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How bad is animal cruelty?

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Everyone is probably familiar with the Michael Vick case and his 2 year sentence for running a dogfighting operation/illegal gambling operation. Everyone of us here probably agrees that what Vick did was not virtuous in any way, but it wasn't a crime either, and he shouldn't have gotten any jail time for it.

But, how bad is animal cruelty morally speaking, and where does it rank? I love animals as much as the next guy, but now that Vick has been released from prison and is set to resume his NFL career, the majority of things said about Vick are totally overblown. There are people who say that the NFL should ban him for life, that Vick got off too easy, and that Vick is about the worst human being to ever live.

I certainly understand that taking pleasure in animals suffering and killing them for sadistic entertainment is deplorable, but in my book, that is not nearly as bad as a person beating his spouse, things which some NFL players have done without missing any games or losing their image in the eyes of the public. I would even rank cheating on your spouse/fathering multiple "illegitimate" children to be morally worse than what Vick did, yet there are a lot of professional athletes who do these things, yet are praised by sports fans around the world.

Am I off base here, or does anyone else think that Vick is targeted pretty disproportionately for what he has done? I understand that the NFL wants to protect it's image, but is running a dogfighting operation really worse than spousal abuse/cheating/abandoning your children?

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But, how bad is animal cruelty morally speaking, and where does it rank? I love animals as much as the next guy, but now that Vick has been released from prison and is set to resume his NFL career, the majority of things said about Vick are totally overblown. There are people who say that the NFL should ban him for life, that Vick got off too easy, and that Vick is about the worst human being to ever live.

I think the media at large are a joke, and everything they say is contrived and based on emotional nonsense. Including what they say about "animal cruelty", label which they slap on any act, done for productive or depraved purposes, even if the person is a researcher or a farmer who has no trace of cruelty in his soul.

But Vick was in actuality cruel. The choice to be cruel, toward a living thing, for the sake of it, is a sign of awful depravity. So, if anyone in football called for his banning based on that, I would fully agree. I wouldn't want to have to deal with that guy at work.

But they don't, they instead can't get past the fact that Vick hurt everyone's feelings by harming cute puppies.

I would even rank cheating on your spouse/fathering multiple "illegitimate" children to be morally worse than what Vick did, yet there are a lot of professional athletes who do these things, yet are praised by sports fans around the world.

A person's psychology and values determine his actions. Someone who enjoys the incredible cruelty of dogfights is a violent, depraved man. I don't think having illegitimate children is just as bad.

Am I off base here, or does anyone else think that Vick is targeted pretty disproportionately for what he has done? I understand that the NFL wants to protect it's image, but is running a dogfighting operation really worse than spousal abuse/cheating/abandoning your children?

By the NFL? No, not really. I wouldn't hire Michael Vick in a million years, precisely because of the dogfights. Why should the NFL?

As for spousal abuse, which players committed violent acts against women, who have gone unpunished by the NFL? I don't really keep up with these stories, but if there were such cases, the NFL was wrong in overlooking these crimes.

Vick's rights were of course violated by the government. But I don't really care, I certainly care less than about the many drug users and dealers who's rights are being violated all the time.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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As for spousal abuse, which players committed violent acts against women, who have gone unpunished by the NFL? I don't really keep up with these stories, but if there were such cases, the NFL was wrong in overlooking these crimes.

Quarterback Warren Moon is one example, and he was inducted to the Hall of Fame.

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Quarterback Warren Moon is one example, and he was inducted to the Hall of Fame.

Wikipedia says he was acquitted, after facing trial for misdemeanor assault charges, following one incident where the police were called.

Not a pattern of cruelty, but a heat of the moment, allegedly somewhat violent reaction, in the middle of an argument, which did not cause any visible injuries or harm to his wife.

I'd say that's far easier to overlook than what Vick did, over and over again. Obviously, if this was a Chris Brown style assault that landed a woman in the hospital for days, savagely beaten, I would have a different opinion.

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Vick's rights were of course violated by the government. But I don't really care, I certainly care less than about the many drug users and dealers who's rights are being violated all the time.

You do not really care that his rights were violated?

There was a time, supposedly, when there was a common saying, that when one man's rights are violated, all men's rights are violated. It seems to have been understood that rights, individual rights, stand or fall on principle.

