any way dilute the comparison. Vick killed dogs, Coach Pitino funded the killing of a human. Yes dog fighting is disgusting but not nearly as horrific as killing a human baby.

  • James

    On pulling a dogs legs off – “After intervening, you would certainly feel compelled to inform his parents.”

    That is all you would do Denny? Wouldn’t you call the authorities?

    Fast forward even further in the future to this scenario. Let’s say there are some cells that could one day become a living human being and someone destroyed these cells. Would you put them behind bars? Kill this person? These cells happened to be what you scratched off your head and flicked off your finger tip.

  • Zach

    I agree Denny, here’s another thing I was confused about… So Michael Vick was responsible for the murder of dogs and went to jail for two years and was suspended from the league. What about Donte Stallworth who was driving drunk and killed a pedestrian with his car? He spent 30 days in jail and is suspended for a year. Where is the justice? I doubt if there will even be one person picketing his reinstatement this time next year. It’s sad that the “humane” treatment of animals has trumped the humane treatment of humans…

  • paul

    If you want to be pro-life, then be pro-life. Don’t muddy other conversations though.

    Especially when dog fighters, those that support it, and those that put those dogs in the rings actually have real life consequences. Come talk to me about scales of life when one of these fighting dogs kills or maims your kid. It’s about time that people start getting really serious about putting an end to these kinds of things, even the deans of seminaries.

    Seriously, it’s like everyone that comments here on a regular basis just lives in a vacuum or something, and only come out when they can scream “PRO-LIFE!” “DON’T LET THAT WOMAN SPEAK OUTSIDE OF THE KITCHEN!” “THAT GAY PERSON JUST LOOKED AT MY CAT!”

  • Ryan K.

    Paul I think your last paragraph is unfounded and a distortion of what the comment sections looks like on this blog. Not sure if your just trolling, nor do I want to accuse you of doing so, but your accusations are ill-informed.

  • Kelly

    Ryan, in defense of jenniki, you are overlooking a fact that not only is abortion legal, and thus not in the news so much, it is not deeply controversial to most of us, even if we are not ‘gung ho’ supporters of abortion rights. most people, even pro lifers I know, have a friend or loved one who ‘got in trouble’ and has had one. There have been 50 million after all. In contrast, hose other actions (beating gay men, etc.) would be controversial. Those actions serve no purpose. Pulling the legs off a dog serves no purpose, unless one lived where dog is regularily eaten as food I suppose. An abortion serves the purpose of allowing a woman not to carry to term a fetus that will be a draining and physiclly costly expendtiture to her. Perhaps she was raped, perhaps she was a victim of incest. Maybe she was just a woman whose birth controll failed, or who in the fire of passion neglected to use birth control. Maybe she has 4 kids already and she (or she and her partner/husband) cannot afford more. Maybe she just does not want a child or to endure childbirth. In all these cases, the abortion allows her to maintain control of her body and her reproduction, which is the most important thing, for otherwise, she is under the controll of others who will dictate to her. That is unacceptable.

    The people you do NOT hear protesting are thinking “it could be me…or my daughter or wife, in that situation”. So even if they do not personally think abortion is a great thing, they are not going to interfere in the choice of someone else to have one.
    In contrast, their rage over the killing of the dogs is understandable. It was cruel, and served no purpose.

    Pulling the legs off a dog or a child serve no purpose I can see either. But like most Ameicans, I CAN see the purpose and benefits of the abortion Pitino paid for…and why so very few are up in arms over it.

    Had the woman in question chosen to carry the fetus to term and had a baby, that child would be a citizen and have rights. It would have been her choice, and this would be, for most Americans, a very different discussion.
    But it is not. And for most of us, it wont be going forward.

    I am not looking for an arguement. I know you will not agree with me, or rather that you will be unlikely to become pro choice. An assessment of my logic you may find offensive, but I think that if honest, you will agree that I am correct in my assessment. And I know I will never change my opinion on the matter either. But I wanted to explain the silence several posters here and Mr. Burk find so perplexing.
    And why it will remain the case in this society. Thanks for letting me post.

