I ran across a provocative image at Maggie's Farm. It triggered some questions about Michael Vick's decision to engage in a savage, illegal "sport" that earned him peanuts compared to the living he made as a professional athlete. Even though Vick's actions are repugnant, I am nonetheless curious about his motives, both conscious and unconscious.
Let's review the crime:
Vick set up an arena where competitors, bred and trained to ignore pain, fight to destroy opponents for the entertainment of spectators who frequently place bets on the outcome. Sound anything like professional football?
Vick didn't invent the human enthusiasm for gladiators, bloodshed and gambling. These days, even though we place limits on how far these things can go, human athletes frequently end up with serious injuries and permanent physical damage.
Not that I feel any great sympathy for Vick, but I wonder if he felt drawn to the role of owner-spectator-gambler during time off from his day job as the human equivalent of a fighting dog. Unlike his dogs, Vick had a choice about his job, but having a choice doesn't mean a person can handle the psychic implications of the position.
If you've ever heard Mike Tyson discuss the emotional torment he experienced during his career, you may know that he has been explicit about the sense of humiliation he experienced in the role of exalted animal-gladiator. Animal is his word, not mine. Might dog fighting serve as a compensatory reversal of psychic positions for Vick?
If you didn't already check out the photo linked above, take a look. It certainly seems that in the minds of some conservatives there is more than a hint of implicit equivalence between Vick and a dog.