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There's a ton of rights violations going on with our government as it is. I think you've got to prioritize how much you can spare your concern for any particular case, there's just too many by now to get really worked up over all of them. You pick and choose which ones to be your example cases that you'll really want to stick up for. I think the guy who liked to see dogs made to tear each other up and was made to stop and punished for it shouldn't be surprising to be quite a low priority here as against innocent people who have had their homes taken through imminent domain or people who may be dying because the FDA won't let them try that new drug.

Anyway, as for the dog fighting thing here as compared to something like sneaking around screwing other people behind their partner's back, I think the latter does more actual harm to humans of course, but the former probably implies a deeper, greater disturbance in the character of the person committing the act. Isn't it the case that many people who have gone on to do terrible things to people often would do gruesome things to animals first? The poor treatment of animals is like a warning sign of a person who could likely go on to do much worse to actual people than the person cheating on their partner probably ever would. That's why I'd be more disturbed by the person who enjoyed mutilation of animals as such than the person who cheated on their partner.

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While the face put on it was the "animal cruelty" angle I would bet good money that the larger unspoken issue is that a dog fighting ring is infact an illegal gambling ring which is by extension.. tax evasion.

That said I wouldn't watch or support any team that hired him because it is my choice to not knowingly support with my hard earned money depraved individuals.

Obviously my entertainment options have been bleak of late. :confused:

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There's a ton of rights violations going on with our government as it is. I think you've got to prioritize how much you can spare your concern for any particular case, there's just too many by now to get really worked up over all of them. You pick and choose which ones to be your example cases that you'll really want to stick up for.

I agree, but I wouldn't say that I do not care that someone's rights are violated. On principle, I have to care if I agree with and value the principle. If rights are dismissed in seemingly minor, even unpopular, instances, they are dismissed in principle, on principle.

For a great explication of this, I recommend Dr. Peikoff's lecture, "Why Should One Act on Principle?" which is available for free listening on the Ayn Rand Institute's site, on one's "Registered User Page" once one has registered. (Registration is free. There's a link to the "Registered User Page" on the upper left of the home page once one has registered. If you've not registered, in that same location you'll find a link to log in or register.)

I think the guy who liked to see dogs made to tear each other up and was made to stop and punished for it shouldn't be surprising to be quite a low priority here as against innocent people who have had their homes taken through imminent domain or people who may be dying because the FDA won't let them try that new drug.

Rights stand or fall on the basis of whether or not they are adhered to in even the most offensive cases. Who is against defending rights in non-controversial cases?

Excluding the issue of principle, why should Mr. Vicks care about the injustices done to those who have had their homes taken through imminent domain if those others do not care about the injustices done to him?

What else but an appreciation of principles could give rise to the attitude, "I may not approve of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it"? Or perhaps with respect to Mr. Vicks, "I may not approve of what you do, but I will defend to the death your right to do it."

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You do not really care that his rights were violated?

There was a time, supposedly, when there was a common saying, that when one man's rights are violated, all men's rights are violated. It seems to have been understood that rights, individual rights, stand or fall on principle.

Let me rephrase that. I don't care about Michael Vick, or what happens to him. I do care about the pattern of rights violations, by the government, but for the sake of other, better people than Michael Vick.

What else but an appreciation of principles could give rise to the attitude, "I may not approve of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it"? Or perhaps with respect to Mr. Vicks, "I may not approve of what you do, but I will defend to the death your right to do it."

Dr. Peikoff, in that speech, makes an epistemological argument, against Pragmatism. I don't see an epistemological error in our thinking. I'd like to live in a society of individual rights, not defend the most depraved in society, who have no leg to stand on if they tried to defend themselves. That's not Pragmatism.

Michael Vick's actions are indefensible. I do not wish to defend him, on principle. The principle is that I would not associate myself, or care about, brutes. As for defending freedom, I believe you'll find that I did affirm the principle of individual rights, and made it clear that the government did violate his rights. The reason why I don't run to his defense is because he does not deserve it, my sense of justice won't allow me to.

If there's ever a war for freedom, I already know that Michael Vick won't be in that famous three percent, he will in fact likely be wearing a red coat.