  • Ryan K.

    @ Paul

    Honestly it does not matter who has been reading this blog longer, and that is missing my point. Your comments in your last paragraph were not satire. They were broad brush judgmental remarks of others mindsets and motives. If you can specifically tell me who these “commenters” are who are guilty of what you have claimed I will gladly retract my previous remark.

    @ Kelly

    The central question of the the abortion debate is what is the unborn? I would love to hear your opinion. In addition, you say that even supporters of abortion are not “gung ho” about abortion, I can only ask why? What is it about abortion that would cause even the slightest negativity, or pause toward the act of abortion?

    As I stated previously it is not enough to hide behind the legal element of abortion. Slavery was at one time legal along with restricting women from voting. Did that make these things right?

    Also you are wrong, I am more than willing to change my opinion on abortion and switch to the pro-abortion side if you can tell me what it is that we are terminating. If it is not a human than I would have no more reservation about the procedure than someone getting a mole removed or their wisdom teeth taken out.

  • Kelly

    Ryan, the fact that slavery was legal and wrong does not by extension imply that abortion is legal and thus wrong.

    I dislike abortion for the simple fact it is a medical procedure, and all medical procedures, from being put ‘under’ to have a tooth pulled to brain surgury have medical risks, and are not free, even if, as with abortion, those risks are small, and the cost, while not prohibitive, is still a burden for some.

    Ryan, you are firmly convinced that it is a human being that is being terminated, so there is no point is saying you are willing to change your mind on the issue. I respect you right to this opinion on this, and know that I will not change it. I am sure you did not come to it lightly, and I never meant to imply that you did.

    My point on this question you propose is this; I don’t care.
    It is not a question I consider worth considering or even debating, which is why I ended my last post as I did.

    I am concerned with the needs/concerns of the pregnant woman. Even if you make the arguement that the fetus is a human being, which I am not granting (that is not an opening for that debate. I am not conerned with that whatsoever. I am just trying to explain my point of view/concern), considering that it most certainly could not exist outside of the pregant female means that said female, an adult (legally at least in most cases) who is, it may be presumed, a productive member of society with no interest in living in a manner tht would guarantee no risk of pregnancy (no premarital sex without threat of carrying a pregnancy to term, or marital for that matter, no abortion rights, et.c ), and her needs and wants trump any concerns about the nature of the fetus you may have. Her right to privacy and self determination is paramount. No need to ask the question I suspect is already forming in your mind about other rights. As I said, I don’t care.

    When men can get pregnant and be told that we will carry the fetus to term, risk the dangers and expense and pain of childbirth, etc. at least then the rules would be the same. This is a biological impossibility of course. But even then, the needs of the pregnant person, to live as they wish and maintain their independence would trump the concerns of the mere potential inside them and someone elses religious issues with it. This is the right to privacy and self determination.

    Please don’t bother bringing up slavery or murder etc. As I said, I neither agree to the comparison, nor, as do most persons of faith, do I agree that murder and slavery are acceptable. They cause disruption in society, and end the life/freedom of those who are, without question, persons. As persons with existances of their own, they are protected as citizens of the nation. There is neither agreement that a fetus is a person, or agreement that even if it was, its ‘rights’ would trump those of the woman who carries it. Such common agreement exists for slavery and murder.

    You are asking the wrong question; it is not ‘what is the nature of the fetus?’ that I a concerned with. It is the question ‘how can a womans controll of her own reproductive existance and right to privacy be maintained?’ These things the law says must be addressed, and I agree.

