Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash Vol. XLV: Dogs to Michael Vick and Obama: ‘Bite me’

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I love Tucker Carlson to death, but what was he smoking when he said Michael Vick should be executed? – Craighton J.

The giggle weed of enlightenment? The crack pipe of karmic justice? Look, I know Tucker’s pronouncement wasn’t the least controversial thing in the world to say. So there was a predictable level of blowback: spittle-flecked denunciations, Tweets of outrage, stale bow-tie jokes, all three of which were perfectly embodied by public intellectual/TV weatherman Al Roker, whose iPhone damnation read, “Tucker Carlson’s bowtie has finally cut off oxygen to his brain. Only explanation for odious Michael Vick comment. Or maybe he’s an idiot.” This hardly seemed sporting – making a dated bow-tie joke a half decade after Tucker quit wearing one. It’d be like me making fat jokes about Al Roker, though he’s had his stomach stapled since 2002.

One can always expect, of course, a certain level of Tucker-bashing no matter what he says. Despite his general good cheer and nondoctrinaire libertarian politics, he has a knack for eliciting irrational hatred among the left. So it’s small surprise that Tucker was this roundly denounced for beating up a cold-blooded dog murderer like Michael Vick. One gets the sense that if Tucker came out squarely against necrophilia, a high percentage of The Nation readers would rush to the local morgue to pick out life partners by that afternoon. Since Tucker’s against capital punishment, it’s pretty clear his suggesting Vick should be executed was hyperbolic (look it up, Twitterers, it’s just a page or so over in the dictionary from “hypersensitive” and “hysteria.”)

That said, Tucker’s larger point – that Michael Vick is a degenerate asshole, guilty of unspeakable crimes against man’s best friend – stands. I say that not as a Cowboys fan, but as a fierce dog-lover (a tribe of which Tucker is chief — Tucker’s been known to take his dogs to restaurant drive-thrus to reward them, and his brother even bears a tattoo of their long-deceased spaniel on his leg). For Barack Obama to take the occasion of calling the Philadelphia Eagles’ owner to congratulate him on giving Vick a second chance (which is what precipitated Carlson’s comment in the first place) is an abomination. I don’t pretend to speak for dogs, but if Bo, Obama’s beloved Portuguese Water Dog, could talk, I’m fairly certain he’d say to both his owner and Vick: “Bite me.”

Lest we forget precisely what Vick was guilty of, it’s worth revisiting the Smoking Gun website to read the original indictment. Not only was Vick running a dog-fighting ring out of his Bad Newz Kennels. But Vick, in concert with his thuggish fellow torturers, was responsible for wetting down a female pit bull which had lost, and electrocuting it. Likewise, approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in “testing” sessions (meaning they looked to be subpar fighters), were executed “by various methods, including hanging, drowning, and slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground.”