To JJJJ: I just heard that Donte Stallworth killed someone while DUI (and was found guilty), so I'm curious if the NFL will prove your point, and let him play. Looks like they might, and that would be very wrong of them.

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I agree, but I wouldn't say that I do not care that someone's rights are violated. On principle, I have to care if I agree with and value the principle. If rights are dismissed in seemingly minor, even unpopular, instances, they are dismissed in principle, on principle.

Hold on, hold on. No need to go any further. You misunderstand me. I still think it is WRONG to have his rights violated, I'm just saying why I think it's not something that this particular case you need to get so worked up about. If you got worked up over every rights violation this government did you'd explode. Acknowledge that all the rights violations are wrong, but save your emotional investment for better cases.

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Let me rephrase that. I don't care about Michael Vick, or what happens to him. I do care about the pattern of rights violations, by the government, but for the sake of other, better people than Michael Vick.

I appreciate the distinction, but it's not one I share. I would not say that I only care about the pattern of rights violations by the government for the sake of people I approve of morally. If Mr. Vick did not violate anyone's rights, then the government, acting on your behalf as well as mine and everyone else, initiated force against Mr. Vick.

I have not followed the Michael Vick case, so perhaps I'm way off, but my understanding is that he was heavily involved with dog fighting, and that he was found guilty of animal cruelty and sent to jail, perhaps (likely) fined as well. (I did catch a bit of news recently in which someone from the Humane Society, I believe, was advancing the idea that Mr. Vick should now be required to give public talks about the evil of animal cruelty, in atonement of his behavior.) If that's the extent of his actions, whether or not anyone finds them to be offensive, morally repugnant, he did not violate anyone's rights. Instead, in the name of such sensitivities, which I can and do appreciate, not only were Mr. Vick's rights violated, but all of our rights were violated, in principle, on principle. Rights took a blow in the name of cruelty to animals. I cannot appreciate that.

Dr. Peikoff, in that speech, makes an epistemological argument, against Pragmatism. I don't see an epistemological error in our thinking. I'd like to live in a society of individual rights, not defend the most depraved in society, who have no leg to stand on if they tried to defend themselves. That's not Pragmatism.

Yes, Dr. Peikoff makes an epistemological argument against Pragmatism. But that's only part of it. The thrust of his lecture, as revealed in his title, is what he advocated, that one should act on principle. More than that, he argues that one has no choice about acting on principle; the only question is, what principle(s) is one going to act on?

Michael Vick's actions are indefensible. I do not wish to defend him, on principle. The principle is that I would not associate myself, or care about, brutes. As for defending freedom, I believe you'll find that I did affirm the principle of individual rights, and made it clear that the government did violate his rights. The reason why I don't run to his defense is because he does not deserve it, my sense of justice won't allow me to.

I'm not certain of why you say that Mr. Vick's actions are indefensible. If you are saying that you are greatly offended by his actions, and that you do not defend his actions, that you think his actions were morally repugnant, then I understand and have no argument with you. However, if you are saying that his rights were violated, but you put your personal offense, your moral distain for his actions above Mr. Vick's rights, then you have made your principled choice. You have put your distain for Mr. Vick's actions above individual rights.

I certainly take no issue with your being personally offended by Mr. Vick's actions, but if he did not violate anyone's rights, then he is certainly defensible. Rights, his and yours and mine, on principle, are defensible. Without rights, we'll all be reduced to dog-eat-dog fighting.

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I'm not going to get into the cruelty of dog fighting or other supposed sports involving animals because I haven't quite made my mind up on the matter. However, I will say that Michael Vick's quick decent to moral depravity in the eyes of the media and the constant hounding he got from them, and subsequently the masses, is probably because of the nature of dog fighting itself. It's already been pointed out the ambivalence given to cases involving certain athletes or crimes; Stallworth didn't spend more than 30 days in jail for killing someone and receiving a DUI, while Vick just got out of jail. My opinion, in Vick's case, is that it became a media hit because what's dealt with is an issue of emotionalism which was trumped up by the subculture aspect of dog fighting. Beating the spouse and DUI, etc., has been way too common in American and the sports culture, and has lost the shock value. Dog fighting on the other hand is associated with its own subculture, and other subcultures for that matter. Add to that Vick's stardom, thuggery and backwardness--which fit nicely into dog fighting stereotypes--and you've got a media circus that the whole of America can get consumed in.

