Whoopi Goldberg says it was.
I have no idea what to do with this information. Because I kinda believe her. I did a story on the local animal shelter in South Carolina when I was a reporter there. This being rural South Carolina, the county animal shelter was a room full of cages at the county landfill. The landfill manager was a good guy, though, and seemed to really care about the animals. He told me that people came by all the time asking if he had any pit bulls, and that a fair number of the dogs that ended up in his shelter showed signs that they had been fought.
Of course, bars that require memberships but won't sell them to black people are also a part of Michael Vick's culture, or at least the southern culture he grew up around.
It's very hard to know where to draw the line. I value kindness to domestic animals. (TheCSO and I have five of them, all from shelters except for the cat our last housemates abandoned at our house.) Our most recent acquisition, a Basset Hound named Rebecca, is a daily reminder of how abuse can scar a dog.
Even if dogfighting is a cultural practice, I feel safe in saying that it's wrong. (FWIW, a Jain is perfectly free to tell me that the fact that I eat meat and swat flies is wrong. I see distinctions there and won't necessarily agree, but I get that my view of these things isn't the only correct one.)
I do consider dogfighting wrong and at conflict with my values.
I've mentioned that I really like Jewish culture, partially because Jewish culture values a lot of the same things I value.
I never know what to do with culures that don't. Dogfighting is a glaring example. I want to be tolerant of other cultures, but I can't tolerate that.
For an even more subtle distinction, I really don't know what to think when I see cultures where education isn't valued and indeed, people who do value it and try to go to college are viewed as "trying to be white" or some such.
Mainstream upper-middle-class culture (I find it hard to call it "white culture" because there are sufficient numbers of successful people of all colors in my area that the term seems weird to me. I intuitively understood it more when I lived in the south.) does have its drawbacks. We're isolated from our neighbors, we like money, etc, etc and soforth.
But my sympathies are still with the kid of another race who likes science, or reads novels, and gets a lot of crap for it from his or her peers. Hell, it's hard enough to be the geeky kid in WHITE culture. I can't imagine what it must be like to be considered a traitor to your friends for wanting to be a doctor and being willing to do the work to get there. Historically, education has been shown to be the way to wealth and power. I want there to be people of all races who are wealthy and powerful.
The white, male faces of the Georgetown Law class of 1920-something stare out from a picture on a wall next to one of my classrooms. My classes don't look like that, and in my opinion, that's a wonderful thing.
TheCSO says that the non-white kids who took honors classes at his high school in Charlotte were shunned by their peers of the same color when they weren't being openly harassed. It depresses me to think that some of my peers in law school might have gone through that.
I don't like it, I would even say I think it's wrong. But I wonder at what point I am, albeit in my own head, imposing my culture on somebody else. I don't want to do that.
But again, my sympathies are with the geeky kids and the dogs.
It's a question I've been chewing on for a long time in various forms, and Goldberg's defense of Michael Vick has me thinking about it all over again.