Last night in my comp class, we discussed ideas/concepts that our society doesn't deem worthy of debate: we simply say they are wrong. I asked the class to come up with examples, which included many of the expected examples (e.g., child abuse). We then discuss each example further to explore whether, why, or how our society deems it beyond debate.
A student mentioned dog fighting. In discussion, I noted that while most of us agree that animal cruelty is always wrong, we certainly aren't in agreement on what constitutes animal cruelty. Another student brought up rodeos, which brought some defensiveness from other students.
But it's true, I noted: there are people (myself included) who believe rodeos are wrong, and are a form of animal cruelty. I made a flip statement that, on reflection, is perhaps not so flip: "One person's rodeo is another person's dogfight." Indeed, while there are differences between a rodeo and a dogfight (as far as I know, the animals in a rodeo are not required to participate in activities that lead to their imminent deaths), a rodeo and dogfight do fit in the same schema:
Animals are made to suffer in a contest for the sake of human entertainment.
This statement of course includes dogfights, and it includes rodeos too. Rodeos involve animals suffering for the sake of human entertainment. And yet rodeos are an acceptable and legal activity that many people openly participate in and enjoy.
And so we come to a summation on the Michael Vick dog fighting story, perhaps our last comment on the issue. I believe dog fighting is wrong, and that participation in dog fighting is unethical; dog fighting involves torturing animals for the sake of human entertainment. I've never defended Michael Vick's actions. But I haven't been able to freely join in the outrage over dog fighting, either; in a society that accepts and condones so many forms of animal cruelty, I've been slightly vexed by the outrage over one particular form. As an animal rights advocate, I'm both firmly opposed to dog fighting, and vexed over the public reaction to dog fighting.