The Dilettante’s Guide to the Michael Vick Scandal

Just how far has Michael Vick mania wended its way into even the least likely news outlets? Here’s Ben McGrath’s latest “Talk of the Town” for the New Yorker, about a dilapidated kennel for urban hunting dogs in uptown Manhattan: … Read More

By / August 2, 2007
Just how far has Michael Vick mania wended its way into even the least likely news outlets? Here’s Ben McGrath’s latest “Talk of the Town” for the New Yorker, about a dilapidated kennel for urban hunting dogs in uptown Manhattan: “’One guy approached us—he wanted to bring some pits,’ Ross said, referring to pit bulls. ‘We try to steer clear of that. He might be Michael Vick-in’ it.’

Chances are good that at some point this weekend, you’re going to wind up in a conversation about this gruesome man-causes-dog-to-bite-other-dog story. But how much more is there to say, other than “It’s wrong to kill dogs”? In the interest of keeping your dinner party conversations fresh, we’ve provided you with a list of alternative angles. Print them out, study them in the john, and hope everyone’s drunk enough not to take you terribly seriously when you trot out one of the following:

TO PISS OFF A PETA ACTIVIST: Michael Vick has done more for animal rights activists than Betty White, Christy Turlington, and Howard Stern's fiancé, combined.

Negative publicity works better than celebrity endorsements. Hence the glee of one John Goodwin, deputy manager of the Animal Cruelty Campaign for The Humane Society. Goodwin’s gone on record to the Atlantic Journal-Constitution about the Vick affair: "This is certainly the biggest dog fighting case in the United States, period… It certainly raises the stakes. There's a greater spotlight on the issue.” You can almost hear him chanting, “Faster, puppy dog, kill, kill!”

“Our Web system that has forms for donations and sending e-mails to the NFL crashed today [because it was] too overloaded,” Goodwin told the same newspaper, which saw fit to add context to its source’s newfound sense of importance: “Goodwin paused the interview, then came back to the phone. ‘Gotta go, I'm going to be on the O'Reilly Factor.'”

TO KISS UP TO EUROTRASH WHO DETEST “AMERICAN FOOTBALL”: The NFL penalizes killing puppies but not people.

For his crime, Vick has been suspended indefinitely from playing for the Falcons, and he might well be banned from the NFL. Compare this with the fate of Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens, who was indicted for double murder. Even before the charge was reduced—incredibly—to a misdemeanor, he was never, throughout the entire legal episode, suspended from league play.

TO CHARM LITERARY TYPES: Tom Wolfe is no longer starved for a subplot.

It was getting a little desperate for a while there.

TO IMPRESS DAVE CHAPELLE: It's proof that Al Qaeda failed to improve American race-relations.

In the months after September 11, no comedy club was complete without a black stand-up euphoric that Osama Bin Ladin wasn’t a black man. Middle Easterners were the ones getting stopped at airport terminals and it was the knit skullcap, not the lycra do-rag, that had little old ladies scurrying for the nearest exit of the subway platform. But after six years without another terrorist attack on U.S. soil, we’ve reverted nearly back to our fear of black celebrities. Also, white people still drive funny.

TO GET ALL SELF-RIGHTEOUS AFTER THREE GLASSES OF ROSE: Pets mean more to us than people do.

Sad but true. Think of the liberals who never grasped the big deal about Al Qaeda’s agenda until the jihadists started broadcasting their chemical weapons tests on Labradors. Now it’s war, motherfuckers! One animal rights activist compared dog fighting to child pornography, and a sports journalist said Vick would have “been better off raping a woman.” Indelicate things to say, but the latter was uncomfortable for its ring of truth.

TO BEFRIEND A DERANGED HOBO: It's a sign of the apocalypse.

Killer dog symbolism has a long, storied history as a harbinger of world-historical doom. According to one ancient superstition, having a single canine cross your path spelled personal misfortune; having two do so spelled the end of civilization. (Ian McEwan used this gothic motif in his novel Black Dogs, in which one character suggests that feral mutts roaming around postwar France were trained by the Gestapo to rape women.) Forget blood-dimmed tides and raining frogs; maybe celebrity dog fights are God’s way of ushering in the end times.

TO BE USED IF ALL ELSE FAILS: Look at my puppy!

I take Vick’s cruelty personally, having just adopted this cocker spaniel a week ago. If you like, you can print out this picture and pretend he’s your own.


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