Where Is the Outrage When Humans Are Abused?

By Roland S. Martin
Updated: October 20, 2007

CHICAGO — When federal prosecutors in Virginia released details of the dogfighting charges against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, all hell broke loose.

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

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 in the early morning hours of Jan. 7. They were taken to a house where Christopher was raped, doused with gasoline, shot and his body dumped on the side of a road.

Channon? She had 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 a factor.

These cases are heinous and despicable.

But why do we respond speedily to one and not the others? Is it celebrity? Or do we not have the same compassion for human beings as we do for dogs? Was the Vick case really more important?

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

Calling Vick’s alleged actions 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!


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 home state? Where is the outrage when a woman is viciously attacked?

This is when the media get slammed. We’ve determined that Vick, Paris Hilton and the shenanigans of Lindsay Lohan are far more important than the viciousness of what took place in West Virginia and Tennessee. We had wall-to-wall coverage of Vick, comments from his friends, family, high school classmates and others. Every cable news show led with the story, and viewers were fed a constant diet of Vick.

Megan, Channon and Christopher? Passing news.

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 celebrities than nobodies like Megan, Channon and Christopher.