HumaneWatch brings out the worst

Wednesday, December 15, 2010, was a banner day for HumaneWatch, or so David Martosko thought.  For this was the day that Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said that maybe, possibly, if he continues to go above and beyond all the requirements of his probation, Michael Vick might someday be able to own a dog. Judging from the reaction, you would think Wayne had endorsed Vick going back to dog fighting.  But the fact is, Vick sought out the HSUS to assist him in speaking to groups of inner city school children to tell them that dog fighting is wrong.  And who are these kids more likely to believe — an Ivy League-educated leader of an animal welfare organization, or a famous athlete with a multimillion-dollar contract whose image they likely have on their bedroom walls? You might also think that Vick had given money to Wayne to line his pockets.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  What happened was the Philadelphia Eagles donated money for several animal advocacy programs, including $50,000 for the HSUS to start an End Dogfighting Program in Philadelphia, $50,000 for the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society to build a spay-neuter clinic, and $50,000 for the Berks County Humane Society to fund a mobile veterinary clinic.  Those all sound like pretty good causes to me. For the record, I disagree with Wayne and believe that Michael Vick should never be able to own a dog.  But the court order preventing him from owning a pet expires in two years, and Wayne truly believes that people who abuse animals can be rehabilitated.  If they can’t, why bother having treatment programs such as AniCare, which many animal abusers are ordered to complete? However, none of this has stopped David Martosko of HumaneWatch from trying to make the most of Wayne’s unpopular opinion.  On Sunday, HumaneWatch took out a full page ad on the Vick situation in The New York Times.  Since then, Martosko has posted about Vick on the HumaneWatch Facebook page no less than 24 times, garnering almost 3,000 comments.  The posts are passionate, strongly opinionated, and almost universally blasting Vick and the HSUS. Unfortunately, many of the comments are also quite violent, something Martosko seems to revel in and encourage in order to whip up rage against Vick and the HSUS to as high a fever pitch as possible.  Let’s take a look at a sampling: From Sunday, December 19 PsychicGirl Devine Natura was quite busy making threats about Vick.  Check out these gems:

Effie Natsis wanted to run Vick over, if not one way, then another:

Other commenters wished additional bad things to befall Vick:

Most disturbing, Liz Willnow threatened Vick’s 2-, 5-, and 7-year-old children:

From Monday, December 20 Kira Baulesh spilled her venom against Vick first in regular case letters and then in all caps in case we didn’t get it the first time: From Tuesday, December 21 Ashley Nelson wanted mob-style justice: Jennifer Parmer crossed the line into blatant racism, calling for Vick to be lynched: As you can see from these posts, some sick people hang out at HumaneWatch.  But even worse is the sickness of David Martosko in encouraging comments like these.  The fact that these comments have stretched through a period of days demonstrates a pattern of conduct on the HumaneWatch Facebook page.  In addition, though some of these comments have been taken down, many are still up, and even those that were eventually taken down remained up for hours if not days. What’s even more hypocritical is the fact that many regular commenters on the HumaneWatch Facebook page are animal abusers themselves – people like Katie Dokken, Trish Bragg, Lori Barva Rogers, Barbara Hoffman, and most recently Jennifer Hobbs Butler.  Yet Martosko never bans these people, and their fellow HumaneWatchers applaud their presence and excuse their offenses. So whose side are you on, Martosko?  Either you are against animal abuse or you are not.  If you are against abuse, I challenge you to ban each and every animal abuser from your page and publicly tell us why.  The fact that you don’t speaks volumes about your true agenda.