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However, if you are saying that his rights were violated, but you put your personal offense, your moral distain for his actions above Mr. Vick's rights, then you have made your principled choice. You have put your distain for Mr. Vick's actions above individual rights.

If I put my moral disdain of Vick above rights, then a natural consequence of my choice would be to side with the people who sent him to jail. Is that not obvious, and is it not obvious that I'm not?

The choice is not between fighting for Vick and renouncing individual rights. You are reducing the choices to only that, but you are wrong. I can pick and choose with whom I'm willing to associate myself in the fight for freedom, and remain principled. That doesn't mean I don't want everyone's rights respected, but I want them respected solely for the reasons you mentioned (the need for an objective government, acting on the abstract, objective principle of individual rights), not because I give a damn about the concrete instance of one pitbull fighting thug by the name of Vick.

P.S. You did make me think, and run through quite a few false arguments before I found the reason why you're wrong, but you are wrong here (for reducing the options to only those two), and I can't say it in any other way, even though I don't mean to be abrasive. It is a complex issue, and you raised good points I never fully thought through before.

And I do think you have a sense that defending Vick would be a very unpleasant task. I'm guessing you haven't yet brought up the subject at work: try expressing your sympathy for his trials and hardships in front of a few people, just to see if you really mean it. I think you don't actually feel any sympathy for him, and there's a good reason for that: you don't have to, it is not a necessary condition of being an honest advocate for freedom.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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Big, huge ol thread about this already here.

Went through all 8 pages, did not find anything about not caring about Michael Vick vs. individual rights, or about how bad he is compared to other players who committed various crimes or behaved immorally. They do go deep into what dogfighting actually is, especially KendallJ on the last three pages.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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If I put my moral disdain of Vick above rights, then a natural consequence of my choice would be to side with the people who sent him to jail. Is that not obvious, and is it not obvious that I'm not?

The choice is not between fighting for Vick and renouncing individual rights. You are reducing the choices to only that, but you are wrong. I can pick and choose with whom I'm willing to associate myself in the fight for freedom, and remain principled. That doesn't mean I don't want everyone's rights respected, but I want them respected solely for the reasons you mentioned (the need for an objective government, acting on the abstract, objective principle of individual rights), not because I give a damn about the concrete instance of one pitbull fighting thug by the name of Vick.

P.S. You did make me think, and run through quite a few false arguments before I found the reason why you're wrong, but you are wrong here (for reducing the options to only those two), and I can't say it in any other way, even though I don't mean to be abrasive. It is a complex issue, and you raised good points I never fully thought through before.

And I do think you have a sense that defending Vick would be a very unpleasant task. I'm guessing you haven't yet brought up the subject at work: try expressing your sympathy for his trials and hardships in front of a few people, just to see if you really mean it. I think you don't actually feel any sympathy for him, and there's a good reason for that: you don't have to, it is not a necessary condition of being an honest advocate for freedom.

My essential disagreement with you was in your statement:

Vick's rights were of course violated by the government. But I don't really care, I certainly care less than about the many drug users and dealers who's rights are being violated all the time.

That's the essence of it. You said that his rights were violated, but you do not care that his rights were violated. (Nor do you care that the rights of drug users and dealers are being violated all the time.) In other words, if you are personally offended by someone's actions, even when they do not violate anyone's rights, you don't mind if their rights are violated.

I really have not kept up with the Vick case, so I can't do justice to it. I'm not speaking to anything beyond the question of whether or not he violated anyone's rights IF the issue was solely one of animal cruelty, and what should be done about it, if anything, by the government. No matter how offended, you or anyone else might be, it's not relevant to the question of what the government should do about his actions.

If Mr. Vick's rights were violated, then it's the principle of rights that you are rejecting when you say, "but I don't really care" that "Vick's rights were of course violated by the government." If his rights were violated, the implication is that he did not violate anyone's rights. I'm going by your own statement, not any knowledge of the case, in assuming that he in fact was not guilty of, or charged with, or convicted of violating rights. I suspect it's a valid assumption.

This is not a matter of a false alternative on my part. I agree with you, the "choice is not between fighting for Vick and renouncing individual rights." That really is my point. You don't have to support Vick's actions to support his rights, and by supporting his rights, you're supporting the principle of rights, not morally sanctioning his actions.