    By the way, are YOU going to pay for every pregnant womans expenses? Give her back the the months where she will be less able to live as she wishes (travel, education, work opportunities, etc)? It cannot be done, even if you would. And pregnancies, such as those of Pitinos mistress, are troublesome for all involved. Most Americans, even those who, like me, think they should have used greater care and prevented the whole mess, expense etc, AND those who are personally against the right to abortion, are not ready to say “No” here. And we will not do so. Like I said, most of us have a friend/neice/neighbor who was a sophmore in college with a bright future (name the situation) who found abortion was the best option for her, and thus, the resounding silence (and even approval) of Pitino, vs. rage over the dog killing of Vick.

  • paul

    Ryan —

    you completely missed my point. I’ve been around here a long time, and those who know me (you’re obviously not one of them) know me to be the loyal opposition as it were against the conservative wing of our fine faith. As such, I mock often. If you can’t take a joke, then I might suggest taking a laxative instead.

  • Ryan K.

    @ Paul I am not sure what I did to incur such hostility from you. But to be honest sarcasam or whatever it is you think you contribute does not translate well in blog comments.

    I would also challenge you to seriously consider that insults only double as humor in Jr. High.

    @ Kelly

    I am sad that you do not care what it is that is being aborted. And equally sad to hear that you have the same reservations for someone having their wisdom teeth removed as you to for the termination of a fetus. I know you doubt my sincerity but I earnestly would change my position on the subject if you could tell me what the unborn are.

  • Kelly

    Ryan, respectfully, as I said, I am not interested in the topic. I do respect your right to disagree, of course. I also was not trying to change your mind; I have other things to do and issues to address and usually do not spend to much time on blog sites (nothing meant by that against this one).

    That said, a couple of posters seemed sincerely and deely perplexed (As did the blog author) at the lack of outrage at abortion compared to the firestorm around Vick and ‘whatever’ attitdue towards Pitino. Having been raised in a family that was very conservative I understood the very real frustration and perplexity, and, as it is an ‘open’ discussion, I thought I would explain why people react (or shrug) as they do. When I was an evanglical Christian, I would have been as truly perplexed, offened and even angry over these societal reactions as some of the posters and Mr. Burk are, for they would seem to be totally illogical, unthought out, and even stupid.
    It was not to cause trouble. I have maintained an appropriate tone I hope. I do not know the reasons the person you addressed before me in your last post ‘sounded’ like he did, but, I am not interested in ‘stirring up a anthill.” I have better things to do. As I said, there was real perplexity expressed, and, as someone who was on one side and now in the other and heavily involved in the issue, I thought I might have something to offer.

    Ryan, I do not doubt your sincerity so much as I know how hard it is to come to the conclusion that the answer to your question is “I don’t care…there are other bigger concerns in the issue that question, and I am more concerned about them”. As I said, at one time, I would have shared your current understanding of this issue. You are asking a question about what you call the ‘unborn’ (not allowing a redefinition of the term fetus there, sorry, not gonna’ happen) and its status. The question that needs to be addressed is the need of the pregnant adult, her right to privacy as a person living in this nation, and the economic, ecoloical, sexual and cultural ramifications of not maintaining the right to abortion.
    In brief (and I admit, I don’t do brief well 😉 you are asking the wrong question.

  • Don Johnson

    As I wrote, once one accepts that premise that a fetus is not a human being, then anything is possible. This is a very sharp divide in our society, between those that see it as a human being and those that do not.

  • Darius T

    Kelly, it’s not a matter of Ryan’s “opinion.” It’s scientific FACT that the thing being aborted is a person. That you don’t mind killing that person speaks volumes… if you are willing to keep an open mind, I would read Scott Klusendorf’s new book, The Case for Life, or Francis Beckwith’s brilliant book, Defending Life. The latter makes the unassailable case that babies in utero are equal to those just out of the womb. And the best part: he makes this case without one religious argument.

    So, once you have come to grips with the facts, if you’re still willing to kill that BABY, then it’s more than fair to say that your moral compass is entirely broken or just missing altogether.

