Sen. Robert Byrd, the West Virginia Democrat, referred to this act as "barbaric." In case you missed it the first time, he repeated it. Again. And again. And yet again.
Byrd acknowledged that he's witnessed one execution in his life, but wouldn't mind seeing another "if it involves this cruel, sadistic, cannibalistic business."
The gentleman from West Virginia got pretty worked up over the whole thing. "How inhuman! How dastardly!" bellowed the senator.
But wait. There's more! "Barbaric!" he yelled. "Let that word resound from hill to hill, and from mountain to mountain, and valley to valley across the broad land. Barbaric! Barbaric! May God help those poor souls who'd be so cruel. Barbaric! Hear me! Barbaric!"
But the 89-year old dean of the Senate wasn't done. He graciously offered that he would not prejudge a man's guilt or innocence on the barbaric actions which instigated his ire, but he left no doubts about his sentiments.
"I am confident that 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," he said.
In his never-ending quest not to be outdone by a demagogic colleague, would-be President John Kerry wrote a letter describing this as "one of society's most barbaric and inhumane activities."
CNN host Nancy Grace called it "murder" and compared the perpetrator to O.J. Simpson.
What heinous act has these -- and millions of other compassionate lovers and defenders of life -- so outraged? Could they possibly be expressing their condemnation to those physicians who swore an oath to honor and protect life, yet abort millions of viable young lives in utero every year? Could these esteemed leaders be acknowledging that the brutal procedure known as partial-birth abortion is indeed a sadistic and barbaric mistreatment of God's greatest gift -- human life?
Sadly, no. These men and women, and millions others like them, get more worked up over the admittedly brutal and inhumane treatment of soulless dogs, as evidenced by their public proclamations in the Michael Vick case.
Nancy Grace pointed out on her program, over video of two dogs annihilating each other, that the dogs "can't defend themselves." I'm confident Ms. Grace has never shown video of a partial-birth abortion procedure, and I'm relatively confident she has somehow failed to acknowledge that the unborn children are even more defenseless, but she's outraged over this nevertheless. If only they and their animal-rights allies would acknowledge the more precious worth of human life.
(I must note that Sen. Byrd has voted for a ban on partial-birth abortions, but I wonder if he debated in favor of human life with the passion he showed for Vick's canines.)
Please don't misunderstand me. I love dogs. There is no doubt the crime for which Michael Vick has been charged is brutal and inhumane, to say the least. But I fear our culture has degenerated to a level where our priorities are so out of whack, that we decry "from mountain to mountain and valley to valley" the mistreatment of innocent animals, while we turn a collective and legislative blind eye to the premature and yes, barbaric killing of human life in the name of "choice."
What's wrong with this picture?
I am in no way defending Vick, an NFL quarterback, for his off-field enterprises. If the allegations are true, and this happened on his property under his watch, the man clearly should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Vick has had several run-ins with authorities and fans over the past several years. At one point, you heard him say he's just "one of the boys." It's time for him to rise above the level of a boy, and raise the standard of maturity and responsibility for his "boys" to live up to.
Like it or not, being a high school, college and NFL superstar making millions of dollars a year brings with it some responsibility. And as any leader knows, the burden of leadership can sometimes be heavy. Unfortunately, Vick has fumbled the ball.
I've been a dog owner, and I must say I got attached to my critter. I'm not amused by or defensive of the accusations against Vick and his "boys."
But once -- just once -- I'd like to hear the John Kerrys, Nancy Graces and PETA supporters of the world weep over the brutal and barbaric taking of human life that they call "choice."
Absent that, I weep for them and for our culture.
J.C. Watts (JCWatts01@jcwatts.com), chairman of J.C. Watts Companies, a business consulting group, is former chairman of the Republican Conference of the U.S. House, where he served as an Oklahoma representative from 1995 to 2002. He writes twice monthly for the Review-Journal.