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Commentary: Where is the outrage when humans are abused?

  • Story Highlights
  • Thunderous condemnation greeted Michael Vick over dogfighting charges
  • Where's the same outrage when woman is held and tortured; a couple killed?
  • Celebrity news far more important than news about nobodies
  • Blame lies with media -- and maybe with demands of viewers and readers
  • Next Article in U.S. »
By Roland S. Martin
CNN Contributor
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(CNN) -- When federal prosecutors in Virginia released details of the dogfighting charges against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, all hell broke loose.


Martin suggests the Vick case revealed the public and media care more about celebrity and animals than people.

Folks were protesting, calling for him to be immediately kicked out of the league, and demanding long jail sentences for Vick and his co-defendants.

Many lawyers went on television and admitted that had Vick beat a girlfriend, shot or even murdered someone, he wouldn't have been slammed as hard as he was for the vicious acts committed against dogs.

I suppose those lawyers are right.

Just look at the case of Megan Williams. The 20-year-old West Virginia woman, Megan Williams, was kidnapped by six sadistic individuals and held in a mobile home.

They raped her, forced her to eat rat and dog feces, made her drink from a toilet, stabbed her multiple times, and called the black woman a "nigger" every time they beat her.

Thank God she lived, and may be released from the hospital in a few days. Video Watch the alleged victim's mother talk about hearing the news »

But it still raises the question: What causes such outrage and fervor in one case involving dogs and not another?

The same thing was said about the shocking details surrounding the deaths of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. The two University of Tennessee students were on a date when they were carjacked by several men. They were taken to a house where they were held. Christopher was raped, doused with gasoline, shot and his body dumped on the side of a road.

Channon? She had a household cleaner poured down her throat and was later raped. She, too, was murdered.

Although the two were white and their alleged attackers black, police say race was not an element in this case.

These two cases are heinous and despicable. But why do we respond with speed to one case and not another? Is it celebrity? Or do we not have the same compassion for human beings as we do for dogs? Was the Vick case that more important?

Take, for example, the U.S. Senate floor speech of Robert Byrd, the senior senator from West Virginia.

Calling the allegations sadistic, Byrd thundered: "Barbaric! Let that word resound from hill to hill, and from mountain to mountain, from valley to valley, across this broad land. Barbaric! Barbaric! May God help those poor souls who'd be so cruel. Barbaric! Hear me! Barbaric!"

He later added: "I am confident the hottest places in hell are reserved for the souls of sick and brutal people who hold God's creatures in such brutal and cruel contempt."

So, Sen. Byrd, where is the floor speech for a woman from your own home state? Where is the outrage when a woman is viciously attacked?

This is when the media gets slammed. We've determined that Vick, Paris Hilton and the shenanigans of Lindsey Lohan are far more important than the viciousness of what took place in West Virginia and Tennessee.

But maybe the problem isn't just the media. Maybe the problem is you. The reader. The viewer. Maybe you've decided that you care more about discussing a celebrity than nobodies like Megan Williams, Channon Christian or Christopher Newsom.


Roland S. Martin is a nationally award-winning, multifaceted journalist and CNN contributor. He is the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith." You can read more of his columns at

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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