My Photo

Keep Up


    christiekeith's items Go to christiekeith's photostream

« Christie on " The Pet Food Recall: What ' s happening now and did it make a difference? " | Main | Bladder infections: Interesting stuff, promise! »

05 September 2007


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Except that if he really didn't think there was anything wrong with it ("due to his 'cultural upbringing'") then why did he so vigorously deny he'd done it?

That's what none of these "excuse it on the basis of cultural background" folks seem to be able to explain away.


When I first read her comments, I thought she was EXPLAINING, not condoning his behavior, and after hearing/watching her tone of voice/gestures, I am more convinced that this is what she was doing. You can understand why a certain person does an inexcusable behavior without approving of the behavior. Behavior does have causes, and the more we understand the causes, the better we can change or hopefully prevent the behaviors. (Joy's [I think] definition of BLT may stick in my mind much too long... LOL)



Whoopi Goldberg just clarified what I suspected: yesterday she was only presenting a POV that some might have re the culture being responsible for Vick's frame of reference on dogfighting. She wasn't condoning it, she wasn't excusing it. She was just putting the POV out there.


Comment by The OTHER Pat — September 5, 2007 @ 10:35 am

gambling is prohibited by the nfl. he had 130 million plus reasons to deny it. he obviously doesn't think what he did to the dogs is that big of deal seeing as he just barely mentioned it in his apology.


This may be of interest from The Atlanta Journal.

Evidently his dogfighting was "an open secret."

Finally he's going to pay for his crimes.


As I understand it, "dogmen" put their messages all over the internet on their websites. It's just a matter of learning to decode the messages. Now if law enforcement could focus on this, they may find this resource to be a gold mine, resourceful in terms of nabbing all these creeps.


I didn't see the View so I can't make a personal judgement but a local radio station was discussing it this morning (men) and they were disgusted that Whoopi was defending 'him'.


Some observations:

(1) Whoopi's explanation was a form of moral relativism and the reason for her statement is likely to temper negative feelings toward Vick.

"If it had been someone from New York City, my feelings would have been very different."

Text book double standard.

(2) Re: shadepuppy.

Your post sounds like a teenager who has just been told "no excuses" substituting "explanation" for "excuse." If Whoopi's intent was to temper the negative sentiment toward Vick, then explanations and excuses serve the same purpose. She is clearly not trying to find out WHY to do good or effect some kind of change, she's asking WHY to make Vick seem like he was just swept away by some force larger than himself.

Despite our law which does take intent into account (think First Degree vs. Second Degree Murder vs. Manslaughter) such explanations never hold up in court. For instance, no war crimes tribunal has ever found "just following orders" as an excuse to temper punishment against war criminals. "Just following orders" is akin to "part of the culture."

(3) Whoopi dodged the question when Barbara asked if Vick should have been sentenced differently, which is the interesting and essential point whether she was defending him or not. She didn't answer so we're left to guess.

(4) Interestingly enough, Hasselbeck was the first one in the video clip to use "Culture" ... Whoopi used the word "thing" before, but it's unclear how much "the thing" can be attributed to "culture," although she does use the word later.

While it's oxymoronic to use the word culture when discussing dog fighting, it's worth reading an Article by Patrick over at Terrierman, or even the original essay by Thomas Sowell, which describes how the negative elements of "Red Neck Culture" have been adopted by inner city youth.

(5) Just because "culture" is partially composed of pervasive activities, all pervasive activities should not be elevated to big C Culture. To do so makes such words as "cultured" and "civilized" nearly meaningless. For that matter, being part of a Culture doesn't make anything more moral, despite moral relativism trying to do just that. There are plenty of immoral cultures.



There's no need for your snarky response to me. I am no teenager, in mind or age, and my comment comes from being a trained counselor who works with people to change their behaviors. Behaviors have causes, and it is helpful to understand reasons for behaviors. I'm sorry you don't understand the difference between condoning and explaining, but I have no need to defend my morals.