Again, my only point of contention is with your statement, "Vick's rights were of course violated by the government. But I don't really care, I certainly care less than about the many drug users and dealers who's rights are being violated all the time."

Say it out loud to yourself, "Vick's rights were of course violated by the government. But I don't really care..."

If Mr. Vick was guilty of some breach of morality, that's what it should be treated as; if Mr. Vick was guilty of violating rights, that's what it should be treated as.

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I think harming animals, even for profit as Vick was doing, is incredibly cruel and nihilistic. I'm a believer in acting as humane as you can to animals, especially to ones we can feel a rational sense of empathy with.

I don't think this applies to animal testing or the meat industry and what have you. The entire point of these dog fights was to watch dogs torn to shreds. The question is "Is sadism evil", and the answer is most emphatically "Yes.". Though I would hesitate to call it immoral. I suspect many people who treat animals in this fashion to in fact be insane.

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Went through all 8 pages, did not find anything about not caring about Michael Vick vs. individual rights, or about how bad he is compared to other players who committed various crimes or behaved immorally.

Well, maybe that wasn't the thread I was thinking of. I did a search, but as usual, the results sucked (both on google and here.) At any rate, there are plenty of threads about animal rights, whether or not athletes/actors/famous people are treated differently than other criminals, etc., so I was just pointing that out for the OP in case they're interested.

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That's the essence of it. You said that his rights were violated, but you do not care that his rights were violated. (Nor do you care that the rights of drug users and dealers are being violated all the time.) In other words, if you are personally offended by someone's actions, even when they do not violate anyone's rights, you don't mind if their rights are violated.

Is that what I'm saying, in other words? Good thing my posts are still up here, people would think you're my new spokesman.

No, that's not what I said. Here's what I said, and I put in bold, to make sure you'll read it. Apparently, that was pointless.

That doesn't mean I don't want everyone's rights respected, but I want them respected solely for the reasons you mentioned (the need for an objective government, acting on the abstract, objective principle of individual rights), not because I give a damn about the concrete instance of one pitbull fighting thug by the name of Vick.

And, after your quote, here's something else that I wrote:

Let me rephrase that. I don't care about Michael Vick, or what happens to him. I do care about the pattern of rights violations, by the government, but for the sake of other, better people than Michael Vick.

Which you read and acknowledged in a previous post. So, why would you insist on going back to something I rephrased already, precisely after your comments on it, because it was misleading? How are we supposed to have a conversation, if you're trying to get me, not understand what I'm saying?

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There's a "render unto Justice that which is Justice's; render unto Morality that which is Morality's" element to this kind of discussion. They are not exclusive, obviously, and there is a majority overlap, but in a case of animal cruelty, or any other aspect of society that is not covered by the law - we can do little more than demonstrate our moral outrage.

No, I don't believe that animals should have rights ( although I had mixed feelings initially ), though the moral and psychological make-up of animal abusers digusts me, but I will support and even applaud the objective, impartial legal system that upholds individual rights - even of scum.

When the sentiments of the populace begin to affect the rulings of justice, ( am I right to deduce that, in this case?) a dangerous precedent has been established.

No doubt what contributed to this whole affair was that Vick is a minor celebrity, and thus was gaoled to "make an example." What if he was Joe Dove from down the road? When did the Law become concerned with making P.R. statements? Isn't this the thin edge of the wedge leading to a 'caring', subjective, legal system?

As for how it came about that these sportsman and athletes are universally considered as 'role-models' -- that's another topic.

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Michael Vick should ask himself, before he goes back on the playing field, how many 200+ lbs linebackers are dog lovers. He should also, if he's hired by a team, consider how many of his offensive linemen, runningbacks and tight ends are dog lovers.

With that out of the way, let's make some brief points:

1) The fact that the NFL is inconsistent in doling out punishment for bad off-field behavior does not mean any given action is in itself bad. So hanging Vick (which they won't do as the Commissioner already has allowed him back on a probationary basis) has nothing to do with how the league deals with other miscreants.

2) Cheating on a spouse is an issue that has to be examined on a case by case basis, as there are too many intimate factors involved.

