Friday, September 28, 2007

I Used to Like Whoopi Goldberg

by Barbara D'Amato

I used to like Whoopi Goldberg. I liked her irreverent sense of humor, her smart take on politics, and I liked her movies, even the dopey ones. I don’t like her so much any more, since she defended Michael Vick.

Vick, of course, is the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback who recently pled guilty to conspiracy in an illegal interstate dogfighting enterprise. Losing dogs were drowned, strangled, electrocuted, or slammed to the floor enough times to kill them.

On The View Whoopi said, “Where he comes from . . . it’s like cockfighting in Puerto Rico. There are certain things that are indicative [sic] to certain parts of the country.”

Joy Behar responded, “Oh, really? What part of the country is this?”

Goldberg said, “I just thought it was interesting, because it seemed like a light went off in his head when he realized this was something the whole country didn’t appreciate.”

He thought it wasn’t wrong? Oh, yeah, Whoopi? Then why did he claim at first he didn’t know about it and had never been involved in any such thing? He didn’t fess up until three of his co-defendants had agreed to testify.

And by the way, there was a photo of him and some of his co-defendants with a pit bull just prior to a fight. Maybe that helped convince him to cop a plea, too.

Bad Newz Kennels? They named it that, even though they meant it to be Fun on the Farm with Fido?

The President of the Humane Society, Wayne Pacelle, called dogfighting “a sickening, barbaric, and criminal action.”

Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, spoke with Goldberg. The PETA blog mentions that Goldberg supports the Humane Society’s First Strike campaign, a group that links human violence with animal cruelty and educates young people in humane behavior. Does Whoopi put this together with the Bad Newz guys standing around as they drown the losing dog? Imagine this:
“Wow! Look at him struggle!”
“Yeah. Look at him fight.”
“Yeah. If he fought like that in the pit we wouldn’t have to be doing this.”
Ha, ha, ha.

That will surely turn them into humane citizens.

And for the dogs, it’s not just the fighting and dying, as if that weren’t enough. The dogs are treated cruelly from puppyhood, to make them permanently angry and willing to attack anything that moves. As Sara Paretsky mentioned in an earlier post here, most can’t be saved and have to be euthanized.

Dogfighting is illegal in all states of the U.S. and a felony in forty-eight. Vick didn’t know this? Vick had no idea animal cruelty was not nice? Its one thing to ask people to be more sympathetic than their peers. You can’t really ask a person to be far ahead of his time in sensitivity. In the 1700s, people caught stray cats, dumped them in bags, hung the bags from a tree and built fires under them, because the yowls and screams were amusing. People a little ahead of their time considered this inhumane.

Vick faces a maximum of five years in prison but isn’t likely to serve that much time.

He says he’s sorry. I say prove it.

39 comments:

JD Rhoades said...

Defending Vick was bad enough, but telling us "hey, it's part of the culture, he's from the South..." Grrrr.

Mark Combes said...

Barbara~

What I find fascinating about this situation is why a guy with so much to lose would put himself in this situation. He's financially successful, adored by fans - basically on top of the world - and he risks it all to participate in this grotesque "sport." I know, I know, we see these destructive habits in celebrities and athletes all the time, but it still fascinates me. What goes through a man's head to think this is okay and no one will mind? I'm a superstar after all...

Barbara D'Amato said...

jd--yes, she's putting down people who have no idea of engaging in animal torture. Extremely unfair.

mark, I certainly don't understand it. Is it possible he just finds it SO MUCH FUN? A horrible thought.

Barbara said...

I just reread Sara Paretsky's post on this issue and I think the questions she raises are important to consider - not to excuse Vick, but simply to ask whether other athletes are facing equal consequences when they do other kinds of violence.

It's hard for most of us to imagine finding dog fights entertaining. It's easy to imagine someone walloping his wife, so it's more likely we'll brush past it and find excuses.

There are some layers here to do with gender and race that have come into play - though, as I say, I'm in no way condoning or excusing systematic mistreatment of animals. I just wish people would save some outrage for the violence against women that happens in similar circumstances.

Barbara D'Amato said...

Barbara, I agree with you. I just don't see opposition to animal cruelty and cruelty to humans as either/or, though. The First Strike campaign at the Humane Society--which Whoopi Goldberg is said to favor--focuses on the link between animal cruelty and human violence. I think it's real. It's all NOT all right.

Harvey said...

Well Whoopi is Black and Michael Vick is Black. Duh! What did you expect? You can bet she defended O.J. Simpson and Mike Tyson and that other Black basketball accused of rape (Kobe?) and those teens who beat a white guy into unconsciousness down south. If Adolph Hitler had been black....oh you get the picture. Y'all know what I'm sayin'?

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