Concha Castaneda

When I went down to help out with Katrina's aftermath and animal rescue; I was told in no uncertain terms that I was in the heart of the dog fighting capital. It was and is an open secret. Hopefully the corrupt powers that be will be enlightened and dog fighting won't be quite as accepted or an open secret anymore.

Marianne Easley

It is my understanding that Michael Vick is from Virginia. I don't think there are many who would consider Virginia to be the "Deep South" as Whoopie stated. Why is it that so many people from the North assume that all people in the South are of one culture? There are all types of cultures in all parts of the country, especially in New York City -- which she stated would have made it a completely different story if Vick had been from there. I lived in "the South" (Texas) the first 45 years of my life (I have been in the Pacific NW for 10 years now)and during those 45 years in the "Deep South" I NEVER knew, or even heard of anyone involved in dog fighting - I knew it existed, but who knew where? To suggest that type of animal cruelty is somehow "southern" in nature is SO offensive to those of us who consider ourselves to be true southerners. Why do some people always want to point the finger at certain parts of the country and basically say "these people don't know any better - that's how they do things there." I would call that bigotry. Unless someone has actually lived in a particular area of the country and has first-hand knowledge of what goes on there, they shouldn't make blanket statements about what the "culture" is. She should have had her facts straight before she spread her misguided opinions on national television. I like Whoopi - I think she is a genius comedian, but as a southerner I was definitely offended by her statements that dog fighting is a big part of the southern culture.

Gina Spadafori

While I wouldn't go anywhere so far as to say dog-fighting is "Southern" -- it's a massive problem in almost all cities -- I will say that as a person who has indeed lived in the South and in California there was an attitude towards the care of animals that was a good generation behind what's considered normal in California, comparing middle-class norms to middle class norms.

In this case, it wasn't AT ALL that the Southerners who are my friends didn't love their pets -- they did, and do -- but that they were a lot more relaxed about pets roaming, preventive vet care, etc., than what I'd known among friends in urban California.

The middle-class and affluent Southerners I know care for their pets as we did in California when I was growing up -- less neutering, more roaming, more outside pets and less attention to preventive care.

Not to say there aren't exceptions --good and bad -- in both regions, but that on the whole the attitudes were different.

Gina Spadafori

As for Virginia being the South ... I think native Virginians would be the first to disagree with your assertion that it is not.

After all, Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, and they're proud of their heritage.


It is my understanding that Michael Vick is from Virginia. I don’t think there are many who would consider Virginia to be the “Deep South” as Whoopie stated.

From time to time, I'm amazed by the eagerness of some southerners to write off as "not southern" the capital of the Confederacy and the home of bona fide southern culture hero, Robert E. Lee. Lee must be spinning in his grave--and not because native Virginians are no longer southerners.


i think whoopie's comment regarding NYC, is until recently (which she may be unaware of) dogfighting was not a huge problem here. i think if you look at the comments of the athletes that have tried to explain vick's dogfighting as cultural have the same impression as whoopie does and many of them have been aware of it since they were kids, many from the south. when i think of dogmen, i think of them as being in the south. gangs and dogs are urban in my mind (and more recent), but the tradition of dogfighting in the US i always thought of as coming from the south. it could just be what i have read in researching pits was mostly southern based, or i could just be totally wrong, but that's the gist i got on it.

no offense intended towards southerner's, and i realize it's not part of southern culture, but more of a side culture.


So Whoopi Goldberg was just trying to explain Michael Vick's actions in a cultural context?

What a load of crap! What next, Britney Spears giving a psychological evaluation of Vick, or Paris Hilton discussing the cultural roots of poverty and repressed anger?


Is there a reason none of my posts are showing up? I don't think I've ever posted anything abusive or inflammatory, and I've never been reprimanded. Please email me if I've done something wrong. I enjoyed posting here.


