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The Expansionist
Monday, July 23, 2007
 
Sic 'im! Public opinion seems united in thinking that if the charges of dog-fiting are proved against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, he should be punished much more severely than the law provides. Wikipedia says that the legal penalties Vick faces, if convicted, are a prison term of up to six years, fines of $350,000, and forfeiture of proceeds and property involved. The estate on which the dog fites at issue were conducted is valued at $700,000.
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My friends and I agree that a guilty Vick should be placed in a pen with very high fences around it that he cannot climb, and a group of vicious dogs of the type he pitted against each other in fites to the death, but which are a pack of companions who cooperate, not fite among themselves, should be unleashed into the pen to mete out their own justice. If that means they rip him to shreds and he dies in agony, so be it. If it means only that they maul him severely and society has to patch him up — at his own expense (there are times, if extremely isolated, when it's good that we don't have a single-payer health-insurance system — tho even in a universal-healthcare system, criminals could be punished corporally and made to pay for their own medical treatment), well, that will have to do. But we can hope that a pack of pit bulls would end Vick's evil life, not just rip his face and body to bloody tatters.
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At this point it seems extremely unlikely that Michael Vick is innocent, altho the legal system of the United States provides that the accused is "innocent until proven* guilty". (Not every country has that legal standard.) The fact that Vick has not issued a hugely indignant public denial speaks volumes.
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The civilized world has moved far beyond the bad old days of cruelty to animals as "sport". Britain's loathsome 'entertainment', bear-baiting, was outlawed in 1835. Legislators in both New Mexico (first, effective June 15th of this year) and then Louisiana have voted to outlaw cockfiting. They were the last two states of the Union to outlaw that monstrous blood"sport", popular among barbarian invaders from Latin America. The Louisiana ban doesn't take effect until next year. Yet we're supposed to feel sorry for Louisian(i)ans hurt by hurricane Katrina. Maybe Louisiana doesn't deserve anybody's sympathy after all.
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NBC Nightly News today reported that even the savages of Spain are thinking of outlawing the grotesque medieval sadism of bullfiting, something you'd have thought the European Union would have struck down years ago.
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Some 60% of American households have pets. You wouldn't know that from TV, however, since the near-aliens who control television are not like the rest of us. Think about the TV shows you presently watch and watched historically. Bill Cosby's Huxtable clan had no pets. Roseanne's family had no pets. These were No. 1 shows for years at a time. Now and then "Vanessa Huxtable" would ask "Can we get a dog?", but they never did. One episode of Roseanne dealt with a dog given to her son, "D.J.", by the family of a friend. "Roseanne" said they couldn't keep it — too much trouble for the adults, who assumed the kids would never feed or walk it — and then she had to keep calling the mother to insist she take it back.
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And how many TV families can you think of with a cat? Cats are much less trouble than dogs. You put down one big bowl of dry food and another of water, and cats will feed themselves. Provide a litterbox and you don't have to walk them, just clean the box from time to time, an infinitesimal imposition upon any family. Cats don't need a big yard to run in; they'll climb anything you've got and sleep most of the day from the oddest, most uncomfortable-looking perch. But few TV series show pets as the integral part of a family's, or single person's, life that in fact they are for most Americans. Still, the fury against Michael Vick shows how deeply we care about our pets, who are an indispensable part of our emotional lives.
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It would seem that the people who dominate television hate animals, one of the many ways in which they differ from Americans, and from human beings generally.
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Americans love many kinds of animals, not just cats and dogs (I put cats first because I like them better, tho some dogs are terrific, and I have (not "own"; one co-resides with cats; they are more roommates than possessions) a number of cats, who love their daddy). Ferrets and fish, snakes and salamanders, turtles and tarantulas, parakeets, pot-bellied pigs — you-name-it — Americans love their pets. But Michael Vick and other nuckle-dragging throwbacks look at animals and see only helpless creatures they can torture for their own astoundingly twisted gratification.
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Throw him to the dogs, and what the dogs don't eat, feed to lions in Zoo Atlanta. But first strip away the skin (burn it and use the ash as fertilizer in a rose garden, or to grow catnip, or grass in a dog park) so no human scent attaches to the meat. Maybe the lions will think it tastes like chicken.
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* Or "proved", tho "proven" is more common, at least in the U.S. Altho it is commonly the case that "strong" verbs, that change in the stem rather than add suffixes to show a change in grammatical tense (ring/rang/rung rather than ring/ringed/ringed), are older than the regularized forms, it seems that the regular form "proved" is older than the irregular form "proven", which is now more common as past participle and almost unchallenged as adjective. Language, he is strange.



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