Essay / Culture

Michael Vick, Dog Fighting and Media Hypocrisy

Webster defines a hypocrite as one who claims to accept certain moral standards that one doesn’t apply to one’s own views or behavior. For example, a person who says everyone should be a vegetarian and privately eats meat with every meal is a hypocrite. He doesn’t apply the same standards to himself that he applies to others.

Recent news coverage of Michael Vick’s involvement in the hideous practice of dog fighting was regularly and rightly accompanied by stark video of the dogfights themselves. Several reporters, correctly in my view, justified the video on the grounds that by exposing the real nature of such a practice, its evil becomes apparent and, hopefully, a deterrent effect results.

The same justification was appropriately given for the overt, realistic portrayal of Nazi activity in Shindler’s List. When an activity is being debated in the public square, or participants are being evaluated for the severity of their actions, it is important to show examples of exactly what the activity is. Otherwise, debate and evaluation can be sanitized and carried out in the abstract.

A few years ago a neighbor expressed her approval when Shindler’s List was shown at our public high school. Even though it graphically depicted violence, she said, it was worth it to teach the students a lesson. A few weeks later, pro-life advocates stood quietly and with dignity in front of the high school with posters depicting aborted babies. That same neighbor was horrified that high school students were forced to see such violent pictures. She never saw her own hypocrisy. Given her approval of Shindler’s List, it would have been one thing for our neighbor to be against such pro-life demonstrations for certain reasons (e.g., not liking public demonstrations). But it was another thing to be against the pictures for the reason she gave.

Question: Why won’t the media show pictures or video of abortions and aborted babies when they show the carnage of the Iraq war and the hideous dog fighting surrounding Michael Vick? Answer: It’s pure hypocrisy. The media is overwhelmingly secular and pro-abortion. The widespread use of ultra-sound pictures during pregnancy is decreasing the number of abortions. Similarly, if people were given the chance to view an abortion or its results on television, much of the abortion debate would be over. Media folk who get the importance of viewing graphic violence (dog fighting, brutality in war) to expose the real evil of certain acts and who won’t defend this right for abortion are hypocrites. It’s that simple.

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