3) If a player hits his wife once, that does not make him a wife-beater. A wife-beater doesn't stop. He bullies, controls and abuses his wife.

4) Dogs, unlike women, don't ahve the option of ending their relationship with the man who abuses them. In that sense, it's worse to abuse a throroughly defenseless creature than to abuse an adult woman who can defend herself in any number of ways.

5) Dogs are loyal and affectionate animals in their relationship with people, not to mention dogs perform a large number of useful tasks for people beyond their role as pets (think of arson dogs, bloodhounds, dogs that sniff for explosives, guard dogs, shep dogs, etc). Because of that, dogs deserve at least a minnimum of consideration and respect.

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Michael Vick should ask himself, before he goes back on the playing field, how many 200+ lbs linebackers are dog lovers. He should also, if he's hired by a team, consider how many of his offensive linemen, runningbacks and tight ends are dog lovers.

As if the--larger than your yearly earnings--bonuses that these people are paid isn't enough incentive. I seriously doubt that anyone in the NFL thinks about dogs while they are on the field; thank god!

With that out of the way, let's make some brief points:

1) The fact that the NFL is inconsistent in doling out punishment for bad off-field behavior does not mean any given action is in itself bad. So hanging Vick (which they won't do as the Commissioner already has allowed him back on a probationary basis) has nothing to do with how the league deals with other miscreants.

Whatever the NFL chooses to do is correct. If they allow Vick, or disallow Vick it their choice to make. Our choice is limited to wether or not we watch the games. I think that this conversation is best served by sticking to the morality associated with the gross violation of individual rights that has occurred to Vick about mangy excrement eating mongrels.

2) Cheating on a spouse is an issue that has to be examined on a case by case basis, as there are too many intimate factors involved.

3) If a player hits his wife once, that does not make him a wife-beater. A wife-beater doesn't stop. He bullies, controls and abuses his wife.

I have noticed that most people who evade the rights of "select groups" tend to evade them consistently against other "select groups." Notice here that women's individual rights are being "slubbed over," and relegated to second-class status.

If someone beats his wife, he is a wife beater. If someone shoots someone and kills them, he is a killer. Duh. It makes no difference wether or not he had good reason, or if he bullied the person he shot; in either instance, he killed the person, and is now in another class: killer.

4) Dogs, unlike women, don't ahve the option of ending their relationship with the man who abuses them. In that sense, it's worse to abuse a throroughly defenseless creature than to abuse an adult woman who can defend herself in any number of ways.

A dog really does seem to be some men's best friend; personally, I prefer women. However, personal feelings really aren't the issue here, so unlike certain individuals here, I will stick to having good reasons for my conclusion.

If it's "worse to abuse a thoroughly defenseless creature than to abuse an adult woman who can defend herself," then, in principle, men who own or work in a chicken processing factory, or "factory farm" are worse men than men who hit their wives so hard that her teeth flies across the living room.

This is the sort of idiocy that happens when people stray from the application of well-thought principles. A is A. You can't have your cake and eat it too. You either uphold the principle of individual rights, or your don't. Fence straddling where ____________ people are concerned, only serves to expose hypocrisy--latent or otherwise.

5) Dogs are loyal and affectionate animals in their relationship with people, not to mention dogs perform a large number of useful tasks for people beyond their role as pets (think of arson dogs, bloodhounds, dogs that sniff for explosives, guard dogs, shep dogs, etc). Because of that, dogs deserve at least a minnimum of consideration and respect.

In your opinion dogs are "useful." There are many who would make a case that such things as sending a dog into a flaming building is an abuse as well! Your "case" totally collapses by your own so-called premise: "It's wrong to kill a dog, because they have more value by being killed." In other words--what you are saying is--killing dogs by some men for their purposes is bad, but, when dogs are killed by other men for their purposes, it's good. What are the premises for such an argument?

When a dog is blown to bits by being trained to sniff out bombs it's good.

When a dog is torn to bits, by another dog, by because he is trained to fight dogs, it's bad.

Given these premises, why? Why is the extension or pleasure of human life a valid reason for harming dogs under one circumstance, "better" than the other? If "respect" for dogs the standard, then, why is it ever OK to "disrespect" dogs? How do you reconcile the fact that you have stated that since we disrespect dogs, we should respect them?

You funny as always!

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