Via Breitbart.com (h/t Drudge) comes an AP story that Michael Vick has been sentenced to 23 months in jail for running a dogfighting ring. This is an egregious miscarriage of justice. Vick needs to appeal this judgement right away. He violated no one's rights and should not be in jail.
It is morally wrong to be cruel to animals. It demonstrates a profound lack of respect for life in general. Those who do it deserve every bit of private and public moral condemnation they get. His football team has every right to drop him and ditto his commercial sponsors. What Michael Vick is going through now sans the prison sentence, is in fact a form of social ostricism and its a good and proper thing for a morally just society to do.
But it is politically wrong to give rights to animals. Rights pertain to the freedom of choices that present themselves to volitional beings which animals are not. The only rights that belong to an animal are those of its owner. If someone should abuse or kill an animal without that owner's permission, then he can and should go to jail for violating the owner's property rights. If there are now laws making such cruelty illegal, they should be removed. I am even willing to compromise and say that at the very least, for now, the law should be reduced to a misdemeanor without prison time.
This issue is a good test of one's loyalty to principles. It is often very difficult to defend on principle someone whose actions are morally repulsive. Like defending the free speech rights of the printers of sleaze and pornography. If you're loyal to the principle of free speech, you will do it in opposition to those who would outlaw sleaze thus bringing censorship to this country, free speech being a value held higher than censorship which if adopted, would lead to the destruction of free speech.
Giving political rights to animals would mark the destruction of all rights for humans. Once adopted, this non-objective principle would spread to everything and the next thing you know, humans have no rights and must be sacrificed to everything and anything that does. How would you justify cutting down the tree in your yard because its roots are cracking your foundation, or sidewalk, or plugging your sewer drain, or you want to build a garage there, when that tree has the same right to life you do? If a dog bites a human the government has the right to use retaliatory force to remove that dog from society. But, having rights, how would you put that dog on trial? And what would a jury of his peers look like? Sound stupid? Of course. But no more stupid than giving political rights to animals.
Free Michael Vick now.