Okay, that posted. My point, briefly - I'm from Virginia originally, and my family has lived there a long time. Virginia is the south. It isn't the deep south. I've never heard of a dog fight or met anyone who has been to one and I lived in Virginia a LOT of years. It is not generally accepted there and it's a FELONY in Virginia.


a load of crap? seems many people grew up with dog fighting happening where they live, and while they don't condone it, they certainly aren't as horrified as those that didn't. culture? tradition? what would you like it called? many of us grew up differently from others and it does effect our outlook on things. i've been aware and disgusted by dog fighting for years, so i don't think i was as surprised and horrified as others, but i was shocked and horrified about how he killed the dogs. i was under the impression they were killed the old fashioned way in the woods . . .

again, i don't agree with any of this (nor did i grow up around or aware of it), but i am very aware of it as having been around for quite some time and kids grew up with it and actually attended fights with their parents. i think it's good to look at it from that perspective to gain understanding. can't solve a problem that isn't understood. everyone screaming to throw the book at him is just a band aid on the problem. we need to do more than arrest and prosecute. we need to educate and change. to do that, understanding of where they're coming from is needed, imo.

Christie Keith

The ONLY reason to apply sweeping generalities and reasons from society at large on to individual criminals is to lessen their guilt and punishment.

I don't agree. By understanding how certain things come to be, you can often design interventions for OTHERS so they don't happen in the future. I believe that asking "why" and "how" is a very valuable question about all anti-social and unacceptable behavior, not to exonerate the person in front of you, but to determine if there are things you can learn from him or her that might keep this from happening again with someone else.


Shadepuppy -

I didn't call you a teenager. I said your argument is like a common one made by teenagers. Wanting to know "why" not to inform the situation, but to lessen the punishment. If you prefer, it's just like a Sr. Vice President reporting to the CEO about poor job performance using "let me explain" to lessen the punishment by casting blame elsewhere.

In all your years as a counselor, what percent of your patients have you recommended for harsher punishment vs. more lenient punishment when the facts were colored by knowing them better? I know I'd lean towards letting people off since I don't think I could maintain impartiality.

Asking "why" too much is often a means of changing blame from the criminal and shifting it to nebulous "society" or "culture." Don't blame the victims, blame the society that made them that way!! This is losing impartiality.

Asking "why" about Vick is like Nancy Kerrigan yelling "why why why why?" when her knee was battered with a club. The answer is obvious. She was better than Tonya and Tonya wanted to win.

Vick is a cracker/redneck/ghetto idiot who enjoys the carnal pleasure eeked out of watching dogs hurt each other. Bloodsport has always had its followers and I myself enjoy watching boxing and mixed martial arts. At least there, the fighters are acting in their own free will.

And free will is the answer to your question. People do things because they are free to do them and because they derive pleasure from them. Vick liked it. That's why he did it. His blackness didn't make him do it. His southernness didn't make him do it. His culture didn't make him do it. He made the free will choice to do it. And nothing is more condescending that thinking that we are just victims of our race, our ethnicity, or the culture around us.

To let Vick off or in any way lessen his punishment because he is black or a southerner or a hick and dog fighting is supposedly accepted by any and all of those groups is equally as racist and bigoted as condemning him as an individual for the supposed crimes of those groups. ISMs cut both ways. Individuals being treated differently because of their group membership. Racism. Limiting his punishment is just as racist as limiting his opportunity. If you said he shouldn't be a quarterback because he is black, you're clearly racist. But you're also racist if you say that he should not get the full punishment because he is black.

Nothing more need be understood about Vick and dog fighting vis-a-vis his sentence or his punishment.

If you'd like to find out any answers to 'why' questions, they should be directed at dogfighting in general, not at Vick in specific, and the answers to those questions inform action against dog fighting in general, not Vick in specific.

It's immoral, it's illegal, and it's cruel. I don't care if his PRIEST and his MOTHER told him to do it. I don't care if it's his CULTURE.

None of those matter on the specific. And as a counselor, you deal with specific people. If you were to work as a legislator, then I'd want you to ask all those questions and find solutions.

But none of that applies to the specific case of Vick. The ONLY reason to apply sweeping generalities and reasons from society at large on to individual criminals is to lessen their guilt and punishment.