  • Kelly

    A very simplistic appraoach Darius T. Expected, no offense. There are ethics professors like Singer at Princeton who would question if a 3 week old newborn with severly defecient prospects for full human development is even human. I mention this not to stir up a can of worms, but to point out that calling something a fact does not make it so. It is an opinion on both of these authors parts. I have read Defending Life by the way. A very close friend asked me to, convinced it would change my mind, and as we are in fact so close, and I respect her opinions, I agreed. Then I took her to meet a woman who had to have an abortion pre RoeVWade. Guess which of us changed the others mind? Considering, in hindsight, how deeply this change of opinion on her own part shook her, I almost wish I had not done so.

    The book IS well written I agree. Beckwith is a scholar, and it shows. And I respect the attempts at addressing the arguements of those whom he disagrees with, which were many. The natural rights arguements just fall flat in my opinion.
    The point is, none of this matters, and Darius T, it will not matter.

    The rights of the pregnant woman negate all other concerns, and that is the law; Even most legal conservatives accept it as settled law. Abortion has always been, and will always be, with us, which is undeniable. The question is will it be legal, and for the reasons I have explained, It suspect it will be.

    I don’t think such books change any of the minds of those ‘pro life’ suburban moms who remember in the back of their minds that their little princess is a junior at UofWhatever and want the legal option to remain should she get pregnant…once again, the sound you hear is a deafening silence, a lack of outrage comparable to the firestorm over Dog killing. There is a reason for that.

    That you see the lack of a religious argument as the ‘best part’ merely shows that on some level, even the conservatively religious know that a religious arguement will not win this debate in this society. If it could have, it would have. And we are less and less religious as a society each day.
    Only conservative religious conviction stands any chance of motivating people to overturn abortion rights, assuming that even a non existing vast majority wanted to do so that they legally could. And it is not as if Christians are of one mind on this issue. There is a seminary a few blocks from the one where this blog originates where very few of the future pastors in training and professors are against abortion rights.

    Also, I am not surprised by the the fact that, after reading me state *several* times that it is not a question I consider even in the same league of the greater questions of the rights of the pregnant woman, and that I am not trying to change anyones mind on abortion rights, that you STILL try to drag the topic back to that, yet ignore the established right to privacy issue, the effects telling women they would not have the rights to determine what to do with their own health and reproductive life if they are pregnant, etc.
    Once again, the wrong question is being asked. And once again, I was just explainging why society is NOT in an uproar over abortion, IS in an uproar over Vick and the dogs, and Pitino will still be coach six months from now if he wants to be.

  • Ryan K.

    Kelly I sincerely do not think I am asking the wrong question, and am saddened that you do not care at all about the question of what is the unborn/fetus.

    Privacy is a secondary question to what is the unborn. For example, would privacy warrant a mother killing her toddler child as long as she did it in the privacy of her own home? Of course not. Because privacy does not trump the right to life of another human being.

    You cannot argue for privacy for the mother and make that the issue until you are willing to explain to me what is the unborn or fetus? This is THE issue. I would ask that you have the intellectual courage and integrity to ponder this issue and not ignore it because the implications of it to your view might be devastating.

    I still stand by the statement that if you can explain to me what the unborn is than I will gladly change my position.

  • Nathan

    Kelly said, “Then I took her to meet a woman who had to have an abortion pre RoeVWade.”

    What would you constitute as “had to have.” If the woman’s life was in jeopardy then the hospital would have either saved her or the baby depending on her wishes and her husband’s, if she was married.

    The entire notion of “had to” is not a convincing argument. Just because one can have an abortion does not mean that it is settled law either. There have been many previous “settled” laws overturn later. Furthermore, even though there would continue to be abortions, if the law was overturned does not justify an argument against it being repealed.

    Also, the entire argument of it only being the woman’s right on pregnancy is faulty. The baby is not solely hers genetically, so why should it only be her decision? Moreover, society is in an uproar over abortion. If it wasn’t we would not be discussing it, not would the Senate be divided on it, and Supreme Court Justices would not need to answer questions concerning it.

