Radley Balko writes that Tucker Carlson “is absolutely out of his mind” for saying Michael Vick “should have been executed” for killing dogs in heinously cruel ways. What really amazes Radley is that
not only hasn’t he walked the comment back, but The Daily Caller is promoting the clip on its front page. Which is to say that The Daily Caller is trumpeting the idea that its founder believes the government should kill a man because he was cruel to his animals.
Now, if Tucker is actually proposing death penalty legislation for dog-killers, then yes, that’s totally nuts. But I suspect his comment was more in the spirit of Bill Bennett’s infamous remark that it would be “morally plausible,” albeit difficult as a matter of law, to execute drug dealers. I have a very low opinion of the position that Bennett staked out there, because I think it was premised on a misunderstanding of what drugs do to the average user. (There was a myth in the 80s — which to a large extent still persists despite the best efforts of libertarian reformers — that one hit of crack would instantly turn an otherwise upstanding citizen into a hopeless addict with no free will.) But applying that sort of sentiment to what Vick did doesn’t strike me as completely insane; torturing dogs to death really does shock the conscience in a profound way that provokes a draconian instinct in many of us. Jonah Goldberg did a good job of explaining the philosophical underpinnings of that instinct in this 2007 column on Vick.
But I suspect the reason that the clip of Tucker’s comment is featured so prominently at the Daily Caller is not so much to underline a legal or moral point as to attract traffic and grab attention for a charitable cause that Tucker cares about. Notice that below the clip, the Caller features an ad for the Washington Animal Rescue League starring Tucker and Ana Marie Cox as the bipartisan odd couple for animal adoption. I visited WARL for the first time a few weeks ago when Tucker and Ana held a small reception there. A very nicely-furnished shelter that brings in animals — many of them mistreated — and gives them a new lease on life by training them to be suitable pets, it’s an institution that is very worthy of animal-lovers’ support. If Tucker is staking out a somewhat crazy position mainly to draw attention to WARL, he’s being (speaking of canids) crazy like a fox.
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