Of a Piece

Some of my dog-loving friends were disappointed or angry when they heard that President Obama called the Philadelphia Eagles’ owner and commended him for giving Michael Vick — who was convicted of running a dog fighting ring — a “second chance.” The more liberal among them might be, as Obama reportedly is, “passionate about the fact that it’s rarely a level playing field for prisoners once they leave jail.” Still, they thought that Obama, if he wanted to take a stand on this issue, should have chosen pretty much anyone other than Vick about whom to comment. I believe that Obama’s actions in this matter are perfectly consistent with all the other nihilist things he has done since taking office.

Quick disclaimer: while I love dogs, I still think that, in a proper legal system, they would be considered to be (very valuable) property. My preferred disposition of Michael Vick, therefore, would be to convict him of whatever property/fraud crimes I could (how did he get people to sell/give him the dogs he got anyway?) and, once he was punished for those crimes, I would simply encourage people to ostracize and boycott him for the rest of his life. Training dogs to kill each other and otherwise killing them off the way he and his associates did is disgusting and unforgivable. The idea that he has “done his time” and therefore has magically erased the terrible things he has done, is absurd.

So, why is this action of Obama’s a nihilist action? Because he is attempting, via his endorsement, to elevate Vick and other ex-cons to a position of being on a “level playing field” with everyone else. He wants Vick to be given the same chance as someone who hasn’t done the horrible things Vick has done, and is thereby devaluing all the honest, hard-working people who deserve a chance at fame and fortune. He is also saying, by implication, that it isn’t that important whether someone treats innocent animals well.

That Obama is able so readily to brush aside the atrocities committed by Vick, simply in order to advance his egalitarian viewpoint, should be a wake-up call for anyone who hasn’t already gotten the message implicit in his prior nihilist actions: continuing and expanding Bush’s bail-outs of failed businesses (thereby hurting those who have made good business decisions and have thrived); encouraging a monetary policy, “quantitative easing” (a.k.a. printing a bunch of money), that promises to devalue the dollar and thereby destroy the value of Americans’ savings; placing more shackles on our health care industry (thereby threatening to destroy the best health care the world has to offer); attempting to do the same thing (via administrative regulation) to our Internet access; and, of course, apologizing for and failing to defend America and its way of life to others around the world.

Had enough yet?

[Update: This morning, I learned that Tucker Carlson, a conservative commentator, said on Fox News that Michael Vick should have been executed! Boycotted and ostracized for the rest of his life, yes. Executed? No. Animals don’t have rights, so as much as many of us love them, they are property.]


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8 responses to “Of a Piece

  1. Yeah, I was like “The hell?” when I heard that he gave a congrats to Vick of all people. The implications of all of this are horrifying.

  2. M. Stern

    simply in order to advance his egalitarian viewpoint

    This is the essence of it and it is the essence of the Left. I ask myself often what is the essence of the Left and how does it differ from Conservatism. The answer I have come up with is that the Left is a package of four or five deadly philosophical premises: philosophic skepticism (today in the form of pragmatism – in economics it takes the form of econometrics), social subjectivism, moral relativism, altruism and political and cultural egalitarianism. This last is what defines the Left and sets it apart from the Conservative Right.

    Both Leftists and Conservatives are altruists but it is the Leftists that swear a fierce loyalty to egalitarianism. In fact I would say that egalitarianism is the secular religion of the Left. Everything they do is motivated by sacrifice in the name of equality. Conservatives, if you scratch them deep enough, will champion sacrifice in the name of God, traditions and family – their gods. But modern liberals are all about equality.

    Everything Obama has done has been dedicated to egalitarianism under which there can be no differences in outcomes, no better and no worse. Non-discrimination in everything is the goal. It represents a total destruction of moral evaluation. While today’s Conservatives are bad, they are not the nihilists that the Leftists are. The Left is pure evil.

    • Thanks for the comment. The funny thing about blogging is that I am going into some of the posts with an idea that is somewhat half-baked — today the idea that Obama’s action w.r.t. Vick was “of a piece” with everything else he did. But I hadn’t explicitly identified in what way it was of a piece, until the very end. The phrase you quoted is from one of the last sentences I wrote, and really it was Bosch who reminded me, about halfway through my writing the post, that I should focus on the egalitarian part of Obama’s egalitarian nihilism. When I think of Vick, I think of nihilism. Period.

  3. Mark Wallace

    This is interesting. Note: I am not posting in order to defend the President’s action. I do think it raises a more general question (see below).


    “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said Obama’s call was appropriate, noting that Vick himself has given speeches around the country apologizing for his crimes.”

    I’m curious about the more general point. Are there any circumstances under which it is morally acceptable to give someone who has committed an evil act a “second chance” and, if so, what are those circumstances?

    • I think it depends, Mark. On the nature of the wrongdoing(s), length of time perpetrated, and to what extent the perpetrator knows what he’s doing. In Vick’s case, I would need decades of good behavior, and I would never again trust him with a dog. Ever. Would you trust your child with a convicted pedophile molester who had done the equivalent of what Vick’s purportedly done since his release? PETA, which I think has been linked to the use of physical force to advance its claims and says that animals have rights, offers no credible view on the subject of the treatment of animals let alone humans.

  4. Mark Wallace


    “Would you trust your child with a convicted pedophile molester who had done the equivalent of what Vick’s purportedly done since his release?”

    I would hope you agree that the stakes are entirely different.

    “In Vick’s case, I would need decades of good behavior, and I would never again trust him with a dog.”

    But the President wasn’t congratulating the Eagles for making Vick their team’s dog handler. He was congratulating them for making Vick their team’s quarterback, a job that doesn’t involve any interaction with dogs. So, should we understand “second chance” as second chance at gainful employment, rather than second chance to be placed in the exact circumstances in which he exhibited wrongful behavior (to see if he could get it right this time)?

    In other words, given what Vick did, would you recommend that he just shoot himself and get it over with, or is he morally entitled, having served his sentence and been released from jail, once again to seek gainful employment? And are others entitled to hire him for work that does not involve (in the case of this specific crime) any contact with animals, without facing moral censure?


    • I agree with Scott. I would just add that a person who was close to Vick, or who otherwise had a legitimate interest in seeing him rehabilitated, *might* try to do so, via first trusting him in some very limited sphere, and allowing him to prove himself over a long period of time. But given what Vick’s done, your phrase, “morally acceptable” is the way I would characterize such a course of action. Certainly not morally commendable or obligatory. And I don’t think I’d start by giving him a multi-million dollar contract and public attention so soon.

      I’m not a big fan of Kant, of course, but I once read that he believed that, while animals don’t have rights, that the way a person treats animals is indicative of how he might be willing to treat human beings. That’s probably not so much philosophy as it is psychology, but it’s a view that, from a layman’s perspective, makes sense to me. Animals are living, sentient creatures, and I am suspicious of anyone who is callous to their suffering pain for no reason. I would be afraid to be around Vick, frankly.

  5. How is playing football redeeming? What does playing football on the team with a succeeding record need to do from the data that he muffled , drowned, dead and shot dog irons?

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