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If Michael Vick Gets a Job, Boycott the NFL

The likely psychopath deserves a lifetime ban.

by
Julia Szabo

Bio

August 5, 2009 - 12:07 am
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According to PETA:

People diagnosed with APD are commonly referred to as “psychopaths.” They are usually male, prone to lying and manipulation, often take pleasure in cruelty, and cannot feel genuine remorse, which frequently leads to recidivism. … In January, we called on NFL Commissioner Goodell to require that Vick undergo a brain scan and full psychological evaluation before any decisions were made about the future of his football career.

Michael Vick’s face is as untouched by remorse as his cold heart. If you want to see the face of remorse, and what it really looks like when a man reevaluates the wrong he’s done and tries to make it right, see the extraordinary new documentary The Cove.

Ric O’Barry trained dolphins for the iconic TV show Flipper, teaching them to do stupid tricks to please besotted audiences. Unbeknownst to him, O’Barry’s excellence at his job would result in thousands of dolphins — unbelievably intelligent creatures whose altruistic nature motivates them to save humans from shark attacks — to be caught, removed from their natural habitat, and enslaved in a life of performing stupid tricks for humans in giant swimming pools at Sea World and similar venues. This, O’Barry explains, is “a multi-billion dollar industry.”

Then came the fateful day when a sweet, overworked dolphin named Cathy swam up to O’Barry, looked him in the eye, and voluntarily stopped breathing. He’s convinced Cathy committed suicide because she’d had enough of captivity. As her body sank, O’Barry experienced an “Amazing Grace” moment — the blinders came off and he suddenly understood that he had been part of the problem. That “the dolphin smile is nature’s greatest deception — it creates the illusion that they’re always happy.” Since that day, O’Barry has been a formidable force in raising awareness of dolphins’ sad plight. “They don’t belong in captivity,” says the former dolphin captor who has dedicated his life to setting dolphins free, and risks his safety almost daily in the process.

The Cove is a breathtaking work of activist art, a marine-mammal Mission Impossible accomplished by a team of talented people with very different skill sets. From deep sea divers to underwater audiovisual recording experts, all took enormous risks to bring media attention to the annual slaughter of dolphins in a barricaded cove in Taiji, Japan. There, the dolphins that are deemed photogenic enough for Sea Worlds are removed and strapped by their tails to the sides of boats. The dolphins left behind are primitively butchered, their meat — tainted by sky-high levels of ocean contaminants — sold as food to an unsuspecting Japanese public. The powers that be in Japan view dolphins as mere pests that compete with their sushi supply.

There’s plenty of compelling footage of the Vick dogs thanks to National Geographic’s series Dog Town. But until The Cove, the slaughter of dolphins was a well-kept secret that, try as it might, the MSM was unable to capture on film. There’s a scene in the movie revealing seawater turned bright red with the blood of these gentle, intelligent innocents; that and the audio of the night before, in which the trapped creatures are heard communicating with each other in frantic clicks and whistles, will stay with me for the rest of my life.

The Cove is an excellent, timely reminder that we lose part of our own humanity when we stand by and suffer animals to be senselessly, violently killed. It’s enough to motivate compassionate consumers to take economic measures, boycotting Japanese products until the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji is history. While we’re at it, why not boycott the NFL — its games, merchandise, and sponsors — until Michael Vick is permanently sidelined? Dogs bark, dolphins click and whistle, people tweet … but money talks. If every one of this country’s millions of dog and dolphin lovers were to vote with their wallets, we might see some real remorse.

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Journalist and author Julia Szabo wrote the Pets column for the Sunday New York Post, for 11 years and now pens the "Living With Dogs" column for Dogster.com. Follow her on Twitter @PetReporter1. Photo credit: Daniel Reichert
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