Michael Vick has pled guilty to a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge and issued a public apology calling his actions “immature” and saying that he “made a mistake in using bad judgment and making bad decisions.” The public, in general, is outraged that a person so in the public eye could commit acts so vicious against an essentially helpless animal. An animal that many people have as pets and, therefore, an emotional attachment to and investment in.
For Mr. Vick to say his actions were “immature” is to skirt the gravity of the charges and the underlying actions. To say it was immaturity is to infer that it's acceptable for kids, but not for grown ups.
Mr. Vick's actions were not “immature”. They were callous, cruel, inhumane. What Mr. Vick lacked was not maturity, but a fundamental compassion for other living things. Even children know it's wrong to harm an animal. Not because they are “mature”, but, rather, because they are compassionate.
It does not take maturity to know that it's wrong to beat, starve, electrocute, strangle and fight a dog. It does not take maturity to know that it's wrong to allow two dogs to fight until they're severely injured or dead.
It takes compassion.
The fact that Mr. Vick cannot show even the most fundamental compassion for a living creature should alarm more people. It's not just about the dogs that have already been injured, maimed, killed. It's not just about the dogs whose fates are waiting in the hands of a federal court. If Mr. Vick does not have compassion for a dog, should we believe that he has compassion for his fellow human?
While we're on the subject of compassion and outrage, were is the outrage over the inhumane and callous treatment of the animals that become our daily meals? Why is there so much outrage when a dog is electrocuted as punishment, but not when a chicken is electrocuted and then dropped, still alive, into boiling water in order to create nuggets or buckets of deep fried dinners? How can we be outraged when a dog is hung to death, but turn a blind eye when cows are frequently still alive while being skinned and butchered?
Where is our compassion?