I disagree with Whoopi Goldberg's assertion that Vick's disregard for animal welfare stemmed from his geographic roots although his upbringing may have played a part in his actions--if he had not left his home area behind. Vick's family lived in public housing. Since pets were not allowed in most public housing projects until just a few years ago, It's entirely possible that the only people he knew who kept dogs used them for dogfighting. Nevertheless, Vick left the projects nine years before that indictment came down. He attended Virginia Tech before he went to Atlanta to play for the Falcons. Surely, he had to learn during those nine years that most people think of their dogs as part of the family. Surely, he had to have learned that dogfighting and attendant cruelty were not acceptable to the vast majority of people in a civilized society. He knew he was breaking the law or he would not have hid his "hobby" or lied about it until lying was no longer possible. It is mind boggling that someone so talented and appreciated would spend the entire tenure of his very lucrative employment funding and operating a particularly repulsive and sadistic, large scale, interstate, illegal gambling venture.


Anyone that tries to "explain" or "defend" Michael Vick's behavior by stating that "he is simply a victim of a specific culture or up-bringing" seems to forget one very important fact that has been well documented when it comes to those who participate in blood sport.

Dog Fighting is against the law!!!! Every single person that is involved in this God-awful barbaric activity knows it it against the law. That is why they call it the underground world of dog fighting because 99.99% of the people involved try to keep everything hidden from the public. That is why law enforcement has such a tough time tyring catch these criminals, because everything is on the "hush hush".

Ignorance will never be accepted as an excuse in a court of law. Vick knew darn well that what he was doing was illegal. He knew it was a crime. He is an adult and he knew that what he was doing, he was breaking the law! I don't care where he grew up, he knows that what he was doing was a crime. End of story!


I do not care if you are from south and east or wherever else abusing and killing animals is cruel. And excuse " o well he grew up in a wrong neighborhood" well guess what, at the time he was doing this he was not in that neighborhood anymore. and why would a man that makes 120 million dollars be fighting dogs?

For his own sadistic pleasure. He is a sick man.


I live in the deep south and believe me, there are MANY people who know better than to fight and torture dogs. Yes, there are the twisted few who participate in this mostly for financial gain. We even have pitbull rescue, owned and operated by native southerners, to save these dogs and work to eliminate this horrendous practice. This also is practiced in many other areas of the country, not just the south. These comments are another form of "south bashing".

Alexandra Fiona Dixon

Yes, she was explaining, not condoning. She could have gone on to say, maybe that's something people should work to CHANGE in the South, or in the black culture, or whatever culture she thinks fosters that attitude toward "dogs as sport." She didn't suggest that, did she? A public service announcement from her might make a difference.

Another thing she got wrong is this - she said Michael Vick didn't realize that dogfighting wasn't culturally acceptable, until he had this "lightbulb" moment and realized it.

You think he didn't already know? Of course he knew most people thought it was unacceptable, even in the South - or he wouldn't have hidden it so carefully. Did the owner of the Atlanta Falcons know he was fighting dogs? Did Nike know? Hay-ull no - he was smart enough to know it was a dirty, nasty, cruel, illegal activity, and he needed to hide it.

Thomas Rutherford

It's a shame that crimes against people, say manslaughter or rape, do not get the kind of response you pet rights activists have had to Vick. He would have been better off killing someone while driving drunk, or date-raping a woman, as far as your sense of proportion, and the law's, goes. This is a twisted loss of value for human life, replaced by relative overblown concern for animals. Sorry, I love animals, but must disagree.

Gina Spadafori

I doubt you give a rat's behind about animals. And you likely don't care much about people, either, or you'd realize that animal abuse is close tied to violence about people. Study after study confirms this link.

It's not an either-or situation, by the way. You are allowed to care about animals AND people.


I beleive that maybe she was not giving Vick and excuse. But for her to say that it is normal in the south just goes to prove that she does not know the south anymore. I have lived in the south for 6 years. I have 5 beautiful dogs 2 of which are pitbulls. I am very much involved in trying to get this dog, cock fighting to stop. And when she says things like this it upsets me for the fact that she does not know the true problem. But she does not have to worry about that now does she....

The comments to this entry are closed.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner