Thursday, May 31, 2012

One Atrocity Leads to Others

Luka Rocco Magnotta, the 29-year-old Canadian
who allegedly sent human body parts in the mail
recently, got his start as an animal abuser.
There's a piece of conventional wisdom that I've always agreed with that goes something like this: People who begin as animal abusers often graduate to heinous crimes involving human beings.

Take 29-year-old Luka Rocco Magnotta, a Canadian who has appeared in Internet porno videos and is now being sought by authorities for allegedly murdering a man, dismembering the torso and mailing various body parts to the offices of the federal Liberal and Conservative parties. 

The story is almost too gruesome and twisted to be true. 

And guess what?

In today's Vancouver Sun, columnist Stephen Maher reports that animal rights activists had been hunting Mangotta down for videos he posted online showing him murdering kittens. Maher writes:
They were motivated by four horrible videos in which a young man gleefully kills kittens. In the first one, in 2010, a young man alleged to be Magnotta suffocates two kittens in a plastic bag. A few weeks later, he posted a related video.
By January of 2011, after frantic online searching, animal lovers tentatively had identified Magnotta as the suspect. They meticulously compared photos that Magnotta posted of himself, identifying jewelry and furnishings that appeared in both, until they were certain they had found the right guy.
They then focused on finding him, something which was made more difficult by the many apparently fake photos Magnotta seems to have posted — using a host of false online identities — showing him in cities around the world.
This news, horrifying as it is, should come as no surprise. 

By the time police raided a Montreal apartment on Tuesday where Magnotta lived, they discovered scenes of human depravity and violence too horrifying to describe. The National Post, a Canadian newspaper I read religiously, actually describes a website called Best Gore that has posted a sickening video purported to be Mangotta cutting up his bound victim, having sex with the body and feeding parts to his dog.

Hard to imagine anything more vile than that.

Magnotta's story is a cautionary tale. There is a banner going around the Internet (especially Facebook) that says, "FAMOUS ANIMAL ABUSERS," and shows pictures of Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, David Berkowitz and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. Below their faces, it says, "THE LINK BETWEEN ANIMAL CRUELTY AND HUMAN VIOLENCE IS INDISPUTABLE." 

I refuse to post that banner here because Vick, unlike Bundy, Dahmer and Berkowitz, is not a serial killer and does not belong with those monsters, despite his involvement in horrific dog fighting matches. Vick's dogfighting ring was broken up by authorities in 2007 and he endured a trial and punishment. Since then, Vick has served a prison term, publicly apologized and lobbied for legislation to create much stricter penalties for those who take part in animal fighting. 

As Vick said last year: "I deeply regret my previous involvement in dogfighting, I'm sorry for what I did to the animals. During my time in prison, I told myself I wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem." (Source

I believe Vick's face shouldn't have been added alongside Bundy, Dahmer and Berkowitz. We should forgive those who express genuine, heartfelt remorse about their crimes against animals. And Vick's example shows that not every single animal abuser goes on to become a murderer of human beings.

But take away Michael Vick's face, and the banner is absolutely correct. The link between animal cruelty and human violence is indisputable. My suggestion is to remove Vick from that banner and add the face of Luka Rocco Magnotta, who - if the ghastly stories about him are true (and they appear to be) - has earned a prominent spot among the very worst of the worst of the animal abusers who turned into savage killers of human beings. 

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