  • Don Johnson

    The pro-aborts want the abortion issue to go away as it if could be normalized as a routine medical procedure.

    The pro-lifers will not let it go away.

  • Kelly

    Only the woman can carry the fetus to term. That is the answer to one of your questions Nathan.
    Women will not allow religious people to dictate to them how to behave anymore. Learn that. Or not. Either way it is the case.
    She had to becaue not doing so would have ruined any chance she had to attain her goals in life, and as it happens, she was a rape victim. Not that that really matters.
    And we NOT in an uproar about abortion. Who are you kidding? The news is full of people threatening boycotts over Vick, and Pitino, as stated, will still be coach (and a popular one) next year. Of course it is still discussed. Did I say it was not? Even the Point of Mr. Burks article was about the LACK of uproar vs the killing of a dog! Who are you trying convince? Me or yourself? Please.

    Ryan, you do not seem to get this; so, one more time, for your sake. I am ordained. I have a degree in biology to. I have read a lot of philosphy and studied ethics in detail. Accordingly, I understand why you think as you do. I used to be strongly pro life/anti choice myself. I have thought fully of the question you want to focus on. A lot. And guess what? The question that matters I now see is the question of the privacy rights of the woman, her needs as an adult, and the uaceptable affects on society that abridging abortion rights would cause. Nothing else can compare, or even come close. Lastly, the reason abortionw ill always be with us (legally I believe) is that for to many people it is a useful option, even if only as one never used personally. We all have those nieces/friends who are college sophmores who get pregnant, or the housewife with 4 already who can’t finanacially emotionally handle (or just does not want) a fifth. It allows popular coaches to take care of unwanted problems, and people will not be screaming for his head. It serves a purpose, unlike dogfighting, and while some people dont like it for various reasons (financial/medical in my case, religious for other people…please note many major denominations like mine are pro choice. Anti abortion rights is not a universal opinion of the church by a big margin) they see the need, and accordingly, that is why, despite what Nathan, who did not seem to get the gist of the article by Mr. Burk, people are up in arms about Vick and the dogs, but not over the abortion clinic operating just a few miles away, every day.

  • Ryan K

    You stated your education and that you have read a lot, but still avoid the question.

    Lets move past the question dodging, Kelly and answer what are the unborn? Your silence in regards to the question is deafening.

    I have already answered your privacy rational, so please deal with my arguments instead of just restating your opinion.

    These would help the conversation move forward.

  • Kelly

    It was not a conversation Ryan. It was an explanation on a lack of outrage over abortion vs. people being livid over dog killing. The question you pose is of no interest to me, for the reasons I have given. Nothing you can say will make it of interest to me. That you consider a ‘no comment’ on what is a non issue “deafening” is your problem. Not mine. I know that a true lack of interest in what you are asking is both perplexing, even harsh to your ears, but, such is the case.
    You in no way answered the question of privacy by the way.

    I need to go. I will continue to read in here. I do so daily, but only post every couple of months. Normally, I see no point in it. There is, as always, work to do. The world will not change itself…not fast enough anyway. Thank you for letting me post.

  • Thomas K

    Kelly, if you are still reading this thread, here is something to think about. You mentioned that slavery/murder etc. is not equal to abortion because who you are killing/oppressing are clearly people. Any honest reading of slavery-era writing clearly reveals that the slaveholders by-and-large considered blacks to be sub-human. Likewise, the Nazis considered the Jews to be sub-human. To neither group was it “obvious” that the people they wished to enslave or exterminate were humans on the same level as themselves. We, in a more “enlightened” time can see their error very clearly. However, those groups needed a justification to carry on the murder/abuse that served their ends. Likewise, you speak in many of your posts about the needs/ends of the women who have abortions and tragically, you are using the same “they are sub-human” logic. One day society will be a little more “enlightened” than it is today and your prejudiced views will hopefully be religated to the same dust-bin as those of the slaveholders and the anti-semites.

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