Ethical Quote Of The Day: Marjorie Ingall

pibull pile

“Let’s not generalize about an animal based on the shape of its head or the texture of its coat… Individuals are individuals. Generalizations—about dogs, or about people—are odious.”

—–Marjorie Ingall in her review of Bronwen Dickey’s new book, Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon

I have several times,in posts here about the senseless, ignorant and unethical vendetta pursued against “pit bulls” [Ingall: “Pit bulls’ (meaning ‘any dog that looks the way we think a pit bull looks’) “], compared the reasoning of the anti-pit bull Furies to the logic of racism. Thus I was especially pleased to read Ingall’s essay, while she called “Pit Bulls—the Jews of the Canine World.” Another sample…

Nowadays, people associate pit bulls with thugs. And the word “thug,” as we all know, is barely coded shorthand for a young African-American man. (Truthfully, I’d thought of pit bulls being Jews … but comparing pit bulls to African Americans is even more resonant, in terms of the stereotyping both face.)…Study after study has shown that pit bulls are no more likely to bite than any other breed…Fear of the word “pit bull” and misplaced fear of the breed, combined with a healthy dose of racism, have trumped common sense.

You can find the Ethics Alarms post on this topic here.

7 thoughts on “Ethical Quote Of The Day: Marjorie Ingall

  1. I don’t see that racism plays much part in the pit bull debate. Sure some black thugs own pit bulls as well as white biker types. The dogs are made mean and vicious by training. They are territorial and I wouldn’t to be a burglar breaking into a house where there is one inside. However, I understand that people are more likely to get bit by other breeds such as Akitas. There is no movement to ban them that I’m aware of.

  2. Ironically, pit bulls are the favored dog of thugs whom they raise to be beastly and vicious, as their owners wish themselves to be perceived. See, eg., Michael Vick or walk around any Mexican neighborhood in Phoenix or Tucson. It’s the breeder, not the breed. Pit bulls were known as “nursery dogs” when they were Staffordshire Terriers because they were so sweet and could be safely left with infants and children to watch over them.

    So, unfortunately, Pit Bulls have been conflated with their thug owners..

    • as we all know

      a violent person, especially a criminal.
      “he was attacked by a gang of thugs”
      synonyms: ruffian, hoodlum, bully boy, bully, bandit, mugger, gangster, terrorist, gunman, murderer, killer, hitman, assassin, hooligan, vandal, Yardie; More
      a member of an organization of robbers and assassins in India. Devotees of the goddess Kali, the Thugs waylaid and strangled their victims, usually travellers, in a ritually prescribed manner. They were suppressed by the British in the 1830s.

      Isn’t this another example of the misconstruction of “niggardly,” only in some reverse twist?

  3. Jack,

    You’re almost 100% right. In a previous post, you got a little sarcastic with me when I said we can no longer say that pitt bulls are as safe as other dog breeds. This was probably my fault because I didn’t do a good enough job of explaining why pitt bulls are no longer as safe as they were when they were Staffordshire Terriers, and why that’s actually 110% the fault of pitt bull breeders over the last few generations of pitt pulls.

    It has to do with inbred aggressions, and how they relate to dog breeding. I am very familiar with inbred aggressions because my older cairn terrier Toto (not original I know but we didn’t name him) has an inbred aggression against cats. If he sees a cat, he tries to kill the cat. There is no training him out of this; he’s just going (maybe not now because he’s so aged, but previously). This is a common inbred aggression of cairns and it’s not been stamped out by breeders because cairns are small, their aggression also helps them chase after mice and rats which has historically been a benefit of the breed, and it’s easy to make sure they don’t go to homes with cats. However, any inbred aggression found in a a bigger dog would eliminate that dog from breeding contention from any *responsible* owner.

    Unfortunately, for the past 20-30 years, many pitt pulls have not had responsible owners. Thus, the chances of an inbred aggression are much higher in that breed of dog. This, of course, is only true because of the asshats (sorry-I know that’s not polite but this issue is one that sticks in my craw a bit) who have not been responsible breeders. If this had not occurred, you would be 100% correct, instead of 99% correct. Of course, any dog has a small chance of having an inbred aggression, but the chances increase dramatically if you irresponsibly breed dogs who have inbred aggressions-which is exactly what certain *breeders* have been doing with pitt bulls.

    However, it’s clear that once you’ve tested to make sure that a pitt bull does not have an inbred aggression, they are just as sweet as any other breed of dog-and sometimes even sweeter. Further, if we had 10-20 years of responsible breeding, this issue would go away, and the pitt bull would again be just as safe as any other breed. And even with this issue I’ve just outlined, they are nowhere near as dangerous as some of the anti-pitt bull hysterics believe.

    Final note: Inbred aggression are not just barking at the cat or the other dog when out on a walk. Toto’s eyes glaze completely over, and he has no concept that there is anything in the world, except that cat who he must kill. (He came from my wife’s family, who all have cats, and since cats are my kryptonite allergy, he became ours.) While it’s probably true that some experts can treat such aggressions, the average layperson is unable to address such a problem. For instance, I have been completely unsuccessful at helping Toto with this issue. (And I’m not an irresponsible dog owner who doesn’t train his dogs.)

  4. Of course. He had to get new iPads for his paws.

    I love the way no one is paying the least bit of attention, not even admiring the lovely creature. Are you sure this isn’t an Apple ad set up?

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