Measured Against Reality

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Why there's less outrage for Iraq than Mike Vick

As someone who's used to asking "where's the outrage?" I sympathize with M.J. Rosenberg, who wants to know why Iraq fails to generate the outrage that Michael Vick has.

How many dogs did Vick kill anyway. 25, 50, a hundred. I don't know. But 3739 Americans have been killed in Iraq and maybe 600,000 Iraqis -- not to mention the US destruction of a whole country and society.

And all without the outrage produced by Michael Vick.

This is easy though. Vick generated outrage because no one thinks that what he did is good and no one is emotionally invested in it. Think about it this way, if your son was risking his life managing dog fights (along with thousands of other American sons) would you hate it as much? Or if your President and all of his staff convinced you that dog fighting was a good idea, would you hate it as much? Or if your entire political party has indelibly linked itself to dog fighting, meaning a huge part of your self-definition is linked with dog fighting, would you hate it as much?

All of these things (especially the last) have been actually observed. People still support the Iraq war for many reasons, usually because they have to otherwise they lose some kind of personal interest, whether it's admitting that your president lied to you, that your son died for no reason, or that the party you've supported all your life is just dead wrong. Besides all that, there are people who still believe the lies.

It's even pretty easy to answer why the people who don't support the Iraq war aren't as outraged. It's easy to fix the Michael Vick problem, whereas Iraq is trickier. You can say that we just pull out, but that could be disastrous in its own right, possibly more so than staying. There's also no strong political leadership on Iraq, Congress has yet to start any inquiries or attempt to drain funding, making people believe that their rage is simply impotent, it falls on deaf (or at least unwilling) ears. But with Mike Vick it's easy, we all knew he'd get at least a year and have his career ruined, so we'd get what we wanted by seeing him humiliated.

In fact, I think that sums it up: Iraq is hard, Mike Vick is easy. That's why there was so much outrage for him, and so little for Iraq (and the drug war and the loss of civil liberties and every other complex issue). In fact, I'll state with fair confidence that a complex issue will never galvanize as much support as a simple one, just because the complex ones are so much harder, and as a country we just don't like difficult things.

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  • That's some pretty good analysis. Certainly way better than anything I've read from the MSM bloviators.

    I'd toss in another aspect to the explanation: People (like me) who don't live on farms tend to see non-human animals as nearly equal in some sense. It's a bit hypocritical, to be sure; after all, we eat their flesh and wear their skins, and we usually can't bring ourselves to do any of the actions leading up to those outcomes.

    But I think the key is that we have a notion of "lower" animals being innocent, and therefore, different from our depraved species. So, when we hear about needless suffering on their part, it resonates in the same way as do stories about abused children.

    I'm not saying this is "right." I just think it is the way most 21st century urban/suburban Americans get trained.

    As for me on Michael Vick: the idea of him rotting in jail sounds good. I'd also like to see his sentence increased by two orders of magnitude for playing the God card at his sentencing.

    By Blogger Brendan, at 12:28 AM, September 06, 2007  

  • Thanks Brendan, and you're probably at least partially right about the innocence thing. And as much as I'd like to punish people who think they can manipulate religion to make their lives easier, that would mean punishing pretty much everyone (but atheists!), so I don't think it's feasible.

    By Blogger Stupac2, at 8:53 AM, September 06, 2007  

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